Setting up the correct bearded dragon lighting in your beardie’s tank can be quite the confusing predicament! And unfortunately, this is especially true when it comes to new owners…
From sourcing the right basking bulb, to understanding the difference between both UVA and UVB… there’s definitely a learning curve to ensuring your bearded dragon has an ideal setup that will allow them to thrive.
And while measuring temperatures tends to be fairly easy and straight forward, it is often times the UVB setup that needs to be addressed with new owners.
This article will serve as a guide to help bearded dragon owners, both new and experienced, make sure they are using only the best UVB bulbs for their bearded dragon!
In addition to this, this article will also aim to answer some common questions associated with UVB bulbs, so that readers will feel both confident and educated in their understanding of this often-confusing topic.
However, before diving headfirst into the product recommendations, it would probably be beneficial to actually provide you with some background information on all things UVB.
So, without further ado, let’s jump headfirst into all things UVB so that you can understand the ins and outs of proper bearded dragon lighting!
Curious or in a hurry?
✅Buyer’s Tip: These specific UVB bulbs are MOST popular with our readers.
In This Article
Do Dragons Need UVA or UVB?
In short? BOTH!
Because bearded dragons in the wild rely on natural sunlight to stay healthy and because natural sunlight emits both UVA and UVB… bearded dragons in captivity need both UVA and UVB.
Now, the difference between the two is that UVA can essentially be transmitted from any light bulb, whereas UVB has to come from a special UVB bulb.
So, while your dragon is most likely getting adequate levels of UVA from their basking light alone, you will need a special UVB bulb to make sure their UVB needs are met.
What is the Difference Between UVA and UVB Bulbs?
As aforementioned, practically any light bulb is going to emit UVA light, which is the light with longer rays, as opposed to the shorter rays of UVB.
UVA bulbs are going to be primarily just regular light bulbs that emit physical light and heat.
UVB bulbs on the other hand, are a special type of bulb that will emit the shorter UVB rays needed by your dragon to be able to produce Vitamin D3 and absorb calcium.
A proper bearded dragon lighting setup is going to ensure there is both heat and UVB within their tank.
How Many Hours of UVB do Bearded Dragons Need?
In the warmer months like Spring and Summer, you will typically want to leave your UVB bulb on for 10 to 12 hours, turning it on sometime in mid-morning and then turning it off in the mid-evening.
For colder months like Fall and Winter, you can turn the UVB on for only 8 to 10 hours.
Adjusting how long the UVB light is on throughout the year, will help regulate the seasons for your bearded dragon and can create a more natural environment for them to live in.
The Best UVB Bulbs for Bearded Dragons (Fluorescent Only)
So, now that you have some general background information on UVB light and why it’s so important, let’s discuss some of the best options for UVB lighting for your bearded dragon.
To be quite frank, most UVB options on the market are not exactly as safe as most of us would like them to be, which is why this list is rather short.
Below, you’ll discover the top 2 picks for a fluorescent UVB bulb for bearded dragons. Fluorescent bulbs make great options for those on budgets and beginners alike as they are fairly easy to mount and affordable.
Fluorescent bulbs will simply supply UVB for your bearded dragon, so you’ll still need a basking bulb as well.
Best UVB Bulb for Bearded Dragons #1: Repti-Sun 10.0 UVB (Fluorescent Light)
This is without a doubt, one of the most trusted if not THE most trusted UVB bulb on the market right now for bearded dragons.
This fluorescent light will provide an adequate amount of UVB for most enclosures and will last anywhere from 6 to 12 months on average.
However, you may want to switch it out for a new one at 6 months just to make sure optimal levels of UVB are being put out to ensure your bearded dragon stays healthy.
This is the UVB you should go with if you’re a newbie and have a tank that is at least 40 gallons.
Repti-Sun 10.0 UVB Fixture
When it comes to the Repti-Sun UVB bulb, you’ll have PLENTY of fixture options!
Any of the following fixtures will work just fine:
- This under cabinet light fixture is great for those on a budget
- This Zoo Med fixture was made to accommodate the Repti-Sun bulb
- This Sunblaster fixture is more affordable and provides mounting equipement
Best UVB Bulb for Bearded Dragons #3: Zilla UVB Fluorescent Bulb 18 Inch
Not as popular as the Repti-Sun above, though still a viable option, this UVB bulb from Zilla is a good option for those looking to provide adequate levels of UVB to their bearded dragon, especially if they are in a smaller sized tank.
