Lighting Help for Newbies (:


Sub-Adult Member
lilacdragon":puzu781k said:
Very good summary Jess, and great photo.

My only comment is a very unimportant one, but I'd suggest folks buy the best quality under-the-counter fixture they can afford, for their fluorescent tube. Ideally, get one with an electronic ballast rather than the very cheap magnetic ones. Tests have shown that the UVB output is better, and the tube lasts longer, if a good quality fixture is used; and a good fixture should last a lifetime.
In the UK we use aquarium "controllers" with cables holding the tube with end-caps, eg. the Arcadia range. These make it very easy to hang the tube where you want it, but strangely, the USA stores don't seem to sell them.
You can keep a ZooMed Reptisun 10.0 tube on a good ballast for a full year; the UVB hardly drops at all between 6 and 12 months.


I'm pretty sure this is what you're talking about. I use one with my it. Electronic hum or flicker.


Hatchling Member
Yes... that's exactly like the ones we have in the UK, with the cables and end-caps!

It looks very nice! :)

But here, although I know I can get them here for two tubes at once, like that one, I don't think anyone sells a single-tube electronic ballast.

I checked that USA store just now and they do doubles like that for 20watt, 30watt and 40watt tubes. Ideal if you can use both tubes. (Maybe combine one Reptisun 10.0 with one Reptisun 2.0/ Naturesun for extra visible light?)
The only problem with double fixtures is that they won't work with only one tube installed, and both come on at the same time.


Extreme Poster
Original Poster
Thanks! :D

Yeah I've seen those before, and they look really nice! :) I've always just used a simple under-the-counter one, and it has worked well for me.

Honestly though, I don't really know much about the different ballasts and stuff. :silent: Mine has never given me any issues with humming and flickering though.


Sub-Adult Member
In the US, just about every T8 fixture you'll find will use an electronic ballast. The cheap T12 fixtures still use magnetic ones, but Reptisuns haven't been available in that size for some time. There are varying qualities of electronic ballasts however, but the differences in operation are not as apparent as they would be if you were using a magnetic ballast as opposed to an electronic one. Magnetic ballasts flicker, and will typically hum and make noise. They also have difficulty starting at lower temperatures (though this isn't much of an issue for reptile enclosures).
Your average electronic ballast will operate the light at 20KHz, while a magnetic one will operate at 60Hz. This is why you can often discern flickering with a standard magnetic ballast, which would often be impossible to detect under an electronic ballast.
Electronic ballasts are also more efficient!
Chances are, if you are using a T8 under cabinet light, its using an electronic ballast. I've never seen one that uses a magnetic ballast, especially if its designed for daisy chaining. A magnetic ballast would be easy to would hum, and you might notice some minor flickering. A magnetic ballast would also take awhile to start (a couple seconds), and it wouldn't be smooth. Electronic ballasts are usually instance on varieties (though there are different types for different purposes).


Hatchling Member
The ballasts inside the Zilla Slimline Fixtures I tested in August 2009 were magnetic.
Two of the three broke after only a few hours' use, and I gave one to my friend who is an electronics engineer to see why they died. (I don't know anything about such things.)
He said that the ballast was “open circuit”, presumably due to a broken wire inside the coil, cause unknown, although he commented that the unit was “a cheap laminated core ballast” and the fluorescent starter was a “primitive” type and “would put some strain on the ballast at ignition”.
I am not sure what that means but it doesn't sound very good, does it?
Maybe Zilla have improved their product since then, though.


this post is REALLY helpful. Im new to owning a bearded dragon and this has been the best help ive found online.

i do have a couple of silly questions though, dont mean to be a pain but i wanna make sure everything is right for when i get to bring him home.

the fluro light that emits the UVB light...does it have to be specifically made for reptiles or are they the ones they sell in hardware stores? i live in Australia so unfortunately the brands arent overly helpful to me.

the basking light...should it be in a lamp shade of some kind to stop it from shining everywhere? and does it matter if it is mounted inside or outside of the tank?

My set up is a 3 foot tank with a mesh lid so i wont be able to mount a light to the lid, but I can do the sides of the tank.

Thanks for all the really helpful stuff up here already, and il probably have heaps more questions that might sound silly, but like i totally new to this stuff.

Terri :)


Sub-Adult Member
Get a dome fixture for your basking light, and simply place it on your mesh cover. As for the UVB bulb, yes...they are reptile specific.


