Spiral UVB Lamps

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Balboa

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Time to tackle this sore spot. I realize I should just let it lie, but feel I need to clear my chest one last time.

I'm starting to think a certain buddy of mine has taken on a crusade against CFL UVB lamps just to goad me. Maybe I'm wrong and he really has a personal Vendetta against these things and he's being just as stubborn as an honery old sully in his quest to eradicate them from the face of the earth. Something tells me he does have a stubborn streak in him a mile wide. :)

I wouldn't care, except I hate to see people waste money and throw away a perfectly good lamp, because one of our many experts on here told them to.

Yes, my experience is limited. Yes I do not yet own a UV meter like I honestly feel every responsible tortoise owner should. My only excuse is the usual weak one. I don't have the money right now. Things are tight in our home, and will be for the next few months, if we even manage to hold on to our home.

What I can say from experience is this. I HAVE successfully used both a linear UVB lamp and a Compact Fluorescent UVB lamp to pull two red footed tortoises out of onset MBD. I hate to toot my own horn, but after reading so many stories of sorrow, so many tortoises fading away to death after entering depressive states, I feel truly lucky and blessed to have done it. Now maybe karma will kick me in the *** and take Adrienne or Rocky from me as a price for my pride, but I pray that doesn't pass. I'm fairly confident in Rocky's health at this point, but don't truly feel completely out of the woods with Adrienne yet.

First assumption I'm making that could be in error is that both animals were suffering from onset MBD. In all the research I've done, reading old thread after old thread, some things that Danny had said made the connection in my mind. Maybe I misread, and Danny was reacting to other cues, but I came to connect depressed inactive states in tortoises with MBD. Apparently as MBD, or possibly other nutrient defficiency disorders set in, movement becomes physically painful for tortoises. It hurts to move, so they stop moving, further compounding the problem, as they may then refuse to self regulate their temperature and UVB needs. Too low temps then lead to poor digestion, which further leads to poor nutrition. Lack of exercise is also likely critical to over all tortoise health and well being.

With Rocky all I had was an 18 inch UVB 10 lamp that came with her. For at least 3 months prior to her coming to live with us she received no UVB. The lens had never been removed by the previous owner. All rocky wanted to do was sit in her hide. I rarely supplemented D3 in her diet, as I was scared of overdosing. I did however feed her a little Natural Balance pea and duck cat food weekly (which does contain D3) and some mushrooms regularily. Overtime, as she learned to bask (I placed the UV lamp next to her halogen heat lamp) her activity level picked up. She went through a couple cuddle bones, munching them down ravenously, something that has slowed down now, she just nibbles occasionally.

Adrienne's turn around has been slower, possibly because she is also smaller. She has received "better" care, which I also wonder if I'm missing something I accidently got right with Rocky. She is however doing far better than she was, and has started to become active. She is now wandering about her enclosure at times and eating well.

Now to the point of all this.
I USED A ZOO MED 5.0 CFL FOR ADRIENNE.
yes, although to be fair its not a "spiral" it is a CFL, and I REALLY LIKE IT. It SEEMS to have given her enough UVB to start making a recovery and HAS NOT BLINDED HER.

The old CFLs were very dim apparently, and produced overly high levels of UVC and UVB radiation, AND came with inadequate instructions. This led to many owners installing them incorrectly and harming their reptiles.

My Zoo Med 5.0 CFL came with clear adequate instructions. It produces a bright white, FULL SPECTRUM light that is painful to look at, and I consider this a GOOD THING. The old dim lamps are terrible things, because it does not hurt to look at them. Since they are dim the pupil also dilates to a wide open position allowing excessive UVB in. This new lamp does NOT do that.

Now the argument goes, why take the risk, MVBs are better right? Maybe, maybe not. There is some research that shows, and I have seen this behavior in Rocky, that reptiles can self regulate their UVB needs just like they regulate their heat needs. If heat and UVB are combined in one, it may not be possible for an animal to get enough of one without getting too much of the other. They can wind up cooking themselves just to satisfy their UVB needs.

Most of their information is down, and supposedly will be back up soon, but UVGuide is now suggesting that animals be provided with a UV gradient, just like a heat gradient. I am presently trying to establish a high UV spot with a high temp, and a High UV spot, with a lower temp, and also a high heat spot with low UV.

