20 gallon open top tank lighting

Sheldon24

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We have a 6 month old tortoise in a 20 gallon open top tank. It was all that was available at the time of purchase. The bulb we were given at the time of purchase from the shop does not keep the tank warm enough. What watt and types of bulbs should we use? Any suggestions of which ones from Petsmart which is what we have around here. Our Tortoise is a red foot tortoise and our house is kept at 70 degrees. We will also be installing a humidifier to keep it humid since its open top. Thank you so much.
 

Ink

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Welcome to the forum. @ZEROPILOT will help you. Can you post a picture of the enclosure and lighting.
 

Tom

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We have a 6 month old tortoise in a 20 gallon open top tank. It was all that was available at the time of purchase. The bulb we were given at the time of purchase from the shop does not keep the tank warm enough. What watt and types of bulbs should we use? Any suggestions of which ones from Petsmart which is what we have around here. Our Tortoise is a red foot tortoise and our house is kept at 70 degrees. We will also be installing a humidifier to keep it humid since its open top. Thank you so much.
If you want to keep this tortoise, you are going to need to make some major changes. Pet stores tend to give terrible care advice and sell you all the wrong products. Read through this thread for more explanation:

You need more than a small tank and and a single bulb. Much more. And humidifiers should not be blowing directly into a tortoise enclosure. Humidity is maintained by using a closed chamber enclosure. The pet stores don't know any of this.

You don't need a basking bulb for a red foot, but:
Here is a breakdown of the four heating and lighting essentials:
  1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt incandescent floods from the hardware store. Some people will need bigger, or smaller wattage bulbs. Let your thermometer be your guide. I run them on a timer for about 12 hours and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them. I also like to use a flat rock of some sort directly under the bulb. You need to check the temp with a thermometer directly under the bulb and get it to around 95-100F (36-37C).
  2. Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day and night for tropical species. In most cases you'd only need day heat for a temperate species like Testudo or DT, as long as your house stays above 60F (15-16C) at night. Some people in colder climates or with larger enclosures will need multiple CHEs or RHPs to spread out enough heat.
  3. Ambient light. I use LEDs for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most bulbs at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish. Strip or screw-in LED bulb types are both fine.
  4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. In colder climates, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. I like the 12% HO bulbs from Arcadia. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html A good UV bulb only needs to run for 2-3 hours mid day. You need the basking bulb and the ambient lighting to be on at least 12 hours a day.
The most important things for you to change immediately are:
1. You need a MUCH large enclosure. A 6 month old RF needs something around 8x4 feet. If he is a slow grower, 6x3 feet might work for another year or so. In about 3 years, you will need a room sized enclosure.
2. You need the correct substrate in this enclosure. 3-4 inches of fine grade orchis bark is best for a RF to keep it damp and humid, but prevent shell rot that happens with wet substrate.
3. You need a warm ambient temperature 24/7. This is best accomplished with either ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels, each set on a thermostat to control ambient temperature.
4. Soak your tortoise daily to keep it hydrated in your current dry conditions.

Every day that your tortoise is in the wrong conditions, it does permanent damage. Fix these things as soon as you can.
 
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Littleredfootbigredheart

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Please try and go back over your other threads to re read the advice given, I’m going to paste one of my previous replies here.

You're going to need a closed chamber set up to maintain your humidity, I wouldn’t recommend a mister, it can cause respiratory issues! To maintain humidity you want to be aiming to keep the under layer of your substrate nice and damp and the top layer dry to avoid a fungal infection(shell rot)which red foots are very prone to!
To stop the top layer getting a little too dry and dusty, mix the substrate now n then. Simply pour luke warm water into the corners, not loads but enough to dampen that bottom layer, in a proper closed chamber set up you shouldn’t need to keep misting, it’s better to do the pours.

The type of uv you will be needing is a t5 12% strip bulb, I recommend the Arica brand, it comes with a built in reflector fitting. It’ll need to be on a 4hr timer from noon. It’ll need to be about 18-21 inches from substrate.

