More help with Pyramiding?

peridot

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Previous post:

Hi! I wanted to post an update on my tort! He's still showing signs of pyramiding.

He stays in a closed chamber, with an automatic misting system. It goes off 3 times a day, one in the afternoon for 2 minutes. All the other times are for 20 seconds. He also has coconut fiber substrate.
I use the Zoomed 10.0 HO T5 UVB, and he has one ceramic heat at 100w and one at 50w. I very rarely turn the 50w one on, mainly in winter if we are below freezing.
His humidity never drops below 50%. It usually stays at 80% on the side with the 100w ceramic heat and 90% on the other side.
I also soak him for about every other day.

Is there anything else I can be doing? Or recommend? I just feel like I must be doing something wrong and want to make sure he’s as healthy and smooth as possible.
Is the CH sucking out too much of the humidity? Should I try a different bedding?
 

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Tom

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Previous post:

Hi! I wanted to post an update on my tort! He's still showing signs of pyramiding.

He stays in a closed chamber, with an automatic misting system. It goes off 3 times a day, one in the afternoon for 2 minutes. All the other times are for 20 seconds. He also has coconut fiber substrate.
I use the Zoomed 10.0 HO T5 UVB, and he has one ceramic heat at 100w and one at 50w. I very rarely turn the 50w one on, mainly in winter if we are below freezing.
His humidity never drops below 50%. It usually stays at 80% on the side with the 100w ceramic heat and 90% on the other side.
I also soak him for about every other day.

Is there anything else I can be doing? Or recommend? I just feel like I must be doing something wrong and want to make sure he’s as healthy and smooth as possible.
Is the CH sucking out too much of the humidity? Should I try a different bedding?
I see several problems.

If you are running a mister 3 times a day and your tortoise isn't swimming, your enclosure is too open and allowing too much evaporation. You need a closed chamber, and with a closed chamber you won't need a mister or humidifier, and your humidity will always be 80-90+.

The ceramic heating elements should be set on a thermostat. They shouldn't be on or off. The thermostat should control them depending on temperature all year long.

New evidence and experiments show that UV tubes are drying out the new growth areas between the scutes and contributing to pyramiding. I stopped using indoor UV, and instead switched to using real sunshine outside a couple times a week, and dietary D3. Does your tortoise ever get sunshine outside?

Babies should be soaked daily. Did you soak daily when it was younger and smaller?

@zovick and @Sterant know this species well and both of them grow smooth tortoises. Let's ask for their input.

@Markw84 knows pyramiding prevention better than anyone. Maybe he'll chime in too.
 

wellington

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I see several problems.

If you are running a mister 3 times a day and your tortoise isn't swimming, your enclosure is too open and allowing too much evaporation. You need a closed chamber, and with a closed chamber you won't need a mister or humidifier, and your humidity will always be 80-90+.

The ceramic heating elements should be set on a thermostat. They shouldn't be on or off. The thermostat should control them depending on temperature all year long.
Now even the low heat tube fluorescents are causing pyramiding? How can that be, they barely give off heat?
Does it maybe not have anything to do with the heat but something else in the making of artificial uvb?
This info stinks

New evidence and experiments show that UV tubes are drying out the new growth areas between the scutes and contributing to pyramiding. I stopped using indoor UV, and instead switched to using real sunshine outside a couple times a week, and dietary D3. Does your tortoise ever get sunshine outside?

Babies should be soaked daily. Did you soak daily when it was younger and smaller?

@zovick and @Sterant know this species well and both of them grow smooth tortoises. Let's ask for their input.

@Markw84 knows pyramiding prevention better than anyone. Maybe he'll chime in too.
 

Tom

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Now even the low heat tube fluorescents are causing pyramiding? How can that be, they barely give off heat?
Does it maybe not have anything to do with the heat but something else in the making of artificial uvb?
This info stinks
Its the UVA they generate. We think. UVA is extremely desiccating. Its used as a curative agent for some industrial epoxies and adhesives.

UV coming from the sun is heavily filtered by the large water vapor barrier that is in the atmosphere. Our artificial UV isn't filtered this way, and the direct rays are much more desiccating. @Markw84 understands all of this and explains it better than anyone I know. Mark, please correct me where I'm wrong and elaborate for us?

