Mercury Vapor Bulb Recommendations

Cheech77

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Hi Everyone,

I'm looking to switch my Yellow Belly Slider from a separate Heat and UVB bulb to a Mercury Vapor Bulb. Sheldyn was just at the vet because she wasn't feeling well and the Dr. recommended switching to a Mercury Vapor Bulb.

Can you let me know what brand you use, what wattage (she's in a 75 gallon tank), and if I can use a traditional dome lamp or if I need to purchase a special lamp.

I'm also wondering how often you all do full water changes and 50% changes. The vet said that I should be doing a full change every other week. Lesson learned. It was an expensive mistake because I only do partial changes. I won't make that mistake again!
 

Blackdog1714

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No. MVB will desicate your tort shell as well be very unreliable for safe UVB output. A CHE or RHP do well for ambient temp and you could use a regular incandescent bulb for a basking spot. BTW your vet may know little to nothing about torts with that advice.
 

Tom

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Hi Everyone,

I'm looking to switch my Yellow Belly Slider from a separate Heat and UVB bulb to a Mercury Vapor Bulb. Sheldyn was just at the vet because she wasn't feeling well and the Dr. recommended switching to a Mercury Vapor Bulb.

Can you let me know what brand you use, what wattage (she's in a 75 gallon tank), and if I can use a traditional dome lamp or if I need to purchase a special lamp.

I'm also wondering how often you all do full water changes and 50% changes. The vet said that I should be doing a full change every other week. Lesson learned. It was an expensive mistake because I only do partial changes. I won't make that mistake again!
Don't use an MVB. They are full of problems. There is no semester on turtle and tortoise care in vet school and your vet is reading the same wrong info that everyone else reads.

There are four elements to heating and lighting:
  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.
  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.
 

Cheech77

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South Park Township
No. MVB will desicate your tort shell as well be very unreliable for safe UVB output. A CHE or RHP do well for ambient temp and you could use a regular incandescent bulb for a basking spot. BTW your vet may know little to nothing about torts with that advice.
Is this the same for aquatic turtles? The vet is an exotic vet, but there's a lot of animals to learn about, so I get that they might now know everything...
 

Paschendale52

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Isn't all of that advice more appropriate for tortoises not turtles? I know that MVBs are generally replaced with CHEs, heat panels and such for tortoises but for indoor turtles in aquariums I recall @Markw84 saying that he uses them and hasn't had problems. The general temperature control should be done by water heaters. An enclosed top with the basking lamp should keep air temperatures pretty comparable.

I'm happy to be corrected, but I think MVBs are fine for water turtles. I know people generally recommend the MegaRay brand. Wattage is typically based on distance to water surface and such and they should have little charts for them. For 75 gallons I would think on the smaller side (<100W).

Personally I only ever do 50% changes, about every 3 or 4 weeks and have never had water quality issues.
 

Cheech77

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South Park Township
No. MVB will desicate your tort shell as well be very unreliable for safe UVB output. A CHE or RHP do well for ambient temp and you could use a regular incandescent bulb for a basking spot. BTW your vet may know little to nothing about torts with that advice.
Are there any combo bulbs that provide both heat and UVB that you recommend? If not, any UVB bulbs that fit in a dome lamp that you recommend?
 

Cheech77

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Isn't all of that advice more appropriate for tortoises not turtles? I know that MVBs are generally replaced with CHEs, heat panels and such for tortoises but for indoor turtles in aquariums I recall @Markw84 saying that he uses them and hasn't had problems. The general temperature control should be done by water heaters. An enclosed top with the basking lamp should keep air temperatures pretty comparable.

I'm happy to be corrected, but I think MVBs are fine for water turtles. I know people generally recommend the MegaRay brand. Wattage is typically based on distance to water surface and such and they should have little charts for them. For 75 gallons I would think on the smaller side (<100W).

Personally I only ever do 50% changes, about every 3 or 4 weeks and have never had water quality issues.
Thank you so much. The water changes that she recommended seemed excessive. I definitely needed to do one since she was sick, but doing a 50% water change every week and a 100% water change every other week seemed like overkill, at least in a healthy turtle.

Her current set up is a 75 gallon tank. She has a basking platform and a heat and UVB bulb over the basking area, a Fluval 407 filter, and a water heater set to 75 degrees. I'd love to be able to combine the heat and UVB into one if that's possible, but if not, our current set up seems to be working. I wonder if she is absorbing enough of the UVB though.

