Lighting a TALL Enclosure.

DakotaRae

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Hi all. The 8x4x4 I ordered for my Redfoot Tortoise will be arriving Tuesday. This is a huge undertaking so I want to get it right the first time. Could anyone please recommend bulbs and fixtures? It comes with two Arcadia fixtures that I will place side by side for basking since the ceiling is high. I also will need UVB for him and LED for plant growth, unless the basking bulbs will provide UVB. It is not a table, obviously.
Is it even feasible to hang effective UVB from such a height? It is PVC with front slide doors. I know people like the T5’s and 10.0’s and what not. Floodlights for heat? Is all of this humidity safe? Thanks in advance.
 

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KarenSoCal

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Hi all. The 8x4x4 I ordered for my Redfoot Tortoise will be arriving Tuesday. This is a huge undertaking so I want to get it right the first time. Could anyone please recommend bulbs and fixtures? It comes with two Arcadia fixtures that I will place side by side for basking since the ceiling is high. I also will need UVB for him and LED for plant growth, unless the basking bulbs will provide UVB. It is not a table, obviously.
Is it even feasible to hang effective UVB from such a height? It is PVC with front slide doors. I know people like the T5’s and 10.0’s and what not. Floodlights for heat? Is all of this humidity safe? Thanks in advance.
Hi!
Lights for RF are different than for most other tortoises. RF live in the tropical woods of Brazil and other S. American countries. They live on the forest floor, and the dense tree canopy overhead provides shade. The canopy stops a lot of the light from penetrating all the way down to the ground, including the UVB.

So when lighting an enclosure for RF, first, they don't bask
 

KarenSoCal

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Hi all. The 8x4x4 I ordered for my Redfoot Tortoise will be arriving Tuesday. This is a huge undertaking so I want to get it right the first time. Could anyone please recommend bulbs and fixtures? It comes with two Arcadia fixtures that I will place side by side for basking since the ceiling is high. I also will need UVB for him and LED for plant growth, unless the basking bulbs will provide UVB. It is not a table, obviously.
Is it even feasible to hang effective UVB from such a height? It is PVC with front slide doors. I know people like the T5’s and 10.0’s and what not. Floodlights for heat? Is all of this humidity safe? Thanks in advance.
Hi!
Lights for RF are different than for most other tortoises. RF live in the tropical woods of Brazil and other S. American countries. They live on the forest floor, and the dense tree canopy overhead provides shade. The canopy stops a lot of the light from penetrating all the way down to the ground, including the UVB.

So when lighting an enclosure for RF, first, they don't bask, so don't need a basking light. Under the filtered light of the forest very little UVB gets to them. So they don't need lots of UVB. And since they live under the canopy, it's quite dim in the forest. As a result, they don't like bright lights in their enclosure.

So you need dim lighting to see in the enclosure. I would use some LED lights for that, maybe a short strip light on each end of the enclosure. You could get an LED plant light also to help with your plants. Then you'd need an HO T5 10% tube type UVB, at least for winter. In summer if you can take him outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, that's all the UVB he will need.

For heat inside, get probably 2 CHE's. They have to be screwed into ceramic sockets, otherwise plastic ones will melt. And you need a thermostat with 2 plug ins for the 2 CHE's.

For hanging the UVB, you can buy some fine chain or tough cord, and hang the fixture from the ceiling of the habitat. That way you adjust your cord so the light hangs about 18" above the shell of your tort, or whatever distance the packaging recommends.
 

DakotaRae

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Hi!
Lights for RF are different than for most other tortoises. RF live in the tropical woods of Brazil and other S. American countries. They live on the forest floor, and the dense tree canopy overhead provides shade. The canopy stops a lot of the light from penetrating all the way down to the ground, including the UVB.

So when lighting an enclosure for RF, first, they don't bask, so don't need a basking light. Under the filtered light of the forest very little UVB gets to them. So they don't need lots of UVB. And since they live under the canopy, it's quite dim in the forest. As a result, they don't like bright lights in their enclosure.

So you need dim lighting to see in the enclosure. I would use some LED lights for that, maybe a short strip light on each end of the enclosure. You could get an LED plant light also to help with your plants. Then you'd need an HO T5 10% tube type UVB, at least for winter. In summer if you can take him outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, that's all the UVB he will need.

For heat inside, get probably 2 CHE's. They have to be screwed into ceramic sockets, otherwise plastic ones will melt. And you need a thermostat with 2 plug ins for the 2 CHE's.

