Semi arid planted bioactive 4x2x2 lighting advice


New member
Hi all!
I'm new here. I guess I should explain what I have and and what I'd like to do.
I built a 4x2x2 birch plywood enclosure sealed with 3 coats of 3x polyurethane. It has sliding doors. I'm going to line the inside with pond liner. The substrate can be 6 inches deep at the door opening with an 1.5 inch headspace to act as a sand splash.
I am doing a 50/50 play sand and organic potting soil mix packed so it can support the plants I'd like to put inside.
I'm very intent on putting a spineless prickly pear border along the walls and a dwarf overbearing mulberry tree.
I chose these particular plant because they can live in semi arid environments just as bearded dragons and both are safe and edible for the dragon. The mulberry will provide shade eventually.
I plan on using 160w mercury vapor bulb to heat the basking area and a 24inch 10.0 uvb for the dragon. I was told on another forum I could get away with a smaller tube uvb if i used the mercury vapor bulb. I am not trying to supplement uvb with the mercury vapor. I planned to use mercury vapor before I found out it had uvb capabilities because mercury vapor grows good indoor plants.
I also have 2 integrated t5 2ft leds that are 20w. One is full spectrum for the plants the other is 6500k for the plants.
Do you guys think that the 160w mercury vapor, 24 in uvb 10.0 and the led strips will be enough light for the plants but not too much on the dragons?
I was told on another forum that I should come here and ask since not many people on that one have bioactive planted tanks I guess.
I was advised to put the uvb 10.0 in the center 12-15 inches from the basking area.
I want to put the mulberry tree on the opposite side as the basking area so it's the cool shady spot even tho I'll put the grow led above it.

CooperDragon Sicko
Staff member
That sounds like a lot of light for a dragon, but as long as you provide some hides and shady areas, it should be OK. The MVBs aren't all equal in terms of their output. It's very much you pay for what you get in that regard. Due to their UVB output, the MVBs should be set at a distance according to their UVB production. It helps to have a Solarmeter to measure output for each particular bulb, but they can be estimated based on previous tests with similar bulbs. Generally you want around 3-6 UVI over the basking site and gradients down to 0 in other areas. That's kind of a ballpark range to start with though. Your dragon will start to show preferences over time and you can adjust the lighting accordingly.

The 160w MVBs are fairly powerful, so I'd estimate that 14-18'' or so is about where they would produce optimal UVB. You don't want them too close, but since you're using a T5 as well, you can put them further away. At that point it comes down to the amount of heat they produce on the basking surface. You want that to be in roughly the 100-105 range with cooler areas around it.

Staff online

Members online

Latest resources

Latest posts

Latest profile posts


This is Atlas, he's my 3 year male leatherback. i don't know whether to be worried as he has no femoral pores what so ever, not even small ones! i always thought they would come with age but he is getting a bit older now and i'm starting to worry. here are some photos of his lack of pores. if someone could let me know if this is healthy that would be greatly appreciated!!
I don't own Swordtail anymore. He owns me
Swordtail is being the chonky turd he is
Hmmm.... May make a dress for her lol

Forum statistics

Latest member
Top Bottom