Extreme Poster
Original Poster
Hi Terri!

Yup, it does need to be reptile specific. Do you know what brands of UVB tube lights or mercury vapor bulbs you do have in Australia? If you can figure that out and tell me what's available there, I might be able to help. Otherwise, maybe you could PM some of the Australian members and see what they use.

And the basking light can be set of top of the screen, that's perfectly fine. The only light that has to be mounted inside is the UVB tube.

I'm glad it is helpful, let us know if you have any more questions!


Hatchling Member
Hi, Terri.

Yes, a small dome fixture should sit safely on top of the mesh, or hang above it.... check the temperature of the basking zone underneath the lamp, and choose the right wattage and/or raise or lower it to get the right temperature. With a 3ft tank you haven't got much space for a good temperature gradient. Hang the lamp right down one end of the tank and check the temperature stays cool enough at the other end...

The UVB is a bit more difficult. I'm hoping someone from Australia will correct me if I'm wrong (and I hope that I am) but it seems very difficult to buy good, safe, tried and tested UVB lamps in Australia.

I have tested several brands which people have sent me all the way from Australia, and quite a few are very cheaply made Chinese tubes and compact lamps which I would be wary of. Others, such as the NEC blacklight, are very weak sources of UVB.
It seems like Oz is too far from Europe and the USA to buy their products easily, but China is very close...

The one brand which does test quite well, which I've seen available from Oz online stores is the Sylvania Reptistar:
This gives identical test results to a ZooMed Reptisun 5.0; not a strong lamp but with a safe spectrum (ie. very unlikely to cause eye problems, even quite close).

If you can find a ZooMed Reptisun 10.0 anywhere, that would be better. I think ZooMed used to export to Australia? ...
But if you buy a ReptiStar, see if you can buy a fixture with an aluminium reflector strip behind it, this will increase the UVB below the tube; and hang it about 8" above your beardie's back, over the basking spot.

If you can possibly create a secure outdoor open-air pen (with safe cool shaded area as well as sun, and wide-spaced mesh roof to protect from hawks) your beardie would benefit greatly from real sunlight if you're in a part of Australia with a suitable climate. No lamp can ever replace real sunlight...

Best wishes



Hatchling Member
Oh Yes! I found a store in Australia selling Arcadia D3+ 12% Reptile tubes. :D

These are just like the ZooMed Reptisun 10.0 tubes. Very high quality, safe spectrum, last 1 yr (10-12hrs/day)

They do a nice-looking fixture, too:
but these do seem VERY expensive....?

You may find it difficult to hang the fixture inside a tank. It will rest above the mesh, next to the dome with your basking lamp, but the mesh does filter out about a third of the UVB so you may need to make a basking shelf or log so he can climb to within about 8" of the tube. (Check the heat from the basking lamp at the new height, too - have you got a digital thermometer?)

Best of luck!


As a new proud beardie owner, I want what's best for him. I have the Zilla Desert 50 bulb fixture at the moment. I now know this is unacceptable. I will be getting the Reptisun 10.0 and the Walmart light fixture is a cheaper way than the Reptisun hood. Thank you!


My name is Chris. I have Rex and I'm trying to set up my enclosure similar to what you have going on. My main question is the under-the-counter fixture for the tube. Do I leave the cover over the tube itself, or is it ok to take this off and provide more light obviously to the Dragon? Thanks in advance.


Extreme Poster
Original Poster
Hi Chris!
You need to take the plastic cover off. Plastic actually blocks UVB rays, so it's very important to remove that, because otherwise your little guy won't get any UVB at all.

Staff online

Members online

Latest resources

Latest posts

Latest profile posts

setting up a tank for a garter snake in a few months!!
Trying to finish setting up my beardie tank. Just gotta connect it to the power.
Okay lol so as I was told my baby was a boy when I rescued him hehe well I took him to my vet and was advised he is a she ! I was thinking of renaming her to Virgo from Toothless any suggestions for names 😊🥰
I am new and looking for a teen beardie. I have been doing a lot of research for about 2 years.
I'm new here but not new to dragons or snakes. Over the 7 years. I opened my heart and home to neglected. unwanted dras and snakes, some critical conditions. Then nursing them back to health and their final family home. I regularly help my reptiles vet with emergency appointments and I also provide the care in my little quenteen,

Forum statistics

Latest member
Top Bottom