We couldn't figure out why some percentage of babies raised in prefect conditions are still showing some mild pyramiding. He mentioned this to me a year ago, and I shut the UV tubes off. The current pyramiding stopped progressing, and no new pyramiding has started. I'm using sunshine a couple of times a week, and D3 supplements in their food. No more pyramiding, and no other problems to report.
 

wellington

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Its the UVA they generate. We think. UVA is extremely desiccating. Its used as a curative agent for some industrial epoxies and adhesives.

UV coming from the sun is heavily filtered by the large water vapor barrier that is in the atmosphere. Our artificial UV isn't filtered this way, and the direct rays are much more desiccating. @Markw84 understands all of this and explains it better than anyone I know. Mark, please correct me where I'm wrong and elaborate for us?

We couldn't figure out why some percentage of babies raised in prefect conditions are still showing some mild pyramiding. He mentioned this to me a year ago, and I shut the UV tubes off. The current pyramiding stopped progressing, and no new pyramiding has started. I'm using sunshine a couple of times a week, and D3 supplements in their food. No more pyramiding, and no other problems to report.
Wow!
So for those raising hatchlings in the cold North what would be recommended for them during the too cold for outdoor time months?
I won't be raising any more little ones but for the ones that will, what should they do?
 

Tom

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Wow!
So for those raising hatchlings in the cold North what would be recommended for them during the too cold for outdoor time months?
I won't be raising any more little ones but for the ones that will, what should they do?
I don't know. Someone up there is going to have to do some experimentation. My unproven thoughts on the matter:
  1. Use a good HO UV tube, but set it on a timer for one hour mid day.
  2. Spray the carapace with distilled, RO, or collected rainwater several times a day.
  3. Soak more often.
  4. Dietary D3. I use RepCal with D3.
  5. Mazuri has D3 and is a good supplemental food.
  6. Keep ambient temps warm to discourage basking under the incandescent basking bulb.
  7. All torts should have a humid hide.
  8. Closed chambers for all.
 

turtlesteve

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Its the UVA they generate. We think. UVA is extremely desiccating. Its used as a curative agent for some industrial epoxies and adhesives.

UV coming from the sun is heavily filtered by the large water vapor barrier that is in the atmosphere. Our artificial UV isn't filtered this way, and the direct rays are much more desiccating. @Markw84 understands all of this and explains it better than anyone I know. Mark, please correct me where I'm wrong and elaborate for us?

We couldn't figure out why some percentage of babies raised in prefect conditions are still showing some mild pyramiding. He mentioned this to me a year ago, and I shut the UV tubes off. The current pyramiding stopped progressing, and no new pyramiding has started. I'm using sunshine a couple of times a week, and D3 supplements in their food. No more pyramiding, and no other problems to report.
So I have spent some time thinking about this theory. I can’t prove anything but I’m not convinced that the T5 UV fluorescents have a UVA problem. Here is the spectral output of one of these bulbs from Zoo Med’s website:

E949B5EA-9A1E-4005-910A-182C9A2261D7.jpeg

And for comparison, here is sunlight at sea level:

97EB9C1C-EBE4-4D5C-8DCB-B5CF6C687658.png

Comparing the spectra reveals two things:

1. The atmosphere is not filtering out UVA very effectively - obviously some is removed (the dips near 400 nm) but it appears that the total amount of UVA is much more than the UVB. In comparison, the T5’s peak at 320-350 nm and have much less UVA than filtered sunlight at the same UV index.

2. The rest of the T5 spectrum looks awful. If the UV index is appropriate, the amount of visible light is a tiny, tiny fraction of sunlight.

Now, it’s possible that the spectrum of these bulbs are not as advertised, but I was not able to find independent data to check. I suspect something else might be going on though.

I am experimenting with T5’s plus LED’s to provide a brighter enclosure, to encourage the tortoises to spend more time hiding or buried. Way too soon to tell but I am chasing a hypothesis that the problem is behavioral - e.g. they spend too much time in the UV, being tricked by the dim visible light.
 