For heating/light, you can either go with a incandescent floodlight(though red foots aren’t really a basking species, they come from the forest floor, some do bask though, depends on the individual)backed with a che(ceramic heat emitter) for ambient night heat, the heat should never be going below 80, 80-86 ambient range is good for a red foot, 82-84 is optimal. The che will need to be on a thermostat and the floodlight a 12hr timer.
You could also go this route, which I personally find simpler and you know your temps are consistent, just have che for heat(running 24/7)on the thermostat and leds for ambient lighting, either a screw in led, 5000-6500k colour range, or a led strip light. The led will need to be on a 12hr timer.
be sure to create lots of shady areas with safe live plants and hides! They’re forest floor dwellers and don’t like things too bright.

Please post any products before you buy if you can, I’d hate for you to waste money🙏🏻
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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As we previously talked about, a greenhouse style set up is a great cost effective starter enclosure for a red foot!
Just simply either build some sort of base, or, take the shelves out a bookcase, lie flat and line, or even a lined flower bed base! Then secure the greenhouse frame on top, you can even hang your lights on the frame! Wrap the wires round so they’re the height you need them at(18-21inches for the uv and check with heat gun for the right height of your heat bulbs)then wrap cable ties around the wire to secure in place🙂
If you can’t find the perfect fit greenhouse for your base, simply place it over like the one with the white base in the photo, but I’d put some liner under the base and cover to stop condensate getting on your floor.
If you need to stick with the tank for a little bit, perhaps you could fashion something like in the third photo(doesn’t have to be that roof shape)and hang your lights from that frame.

Ignore whatever else is in these exclosures pictured, they’re just photo examples of a greenhouse set ups to give you a better idea👍🏻
 

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wellington

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Please follow advice given here and on your other thread. We are oy giving you the correct advice for raise a healthy long lived tortoise, unlike the pet stores who only want to sell you junk and have no clue how to raise a tortoise. I'm guessing the place you got it from, either pet store or breeder doesn't know the correct way either or you'd already would know that lots of things need to be changed.
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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Just noticed a spelling mistake on the uv I recommended for you! That’s the *arcadia* brand, here’s a photo🙂
 

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Sheldon24

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Please try and go back over your other threads to re read the advice given, I’m going to paste one of my previous replies here.

You're going to need a closed chamber set up to maintain your humidity, I wouldn’t recommend a mister, it can cause respiratory issues! To maintain humidity you want to be aiming to keep the under layer of your substrate nice and damp and the top layer dry to avoid a fungal infection(shell rot)which red foots are very prone to!
To stop the top layer getting a little too dry and dusty, mix the substrate now n then. Simply pour luke warm water into the corners, not loads but enough to dampen that bottom layer, in a proper closed chamber set up you shouldn’t need to keep misting, it’s better to do the pours.

The type of uv you will be needing is a t5 12% strip bulb, I recommend the Arica brand, it comes with a built in reflector fitting. It’ll need to be on a 4hr timer from noon. It’ll need to be about 18-21 inches from substrate.

For heating/light, you can either go with a incandescent floodlight(though red foots aren’t really a basking species, they come from the forest floor, some do bask though, depends on the individual)backed with a che(ceramic heat emitter) for ambient night heat, the heat should never be going below 80, 80-86 ambient range is good for a red foot, 82-84 is optimal. The che will need to be on a thermostat and the floodlight a 12hr timer.
You could also go this route, which I personally find simpler and you know your temps are consistent, just have che for heat(running 24/7)on the thermostat and leds for ambient lighting, either a screw in led, 5000-6500k colour range, or a led strip light. The led will need to be on a 12hr timer.
be sure to create lots of shady areas with safe live plants and hides! They’re forest floor dwellers and don’t like things too bright.

Please post any products before you buy if you can, I’d hate for you to waste money🙏🏻
Recommendations on the actual products? No one near us he closed chamber set ups. Everyone has terrariums.
 

Sheldon24

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Please try and go back over your other threads to re read the advice given, I’m going to paste one of my previous replies here.

