A Basic Lighting Setup for Bearded DragonsHere is a basic lighting setup for a beardie. The tank in this picture is a 40-gallon breeder, but the same goes for larger and smaller enclosures.
( * = Optional )
Which UVB light should I use?The best UVB light for bearded dragons is a ReptiSun 10.0 fluorescent tube (Or Arcardia 12% in the UK). Compact or coil bulbs do not emit the proper amount of UVB light for a bearded dragon and should not be used. Other brands, such as the Zilla Desert Series and ReptiGlo, have been known to cause eye problems and other health issues with bearded dragons and should be avoided. The reason that some UVB lights (Zilla, ReptiGlo, coils/compacts, etc.) are considered dangerous is because the wavelength of UVB that they emit is shorter and more intense than the wavelength of the "safe" lights (ReptiSun, Arcadia).
Please replace UVB lights every six months to maintain their effectiveness.
**Note: Fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury, so you shouldn't throw away your used ReptiSuns. You can take them to a facility that will take care of them for you. Some hardware stores, such as Home Depot, may take your used bulbs for you.
Is there a difference between UVB and UVA?Yes, UVB rays are a shorter wavelength than UVA rays. UVB rays are from the sun, and they are what cause you to tan. Beardies need UVB rays to process D3 and calcium. UVA comes from any light bulb that produces visible light. So when purchasing a UVB bulb, make sure it says it emits UVB, not just UVA!
How should I mount my UVB light?Screen filters out UVB light, so the best way to do it is to mount the light inside your tank. You can easily purchase an under-the-counter fluorescent fixture and 3M command hooks to do this. You can stick the hooks on the back wall of your tank and hang the light fixture from them.
How many watts should my basking light be?Since several things can affect the temperature in the tank, such as the size of the enclosure, how well insulated it is, how far away the basking light is, the room temperature of your house, etc., there isn't one light bulb that will work for everyone. For my 40-gallon, I used flood and halogen bulbs between 50-65 watts. In my wooden 4x2x2, I use flood lights between 30-45 watts. Remember that floodlights, spotlights, and halogen bulbs will be hotter than regular bulbs because they are more focused in one spot. Wooden cages will also be more insulated and hold more heat than glass tanks, so they may need fewer watts to maintain a suitable temperature.
Do I need a light on the cool side?Technically you don't, but it can be helpful. I used a regular house light in mine for some extra heat during the winter, and during the summer, I used a coiled "energy saver" light bulb to add some visible light. Otherwise, the cool side tends to be rather dark. Since visual light/UVA helps stimulate a beardie's appetite and encourages them to be more active, having more bright lights is always a good idea!
How should I position my UVB light?The UVB light should preferably be within 6-10" of the basking spot, so your beardie can absorb the optimum amount of UVB. The UVB light should also be positioned alongside the basking light for two reasons. First, your bearded dragon can absorb UVB while they are basking. In addition, having a bright white light next to the UVB light helps to protect their eyes from any damage the UVB rays might cause.
How should I heat my tank at night?Additional heating is only needed if the temps drop below 65*F. A ceramic heat emitter (CHE) is the best way to heat your tank at night because it does not give off visible light that will disturb your beardie's sleep. Also, unlike an under-tank heater, there is no possibility of it shorting out and burning your bearded dragon during the night.
How should I measure the temperature?Digital thermometers and infrared temperature guns are the most accurate way to measure temperatures. Dial and stick-on thermometers can be as much as 20*F off in either direction. A digital indoor/outdoor thermometer can be used by placing the probe on the basking spot and placing the monitor on the opposite end of the tank to get the temperature readings of the hot and cool sides of the enclosure.
What should my temperatures be?The cool side should be between 75 - 85*F. For an adult, basking spots should be 95 - 105*F. Babies and juveniles like it a little hotter at 105 - 110*F.
If you have further questions, check out the original forum topic thread with over 35 pages worth of comments at the time this article was published!