Markw84

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@peridot From what I know and see, there is little you can now do with the pyramiding on your radiata. Because of its age/size, I believe the bone has already ossified and growing in a plane that will not change at this point. From what I am seeing in my studies and experiements, once the growth of a star or radiated gets to where the new growth from growth seam to areolae is equal to the width of the areolae (original baby scute) the bone along the vertebrals has developed a growth plane established by growth up to that point. Since the bones are more numerous than the scutes along the vertebrals, many of the bones are now tipped along that new plane and are not even in contact with a scute growth seam. Bones grow along their length, not at the seams like scutes do. So you have a situation where the pattern is now set. Up until the time when the space between areolae is equal to the width of the areolae, you can dramatically smooth out new growth and change that pattern. But once the new growth pattern is greater than the original areolae width, the plane of entire vertebral bones have been altered.

If you look at the seams between costals and vertebrals you can see there is a smoothing happening. In that case there is a single bone going down from the vertebral bone down to the marginals. So that bone can be affected yet by the pressure applied by the growing keratin at the vertebral/costal seam.

The hypothesis I am working on, that seems to be holding true from both @Tom and my experiences so far, is that the lighting we provide in our enclosures has way too much UVA as a percentage of total light if we are using the UVB lights currently on the market. In order to get sufficient UVB levels, the UVA also produces is way higher than would be present in natural sunlight as a percentage of total "light". The light we provide in eclosures is much dimmer and less intense than natural sunlight. So when we add a fixture that is 35% UVA in its total output of energy, that gives us a lighting situation that is probably 10%-20% of the total light intensity in the enclosure being UVA. In natural sunlight, UVA is perhaps 1% of the total light.

UVA is the primary aging factor that causes us to age in the sun. It causes fabrics to fade, plastics to degrade and become brittle. It is used to cure paints and many epoxies. It is used in nail salons to cure the acrylic nail polish used. It certainly could cause new keratin to harden or "cure" more quickly.

But we also have another factor contributing to this. Altered behavior of captive tortoises. In the wild a young tortoise very rarely comes out in the open. When they do bask, it is normally early mornings to heat up for the day. Tropical tortoises often forage in evenings. My burmese stars stay in their night box until about sunset, them come out and eat and graze until about 9 PM when they return to sleep for the night. They avoid the sun. The most recent study I read on sulcata populations talks about their having to do their study in August only, as any other month, it would be rare to see a sulcata above ground. August is the month it rains and all the plants grow. The rest of the time, the tortoise remain hidden. The intensity of the natural sunlight is something they naturally learn to avoid most of the time. The intensity of the lighting in most enclosures is no where near intense enough to tell a tortoise there is too much UV! A similar intensity of natural light at dusk or dawn would carry virtually no UV.

In our enclosures, inside and out, our tortoise become much more used to us and the daily activities. they are out and about much more than they ever would be in the wild. The soon loose the natural instinct to stay hidden as they eagerly wait the day's food offerings. The light we provide is so dim, it never triggers any reflex to find cover.

They are exposed to much more UV than they ever would be in the wild.

@wellington So what to do when we need to provide UVB in the north in winter? I personally would do what I have been suggesting in as many posts as possible this past year or so.

Provide bright lights in the enclosure. Plenty of 5000k 90+ cri lights to create something more like daylight.
Use the basking incadescent to add warmer 2500k lighting and the basking heat.
Add midday peak UVB light but limit it to just 1-2 hours midday maybe 3-4 days a week.
Provide lots of natural plant hides for shade and cover.

Once you have that, I cycle the lighting where the basking comes on first for my "dawn". Perhaps 7AM
Then the ambient lighting - the array of LED comes on at 7:30
3 or 4 days a week the UVB goes on at 12 am and off at 1:30
The ambient LEDs go off at 8:30PM
The basking light goes off at 9PM

IF you look at the salt water aquarium world, they have come a long way in understanding and offering great lighting solutions. The fish, the corals, the natural reefs all have become healthy environments in the home salt water aquarium. They found lighting a key and vital part of making that possible. We are only now starting to realize the importance of proper light for our tortoises.
 

Markw84

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So I have spent some time thinking about this theory. I can’t prove anything but I’m not convinced that the T5 UV fluorescents have a UVA problem. Here is the spectral output of one of these bulbs from Zoo Med’s website:

View attachment 306261

And for comparison, here is sunlight at sea level:

View attachment 306260

Comparing the spectra reveals two things:

1. The atmosphere is not filtering out UVA very effectively - obviously some is removed (the dips near 400 nm) but it appears that the total amount of UVA is much more than the UVB. In comparison, the T5’s peak at 320-350 nm and have much less UVA than filtered sunlight at the same UV index.

