Lighting Setup

JonathanSee

New Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2021
Messages
3
Location (City and/or State)
Malaysia
Hi, Im from Malaysia, I just built a new closed chamber enclosure (4'x3'x2') for my 3" Aldabra. I need an advice for setting up the lighting for the new enclosure. Thanks
 

Markw84

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5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
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Jan 17, 2012
Messages
4,418
Location (City and/or State)
Sacramento, CA (Central Valley)
Jonathan. Welcome to the Forum!

Your enclosure will be outgrown quickly by an aldabra, so we need to consider thing that can be used in a larger enclosure as you upgrade. I also feel you need more height in an enclosure for a tortoise to properly get the lighting correct, so I will try to compensate for that.

I'll copy the post @Tom uses to start a conversation about lighting, then apply it more specifically to you:

There are four elements to heating and lighting:

  1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt floods from the hardware store. I run them on a timer and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them.
  2. Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day and night for tropical species. You'd only need day heat for a Testudo species.
  3. Light. I use florescent tubes for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most tubes at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish.
  4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. If you want it anyway, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height.

I'll go in a different order:

For ambient heat maintenance - I would use this even though your area is warmer, I don't want a young tortoise to have temperatures go below 80° their first year. So a dome with a ceramic base with a CHE will work well. This needs to be on a thermostat set for 80°. I will probably rarely need to come on in your area most of the time and only on a cool night. Use a brooder dome like described below in the basking section, and hang it as high as possible in the enclosure to keep it as high above tortoise level as possible to try to minimize an IR hot spot. If money is not an issue, an 80 watt radiant heat panel mounted to the ceiling would work better in a shorter enclosure like you have, especially as your tortoise grows and gains much more height as well.

For ambient lighting I recommend LEDs in a closed chamber to reduce overheating problems. Try to find something in the 5000k-6000k color range with a CRI of 90+. I would try to get about 3000 lumen total in the enclosure for good ambient lighting. A bar light or bulbs, or even flat disc style mounted to the ceiling. I feel bright light to simulate daylight is vital. Then adding lots of plants to create shading and natural hides. Put in some potted plants in heavier pots the tortoise cannot get into and move, but has overhanging fronds for the shading and hide effect. As you tortoise grows, you may need to change to hanging plants to keep the tortoise from pushing the pots over and eating the plants! I also like to put in a dark hide made from an opaque tub. This will hold humidity well and provide a good, secure feeling hide. Place a heavy plant or two on top and let it grow and droop down over the hide.

Now we need a basking zone which needs bright light with UV and heat.

For BASKING heat. An incandescent bulb is best for this in a dome fixture. Use a flood type (BR30) or a regular incandescent bulb (A19). 50 - 75 watts is all you will need. I do not like the reptile domes sold as they are normally deeper domes. You need air flow around the dome, so not a deep dome and one that has the proper vents. A standard "brooder dome" sold for raising chicks that is 10"-11" in works very well. Found at hardware and feed stores or online, so I would imagine you can find them in Malaysia. Hang that from the ceiling of your enclosure a bit off to one side - so the basking zone makes one side a bit warmer than the other side of the enclosure.

For UV - you may not need this at all in your area if you do have a place to give your tortoise outdoor time for 1-2 hours 2-3 times a week. However, UV light is also beneficial to a tortoise's overall well-being and enhances the way they are used to seeing things. Their eyes see colors differently than humans, and a good part of that is the way they can see wavelenghts well into the UVA spectrum. Like pictures you may have seen of how bees see flowers, the UV spectrum dramatically changes the way colors look. Much more vibrant and much more contrast. So I feel some UV is good for a well-designed tortoise environment even aside from the UVB requirement issue. I like the arcadia proT5 fixtures if you can order them in Malaysia. With a 24" enclosure, you will need to mount it directly to the ceiling and, especially if getting outdoor time for most UVB, use only a 6% bulb to add a lower UVI and the good UVA. A 12% bulb even mounted to the ceiling - with substrate and tortoise height will be too close and you will have too high a UVI. I would get a 24" fixture, and mount it off to one side along with your basking bulb to create a nice basking zone. You do not want the UV fixture covering more than 1/2 the enclosure width. You need a way for your tortoise to get away from the basking and UV light.

