Lighting Help for Newbies (:

Hi, I don't have a bearded dragon but I'm planning on buying one in a week or so. I was hoping someone could answer a few dumb questions of mine. Firstly, do UVB lights also have UVA? I thought that dragons had to have both. Also, what was the CTE (I think?) light in the picture? And I saw that lots of owners use tube-like lights on the tops of cage screens for UV lighting. Would that work? Would you have to mount them inside the tank? And if so, would that get in the way of picking up or setting down stuff inside the tank? I'm generally very confused as far as lighting goes, sorry. :study:

CooperDragon Sicko
Staff member
The UVB lights also give off UVA. When combined with a bright white basking light that produces heat they act to imitate natural sunlight over the basking area. The tube lights are usually either T8 (low output) or T5 (high output) UVB lights. The one you use depends on the size of your tank because they have different outputs. If you have a top opening enclosure the lights can get in the way and need to be moved. That is the advantage of the front opening tanks. I can help you get all of your equipment configured properly if you'd like. Please start a new thread in the enclosures section with some details about what you have so far and I can help you out. I don't want the specifics to clog up this general thread too much.
I did a LOT more research. Thank you! My house is in a very hot state so I do not have any night lights. I have a UVB and basking light now, with like a double fixture. There's nothing on the other side of the tank, but it's still warm. Thank you for your reply!



Can someone tell me if this light set up is correct? It came with a starter tank kit. I leave the light by the food and water on all the time (temp over on that side is about 75-80) and switch the light on the other side from day to night lighting. Day is a 100 w powersun uvb bulb and night is a 100w nocturnal infrared heat lamp.

CooperDragon Sicko
Staff member
You'll want all of the lights to be off overnight so it's dark so he can sleep well. What are the temperatures in the basking site on the surface of that log? How far above the log is your PowerSun? It should sit about 8-10 inches above the log to provide the best UVB exposure.
Jess":22lpmqlc said:
I've been told I should make this, so here it goes LOL. :)

Here is a basic lighting setup for a beardie. The cage in this picture is a 40 gallon breeder, but the same goes for larger and smaller cages as well.
( * = Optional )


Which UVB light should I use?
The best UVB light 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, ect.) 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).
UVB lights should be replaced every 6 months.
**Note: Fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury, so you shouldn't throw away your used ReptiSuns. Take them to a facility that will dispose 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 visual light. So when purchasing a UVB bulb, make sure it says that 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 of your cage. You can easily do this by purchasing an under-the-counter fluorescent fixture ($9 at Walmart) and 3M command hooks. Just stick the hooks on the back wall of your cage, and hang the light fixture from them.

How many watts should my basking light be?
Since there are a number of things that can affect the temperature in the cage, such as the size of the cage, how well insulated it is, how far away the basking light is, the room temperature of your house, ect. there isn't one light bulb that will work for everyone. For my 40 gallon, I used flood and halogen bulbs there were between 50-65 watts. In my wooden 4x2x2, I use flood lights that are between 30-45 watts. Keep in mind that flood lights, spot lights, and halogen bulbs will be hotter than a regular light bulb because they are more focused in one spot. Wooden cages will also be more insulated and hold more heat than glass cages, so they may need less watts to maintain a good 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 use a coiled "energy saver" light bulb to add some visual 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 never a bad thing!

How should I position my UVB light?
The UVB light should be preferably with in 6-10" of the basking spot, so your beardie can absorb the optimum amount of UVB. The UVB light should also be positioned along side the basking light, for two reasons: So your bearded dragon can absorb UVB while they are basking, and because 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 cage 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 cage at night, because it does not give off visual light that will disturb your beardie's sleep, and unlike an under tank heater, there is no possibility of it shorting out and burning them 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 wither direction. The Acurite digital indoor/outdoor thermometer (Walmart for $12) can be used by placing the probe on the basking spot, and placing the monitor on the opposite end of the cage to got the temperature readings of the hot and cool side of the cage.

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.

Well, that should answer some of the basic questions. :wink:
I feel like a video explaining all this and a visual would be useful to many new beardie owners. A video that shows how you would setup a bearded dragon enclosure and all of the necessary lights and decor. Like on YouTube or something and if you did decide to do something like this you could post a link to go to. Just a suggestion! You're awesome.


New member
Just a quick question, I am building my own enclosure and I am not sure where I should put the heat lamp. Should it go on the outside over a screen, or on the inside free hanging. I've seen both ways but I wanted your opinions on which way you think is better.

Thanks guys!

CooperDragon Sicko
Staff member
Either way. The basking light should be out of reach and at least 12'' away so it's safe and casts a nice wide beam. A lot of that will have to do with how big you make the enclosure. You'll want enough space to allow for climbing spots and I'd go at least 2' tall if not more. It should also be producing a proper heat gradient across the tank with the basking surface being about 100-105 and the cool side at around 75-80 or so. Once you get a wattage that is close you can hook it to a dimming thermostat or lamp dimmer so you can fine tune the output and get the temps just right.


New member
Thanks a bunch mate, I wasn't sure which way to go to make sure it had optimal efficiency. The cage I'm making is roughly 6ft tall by 5 feet long by 2 feet wide with multiple levels. Do you think it would need 2 basking spots or would one be good enough?

CooperDragon Sicko
Staff member
That's a nice big tank. If you can get cooler areas I'd have a basking spot with a high power T5 UVB and then another one that's just a basking lamp for heat but no UVB and see how that goes. You'll still want a cooler/shade area too though.


New member
Sounds simple enough to do lol. I have a 36in ReptiSun 10 bulb for my UVB light that I'll put inside. So far the cooler side hovers at 65-75 depending on how far I put the basking lamp near the top/corner.
We have a coil uvb bulb. Just ordered a 22" buln with s lighting fixture on Amazon, we have a 40 gallon breeder, what is the easiest way to install the light? Velcro? And could we place it on the back wall or only the lid? Honestly we have received so much helpful info from this site and such horrible info from the pet shops I'm never doing anything I'm unsure of without asking you guys ?

CooperDragon Sicko
Staff member
stevenng":1abr3wop said:
Hi all,

I just signed up and I'm loving this site. We just got our baby yesterday and we purchased this kit -

After reading this site I was wondering what would be the best lighting kit that would work with the tank I have or is the lighting kit that came with the starter kit just fine?


Unfortunately, those kits don't come with very good items, including lighting. I would replace the compact UVB light it comes with and instead use a high quality 2ft T5 UVB light. This will last longer and provide much better UVB coverage over the basking area. It can be transferred to a larger enclosure when your dragon grows as well. If you start a new thread in the enclosures section, we can help address some of the specifics and make sure you have everything set up just right for your new buddy.

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