2. The rest of the T5 spectrum looks awful. If the UV index is appropriate, the amount of visible light is a tiny, tiny fraction of sunlight.

Now, it’s possible that the spectrum of these bulbs are not as advertised, but I was not able to find independent data to check. I suspect something else might be going on though.

I am experimenting with T5’s plus LED’s to provide a brighter enclosure, to encourage the tortoises to spend more time hiding or buried. Way too soon to tell but I am chasing a hypothesis that the problem is behavioral - e.g. they spend too much time in the UV, being tricked by the dim visible light.
Steve

We seem to be on the same page. You posted while I was typing.
 

turtlesteve

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5 Year Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2012
Messages
449
@peridot From what I know and see, there is little you can now do with the pyramiding on your radiata. Because of its age/size, I believe the bone has already ossified and growing in a plane that will not change at this point. From what I am seeing in my studies and experiements, once the growth of a star or radiated gets to where the new growth from growth seam to areolae is equal to the width of the areolae (original baby scute) the bone along the vertebrals has developed a growth plane established by growth up to that point. Since the bones are more numerous than the scutes along the vertebrals, many of the bones are now tipped along that new plane and are not even in contact with a scute growth seam. Bones grow along their length, not at the seams like scutes do. So you have a situation where the pattern is now set. Up until the time when the space between areolae is equal to the width of the areolae, you can dramatically smooth out new growth and change that pattern. But once the new growth pattern is greater than the original areolae width, the plane of entire vertebral bones have been altered.

If you look at the seams between costals and vertebrals you can see there is a smoothing happening. In that case there is a single bone going down from the vertebral bone down to the marginals. So that bone can be affected yet by the pressure applied by the growing keratin at the vertebral/costal seam.

The hypothesis I am working on, that seems to be holding true from both @Tom and my experiences so far, is that the lighting we provide in our enclosures has way too much UVA as a percentage of total light if we are using the UVB lights currently on the market. In order to get sufficient UVB levels, the UVA also produces is way higher than would be present in natural sunlight as a percentage of total "light". The light we provide in eclosures is much dimmer and less intense than natural sunlight. So when we add a fixture that is 35% UVA in its total output of energy, that gives us a lighting situation that is probably 10%-20% of the total light intensity in the enclosure being UVA. In natural sunlight, UVA is perhaps 1% of the total light.

UVA is the primary aging factor that causes us to age in the sun. It causes fabrics to fade, plastics to degrade and become brittle. It is used to cure paints and many epoxies. It is used in nail salons to cure the acrylic nail polish used. It certainly could cause new keratin to harden or "cure" more quickly.

But we also have another factor contributing to this. Altered behavior of captive tortoises. In the wild a young tortoise very rarely comes out in the open. When they do bask, it is normally early mornings to heat up for the day. Tropical tortoises often forage in evenings. My burmese stars stay in their night box until about sunset, them come out and eat and graze until about 9 PM when they return to sleep for the night. They avoid the sun. The most recent study I read on sulcata populations talks about their having to do their study in August only, as any other month, it would be rare to see a sulcata above ground. August is the month it rains and all the plants grow. The rest of the time, the tortoise remain hidden. The intensity of the natural sunlight is something they naturally learn to avoid most of the time. The intensity of the lighting in most enclosures is no where near intense enough to tell a tortoise there is too much UV! A similar intensity of natural light at dusk or dawn would carry virtually no UV.

In our enclosures, inside and out, our tortoise become much more used to us and the daily activities. they are out and about much more than they ever would be in the wild. The soon loose the natural instinct to stay hidden as they eagerly wait the day's food offerings. The light we provide is so dim, it never triggers any reflex to find cover.

They are exposed to much more UV than they ever would be in the wild.

@wellington So what to do when we need to provide UVB in the north in winter? I personally would do what I have been suggesting in as many posts as possible this past year or so.

Provide bright lights in the enclosure. Plenty of 5000k 90+ cri lights to create something more like daylight.
Use the basking incadescent to add warmer 2500k lighting and the basking heat.
Add midday peak UVB light but limit it to just 1-2 hours midday maybe 3-4 days a week.
Provide lots of natural plant hides for shade and cover.

