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Top 10 Best Basking Lights For Turtles

Getting the best basking light for your turtles ensures that they are healthy. Basking allows the turtle to dry off each day and regulate their body temperature. They also absorb ultraviolet light when basking. The ultraviolet lights that the turtle needs are UVA and UVB. UVA promotes breeding and activeness and UVB promotes the production of vitamin D3. This vitamin is essential to the health of the turtle.

The basking lights you need to set up must provide warmth and the correct exposure to UVA and UVB light. Usually, you may need to install a basking lamp that provides heat and another that provides UV light.

Tips For Choosing The Best Basking Light/Bulb

Here are some tips that can help you choose the best basking light for your turtle.

Types Of Basking Light/Bulbs

There are four types of basking bulbs to choose from. These include incandescent bulbs, mercury vapor bulbs, heat emitters, and fluorescent bulbs.

Incandescent bulbs provide heat, white light, and UVA light. They do not produce UVB light. These need to be paired with UVB light sources such as fluorescent bulbs.

Fluorescent bulbs produce white light, UVB, and UVA light but do not produce heat. Pair these with bulbs that produce heat.

Heat emitters produce only heat. Some may produce very faint light. These can be used to keep the enclosure warm even during the night. They are also dimmable and provide more control over the heat output. Pair these with fluorescent bulbs.

Mercury vapor lamps produce white light, UVA, UVB, and heat. They are an all-in-one solution. They must be turned off during the night.

Wattage 

The wattage of the bulbs needs to be taken into consideration especially if the bulb isn’t dimmable.

For a small tank (50 to 55 gallons), I recommend a 60-watt bulb. A 100-watt bulb works well for a moderately sized tank (75 gallons). A large tank requires a 150-watt bulb. This rule isn’t strict. Always use a thermometer to check the heat output of the basking lights.

The temperature of the room also plays a part here. If the room’s temperature is low, you have to get bulbs with a higher wattage. Similarly, if the room’s temperature is high, you may need a lower wattage. A thermometer can help you to properly track temperatures in the enclosure.

Replace the bulbs about once every 3 months. Having a thermometer within the enclosure should allow you to effectively track the temperatures produced by the bulb. Most turtles require temperatures of around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. If temperatures are too low, you need to change the bulb.

Best Daytime Heat Lamps

1. Fluker’s Incandescent Basking Spotlight Bulb

Fluker's Incandescent Basking Spotlight Bulbs for Reptiles, 60 Watt

This is one of the more popular incandescent basking bulbs out there. They come in five different wattages. These include 40 watts, 60 watts, 75 watts, 100 watts, and 150 watts. The higher the watts the more heat and light the bulb produces.

These bulbs are produced by Fluker’s. This company also produces other pet turtle products including turtle feed. The bulb works great for both aquatic and terrestrial bulbs.

Which UV light does the Fluker’s incandescent basking bulb produce? This bulb produces UVA light. This is essential for stimulating the healthy feeding behavior of turtles. Lack of UVA can cause the turtle to be lethargic.

The Fluker’s incandescent basking bulb also produces a respectable amount of heat.

This bulb doesn’t produce UVB light, so you need to install another bulb in the enclosure.

Features

  • The bulb produces UVA radiation.
  • The bulb comes in 5 different wattages: 40 watts, 60 watts, 75 watts, 100 watts, and 150 watts. 
  • The bulb is incandescent.
  • Fluker’s is a recognizable brand. 

2. Zoo Med Turtle Tuff Splashproof Halogen Lamp

Zoo Med Turtle Tuff Splashproof Halogen Lamp, 75 Watts

Zoo Med is another well-known brand out there. They also produce turtle feed. Additionally, they produce hide caves, floating logs, and even tanks.

The Zoo Med Turtle Tuff Splashproof Halogen Lamp has unique properties that set it apart from other bulbs. It is splashproof. Basking bulbs can get very hot to the touch. Incandescent bulbs have been known to shatter when splashed with cool water. These bulbs are splashproof and won’t shatter easily.

The bulb is halogen-based and produces UVA light. It doesn’t produce UVB light and as such primarily a heat source. For UVB light, you need to install an additional UVB lamp.

The Zoo Med Splashproof Lamps come in a variety of wattages. These include 50 watts, 75 watts, and 90 watts.

Features

  • The bulb is heavy-duty and splashproof. It shouldn’t shatter when splashed with cool water. 
  • The bulb produces UVA radiation.
  • The bulb comes in 3 different wattages: 50 watts, 75 watts, and 90 watts. 
  • The bulb is an incandescent halogen bulb.
  • Zoo Med is a recognizable brand. 

3. LUCKY HERP Reptile Heat Lamp Bulb

LUCKY HERP 2 Pack 50W Reptile Heat Lamp Bulb (2nd Gen), Amphibian Basking Light Bulb, Reptile Daylight Bulb for Turtle, Bearded Dragon, Lizard Heating Use

The Lucky Herp Reptile Heat Lamp Bulb comes in three wattages. These are 50 watts, 75 watts, and 100 watts. These are incandescent bulbs and as such provide a lot of heat and  UVA light. Similar to other incandescent lamps, they do not produce UVB.

These heat lamps are designed for all manner of reptiles and not just turtles. They work well for bearded dragons, lizards, frogs, and snakes to name a few.