These are the bulbs that I currently use.
  • Repti Tuff Splashproof Halogen Lamp (50 w)
  • ReptiSun 5.0 Mini Compact Fluorescent (13 w)
The heat is fine, but like I said, I wonder if she is absorbing enough UVB. Also, I need to have a screen lid because my cat is obsessed with the tank and will jump into it if it's not covered.

If you have any UVB advice, please let me know!
 

Cheech77

New Member
Joined
Feb 17, 2022
Messages
12
Location (City and/or State)
South Park Township
Thank you so much. The water changes that she recommended seemed excessive. I definitely needed to do one since she was sick, but doing a 50% water change every week and a 100% water change every other week seemed like overkill, at least in a healthy turtle.

Her current set up is a 75 gallon tank. She has a basking platform and a heat and UVB bulb over the basking area, a Fluval 407 filter, and a water heater set to 75 degrees. I'd love to be able to combine the heat and UVB into one if that's possible, but if not, our current set up seems to be working. I wonder if she is absorbing enough of the UVB though.

These are the bulbs that I currently use.
  • Repti Tuff Splashproof Halogen Lamp (50 w)
  • ReptiSun 5.0 Mini Compact Fluorescent (13 w)
The heat is fine, but like I said, I wonder if she is absorbing enough UVB. Also, I need to keep my screen lid because my cat is obsessed with the tank and will jump into it if it's not covered.

If you have any UVB advice, please let me know!
 

Paschendale52

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Messages
244
Thank you so much. The water changes that she recommended seemed excessive. I definitely needed to do one since she was sick, but doing a 50% water change every week and a 100% water change every other week seemed like overkill, at least in a healthy turtle.

Her current set up is a 75 gallon tank. She has a basking platform and a heat and UVB bulb over the basking area, a Fluval 407 filter, and a water heater set to 75 degrees. I'd love to be able to combine the heat and UVB into one if that's possible, but if not, our current set up seems to be working. I wonder if she is absorbing enough of the UVB though.

These are the bulbs that I currently use.
  • Repti Tuff Splashproof Halogen Lamp (50 w)
  • ReptiSun 5.0 Mini Compact Fluorescent (13 w)
The heat is fine, but like I said, I wonder if she is absorbing enough UVB. Also, I need to have a screen lid because my cat is obsessed with the tank and will jump into it if it's not covered.

If you have any UVB advice, please let me know!

Look for some past threads on compact fluorescent (compact CFL) with respect to water turtles. They are pretty hotly debated. I know for tortoises they have been reported by many to be a bad thing to use. Again, with water turtles I've seen some posts back and forth about directional dependence on how harmful they can be.

I would look for posts from @Markw84 about different lightning setups for indoors. He is one of the top authorities on water turtles on this forum or anywhere else. I believe you want something like a heat lamp or MVB and a tube fluorescent for ambient lightning and UVB if your heat bulb doesn't have it. Turtles absorb the UVB while still in the water as its water penetration is not too bad. So they don't have to bask to get it, although sliders mostly will.

You can use the forum search functions to find posts by specific people, so that should help your search.
 

Markw84

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Thank you so much. The water changes that she recommended seemed excessive. I definitely needed to do one since she was sick, but doing a 50% water change every week and a 100% water change every other week seemed like overkill, at least in a healthy turtle.

Her current set up is a 75 gallon tank. She has a basking platform and a heat and UVB bulb over the basking area, a Fluval 407 filter, and a water heater set to 75 degrees. I'd love to be able to combine the heat and UVB into one if that's possible, but if not, our current set up seems to be working. I wonder if she is absorbing enough of the UVB though.

These are the bulbs that I currently use.
  • Repti Tuff Splashproof Halogen Lamp (50 w)
  • ReptiSun 5.0 Mini Compact Fluorescent (13 w)
The heat is fine, but like I said, I wonder if she is absorbing enough UVB. Also, I need to have a screen lid because my cat is obsessed with the tank and will jump into it if it's not covered.

If you have any UVB advice, please let me know!
I think the combination you are using is quite good for an aquatic. As with any UVB bulb, you need to be sure the distance is correct from the bulb to the closest possible place your turtle can get while basking (eye level for turtle). Keep in mind aquatic turtles also get much of their vitamin D from their diet. So ensure you are using a pellet that is a good well balanced turtle pellet. Most of the brand name pellets are now. I do not like MVB bulbs at all. They are way too inconsistent in the UVB they produce bulb to bulb. They don't last long and are prone to burning out as they overheat quickly in a dome. They can put out a very strong amount of UVB and would then need to be placed too high for most aquatic situations. I use the compact fluorescents and now am also using some of the Vivotech SurSun LED UVB lights and like them quite a bit. (just be sure they all are mounted at a correct distance) The SurSun has to be mounted higher. I use these in combo with an incandescent 65 watt bulb for basking heat.