For hanging the UVB, you can buy some fine chain or tough cord, and hang the fixture from the ceiling of the habitat. That way you adjust your cord so the light hangs about 18" above the shell of your tort, or whatever distance the packaging recommends.
That seems much easier! The enclosure I’ve selected states not to use CHE’s with it. Are you familiar with the Arcadia DHP’s? I use them with my other critters. Also when selecting a strip fixture should I worry about the humidity? I don’t want to start a fire. The sockets are ceramic for the record.
 

Tom

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48 inches is unnecessarily tall. You will need to hang the fixtures form the ceiling about halfway down into the enclosure. You can mount the ambient lighting on the ceiling, and that will be great for a RF. If you hang a couple of ceramic based Home Depot fixtures down a foot or so from the ceiling, you can use 150 CHEs set on a thermostat to heat the whole thing. Or you can use a couple of larger radiant heat panels, but I'm not sure those will be effective from 48" away. Only your thermometer can answer that question.

If needed, a UV tube would have to be hung down from the ceiling with some chain or nylon cordage. You'll need a UV meter and you'll have to set the bulb height correctly to get the right amount of UV at tortoise level. Here is the meter. Unfortunately this is the only viable option, and there is nothing cheaper that works: https://www.solarmeter.com/product/model65r/

I've been using humid closed chambers for years and never had any problems with any of my heating, lighting, or electrical stuff. The Home Depot digital "Acu-Rite" thermometer/hygrometers seem to die in the humidity about once every year or two, but the light fixtures show no problem. I think the heat they generate keeps the moisture off of them.
 

DakotaRae

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48 inches is unnecessarily tall. You will need to hang the fixtures form the ceiling about halfway down into the enclosure. You can mount the ambient lighting on the ceiling, and that will be great for a RF. If you hang a couple of ceramic based Home Depot fixtures down a foot or so from the ceiling, you can use 150 CHEs set on a thermostat to heat the whole thing. Or you can use a couple of larger radiant heat panels, but I'm not sure those will be effective from 48" away. Only your thermometer can answer that question.

If needed, a UV tube would have to be hung down from the ceiling with some chain or nylon cordage. You'll need a UV meter and you'll have to set the bulb height correctly to get the right amount of UV at tortoise level. Here is the meter. Unfortunately this is the only viable option, and there is nothing cheaper that works: https://www.solarmeter.com/product/model65r/

I've been using humid closed chambers for years and never had any problems with any of my heating, lighting, or electrical stuff. The Home Depot digital "Acu-Rite" thermometer/hygrometers seem to die in the humidity about once every year or two, but the light fixtures show no problem. I think the heat they generate keeps the moisture off of them.
Hi there! I should say the total unit is 48” but accommodates substrate up to 16” deep. So he’ll probably be more like 3 or so from the ceiling. I don’t mind to hang with chains but I’m not familiar with the workability of PVC. I’ll have to check it out when it arrives. I wanted something smaller but didn’t want to compromise on depth of housing and the units were all ‘square’ dimensions. So in review, ambient LED’s on the ceiling, UV tubing and CHE units hung to height? CHE’s make me a little nervous but you all seem to use them without issue. I live in New Hampshire so he doesn’t always get to go for little sun strolls. Also, Reptifogger? Mist King? Just general misting? He’ll have a Herpstat. Thanks for all the expertise. The internet is a minefield of misinformation and dueling opinions.
 

Tom

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Hi there! I should say the total unit is 48” but accommodates substrate up to 16” deep. So he’ll probably be more like 3 or so from the ceiling. I don’t mind to hang with chains but I’m not familiar with the workability of PVC. I’ll have to check it out when it arrives. I wanted something smaller but didn’t want to compromise on depth of housing and the units were all ‘square’ dimensions. So in review, ambient LED’s on the ceiling, UV tubing and CHE units hung to height? CHE’s make me a little nervous but you all seem to use them without issue. I live in New Hampshire so he doesn’t always get to go for little sun strolls. Also, Reptifogger? Mist King? Just general misting? He’ll have a Herpstat. Thanks for all the expertise. The internet is a minefield of misinformation and dueling opinions.
With 12 inches of substrate that is damp on bottom, you won't need to mist at all. Humidity will stay 80+ with no effort in a large closed chamber like that. And this is great because RFs are prone to shell rot when kept on wet substrate. Many people keep the substrate too wet in a futile attempt to keep humidity up with an open topped enclosure. You won't have that problem. The lower layers can be kept nice and damp and the uppers layers will remain dry. No foggers either. Those shouldn't be used with tortoises.

I use a tiny drill bit to make a pilot hole, and then screw cup holder hooks into the ceilings of my PVC enclosures. The material is somewhat soft, but it holds fine with a small pilot hole.