Once you have that, I cycle the lighting where the basking comes on first for my "dawn". Perhaps 7AM
Then the ambient lighting - the array of LED comes on at 7:30
3 or 4 days a week the UVB goes on at 12 am and off at 1:30
The ambient LEDs go off at 8:30PM
The basking light goes off at 9PM

IF you look at the salt water aquarium world, they have come a long way in understanding and offering great lighting solutions. The fish, the corals, the natural reefs all have become healthy environments in the home salt water aquarium. They found lighting a key and vital part of making that possible. We are only now starting to realize the importance of proper light for our tortoises.
This is good stuff and we are definitely chasing the same rabbit here. The only point where I (maybe) differ is the T5 UVA levels. If the light is set to the proper UV index, then the UVB level is matching sunlight, the UVA level is low (maybe 50%) and the visible light is abysmally low (maybe 1-2%). We humans just don’t notice because our mammalian eyes adapt very well to a wide range of light intensity. Yeah, the UVA might be 35% of the bulb’s power output but if the entire power output is just 1-2% of sunlight, it’s not going to hurt them (presuming they would just bask briefly like they would in the wild).

I am not entirely convinced that UVA is the real culprit, versus total UV or just physical desiccation. However, there is definitely something happening - tortoises will sleep under these T5’s, in the open, for hours at a time. That is not proper tortoise behavior.

While I have seen a little improvement in a couple of my test subjects recently, I can’t be fully confident because I have made other husbandry changes at the same time...
 

peridot

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Messages
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I see several problems.

If you are running a mister 3 times a day and your tortoise isn't swimming, your enclosure is too open and allowing too much evaporation. You need a closed chamber, and with a closed chamber you won't need a mister or humidifier, and your humidity will always be 80-90+.

The ceramic heating elements should be set on a thermostat. They shouldn't be on or off. The thermostat should control them depending on temperature all year long.

New evidence and experiments show that UV tubes are drying out the new growth areas between the scutes and contributing to pyramiding. I stopped using indoor UV, and instead switched to using real sunshine outside a couple times a week, and dietary D3. Does your tortoise ever get sunshine outside?

Babies should be soaked daily. Did you soak daily when it was younger and smaller?

@zovick and @Sterant know this species well and both of them grow smooth tortoises. Let's ask for their input.

@Markw84 knows pyramiding prevention better than anyone. Maybe he'll chime in too.
He's in a closed chamber, has been since I got him. It's a 48x24x24, which is way too small now. We're currently on the waiting list for a much bigger upgrade. His substrate is always wet, but he's definitely never swimming.
He has an outdoor enclosure and I try to make sure he gets outside for several hours each day.
I soaked him daily when he was a baby, but now do every other day.


Its the UVA they generate. We think. UVA is extremely desiccating. Its used as a curative agent for some industrial epoxies and adhesives.

UV coming from the sun is heavily filtered by the large water vapor barrier that is in the atmosphere. Our artificial UV isn't filtered this way, and the direct rays are much more desiccating. @Markw84 understands all of this and explains it better than anyone I know. Mark, please correct me where I'm wrong and elaborate for us?

We couldn't figure out why some percentage of babies raised in prefect conditions are still showing some mild pyramiding. He mentioned this to me a year ago, and I shut the UV tubes off. The current pyramiding stopped progressing, and no new pyramiding has started. I'm using sunshine a couple of times a week, and D3 supplements in their food. No more pyramiding, and no other problems to report.
What do you do in the winter? It gets pretty cold here in the winter and I wouldn't feel comfortable taking him outside. Also, how often do you use the D3 supplements?
 

peridot

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Messages
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Location (City and/or State)
NC
Can you post a picture of the enclosure.
His enclosure is a closed enclosure. I can take a photo later, but there's not much to see. He's outgrown it and I'm waiting on his upgraded, bigger one to arrive.

@peridot From what I know and see, there is little you can now do with the pyramiding on your radiata. Because of its age/size, I believe the bone has already ossified and growing in a plane that will not change at this point. From what I am seeing in my studies and experiements, once the growth of a star or radiated gets to where the new growth from growth seam to areolae is equal to the width of the areolae (original baby scute) the bone along the vertebrals has developed a growth plane established by growth up to that point. Since the bones are more numerous than the scutes along the vertebrals, many of the bones are now tipped along that new plane and are not even in contact with a scute growth seam. Bones grow along their length, not at the seams like scutes do. So you have a situation where the pattern is now set. Up until the time when the space between areolae is equal to the width of the areolae, you can dramatically smooth out new growth and change that pattern. But once the new growth pattern is greater than the original areolae width, the plane of entire vertebral bones have been altered.