I also have a 75 gal with Fluval. I normally have 5-10 3" Spotted turtles in there. The size of your turtle will make a big difference. I do a 75% water change while suctioning out the bottom gravel about once every 3 months. The Fluval does a great job of keeping the water clean. Just be sure the nitrate build-up does not get too high. That's the main reason for water changes.
 

Cheech77

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South Park Township
Look for some past threads on compact fluorescent (compact CFL) with respect to water turtles. They are pretty hotly debated. I know for tortoises they have been reported by many to be a bad thing to use. Again, with water turtles I've seen some posts back and forth about directional dependence on how harmful they can be.

I would look for posts from @Markw84 about different lightning setups for indoors. He is one of the top authorities on water turtles on this forum or anywhere else. I believe you want something like a heat lamp or MVB and a tube fluorescent for ambient lightning and UVB if your heat bulb doesn't have it. Turtles absorb the UVB while still in the water as its water penetration is not too bad. So they don't have to bask to get it, although sliders mostly will.

You can use the forum search functions to find posts by specific people, so that should help your search.
Thank You!
 

Markw84

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I also see your question in regards to your cat. In that case, I would recommend an Arcadia shade dweller 12". That comes in a complete fixture and bulb kit and uses a 6% T5 HO bulb so the placement can be lower over a turtle tank and the hood is completely covering the bulb (and UV). I use these on small tanks I use to start hatchling turtles where I need something that can be placed closer to the basking area because of the smaller tank. You still need an incandescent bulb for basking heat. Your splash-proof halogen is a good choice for that.
 

Cheech77

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I think the combination you are using is quite good for an aquatic. As with any UVB bulb, you need to be sure the distance is correct from the bulb to the closest possible place your turtle can get while basking (eye level for turtle). Keep in mind aquatic turtles also get much of their vitamin D from their diet. So ensure you are using a pellet that is a good well balanced turtle pellet. Most of the brand name pellets are now. I do not like MVB bulbs at all. They are way too inconsistent in the UVB they produce bulb to bulb. They don't last long and are prone to burning out as they overheat quickly in a dome. They can put out a very strong amount of UVB and would then need to be placed too high for most aquatic situations. I use the compact fluorescents and now am also using some of the Vivotech SurSun LED UVB lights and like them quite a bit. (just be sure they all are mounted at a correct distance) The SurSun has to be mounted higher. I use these in combo with an incandescent 65 watt bulb for basking heat.

I also have a 75 gal with Fluval. I normally have 5-10 3" Spotted turtles in there. The size of your turtle will make a big difference. I do a 75% water change while suctioning out the bottom gravel about once every 3 months. The Fluval does a great job of keeping the water clean. Just be sure the nitrate build-up does not get too high. That's the main reason for water changes.
Thank you so much. This was very helpful. So the UVB that I'm currently using should be as close to the screen as possible?

If I switch to the Vivotech, it looks like it should be at least 4 inches from the screen. Did I read that right? Do you use their UVB reader? That looks really cool.
 

Cheech77

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Location (City and/or State)
South Park Township
I also see your question in regards to your cat. In that case, I would recommend an Arcadia shade dweller 12". That comes in a complete fixture and bulb kit and uses a 6% T5 HO bulb so the placement can be lower over a turtle tank and the hood is completely covering the bulb (and UV). I use these on small tanks I use to start hatchling turtles where I need something that can be placed closer to the basking area because of the smaller tank. You still need an incandescent bulb for basking heat. Your splash-proof halogen is a good choice for that.
I just looked up the shade dweller. Would my turtle still absorb the UVB if it is placed over the water? I'd still need the screen on the other side, so I'm not sure how I'd do that. My current screen bends in the middle, so I guess I could just leave part of it up?

Speaking of my cat, what are your thoughts on something like this. I'd love to find a metal guard to protect my cat when he goes under the lamps. I found a guard on Amazon, but it didn't fit. Any suggestions? Do you think it's safe? As in the lamps won't burn through the screen guard?

Thank you sooo much for all of your help!
 

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