As to no MVB ever causing problems....
http://www.uvguide.co.uk/westronrecallspring2010.htm

Now maybe I just had dumb luck, and my torts should be dead and/ or blind, and I would feel bad as all hell if a bunch of folks started using CFLs now, and had their animals harmed.

BUT THE FACT IS
I used both a linear and a CFL UVB lamp, got away with it, and had good results. No matter what source of UVB we use, we need to watch our animals, and watch for signs of harm. If ever any animal starts showing eye problems, immediately pull all lamps and see if they recover.

I realize I may never be able to reach you guys, and frankly after this I'll likely give up. Just think about it a minute. If you ate an apple once, and it had a worm, would you never eat another? I've bit that worm, and yes it was gross, but I sure love apples.
 

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Supposedly the problem with the spiral bulbs has been resolved, but the trouble is, its impossible to know if you are buying a new bulb or one of the old troubled bulbs.
 

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wow thats alot to take in. im using a 2.0 spiral uvb and repti basking light any suggestions for something better or is this at least alright if i keep an on tori. please let me know a pm might be easy and quicker for me. please and thank you
 

DeanS

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Why does this debate continue?!?!? The only way to be sure that your tort is benefiting from its light source is if you're using a Mercury Vapor Bulb (although an hour or two in the sun is much more beneficial). So what if they run $45 - $60. You wouldn't skimp on the proper care for your child, would you? Then don't skimp on your little reptilian child(ren) either! ;)
 

PeanutbuttER

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I have next to no experience with the compact fluorescent (i'm pretty sure these are what you mean) lights. I used one for about 6 months when I first got my torts, but that is about it. No known damage done to the torts, but then again that's a short time in the tortoise world. I will say though that I wish someone with a UVB meter could just go out and test these darn things for us. I want some raw data to ponder!!!

The only paragraph that I had any problems with was this one:
"My Zoo Med 5.0 CFL came with clear adequate instructions. It produces a bright white, FULL SPECTRUM light that is painful to look at, and I consider this a GOOD THING. The old dim lamps are terrible things, because it does not hurt to look at them. Since they are dim the pupil also dilates to a wide open position allowing excessive UVB in. This new lamp does NOT do that." - Balboa

As I understand UVB absorption, it has little to do with the eyes and more to do with the skin. I am under the impression that the UVB -> D3 pathway goes through the skin is what I'm saying (with UVB initiating some sort of chemical cascade by providing energy or some other signal).

However, your observation about eyes is still important. In humans light exposure through the eyes plays a role in setting and maintaining the body's natural circadian rhythms (day and night cycle) by signaling the production of melatonin. I just checked the wikipedia and the section about circadian rhythms in animals is actually not a bad read. Very interesting. Linked here for those interested.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circadian_rhythm

Just wanted to clear that up. You're right about its importance, but I don't think for the reason you think. However, it's beneficial nonetheless.

I like that you're writing well thought out threads that I can actually think about. Thank you.
 

Balboa

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emysemys said:
Supposedly the problem with the spiral bulbs has been resolved, but the trouble is, its impossible to know if you are buying a new bulb or one of the old troubled bulbs.

If you go here

http://www.uvguide.co.uk/phototherapyphosphor-summary.htm#update23sept09

At the bottom of the page is a guide for how to determine the old from the new, at least as far as Zilla and Zoo-Med are concerned.

wow thats alot to take in. im using a 2.0 spiral uvb and repti basking light any suggestions for something better or is this at least alright if i keep an on tori. please let me know a pm might be easy and quicker for me. please and thank you

2.0 is not enough for significant D3 production.
Best is sunlight of course, but as its now winter....
For a redfoot I like either a 5.0 or 10.0 (10.0 probably better) linear, with one end of it near the basking lamp, with a good high quality reflector.
Other folks will suggest an MVB, the choice is yours.

DeanS said:
Why does this debate continue?!?!? The only way to be sure that your tort is benefiting from its light source is if you're using a Mercury Vapor Bulb (although an hour or two in the sun is much more beneficial). So what if they run $45 - $60. You wouldn't skimp on the proper care for your child, would you? Then don't skimp on your little reptilian child(ren) either! ;)

With all due respect Dean, my man....
Did you read what I had to say???? :)

Yah, I may be wrong, but I'm not really debating anything, just stating my experience, and stating what I see as the potential problem (or better 1, of the potential problems) with MVBs as to why I'm not totally on the bandwagon with this one. Time will tell. More life experience and testing to be done. I do fully expect folks to debate with me about this though.

