Revamping lighting setup - input on mixing UV and LED ideas

MoreCowbellAz

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Sep 19, 2019
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49
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Phoenix, Az
My 18 month old DT lives in the below enclosure, 3‘ x 4‘. Eventually she will have an outdoor habitat but for now it’s indoors, although I take her outside nearly every day for as long as she wants to be out there, that’s usually 30 to 60 minutes per day. The lighting in her enclosure is good (I think), but I’m thinking of making some refinements. It’s probably “ok” now with no major deficiencies, I just want to make it the best I can as I learn.

Pics are below: The enclosure is in a pretty bright and sunny room, and the lighting fixtures L to R are incandescent basking bulb, LED bulb, and CHE for the winter. The black thing is a 24” Zoomed UVB T8 10.0 tube on aluminum rails so it’s movable. So basically the enclosure has a warm and a cold side, a basking spot, and an area that gets UVB from the tube. I leave all of the lights on 12 to 14 hours a day.

My issue with the above set up is the existing UVB tube doesn’t cover the majority of the area in the enclosure, so depending on where my DT goes she may or may not be getting UVB. I’d like a larger area. Also I don’t like having to keep the UVB hood so low to get the proper reading, it obstructs my view and it is cumbersome when I need to do something in the enclosure. I’m thinking something that I could raise higher would fix both issues.

My idea is to replace the existing 24” UVB tube with an Arcadia 35” T5 HO which i would have on IDK maybe 4-6 hrs a day, and along side it a similar size LED strip for regular lighting on all day since the UVB would only be on part time and I don’t want the enclosure to be too unlit. I see Arcadia has LEDs asimilar size to the UVB, but maybe that’s overkill.

With this type of set up it would seem I’d have a much larger area that gets UVB, and would have nice bright lighting throughout the enclosure for when the UVB is off. And as a side benefit everything is raised up a bit and I can enjoy a better view looking into the enclosure. There would still be shady spots, and I’d still use the basking bulb all day every day, and the CHE in the winter.

Ok, does this sound like a reasonable idea, and what other options should I consider?

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TeamZissou

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Aug 23, 2020
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Albuquerque, NM
The UV doesn't need to cover the entire enclosure. They just need to be able to get in and out of the light as they please. T8 bulbs aren't as good for UVB, so it's probably a better idea to get a T5 HO as you suggest. The only real way to know the UV level and properly dial in the height is to use a Solarmeter 6.5 which registers UV Index (UVI). You want to adjust the height of the lamp and shoot for a UVI of about 3, and you only need to run it for about 1.5 hours midday.

For ambient lighting, search for a 6400k color temp LED grow bulb. They produce a high quality color spectrum, are very bright, and use a bit less power compared to fluorescent tubes. Agromax is one company that has decently priced bulbs that fit in a T5 fixture, so you'll need to buy the LED bulb and a T5 fixture for it, and you should be good to go.
 

Markw84

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I would not add a bigger UVB tube. The one you have works well in the configuration you have. The T8 10% at the lower height you have is really a good setup. I do not like to have the UVB tube be more the 1/2 the length of the enclosure. You want plenty of area that is not covered by UV just as you do not want a basking zone covering a large area of the enclosure. The tortoise needs a way to get away from the UV and basking area.

I would add another LED bulb or two to increase the total ambient light in the enclosure. As you find the stip lights block your access and view, you can simply add another dome with a 5000k -6000k LED bulb hanging over the enclosure to give better and brighter ambient. You could use a smaller dome for a LED bulb as well.

I would encourage you to add plenty of live plants to the enclosure. I don't know why most people seem to think a tortoise enclosure should be bare. No tortoise in the wild would ever choose to live in an area without plant cover. It increases humidity under the plant fronds and provides a natural shading and hide for the tortoise dramatically reducing stress.
 

MoreCowbellAz

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Joined
Sep 19, 2019
Messages
49
Location (City and/or State)
Phoenix, Az
Yeah I’ve been working on the plant thing, my problem has been getting things to grow in there. Light or heat, not sure, but I’ve been having a tough time. Plus I wanted some things she could nibble on too. I have some things germinating now in fact, will try again.
 
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