Zilla UVB Fluorescent Bulb Fixture
If you need a fixture for the Zilla UVB bulb, check out the recommended fixture here which is actually made to pair right with the bulb itself!
Best Mercury Vapor Bulb for Bearded Dragons
So, let’s say you’re looking for an all-in-one solution. Or perhaps, you’ve got some experience under your belt and feel comfortable opting for a bearded dragon lighting setup that’s a little more complex?
If so, it sounds like you’re in need of a great mercury vapor bulb for your bearded dragon! Mercury Vapor Bulbs will supply UVA, UVB, and heat for your bearded dragon… making them a kind of “all in one” option.
Mercury Vapor Bulbs also tend to be more expensive, longer lasting, and significantly stronger than fluorescent UVB bulbs.
If this sounds like what you’re looking for, simply keep scrolling to discover our top 2 picks for the best and safest mercury vapor bulbs for bearded dragons!
🤓Expert Tip: Call it beating a dead horse, but I’d be remiss to not once again remind you that Mercury Vapor Bulbs (MVB) are much stronger than fluorescent lights and as such, should never be mounted or hung INSIDE the bearded dragon’s tank, but instead above it. Just keep this in mind if you decide to move forward with one for the first time.
Best Bearded Dragon Mercury Vapor Bulb #1: Mega-Ray Mercury Vapor Bulb
If you’re looking for an all-in-one kind of bulb or simply know that you prefer Mercury Vapor Bulbs, then I definitely recommend checking out this one from Mega-ray. Providing 160 Watts of UVB, this bulb is ideal for
✅Buyer’s Tip: Like this bulb but need something less strong? Check out their 100 Watt version here! This size bulb would be perfect for smaller enclosures or if you need to place it closer to the basking spot.
Buyers love this bulb for it’s thoughtful packaging that keeps it safe while in transit and the customer service provided by Mega-Ray. Additionally, they find it to produce superior amounts of UVB to that of competitor bulbs.
It is an expensive bulb, but you’d be hard pressed to find something better and more trusted. Grab it if you can!
Mega-Ray Mercury Vapor Bulb Fixture
If you need a fixture for your Mega-Ray bulb, check out the recommendations below, either of which will work great, but vary depending on how many Watts your Mercury vapor bulb is…
- I recommend this fixture here for bulbs up to 200 watts and 6.2 inches or less in diameter.
- If you’re looking to save a little cash and have a mercury vapor bulb for bearded dragons that is 160 watts or less, try this fixture here.
Best Bearded Dragon Mercury Vapor Bulb #2: Evergreen Pet Supplies 100 Watt Mercury Vapor Bulb
Another great option when it comes to a mercury vapor bulb for bearded dragons is this one by Evergreen Pet Supplies. Checked in house through a 3 step testing process, these bulbs are guaranteed to work properly upon arrival.
Cheaper than the Mega-Ray above, these bulbs make a good option for those looking to save a little money on their bearded dragon lighting setup.
In fact, many buyers claim these bulbs work superior to that of the more name brand reptile bulbs! Buyers also love them for the excellent condition they tend to arrive in.
However, it should be noted that occasionally buyers seem to receive defective bulbs in which the UV output is too high. This can lead to their bearded dragons closing their eyes and even avoiding the bulb altogether.
Be sure to watch your beardie after putting the bulb in to ensure you didn’t receive a defective one. Fortunately, if you do believe your bulb is defective, Evergreen pets does offer excellent customer service with a warranty.
Evergreen Pet Supplies 100 Watt Mercury Vapor Bulb Fixture
If you need a fixture for the Evergreen Pet Supplies Mercury Vapor Bulb above, be sure to check out this Fluker’s Repta-Clamp Lamp with Switch in the 8.5 inch size.
How to Know Whether to Use a Repti-Sun 5.0 or 10.0 for Your Bearded Dragon
Whether you opt for the 5.0 or the 10.0 is going to essentially come down to one thing: tank size.
Tanks that are 20 gallons can get away with the UVB provided by the Repti-Sun 5.0… but bear in mind that you’re just going to need to switch your bearded dragon to AT LEAST a 40-gallon tank soon anyways as they mature, which will require a 10.0.
Typically, 5.0s are adequate for only a short period of time before they’re an insufficient source of UVB for adolescent and adult dragons in 40+ gallon tank.
How to Mount a UVB Bulb for a Bearded Dragon
So, I recommend just getting a Repti-Sun 10.0 to begin with and mounting it at least 6-8 inches away from your bearded dragon.