Another point that occurs to me though now. My experience is with forest torts, most of you guys are talking grassland torts. I imagine redfoots can get by with less intense UVB than sullies.

PeanutbuttER said:
(Snip)

The only paragraph that I had any problems with was this one:
"My Zoo Med 5.0 CFL came with clear adequate instructions. It produces a bright white, FULL SPECTRUM light that is painful to look at, and I consider this a GOOD THING. The old dim lamps are terrible things, because it does not hurt to look at them. Since they are dim the pupil also dilates to a wide open position allowing excessive UVB in. This new lamp does NOT do that." - Balboa

As I understand UVB absorption, it has little to do with the eyes and more to do with the skin. I am under the impression that the UVB -> D3 pathway goes through the skin is what I'm saying (with UVB initiating some sort of chemical cascade by providing energy or some other signal).

As usual I'm not communicating well I guess :)

This part has nothing to do with D3 production. This has to do with photo-kerato-conjunctivitis.

What people don't seem to get, is that ANY UVB lamp, if poorly made, or poorly installed can damage the corneas of an animal (or a human for that matter). Its the same thing as snow-blindness.

The pupil of the eye either retracts or expands to vary the amount of light let in to the cornea. Bright lights make the hole smaller, dim lights make the hole bigger.

In many of the older UVB fluorescent designs, both linear and compact, the light appears dim, and when that is the only light available to see by, the pupil opens up wide.

These older compact fluorescents were also putting out large quantities of UVB. They were also frequently installed too close to the animals, as there was little to no direction on how close to place them. The animals were then able to get close, and look directly at the light source, and burn their corneas, causing there eyes to swell shut.

In most cases, as long as this is caught early, damage is minor and the animal recovers.

Some folks didn't realize what was going on, and their animals continued to suffer, in some cases receiving permanent eye damage or resulting in death.

This is less likely to happen with an MVB and a CFL like my 5.0 Zoo Med, because the lamps produce more "visible" light appearing brighter, so the pupil closes, protecting the cornea.

Hope I made it clearer that time :)

Nice point you make about the circadian rythms, and that does tie into one of the things I like about my CFL UVB. Like I said it produces bright white, full spectrum lighting. It really is an all-in-one midday lighting solution (without heat).

You're right about the meters, and I wish I could test this darn thing. The only evidence I have for adequate UV production is Adrienne's better health.

In another couple weeks UVGuide should be back up, and full lab test data will be available on many different lamps again.
 

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wow thats alot to take in. im using a 2.0 spiral uvb and repti basking light any suggestions for something better or is this at least alright if i keep an on tori. please let me know a pm might be easy and quicker for me. please and thank you

If we had known this when you posted about the watery eyes, I would have zeroed in on it and told you about the spiral bulbs being hard on tortoise's eyes. In my opinion, because we can't know if you have one of the "fixed" ones or an old, harmful one, I would ditch the bulb and buy a MVB UVB/heat bulb. You can find them online for about $40.
 

Marty333

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Hey I just would like some clarification is this what we are talking about?
pPETS-3764701dt.jpg

pPETS-3758884t400.jpg
 

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The first one, Katerina...not the three tubes in the bottom picture.
 

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Okay Big B, here we go. I find your self-depreciating comments about not communicating kind of funny. I think you communicate very well and your humility is refreshing.

We are all here to try to help each other and relate our experiences. I love that you do just this and you do it well. Problem is (not really a problem, more of an issue), everyone has had different and sometimes conflicting experiences. Everyone has different levels of experience and under vastly different time frames and circumstances.

You base your experience and your conclusions on two animals of one species in your capable hands. Here the thing with that: There is a long and ongoing debate about how much UV redfoots even need. Secondly, redfoots usually get a fair amount of D3 from their semi-omnivorous diet.

By contrast, I'm basing my advice on two and a half decades of experience with thousands of individual reptiles of dozens of species. I'm also basing what I say on the experience of long-time, super experienced keepers here on the forum who have had personal bad experiences with these coil bulbs.

My argument against these coil bulbs and regular tubes not producing enough USABLE UV is the same as my argument against the sand or sand mix substrates. I've used coil bulbs and I've used sand and sand mix substrates many times over the years and never had a single problem with either. You may do the same and never have a problem. Here's the thing: SOME people WILL have a problem. Too large a percentage for my comfort level. So my point is: Why risk it when there are safer AND better alternatives available that have a lot less risk?

