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It is essential your reptile is under the correct light, this full lighting guide will show you how to fit your UV system correctly.

The guide covers every Reptile Species!

By John Courteney-Smith

Choose your reptile…

Light Guide

The light and Shade method Explained

The new solar meter 6.2 should be used to map out the photogradient. Please note the old solar meter may provide a lower reading. These recommendations are only based on assumed data from weather stations around the world. We then used the species data i.e waking hours and position in the eco system to work out how much exposure they would be exposed to at around 11.00 Am in the country of origin. This is a good starting point for your own research. All recommendations are based on lamp used with reflectors and fitted on the inside of an enclosure. Where light and UV is required to pass through mesh it is advised that the Arcadia reptile Vivarium T5 Canopy is used. UV drops off in power very quickly the further the light has to travel from the lamp. So by using a higher % lamp at source we can still provide the correct amount of energy to the animal despite the distance between lamp and animal. The following recommendation is solely based on fluorescent tube lighting. The Arcadia D3 basking lamp or metal halide system can also be added alongside the fluorescent lamp to provide a hot, UV rich basking zone on any animal identified by *. In some species the D3 cycle may not apply. UV lighting is still recommended to allow the provision of UVA which does have a beneficial visual effect on these animals. Albinos; any animal that carries the albino gene and display red eyes will be sensitive to light. They may still use UVA and UVB as nature intended. It is recommended that extra hides are provided and only half to two thirds of the enclosure are illuminated. This will then allow the animal to self regulate and escape the light if required. In some cases such as high Morphs like the enigma leopard gecko it may be advised that no lighting is provided and synthetic food supplements are solely relied upon. In vivariums that are more than 18” deep (from front to back) a pair lamps should be used to increase the spread of light and UV. In high/wide vivs a hybrid of one D3 and one D3+ is a great choice for engineering a good gradient whist still maintaining a high CRI. All data is taken from the world weather stations and has been used from or 16.00pm. In a confined space and over a long period of time without the ability to self regulate the recommended levels of exposure maybe higher than necessary for some species. The information that we have gleaned is recommended for enclosures that have enough space and well thought out decoration so that the animal or animals can self regulate between full noon type exposure and complete shade. A usable photo-gradient is essential to the well being of captive reptiles, this is why we at Arcadia recommend only lighting half to two thirds of an enclosure when using High output T5 systems. This provision should be started in the hot end so that the cool end has a natural drop off into cool and shade. Hides, rocks, branches and or broad leaf plants will also be required to allow the animal to display wild behaviour and regulate itself. You should also check that these guidelines are suitable for your own enclosure. Typically a sparsely decorated enclosure should have the recommended exposure reduced by 15-20%. All systems ideally should be checked with a solar meter before any animals are introduced to the enclosure.

Reptiles are truly solar powered. They obtain and use heat, visible light, UVA and UVB from the sun. It is important that we design enclosures for our captive animals that resemble as closely as possible the wild type and natural surroundings. Providing a thermo-gradient between hot and cool ends is widely recognised, but what about light and UV? The provision of cool and shade is extremely important to the D3 cycle as a whole. The title “D3 cycle” implies that the production and assimilation of D3 is dependent on a cycle of internal and external factors, this is correct. If parts of the cycle are missed the animal may not be able to produce and utilise D3 in sufficient quantities. Reptiles should be given the opportunity to self regulate between full spectrum light of the correct strength, UV and heat. Our photo-gradients should match our thermo-gradients. Up until very recently as a hobby we have had to use standard output T8 lamps. These have provided a quality form of illumination that has caused reptiles to survive in captivity. Due to the limitations of the technology we have always had to recommend that UV lamps are supplied to the animal to the full length of the vivaria. For keepers using Arcadia High Output T5 systems we have a new solution that is far more exact to the reptiles needs. The power of Arcadia High Output T5 means that UV is pushed further into a vivarium than ever before. This has opened up the usable range between lamp and animal by almost three times. To create a usable photo-gradient for a bearded dragon as an example we suggest that the correct power Arcadia High Output T5 lamp and reflector are selected for the height of your enclosure (see the lighting guide for details). We then suggest selecting a lamp that is around two thirds the total length of the enclosure. This lamp and reflector should be ideally fitted in the corner between the roof and the front plate above the door. This ensures that the light is always provided above the animal and is also out of the human eye line. Fit the lamp offset towards the hot end, this will then allow a natural drop off into shade which matches the thermo decline into the cool end of the vivarium. This will then allow the animal to “self regulate”. Reptiles have the gift of Tetrachromacy. This allows them to “see” into the Violet and ultraviolet wavelengths and decide when and where they need to bask and for how long. When using this method you will notice that if the animal has the correct output available at differing heights of the enclosure it will start to display a more natural behavioural pattern. The animal or animals will actively seek out strong exposure at certain times of the day and cool and shade at other times. You will notice that the animal becomes more active, feed in a more predatory manner and shed with greater ease. These actions are all widely reported from keepers all around the world that have moved onto Arcadia High Output T5 systems. Mercury vapour and metal halide lamps can then be added as supplementary forms of lighting again these fittings should be placed into the hot side of the enclosure. The heating of the vivarium should be provided in the same side as the light. The thermo and photo-gradients should match one another. We do however recommend that T8 systems are still provided to the full length of the enclosure with the essential correct reflector so that the animals can make full use of the power of the light.

The use of a solar meter is in our mind a very powerful tool in ensuring that your animals receive the exposure to UVB that they would be exposed to in the wild. The Solar meter 6.2 is a good guide as to the level of UVB and will also show the relative decay of a lamp over time. The solar meter 6.2 can be used more accurately to set a usable photogradient whether you use the full sun or partial shade method of illumination. All technology has limitations and one limitation with all light meters is that they measure wavelengths from different light sources in different ways. It is for this reason that our advice is to not use a 6.2 when measuring a Mercury vapour lamp or metal halide alone, you will get an artificially low result. The Arcadia reptile lighting guide contains uw/cm2 recommendations. These guidelines only apply when measured with a 6.2 and using Arcadia Reptile fluorescent lamps. Other forms of lighting may show lower results that is provided in reality

Product Safety

Lamps can be fragile pieces of equipment. Please follow the following steps to ensure the safe fitting and use of fluorescent lamps.

At either end of a fluorescent lamp you will see two brass coloured connection pins. These are the electrodes that take energy from the controller to start and run the lamp. These are quite fragile by nature. It is imperative that both pins are safely located into the pin sockets inside the lamp holder before the lamp is pressed into place. Failure to line the pins up correctly will cause the pins to bend and snap and break through the lamp cap rendering the lamp unusable. The Ultra-seal lamp ring must be unscrewed from the lamp holder and placed over the lamp prior to fitting and only re-seated onto the lamp holder when you are sure that the lamp pins are seated correctly. High Output T5 lamp leads must be fully unwound also or you may notice lamp flickering or beaks in illumination. You can also use a very small amount of a substance like Vaseline to lubricate the lamp ring and so stop it fusing to the lamp after long periods of heat. After cooling lamps can be wiped clean with a damp cloth once every two weeks or so to remove any dust build up from the lamp, this in turn will help to maintain the lamps full output. The all important reflector should also be wiped clean at the same time.

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