If you’re using a regular UVB bulb (such as the Repti-Sun mentioned above) you’ll want to make sure you mount the UVB bulb on the inside of the tank, as UVB can actually be filtered by screens and glass.
Mount your fluorescent UVB bulb 6 to 10 inches from your dragon’s basking spot so that while they bask, they can also absorb UVB.
Now, if you’re opting for a Mercury Vapor Bulb you’ll want to place it several inches above your tank’s mesh lid. This will ensure your beardie’s cage doesn’t become too hot or provide too strong of UVB.
If you are using an especially powerful Mercury Vapor Bulb, you can always hang it about a foot above the tank’s lid as well.
🤓Expert Tip: It should be said that beginners will most likely fair better with a traditional fluorescent style UVB bulb than a mercury vapor bulb. This is simply because mercury vapor bulbs can be more finicky and dangerous if not mounted properly.
So, in summary keep these mounting tips in mind:
- Normal UVB bulbs are to be mounted inside the tank about 6-10 inches from basking spot
- Standard strength mercury vapor bulbs must be mounted outside the tank and a few inches from lid
- Extra powerful mercury vapor bulbs should be hung above the tank about a foot above the lid
How Long Do UVB Bulbs Last?
Great question! The answer to this will of course vary depending typically on…
- UVB bulb brand
- Number of hours in use
- State of socket wiring (good or bad)
However, you can typically expect a traditional fluorescent uvb bulb to last around 6 months with regular use. However, as aforementioned it isn’t a bad idea to replace uvb bulbs out every 6 months to ensure optimal UVB output.
On the flip side, a mercury vapor bulb can be expected to last much longer and as such will not need to be changed nearly as frequently. You can expect a self ballasted mercury vapor bulb for bearded dragons to need changing around every 12-24 months to maintain optimal UVB output.
Can a Bearded Dragon Get Too Much UVB?
Too much of anything can be bad, even when it comes to UVB for your bearded dragon! However, your beardie is an expert at regulating his or her UVB intake, so you shouldn’t worry too much about whether they are absorbing too much UVB or not.
As long as you have created a proper temperature gradient and have given them room to “escape” their UVB bulb, they should be fine.
What you DO need to worry about more so, is the intensity and quality of the UV that is being put out by said bulb. This is why it is so important to be choosy when buying your UVB bulb… so many of them are total crap!
Do Bearded Dragons Need UVB Light at Night?
Of course, you’ll want to make sure you’ve left the UVB bulb on long enough to meet the daily requirements outlined in the section above, but once it comes time to turn the lights off in the tank, you’re good to go.
However, it should be noted that turning off the lights too soon after a feeding can make it a little tricky for your bearded dragon to digest their food properly.
Similarly, you also might notice your beardie with a decrease in appetite if you give them food in the dark.
As such, try to give your beardie at least an hour of light before breakfast and after dinner to stimulate appetite and help with digestion.
What Should My Bearded Dragon’s UVB Wattage Be?
If you’ve found yourself wondering, “How much UVB does my bearded dragon need?”, rest assured you’re not alone! This question plagues basically every new owner at some point.
The number of watts basically reflects how large the bulb is. Typically, you’ll want to focus more so on bulb placement than the actual wattage.
Why? Well, this is because the UVB intensity will vary depending on a few factors, such as:
- How far the UVB is from your beardie’s basking spot
- Whether or not you use a reflector hood for mounting
- Whether their is a mesh screen between the uvb bulb and your beardie
For instance, a 160 watt UVB bulb that is 24 inches away might end up ultimately providing less UVB than a 100 watt uvb bulb that is 12 inches away. See what I mean?
Are Coil UVB Bulbs Bad for Bearded Dragons?
In short? Yes.
Coil UVB bulbs are bad for bearded dragons because they are often times too strong. They can damage your beardie’s eyes over time or even burn them!
You’d be better off avoiding them at all costs and opting for a fluorescent bulb.
Wrapping Up the Best UVB Bulbs for Bearded Dragons
Although it can sometimes be tricky figuring out the right UVB bulbs for your bearded dragon lighting setup, your best bet is to ultimately go with one of the 4 bulbs mentioned above, especially the Repti-Sun 10.0.
This bulb is tried and true and a real standout in a sea of so many duds and health hazards that can either prove too strong or weak for your beardie.
And as long as you have the right fixture and a little patience, you’ll be on the right path to providing your bearded dragon with enough UVB to ward off Metabolic Bone Disease and other troubling illnesses.