You're going to need a closed chamber set up to maintain your humidity, I wouldn’t recommend a mister, it can cause respiratory issues! To maintain humidity you want to be aiming to keep the under layer of your substrate nice and damp and the top layer dry to avoid a fungal infection(shell rot)which red foots are very prone to!
To stop the top layer getting a little too dry and dusty, mix the substrate now n then. Simply pour luke warm water into the corners, not loads but enough to dampen that bottom layer, in a proper closed chamber set up you shouldn’t need to keep misting, it’s better to do the pours.

The type of uv you will be needing is a t5 12% strip bulb, I recommend the Arica brand, it comes with a built in reflector fitting. It’ll need to be on a 4hr timer from noon. It’ll need to be about 18-21 inches from substrate.

For heating/light, you can either go with a incandescent floodlight(though red foots aren’t really a basking species, they come from the forest floor, some do bask though, depends on the individual)backed with a che(ceramic heat emitter) for ambient night heat, the heat should never be going below 80, 80-86 ambient range is good for a red foot, 82-84 is optimal. The che will need to be on a thermostat and the floodlight a 12hr timer.
You could also go this route, which I personally find simpler and you know your temps are consistent, just have che for heat(running 24/7)on the thermostat and leds for ambient lighting, either a screw in led, 5000-6500k colour range, or a led strip light. The led will need to be on a 12hr timer.
be sure to create lots of shady areas with safe live plants and hides! They’re forest floor dwellers and don’t like things too bright.

Please post any products before you buy if you can, I’d hate for you to waste money🙏🏻
How is this with a green house top?
 

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Littleredfootbigredheart

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Recommendations on the actual products? No one near us he closed chamber set ups. Everyone has terrariums.
I’ve attached a photo of the uv a bit further up, that needs to be on a 4hr timer from noonish.

If you’re going with the ‘basking light’ approach, you’ll need an incandescent floodlight(pic attached) they aren’t much so maybe try some different watts, or play about with the height. That will need to be on a 12hr timer. You will need a che(ceramic heat emitter) for night heat/to make up for temperature drops, this needs to be on a thermostat, running 24/7.

If you decide to go with just using a non light emitting heat source, which I personally think is more suited to red foots as they aren’t typically a basking species, they live on the forest floor. Get yourself a ceramic heat emitter bulb(pic attached) depending on what size enclosure you upgrade to, will depend on how many you may need, I’m hoping you’ll go for a decent size so get at least two 100watts, they need to be placed on a thermostat, spread them an equal distance to one another to distribute the heat more evenly, remember you’re aiming for an ambient temperature range of 80-86(82-84 being optimal). Then because these wouldn’t emit any light, you’d need ambient lighting in the form of some leds, a simple screw in led will do in the 5000k-6500k colour range from a hardware store, or a led strip light, ambient lighting on a 12hr timer, ceramics 24/7👍🏻

Try not to worry what everyone around you is doing, many people are following outdated or incorrect care information on tortoise. A red foot tortoise hatchling absolutely thrives in a closed chamber set up like the greenhouses we’ve shown you, an open top terrarium with a humidifier is a recipe for a RI(respiratory infection)constant water droplets in the air is NOT what you want, hence the pouring method I’ve talked about.

I know we’re throwing a lot of information that’s all very new to you, but it’s very important and fundamental in keeping your young red food healthy and free of life long consequences.
Keep asking away and reading the information to familiarise yourself with it🙂
 

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Sheldon24

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I’ve attached a photo of the uv a bit further up, that needs to be on a 4hr timer from noonish.

If you’re going with the ‘basking light’ approach, you’ll need an incandescent floodlight(pic attached) they aren’t much so maybe try some different watts, or play about with the height. That will need to be on a 12hr timer. You will need a che(ceramic heat emitter) for night heat/to make up for temperature drops, this needs to be on a thermostat, running 24/7.

