Mercury Vapor Bulbs

Crotalis

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Over the years, I've learned that most things sold and marketed by reptile supply companies can be purchased MUCH cheaper if you know where to shop. But, I don't want to take a chance when it comes to the UV lighting. I know that Mercury Vapor bulbs have been around for quite some time, and you can buy them for a fraction of the cost. Does anyone know what specs to look for? I'd rather spend $15-$20 than $60! Lol.
 

jaizei

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With UVB lighting, you're probably not going to find a cheaper alternative to the 'reptile brands'.
 

Tom

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Over the years, I've learned that most things sold and marketed by reptile supply companies can be purchased MUCH cheaper if you know where to shop. But, I don't want to take a chance when it comes to the UV lighting. I know that Mercury Vapor bulbs have been around for quite some time, and you can buy them for a fraction of the cost. Does anyone know what specs to look for? I'd rather spend $15-$20 than $60! Lol.

I agree with Jaizei. This is not an area to try to get a discount on off-brand stuff. You might buy something cheaper and end up blinding your tortoises.

Additionally, MVBs are really not the best way to go. Some of them only produce UV for 3 months and all of them are way too desiccating on a tortoise's carapace. Better to use a low wattage flood bulb for basking and a long lasting florescent tube for UV.
 

Crotalis

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I agree with Jaizei. This is not an area to try to get a discount on off-brand stuff. You might buy something cheaper and end up blinding your tortoises.

Additionally, MVBs are really not the best way to go. Some of them only produce UV for 3 months and all of them are way too desiccating on a tortoise's carapace. Better to use a low wattage flood bulb for basking and a long lasting florescent tube for UV.

Currently, I have a CFL (I can't remember the exact brand/model) for UV in the middle, a 100w CHE on one end w/ 100 degree basking spot, and a red heat bulb (on a dimmer switch) controlling the other end at 80 degrees. It's a 36x24 concrete mixing tub, with an 18" tall canopy/chamber on top to maintain heat and humidity. Do I really 'need' to change anything? -Not looking for opinions, but rather factual input. Case in point: Just because you 'can' raise a tortoise on rabbit food (because it's digestible) doesn't mean you 'should'. (I've seen it for YEARS. But didn't know to correct the individuals, as I had never been a keeper of chelonians, until recently.)
 

Tom

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Currently, I have a CFL (I can't remember the exact brand/model) for UV in the middle, a 100w CHE on one end w/ 100 degree basking spot, and a red heat bulb (on a dimmer switch) controlling the other end at 80 degrees. It's a 36x24 concrete mixing tub, with an 18" tall canopy/chamber on top to maintain heat and humidity. Do I really 'need' to change anything? -Not looking for opinions, but rather factual input. Case in point: Just because you 'can' raise a tortoise on rabbit food (because it's digestible) doesn't mean you 'should'. (I've seen it for YEARS. But didn't know to correct the individuals, as I had never been a keeper of chelonians, until recently.)
I'm sorry, but you aren't going to find a lot of scientifically proven, peer reviewed, journal articles on these topics. What you are going to get is lots of opinions from people who, hopefully, have extensive first hand experience with the topic. You'll have to look at the evidence presented, listen to the arguments, and decide for your self. I'd question the motivations and the experience level of each person giving an opinion in these discussions.

Here is my opinion in answer to your question: "Do I really 'need' to change anything?"

Yes, you do. I've seen coil bulbs do damage. Repeatedly. Further, the ones that don't do damage, are not effective UV sources anyway. So why use them? The answer for most people is that they are cheap, convenient and easy. People don't use them because they are the best UV source that you can provide for your captive raised tortoise.

Colored bulbs should never be used over tortoises. They have better color vision than we do and this colored light changes the color of the little world we have them living in. Imagine your whole house and everything in it was red and lit up all day and all night and you could never step foot outside of this red zone. It wouldn't be good for a person, and its not good for them.

CHEs should not be used for a basking spot. They are good for maintaining ambient temps in indoor enclosures and should be run on a thermostat for this purpose. You need a bulb emitting "white" light and heat for basking. I prefer low wattage flood bulbs or regular round bulbs for this purpose, and I'm still searching for something better that doesn't desiccate the carapace so much. I haven't found a way around it yet.

Here is a response I typed up for a similar question recently:
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.
  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.
 

Crotalis

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I'm sorry, but you aren't going to find a lot of scientifically proven, peer reviewed, journal articles on these topics. What you are going to get is lots of opinions from people who, hopefully, have extensive first hand experience with the topic. You'll have to look at the evidence presented, listen to the arguments, and decide for your self. I'd question the motivations and the experience level of each person giving an opinion in these discussions.

Here is my opinion in answer to your question: "Do I really 'need' to change anything?"

Yes, you do. I've seen coil bulbs do damage. Repeatedly. Further, the ones that don't do damage, are not effective UV sources anyway. So why use them? The answer for most people is that they are cheap, convenient and easy. People don't use them because they are the best UV source that you can provide for your captive raised tortoise.

Colored bulbs should never be used over tortoises. They have better color vision than we do and this colored light changes the color of the little world we have them living in. Imagine your whole house and everything in it was red and lit up all day and all night and you could never step foot outside of this red zone. It wouldn't be good for a person, and its not good for them.

CHEs should not be used for a basking spot. They are good for maintaining ambient temps in indoor enclosures and should be run on a thermostat for this purpose. You need a bulb emitting "white" light and heat for basking. I prefer low wattage flood bulbs or regular round bulbs for this purpose, and I'm still searching for something better that doesn't desiccate the carapace so much. I haven't found a way around it yet.

Here is a response I typed up for a similar question recently:
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.
  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 appreciate the info! I wasn't aware that torts were sensitive to the red lighting (many herps can't see red light). That's getting changed as soon as I get home! I guess I'll modify my canopy to accommodate a fluorescent tube fixture, too. what height would you recommend? I know they lose effectiveness the higher you go. I don't have too much trust in the MVB's. I've read about some potential hazards.
 

Tom

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I appreciate the info! I wasn't aware that torts were sensitive to the red lighting (many herps can't see red light). That's getting changed as soon as I get home! I guess I'll modify my canopy to accommodate a fluorescent tube fixture, too. what height would you recommend? I know they lose effectiveness the higher you go. I don't have too much trust in the MVB's. I've read about some potential hazards.
Mounting height for the florescent tub depends on what you buy and what species you've got it over. Less for forest species and more UV for other species. A regular 10.0 T8 tube will need to be less than 12 inches from the tortoise. A 10.0 HO tube might be good at 16-18 inches. An Arcadia 12% HO tube can be 22-24 inches away and still be effective.
 

Crotalis

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I think I'm going to opt for the T8 ReptiSun 10.0 UVB, and mount it to the "ceiling" in the canopy. From what I've read, it seems like it should do the job. My enclosure is 36", but I'm not sure if I can actually get a fixture for a 36" bulb to fit, so I may go with the 24" light and mount it centrally. What are your thoughts, Tom? Thanks for the help, by the way!

And, I think I may have misspoken, regarding my CHE as a "basking" spot. What I meant was that I have a rock under the CHE (20" or so), and the temp on the rock is 100. (Not technically a "basking" spot.) I guess I wasn't really thinking of the CHE in the proper manner. I 'assumed' it would generate a hot spot beneath it, while creating an overall ambient temp.. My thinking was solid, but apparently the application is rife with flaws! Lol.
 
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