If you look at the seams between costals and vertebrals you can see there is a smoothing happening. In that case there is a single bone going down from the vertebral bone down to the marginals. So that bone can be affected yet by the pressure applied by the growing keratin at the vertebral/costal seam.

The hypothesis I am working on, that seems to be holding true from both @Tom and my experiences so far, is that the lighting we provide in our enclosures has way too much UVA as a percentage of total light if we are using the UVB lights currently on the market. In order to get sufficient UVB levels, the UVA also produces is way higher than would be present in natural sunlight as a percentage of total "light". The light we provide in eclosures is much dimmer and less intense than natural sunlight. So when we add a fixture that is 35% UVA in its total output of energy, that gives us a lighting situation that is probably 10%-20% of the total light intensity in the enclosure being UVA. In natural sunlight, UVA is perhaps 1% of the total light.

UVA is the primary aging factor that causes us to age in the sun. It causes fabrics to fade, plastics to degrade and become brittle. It is used to cure paints and many epoxies. It is used in nail salons to cure the acrylic nail polish used. It certainly could cause new keratin to harden or "cure" more quickly.

But we also have another factor contributing to this. Altered behavior of captive tortoises. In the wild a young tortoise very rarely comes out in the open. When they do bask, it is normally early mornings to heat up for the day. Tropical tortoises often forage in evenings. My burmese stars stay in their night box until about sunset, them come out and eat and graze until about 9 PM when they return to sleep for the night. They avoid the sun. The most recent study I read on sulcata populations talks about their having to do their study in August only, as any other month, it would be rare to see a sulcata above ground. August is the month it rains and all the plants grow. The rest of the time, the tortoise remain hidden. The intensity of the natural sunlight is something they naturally learn to avoid most of the time. The intensity of the lighting in most enclosures is no where near intense enough to tell a tortoise there is too much UV! A similar intensity of natural light at dusk or dawn would carry virtually no UV.

In our enclosures, inside and out, our tortoise become much more used to us and the daily activities. they are out and about much more than they ever would be in the wild. The soon loose the natural instinct to stay hidden as they eagerly wait the day's food offerings. The light we provide is so dim, it never triggers any reflex to find cover.

They are exposed to much more UV than they ever would be in the wild.

@wellington So what to do when we need to provide UVB in the north in winter? I personally would do what I have been suggesting in as many posts as possible this past year or so.

Provide bright lights in the enclosure. Plenty of 5000k 90+ cri lights to create something more like daylight.
Use the basking incadescent to add warmer 2500k lighting and the basking heat.
Add midday peak UVB light but limit it to just 1-2 hours midday maybe 3-4 days a week.
Provide lots of natural plant hides for shade and cover.

Once you have that, I cycle the lighting where the basking comes on first for my "dawn". Perhaps 7AM
Then the ambient lighting - the array of LED comes on at 7:30
3 or 4 days a week the UVB goes on at 12 am and off at 1:30
The ambient LEDs go off at 8:30PM
The basking light goes off at 9PM

IF you look at the salt water aquarium world, they have come a long way in understanding and offering great lighting solutions. The fish, the corals, the natural reefs all have become healthy environments in the home salt water aquarium. They found lighting a key and vital part of making that possible. We are only now starting to realize the importance of proper light for our tortoises.
Also, maybe it's just too early for me, but I'm not sure 100% understand your first paragraph! I know what is done is done and there is no smoothing that area. Are you saying he'll continue to grow that way, regardless if I change everything? Or that area will stay the same and he can possible smooth out in future growth?

Do you use ceramic heat with this suggestion? Or what do you use for warmth? Do you do anything besides the basking heat? I'm just trying to make sure I fully understand everything!
How many 5000k 90+ cri lights do you typically have in your enclosures? (I know this probably depends on size of enclosure, but wanted to ask)

And it's ok for smaller torts to only receive about an hour of UVB?
I'm going to work towards changing everything to this schedule. I might have more questions, haha.
 