Hope this helps
 

JonathanSee

New Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2021
Messages
3
Location (City and/or State)
Malaysia
Jonathan. Welcome to the Forum!

Your enclosure will be outgrown quickly by an aldabra, so we need to consider thing that can be used in a larger enclosure as you upgrade. I also feel you need more height in an enclosure for a tortoise to properly get the lighting correct, so I will try to compensate for that.

I'll copy the post @Tom uses to start a conversation about lighting, then apply it more specifically to you:

There are four elements to heating and lighting:

  1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt floods from the hardware store. I run them on a timer and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them.
  2. Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day and night for tropical species. You'd only need day heat for a Testudo species.
  3. Light. I use florescent tubes for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most tubes at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish.
  4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. If you want it anyway, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height.

I'll go in a different order:

For ambient heat maintenance - I would use this even though your area is warmer, I don't want a young tortoise to have temperatures go below 80° their first year. So a dome with a ceramic base with a CHE will work well. This needs to be on a thermostat set for 80°. I will probably rarely need to come on in your area most of the time and only on a cool night. Use a brooder dome like described below in the basking section, and hang it as high as possible in the enclosure to keep it as high above tortoise level as possible to try to minimize an IR hot spot. If money is not an issue, an 80 watt radiant heat panel mounted to the ceiling would work better in a shorter enclosure like you have, especially as your tortoise grows and gains much more height as well.

For ambient lighting I recommend LEDs in a closed chamber to reduce overheating problems. Try to find something in the 5000k-6000k color range with a CRI of 90+. I would try to get about 3000 lumen total in the enclosure for good ambient lighting. A bar light or bulbs, or even flat disc style mounted to the ceiling. I feel bright light to simulate daylight is vital. Then adding lots of plants to create shading and natural hides. Put in some potted plants in heavier pots the tortoise cannot get into and move, but has overhanging fronds for the shading and hide effect. As you tortoise grows, you may need to change to hanging plants to keep the tortoise from pushing the pots over and eating the plants! I also like to put in a dark hide made from an opaque tub. This will hold humidity well and provide a good, secure feeling hide. Place a heavy plant or two on top and let it grow and droop down over the hide.

Now we need a basking zone which needs bright light with UV and heat.

For BASKING heat. An incandescent bulb is best for this in a dome fixture. Use a flood type (BR30) or a regular incandescent bulb (A19). 50 - 75 watts is all you will need. I do not like the reptile domes sold as they are normally deeper domes. You need air flow around the dome, so not a deep dome and one that has the proper vents. A standard "brooder dome" sold for raising chicks that is 10"-11" in works very well. Found at hardware and feed stores or online, so I would imagine you can find them in Malaysia. Hang that from the ceiling of your enclosure a bit off to one side - so the basking zone makes one side a bit warmer than the other side of the enclosure.

For UV - you may not need this at all in your area if you do have a place to give your tortoise outdoor time for 1-2 hours 2-3 times a week. However, UV light is also beneficial to a tortoise's overall well-being and enhances the way they are used to seeing things. Their eyes see colors differently than humans, and a good part of that is the way they can see wavelenghts well into the UVA spectrum. Like pictures you may have seen of how bees see flowers, the UV spectrum dramatically changes the way colors look. Much more vibrant and much more contrast. So I feel some UV is good for a well-designed tortoise environment even aside from the UVB requirement issue. I like the arcadia proT5 fixtures if you can order them in Malaysia. With a 24" enclosure, you will need to mount it directly to the ceiling and, especially if getting outdoor time for most UVB, use only a 6% bulb to add a lower UVI and the good UVA. A 12% bulb even mounted to the ceiling - with substrate and tortoise height will be too close and you will have too high a UVI. I would get a 24" fixture, and mount it off to one side along with your basking bulb to create a nice basking zone. You do not want the UV fixture covering more than 1/2 the enclosure width. You need a way for your tortoise to get away from the basking and UV light.