If I'm giving advice to a newbie, who is already over-whelmed and confused by the horrible amount of conflicting care advice, I want to recommend the safest, easiest and best way for them to go. Its easier AND better to just say "avoid the coil bulbs and get an MVB". Frequently in my experience a coil bulb IS the source of their problem. I've seen this many times in young sulcatas. Seems to be more prevalent in species that bask a lot and spend large amounts of time under their bulbs.

I will say that in the case of redfoots or yellowfoots, a tube light and a CHE MIGHT be the best way to go, but for most other species I think any flourescent is ineffective and the coil bulbs are potentially dangerous.

Okay. There's my two cents on the subject.
 

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Marty333 said:
Hey I just would like some clarification is this what we are talking about?

The coil bulb in the top pic is the "potentially" dangerous one, but, in my opinion, the tubes in the lower photo are ineffective at providing enough UV.
 

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I apreciate your post on this Balboa. I would need more information on the reliability of these bulbs to make any sort of opinion. Do they actually radiate the amount of UVB they claim to? I know there have been serious issues (I belive blinding reptiles?) with these bulbs in the past, but they have since fixed the issues correct?

For now I agree with Tom, better to stick with an MVB as the safer alternative.
 

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The coil bulb is the one that I've been using on all of my Cherry's and they are fine. Is this what the OP is saying that he's found no problem with them either? :(
 

Tom

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Marty333 said:
I feel like I am hijacking this thread but what do you think the best light set up for a redfoot is?

Its been a long time since I kept a redfoot and when I did it before, I did it all wrong. I'd rather let one of our many experienced redfoot keepers answer that one.

To keep it on topic, I will say that I'd never use a coil bulb with a redfoot.
 

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I used exo-terra coil bulbs a couple of years ago on 2 different enlosures of hatchlings. One I had Blanding's in, the other NA Woods. Within a week of being used on the Blanding's I could tell there was an issue with them. They would bask with their eyes closed, which is normal. The issue they had was getting their eyes to re-open. They would rub them with their fore limbs and after about a minute or two they would finally get them to open. If they went directly in the water they would get them to open quicker, but not as fast as they should. It took me over a week to realize it could be the uvb bulb. I removed it and within two days they were completely back to normal. It had no effect on the Woods though. Still, I removed them all.
 

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If I'm not mistaken, Terry O uses the tube for her redfoots. Since they don't seem to require all that much UVB, and the tube puts out only a small amount, it works ok for a redfoot.

The spiral bulb was concentrating the UV rays out the end of the bulb, making them much too strong for tortoise's eyes.
 

Balboa

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LOL
Thanks Tom, and yes I do appreciate your experience and your viewpoint. The idea of making it as simple as possible does make sense.

I think my point on not communicating well was reiterated fairly strongly in the posts following yours, however. It is a relief that at least maybe you do understand me. All too often I see my posts falling on "blind eyes", like they were never read or understood at all.

Candy, I am saying that yes I have found the Zoo-Med Compact Fluorescent UVBs to be both fixed and effective. I have not tried the exo-terra or zilla, but supposedly they have been fixed as well. That I cannot confirm at this time. The reports I have read from UVGuide are encouraging on those makes as well however.

Marty, for a Redfoot I have had good luck so far with both the long tube type (linear), and the spiral type (CFL,compact fluorescent, the top type in your picture) UVB lamps. Most of our experienced keepers will tell you to avoid both and use a MVB for any species.

It is not necessarily true that they do not like "bright" light. The reason is one of perception. The inside of a typical home is actually very dark compared to outside on a sunny day. When we look at a brightly lit enclosure inside our home it may "seem" way too bright, but actually be dimmer than the shade beneath a tree outside. It is actually somewhat difficult to over illuminate an enclosure, especially without cooking the occupants.

For me that's the unrealized danger of high UV output lamps of any type. These lamps are designed to put out the same kind of UV levels as full sunlight, without putting out full sunlight visible light levels.

This means the pupil stays too wide open, allowing too much UV in, damaging the eye.

In any case, I wanted to clear my chest on this, hopefully I've done this, and I'll PROBABLY shut up about it. I have other ideas about providing UVB for our critters that I may explain later.
 
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