Definitely true about the misinformation on the internet. Its rough out there. Seems to be worse with tortoises than with other subjects I'm familiar with. I've never been able to figure out why that is.
 

DakotaRae

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With 12 inches of substrate that is damp on bottom, you won't need to mist at all. Humidity will stay 80+ with no effort in a large closed chamber like that. And this is great because RFs are prone to shell rot when kept on wet substrate. Many people keep the substrate too wet in a futile attempt to keep humidity up with an open topped enclosure. You won't have that problem. The lower layers can be kept nice and damp and the uppers layers will remain dry. No foggers either. Those shouldn't be used with tortoises.

I use a tiny drill bit to make a pilot hole, and then screw cup holder hooks into the ceilings of my PVC enclosures. The material is somewhat soft, but it holds fine with a small pilot hole.

Definitely true about the misinformation on the internet. Its rough out there. Seems to be worse with tortoises than with other subjects I'm familiar with. I've never been able to figure out why that is.
Thank you again! I’ll post photos when all is said and done. Can’t wait. It is going to quadruple his current walking space. Maybe more.
 

Tom

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Thank you again! I’ll post photos when all is said and done. Can’t wait. It is going to quadruple his current walking space. Maybe more.
Looking forward to the pics and updates. It sounds wonderful. If you are happy with the enclosure please feel free to share the source. More people need this size enclosure and I wish it was the norm.
 

DakotaRae

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Looking forward to the pics and updates. It sounds wonderful. If you are happy with the enclosure please feel free to share the source. More people need this size enclosure and I wish it was the norm.
I ordered through ‘Kages’! 😊 They do additionally do custom sizing but the lead times are longer and I was desperate. There are a lot of PVC companies out there but these seemed to be the highest rated but also the most expensive. With 32 sq. ft. I am hoping I won’t need to update his indoor home again for the life of him (or me is more likely)! Eventually we will have a yard he can summer in. Here is a 4x2x2 version.
 

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Mrs.Jennifer

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With 12 inches of substrate that is damp on bottom, you won't need to mist at all. Humidity will stay 80+ with no effort in a large closed chamber like that. And this is great because RFs are prone to shell rot when kept on wet substrate. Many people keep the substrate too wet in a futile attempt to keep humidity up with an open topped enclosure. You won't have that problem. The lower layers can be kept nice and damp and the uppers layers will remain dry. No foggers either. Those shouldn't be used with tortoises.

I use a tiny drill bit to make a pilot hole, and then screw cup holder hooks into the ceilings of my PVC enclosures. The material is somewhat soft, but it holds fine with a small pilot hole.

Definitely true about the misinformation on the internet. Its rough out there. Seems to be worse with tortoises than with other subjects I'm familiar with. I've never been able to figure out why that is.
Yes! Cup holders are the way to go! I use them to hang my CHE, UV tube fixture and incandescent flood bulb for basking. I also use them for hanging plants from the top to add foliage and help with humidity. I hang spider plants and bromeliads.
 

DakotaRae

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Yes! Cup holders are the way to go! I use them to hang my CHE, UV tube fixture and incandescent flood bulb for basking. I also use them for hanging plants from the top to add foliage and help with humidity. I hang spider plants and bromeliads.
Are we talking about round hooks? I am maybe not understanding.
 

Tom

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Thank you! Lol! I’ve never hung a coffee cup but I’m glad we were on the same page.
I never have either! I don't even drink coffee. I have hung quite a few lights from the tops of tortoise enclosures though. :)
 

mark1

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fwiw , redfoot tortoises are a savannah species , savannah and forest edges ....dense rain forest are actually genetic barriers for distinct redfoot clades ..... unlike yellowfoot tortoises a forest species which i believe are all genetically related ....... the uv index where redfoots come from can be 2,3, 4 times as intense as southern florida ......
 

DakotaRae

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@Tom I'm baaaack!
I've got a 48" Arcadia 6% t5HO now, and your standard reflector fixture ready to mount to the ceiling, with my chain and hooks and what not. However, this dang reflector fixture is the clip mount variety with no where for hooking. Should I just mount it to a small piece of wood, and chain hang it from the wood bit? Also, here is a picture of what I'm imagining. The big fixture is for plants and will just be ceiling mounted.
 

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turtlesteve

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Looking good to me!

For what it’s worth there is quite a bit of confusion/debate on light intensity for red-footed tortoises. I personally prefer bright light with areas of dense plant cover. What I have researched agrees with what @mark1 stated - they live in savannah or open canopy forests, and it’s the yellow-footed tortoises that live in dense shade. It is true that UV index can be lower, since they can get more dietary vitamin D. They will bask in full sunlight, but they dislike extreme heat.
 
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