Last edited:

Markw84

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This is good stuff and we are definitely chasing the same rabbit here. The only point where I (maybe) differ is the T5 UVA levels. If the light is set to the proper UV index, then the UVB level is matching sunlight, the UVA level is low (maybe 50%) and the visible light is abysmally low (maybe 1-2%). We humans just don’t notice because our mammalian eyes adapt very well to a wide range of light intensity. Yeah, the UVA might be 35% of the bulb’s power output but if the entire power output is just 1-2% of sunlight, it’s not going to hurt them (presuming they would just bask briefly like they would in the wild).

I am not entirely convinced that UVA is the real culprit, versus total UV or just physical desiccation. However, there is definitely something happening - tortoises will sleep under these T5’s, in the open, for hours at a time. That is not proper tortoise behavior.

While I have seen a little improvement in a couple of my test subjects recently, I can’t be fully confident because I have made other husbandry changes at the same time...
The issue with the UVA levels I see is that even though we adjust height to get a comparable UVI to sunlight by properly adjusting our fixture heights, we are doing that with perhaps 1/10th the light intensity in the enclosure Sunlight with a UVI of 3.0 is extremely bright. Extremely intense. That intensity tells the tortoise something about its inclination to be out in that light. So the same UVI without that brightness or intensity would not tell the tortoise it is midday sun. If intensity is a trigger for behavior, which in all my experiments it is, then we are creating a sunlight equivalent UV zone without the intensity that would tell the tortoise it is baking!
 

turtlesteve

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The issue with the UVA levels I see is that even though we adjust height to get a comparable UVI to sunlight by properly adjusting our fixture heights, we are doing that with perhaps 1/10th the light intensity in the enclosure Sunlight with a UVI of 3.0 is extremely bright. Extremely intense. That intensity tells the tortoise something about its inclination to be out in that light. So the same UVI without that brightness or intensity would not tell the tortoise it is midday sun. If intensity is a trigger for behavior, which in all my experiments it is, then we are creating a sunlight equivalent UV zone without the intensity that would tell the tortoise it is baking!
Exactly. We are on the same page, I was just distracted by the semantics of “too much” UVA. It’s not too much in absolute intensity (watts per square meter), it’s too much in terms of exposure time, because the tortoise perceives a condition similar to twilight rather than midday sun.
 

Markw84

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His enclosure is a closed enclosure. I can take a photo later, but there's not much to see. He's outgrown it and I'm waiting on his upgraded, bigger one to arrive.



Also, maybe it's just too early for me, but I'm not sure 100% understand your first paragraph! I know what is done is done and there is no smoothing that area. Are you saying he'll continue to grow that way, regardless if I change everything? Or that area will stay the same and he can possible smooth out in future growth?

Do you use ceramic heat with this suggestion? Or what do you use for warmth? Do you do anything besides the basking heat? I'm just trying to make sure I fully understand everything!
How many 5000k 90+ cri lights do you typically have in your enclosures? (I know this probably depends on size of enclosure, but wanted to ask)

And it's ok for smaller torts to only receive about an hour of UVB?
I'm going to work towards changing everything to this schedule. I might have more questions, haha.
Unfortunately from what I have seen and experienced, I do believe your tortoise will not continue to grow that way no matter what you do. Once they are that size the bone patterns have been altered and scute seams no longer affect the plane many vertebral bones are now growing on.

I do use either CHE or RHP for ambient heat. I also believe far IR (IR-C) is far less desiccating and extremely efficient at heating without drying as much as is possible. If using CHEs I do like to ensure they are mounted high enough to give a more even heat. Too close (less than 16") can be an issue.

I use enough of the LED lights for ambient to get around 1000 lumens per 3 sq ft of enclosure. In a 3x8 enclosure I have 8 1050 lumen LEDs installed. When you then add the basking light, which is only about 950 lumens and 2500k than turn on the UV light which is about 1500 lumen and 7500k - it does look bright. Brighter than any other tortoise enclosures I have seen. However, the sun at sea level is about 100,000 lumen per sq meter. Which is about 30,000 lumen per 3 sq ft to compare with my goal.
 

zovick

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I see several problems.

If you are running a mister 3 times a day and your tortoise isn't swimming, your enclosure is too open and allowing too much evaporation. You need a closed chamber, and with a closed chamber you won't need a mister or humidifier, and your humidity will always be 80-90+.

The ceramic heating elements should be set on a thermostat. They shouldn't be on or off. The thermostat should control them depending on temperature all year long.