If you decide to go with just using a non light emitting heat source, which I personally think is more suited to red foots as they aren’t typically a basking species, they live on the forest floor. Get yourself a ceramic heat emitter bulb(pic attached) depending on what size enclosure you upgrade to, will depend on how many you may need, I’m hoping you’ll go for a decent size so get at least two 100watts, they need to be placed on a thermostat, spread them an equal distance to one another to distribute the heat more evenly, remember you’re aiming for an ambient temperature range of 80-86(82-84 being optimal). Then because these wouldn’t emit any light, you’d need ambient lighting in the form of some leds, a simple screw in led will do in the 5000k-6500k colour range from a hardware store, or a led strip light, ambient lighting on a 12hr timer, ceramics 24/7👍🏻

Try not to worry what everyone around you is doing, many people are following outdated or incorrect care information on tortoise. A red foot tortoise hatchling absolutely thrives in a closed chamber set up like the greenhouses we’ve shown you, an open top terrarium with a humidifier is a recipe for a RI(respiratory infection)constant water droplets in the air is NOT what you want, hence the pouring method I’ve talked about.

I know we’re throwing a lot of information that’s all very new to you, but it’s very important and fundamental in keeping your young red food healthy and free of life long consequences.
Keep asking away and reading the information to familiarise yourself with it🙂
Thank you so much! It is definitely overwhelming but it’s a lot easier when people are sending links and pictures since the pet stores only carry improper housing.
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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How is this with a green house top?
This size will hopefully last you a year or so, your red foot will quickly outgrow it in no time, just bare in mind.
But yes something like that, lined with a pond liner(or the wood it’s made of will rot)with a greenhouse topper attached will work fine🙂
 

Sheldon24

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This size will hopefully last you a year or so, your red foot will quickly outgrow it in no time, just bare in mind.
But yes something like that, lined with a pond liner(or the wood it’s made of will rot)with a greenhouse topper attached will work fine🙂
Thank you so much! I’m feeling a lot better! I feel guilty that he’s not been in a good habitat. So annoying that they set us up with all false information!
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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Thank you so much! It is definitely overwhelming but it’s a lot easier when people are sending links and pictures since the pet stores only carry improper housing.
No problem at all, I’ve been in your shoes, overwhelmed by new information after reading lots of outdated stuff online and being misguided in store, they can sound SO convincing! But it’s utter rubbish.

It all feels a lot at first, but trust me, stick with us and we’ll soon get you in the swing of things, I stuck around despite wanting to run at first lol, our red foot is now thriving🥰
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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Thank you so much! I’m feeling a lot better! I feel guilty that he’s not been in a good habitat. So annoying that they set us up with all false information!
Don’t feel guilty, so many members here started out exactly how you have, we should be able to take for granted the ‘experts’ know what they’re doing, it’s so frustrating that we can’t☹️
The most important thing here is, you’ve noticed things aren’t quite right and you’re taking the steps to improve things, that’s what makes you a good caring owner❤️
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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If you haven’t got one already, a temperature gun is really handy to have when setting up a new enclosure by the way!
Its also a really good way to make sure your monitors are reading correctly by scanning the parameters within the set up, you can find them pretty reasonable on Amazon etc🙂
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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How is this with a green house top?
When properly lined this will work (you will need to cover more than just a bottom - whole walls with a small overlap outside).

Other option to check out are hydroponic grow tents (search for AC Infinity on Amazon or Google to get an idea, there are cheaper versions as well) and plastic garden beds (there is a pack of two 4x4 beds + tent by "Lifetime" brand for 100 bucks).
 

Tom

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Recommendations on the actual products? No one near us he closed chamber set ups. Everyone has terrariums.
It is certainly surprising and quite upsetting that pet stores don't sell the products that are needed for the pets they sell. They don't even know what is needed in the case of tortoises. Most tortoise keepers build their own.
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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The concept is good, but get one that isn't made of cedar. Cedar emits toxic fumes and that is why it repels bugs. Any kind of pine or other wood will work.
If op has possibly already bought this one(sorry we didn’t notice the material it was made of) would lining it with pond liner so the tortoise has zero contact with the wood be ok? Obviously ideally if it we were me I’d try and cancel the order and buy something else, but I don’t want op to feel defeated☹️
I understand if in good conscious you can’t recommend going ahead though
 

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