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talk to the frog / Setup / Lights: Which , Why and How
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# Posted: 20 Mar 2005 21:07 · Edited by: Superimposedhope

I though perhaps it would be useful to have a definitive light info topic.

For frogs (or any reptile)light is needed. Only certain lights are actually beneficial to anything than a human. With this in mind I am going to attempt to explain the various uses for certain lights, their purpose, and so on. When getting a reptile pet of any kind light is an absolute must have item. You may also opt for live plants which are another kind of light.

1) UV lights: Their are 3 kinds of UV (Ultra Violet) lights available to the consumer. Each with varying uses.

1a) UVA: UVA is a light that is useful to plants mostly and humans. These can be used but generally there are better lights for plants.

2b) UVB: UVB is the light that you are gonna need for keeping reptiles. UVB is a radiation that is helpful to the body of reptiles in processing calcium and other bone nutrients. It is NEEDED! It helps build and maintqin healthy bones and bone structure. Without UVB, eventually all reptiles will perish in captivity. UVB is also found in natural daylight but unless your reptile is sitting in a S.window it is very unlikely that they are getting enough. Lack of UVB is the cause or helper in many crippling and deadly problems incountered in captive reptiles. ABSOLUTE MUST! UVB lights can be found in many stores, most often pet stores, manufactured by many companies. ZOOMED, ExoTerra (Hagen), Jurrasic,etc... Most commonly found as a 6"-48" T12 or T8 long tube fluorescent, very blue in color. Price anywhere from $3US to $50US depending on size and amount of radiation output. Lowlight = Low UVB output, Desert = High UVB output.

1c) UVC: UVC light should be avoided for terrariums or general exposure to living organisms. UVC sources are what cause sunburn and possible cancer. These sources are generally sold as a sterylizing agent. Exposure to UVC while kill skin cells, microbes (bacteria, fungi ,etc..). Most uses are for sterylization of water, and air in ducting systems where smell can be a problem. DO NOT USE FOR REPTILES!

Most people upon planning of a terrarium or chamber for a pet reptile will be thinking of live plants as these tend to add natural beauty and color pattern as well as being generally healthy for living things. (See topics on TOXIC PLANTS).
To keep a plant alive long term light is going to be necessary.
Let me start by saying while there is far more technicality in spectrum and wavelength I have no intention of getting into that for all beginner purposes.

2) T12,T8 - Common Fuoro tubes: These come in varying lengths from 6" - 72" and full spectrum, Warm or Cool. Full spectrum lights tend to be a yellow/orange in color, Warm are gonna be redder in color (actually pink to the eye) and Cool are gonna be bright white or possibly blue in color. These lights are worthy of mention cause for many years hobbyists kept plants under these lights very successfully. The problem being that for PAR (Photo Active Radiation) to be effective the lights have to be place within an inch or 2 no more. Any farther than an inch and you really are not benefitting the plant. Comparable to survivng as opposed to living.

2a) T5: HO (High Output) These lights are ALOT brighter than the standard fluorescent tubes. They are collectively refered to as HO or High Output lights.These are relatively new on the market and are great lights coming in a wider range of spectrum for intensive hobby applications. These lights are also easily spotted as being smaller diameter than their predescessors (T12 and T8). These lights are a bit more pricey but worth it when specific spectrums are desired and compact nature is a must. Most popular with AQ Reef keepers but quickly catching on in the plant industry as well. Prices to drop as availability increases.

2b) CFL and VHOs: CFLs (Compact Fluorescent) and VHO (Very High Output) are the brightest of fluorescent lighting. These lights are typically capable of growing full sun annual and perrenial plants indoors. They are well know for their spirraling and curly-Q shapes. These lights are diffwerent in one aspect from theothers and that is these lights are usually referred to by their wattage and not by length as the others are. The lights are commonly found in 7wtts all the way up to 120wtts. Some are self ballasted and others are not. These lights have become a favorite among plan collectors because of their compact nature and intense lighting capabilities. One 65wtt of these lights will generally provide enough PAR light for 6cuft. These are the lights used most often for growing orchids and such in deep chambers. These lights can be found under several names by several manufacturers for several applications. Some are for street lighting, some are for plants, some are for AQs and variuos other uses. Most of these lights will do well. It should be mentioned that these lights are found in War and Cool. Cool is the most effective single bulb but a warm and a cool bulb provide better spectrum and even coloring (CRI (Color Rendering Index) to the eye and is more accurate for a plants natural light requirements. These lights are often found at Hydroponic shops and plant supply stores for very expensive prices but a little research on your own can turn up a very good light marketed as a street light for a 1/4 the price or better.
P.S. These are the lights I use for my tanks

3) HID (High Intensity Discharge) These are for professional use ONLY! If you are reading this to learn then you haven't enough knowledge to use these lights yet. These lights are EXTREMELY bright and HOT. I cannot stress enough the HOT part. These are a fire hazard in the wrong hands as well as dangerous to unaware animals and children. It needs to also be noted that these lights will chalk up an electricity bill by double digits at a time. Very expensive to run on 12hr cycles or more. Before considering use of these lights you must first consider: Ventilation and heat buildup, cost, protective measures and more. I give this as a reference as possible lights but far more research than this NEEDS to be done before even considering use of these ultimate lighting systems.

*There is also such a thing as Over Driving a fluorescent light. This one of those things that are possible but at your own risk! It is basically multiplying the input to a fixture Lowes, etc..) 48" double strip light(Usually like $7-$10, sold for garages) and an 18" or 12" strip light inand it forces the fixture to pass on this multiplyed power to the bulb. Pesonally, I use this for my UVB bulbs in taller tanks. This way I can get away standard 18"fluoro fixtures.

Well, Here it is.
It's not my fault if you hurt yourself!

1) Start with a twin 40wtt/48" light fixture.
2) Open the shell of the fixture, clip all the wires. (If your wire map on ballast is faded you might want to right it down)
3) Now you need an 18" fixture, the ones that use 15wtt, 20wtt,so on.
4) Do the same as above with the 18" as well.
5) Reconnect the ballast to the 18" fixture, remember that it has twin out puts, instead you need to double the outputs to each side.
6) Make sure no wires are touching each other and that you use something to cover exposed wire.
7) If any wires touch not only will it hurt if your apart of it but it will kill the ballast possibly.
8) You just need a bulb that has the spectrum that you want.
By my use I would say that If your bulb has 1 yr of use plants wise then you over drive it and it is 20wtt running on twin 40wtt ballast; That leaves you with 80wtts on a 20wtt bulb. Since 80 divided 20 = 4, We have quadrupled its output and therefore its life is cut down to 1/4 of its 20wtt life.

1yr bulb = 3month bulb rotation on over drive X4

Take care
Good Luck

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talk to the frog / Setup / Lights: Which , Why and How
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