New evidence and experiments show that UV tubes are drying out the new growth areas between the scutes and contributing to pyramiding. I stopped using indoor UV, and instead switched to using real sunshine outside a couple times a week, and dietary D3. Does your tortoise ever get sunshine outside?

Babies should be soaked daily. Did you soak daily when it was younger and smaller?

@zovick and @Sterant know this species well and both of them grow smooth tortoises. Let's ask for their input.

@Markw84 knows pyramiding prevention better than anyone. Maybe he'll chime in too.
While I appreciate the recognition from Tom for raising smooth Radiated Tortoises, I am probably not the best one to give advice on the way to do it. I did everything incorrectly by today's standards: I never used a closed chamber nor provided a single humid hide for my baby tortoises. I kept their Reptisun 10.0 T-12, then later T-8, and finally T-5 fluorescent tubes on from 8 AM to 10 PM every day, fed them lots of grocery store greens, plus numerous fruits, kale, and romaine lettuce, etc.. I did put Herptivite vitamins and Ultrafine Rep-Cal WITH vitamin D3 on their food daily, and kept food available to them all day, every day. Once a month I put Avian Bene-Bac on their food as well.

I never fed my tortoises Mazuri or any other prepared commercial diets, even when the manufacturers of a couple of them offered to provide their products to me free of charge if I would allow them to advertise the fact that I was using them.

I religiously soaked my tortoises daily until they were several years old. This is probably the only thing I did which is being recommended today.

All that being said, I do think the closed chambers are the best way for 99.9% of people to raise smooth baby Radiated (and other) Tortoises today.
 

Sterant

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I am on board with everything that @Tom , @Markw84 and @zovick said. I raise perfectly smooth radiated tortoises in my closed chamber with no CHE, no basking lamp - just a 6500k grow bulb and a UVB tube whose height is set to provide a UVI of 1 to 2 at the carapace. I also provide hides and lots of fake plants for them to get out of the light.

I have seen @zovick grow babies nearly as smooth in the way he described above. One common denominator between my setup and @zovick's is that we both heat the entire room - not individual enclosures. We don't use CHE's or basking lamps at all for young tortoises. This might be a factor as we do not rely on spot-type heating systems. @zovick also soaked his young tortoises every day for years.....I suspect this had a lot to do with their shell hydration.

Recently, because of things I have witnessed with young Bowsprit tortoises, I have raised my UV fixture all the way up so the UVI is no more than 1. This has eliminated some curious pyramiding I had experience with a Bowsprit baby raised in 100% RH conditions. My 3 recent babies have not had the issue since I raised the bulbs.

Like @Tom, I am considering not using UVB bulbs at all - but I haven't gone there quite yet.

I agree with @Tom - if you are running a mister 3 times a day and your enclosure isn't at 100% RH and swamp-like, then way too much humidity is escaping. If you have a truly closed chamber and use a substrate like coco or orchid bark, you won't need the mister at all. I can keep near 100% RH in mine (if I want) very, very easily just through the moist substrate.

As Markw said, I also don't think you are going to get the growth much smoother now that you have the existing pyramiding.

I would like to see a picture of your enclosure.
 

Tom

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He's in a closed chamber, has been since I got him. It's a 48x24x24, which is way too small now. We're currently on the waiting list for a much bigger upgrade. His substrate is always wet, but he's definitely never swimming.
He has an outdoor enclosure and I try to make sure he gets outside for several hours each day.
I soaked him daily when he was a baby, but now do every other day.
What do you do in the winter? It gets pretty cold here in the winter and I wouldn't feel comfortable taking him outside. Also, how often do you use the D3 supplements?
I think your closed chamber is to open. If I misted my closed chambers for 30 second once a day, they would literally be sopping wet in a few days. I add no moisture to them. The only moisture added is what the tortoises themselves track in and out of the water bowls. Each of mine has vent slits in all along the back and sides, and the front doors have 1/4-1/8 inch gap too. Room humidity is usually around 30-40%.

We have warm spells in the 70s and sometimes 80s all winter long here, so sunning is never an issue for me. With that, the RepCal, and Mazuri, I'll never see a hint of MBD. I'm reminded of Kristina. She was a moderator here on TFO years ago. She had a large tortoise collection with many species. She lived in Cadillac MI, and her tortoises all lived outside in the warm summer months. She brought them all in for winter every year for 6-7 months, and never used a single UV bulb of any kind. She had no problems doing this year after year.
 
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