Hope this helps
Thanks Mark. This help a lots. I will post pictures once I done the setup.
 

JonathanSee

New Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2021
Messages
3
Location (City and/or State)
Malaysia
Jonathan. Welcome to the Forum!

Your enclosure will be outgrown quickly by an aldabra, so we need to consider thing that can be used in a larger enclosure as you upgrade. I also feel you need more height in an enclosure for a tortoise to properly get the lighting correct, so I will try to compensate for that.

I'll copy the post @Tom uses to start a conversation about lighting, then apply it more specifically to you:

There are four elements to heating and lighting:

  1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt floods from the hardware store. I run them on a timer and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them.
  2. Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day and night for tropical species. You'd only need day heat for a Testudo species.
  3. Light. I use florescent tubes for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most tubes at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish.
  4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. If you want it anyway, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height.

I'll go in a different order:

For ambient heat maintenance - I would use this even though your area is warmer, I don't want a young tortoise to have temperatures go below 80° their first year. So a dome with a ceramic base with a CHE will work well. This needs to be on a thermostat set for 80°. I will probably rarely need to come on in your area most of the time and only on a cool night. Use a brooder dome like described below in the basking section, and hang it as high as possible in the enclosure to keep it as high above tortoise level as possible to try to minimize an IR hot spot. If money is not an issue, an 80 watt radiant heat panel mounted to the ceiling would work better in a shorter enclosure like you have, especially as your tortoise grows and gains much more height as well.

For ambient lighting I recommend LEDs in a closed chamber to reduce overheating problems. Try to find something in the 5000k-6000k color range with a CRI of 90+. I would try to get about 3000 lumen total in the enclosure for good ambient lighting. A bar light or bulbs, or even flat disc style mounted to the ceiling. I feel bright light to simulate daylight is vital. Then adding lots of plants to create shading and natural hides. Put in some potted plants in heavier pots the tortoise cannot get into and move, but has overhanging fronds for the shading and hide effect. As you tortoise grows, you may need to change to hanging plants to keep the tortoise from pushing the pots over and eating the plants! I also like to put in a dark hide made from an opaque tub. This will hold humidity well and provide a good, secure feeling hide. Place a heavy plant or two on top and let it grow and droop down over the hide.

Now we need a basking zone which needs bright light with UV and heat.

For BASKING heat. An incandescent bulb is best for this in a dome fixture. Use a flood type (BR30) or a regular incandescent bulb (A19). 50 - 75 watts is all you will need. I do not like the reptile domes sold as they are normally deeper domes. You need air flow around the dome, so not a deep dome and one that has the proper vents. A standard "brooder dome" sold for raising chicks that is 10"-11" in works very well. Found at hardware and feed stores or online, so I would imagine you can find them in Malaysia. Hang that from the ceiling of your enclosure a bit off to one side - so the basking zone makes one side a bit warmer than the other side of the enclosure.

For UV - you may not need this at all in your area if you do have a place to give your tortoise outdoor time for 1-2 hours 2-3 times a week. However, UV light is also beneficial to a tortoise's overall well-being and enhances the way they are used to seeing things. Their eyes see colors differently than humans, and a good part of that is the way they can see wavelenghts well into the UVA spectrum. Like pictures you may have seen of how bees see flowers, the UV spectrum dramatically changes the way colors look. Much more vibrant and much more contrast. So I feel some UV is good for a well-designed tortoise environment even aside from the UVB requirement issue. I like the arcadia proT5 fixtures if you can order them in Malaysia. With a 24" enclosure, you will need to mount it directly to the ceiling and, especially if getting outdoor time for most UVB, use only a 6% bulb to add a lower UVI and the good UVA. A 12% bulb even mounted to the ceiling - with substrate and tortoise height will be too close and you will have too high a UVI. I would get a 24" fixture, and mount it off to one side along with your basking bulb to create a nice basking zone. You do not want the UV fixture covering more than 1/2 the enclosure width. You need a way for your tortoise to get away from the basking and UV light.

Hope this helps
Mark, what plant do you recommend for the enclosure?
 
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