These bulbs are great for both terrestrial and aquatic turtles. A single 50-watt bulb is generally good enough for a small to medium-sized tank. The 75-watt bulb is good enough for a medium-sized to large tank and a 100-watt bulb is good enough for a large to very large tank. There are other factors to consider such as the temperature of your locality and the room within which the turtle’s tank is. Having a thermometer within the tank should allow you to know if the heat lamp is producing the desired heat.

These are heat bulbs like most others on this list and are not splashproof. Splashing water on them can cause them to crack. To prevent accidental splashes caused by turtles in an aquarium, install a bulb about a foot (30 cm) above the turtle.

Features

  • The bulb produces UVA radiation.
  • The bulb comes in 3 different wattages: 50 watts, 75 watts, and 100 watts. 
  • The bulb is an incandescent bulb.

Best 24-Hour (Night) Heat Lamps

Incandescent lamps are excellent heat lamps for the daytime but they need to go off during the night as they produce bright light. The lights need to be off during the night so as not to mess with the turtle’s day-night cycle. If they are on during the night, the turtle will remain awake.

Depending on your locale, fall, winter, and spring nights can get quite cold. To accommodate for this you can install infrared heat lamps. These don’t produce visible light, only hear. These also work well with thermostats which can regulate temperature outputs.  Below are some great infrared/red light heat bulbs that can be used 24/7 even during the night.

4. WUHOSTAM Infrared Ceramic Heat Lamp

WUHOSTAM 2 Pack 100W Infrared Ceramic Heat Lamp, Black Reptile Heat Bulb No Light Emitter, Pet Heater for Aquarium and Terraium, Chicken Coop, Lizard, Turtle, Brooder, Snake, No Harm, ETL Listed

This is a ceramic basking lamp. The lamp itself is made of ceramics. This ceramic heats up and produces infrared radiation which translates to heat.

This lamp produces zero light and is excellent for enclosures that require heat throughout the entire 24-hour day.

This ceramic bulb is black and comes in two different wattages 75 watts and 100 watts.

The WUHOSTAM Infrared Ceramic Heat Lamp doesn’t produce UVA or UVB light. It doesn’t produce any light. You need to pair the bulb with a fluorescent lamp that produces UVA and UVB light.

Similar to all the bulbs on this list, you need to change them once every 3 months or sooner depending on the lamp’s effectiveness.

Features

  • WUHOSTAM Infrared Ceramic Heat Lamp produces invisible infrared heat.
  • The bulb is made of ceramic material.
  • It doesn’t produce visible light.
  • It can be used throughout the day and night when needed.
  • The bulb comes in 2 wattages 75 watts and 100 watts.

5. LUCKY HERP Ceramic Heat Emitter

LUCKY HERP 100W Ceramic Heat Emitter, Reptile Heat Bulbs, Ceramic Heat Lamp for Reptiles, Amphibian, Chicken, Dog, Cat (2-Pack)

This is another popular ceramic heat lamp. Similar to other ceramic heat lamps, the Lucky Herp ceramic heat emitter doesn’t produce visible light. Instead, this bulb produces invisible infrared radiation. This radiation is hot to the skin.

The bulb for the Lucky Herp ceramic heat emitter is ceramic. It comes in two colors, white and black. Both colors do not produce any light and the coloration is purely aesthetic and doesn’t affect the functionality of the lamp.

Ceramic lamps are known to heat up very quickly and are hot within just 4 minutes. The bulbs can heat the basking spot of the enclosure to over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The bulb is excellent for both aquatic and non-aquatic turtle enclosures.

Similar to the other ceramic lamps, the Lucky Herp ceramic heat emitter doesn’t produce visible light. You need to install a fluorescent heat lamp in addition to the ceramic heat emitter.

Features

  • It can be used during the night since it doesn’t produce visible light. This can be advantageous if night temperatures are very low.
  • It doesn’t produce visible light.
  • LUCKY HERP reptile heat emitter produces invisible infrared radiation.
  • The bulb comes in 4 wattages 50 watts, 75 watts, 150 watts, and 100 watts.
  • The bulb is made of ceramic material.

6. REPTIZOO Red Heat Lamp

REPTIZOO 75W Reptile Heat Lamp Bulb 2PCS Infrared Heat Emitter Red Heat Lamp for Reptile Amphibian, Infrared Basking Spot Light Bulb

This bulb isn’t ceramic but produces mostly infrared light which is invisible and a faint red light. This bulb can be used during the day and the night as well as it barely produces any visible light. This bulb won’t disturb the turtle’s night and day cycle.

The  REPTIZOO Red Heat Lamp is glass and not ceramic unlike the two other 24-hour heat lamps mentioned. The bulb has a wattage of 75 watts and works well for medium to large tanks. The temperature of the environment within which the turtle’s tank is kept will affect the amount of heat the bulb can produce. Use a thermometer to track the amount of heat being produced. Similar to other basking light lamps, change the bulb once every three months or if it stops producing the required temperature.

Since this bulb produces very little visible light and doesn’t produce UVA or UVB light, you need to install a separate UVA/UVB light. Regardless of this, the red heat lamp has the advantage of being able to produce light 24/7 without negatively affecting the turtle’s day-night cycle.

This bulb is an excellent alternative to ceramic heat emitters.

Features

  • It is a 75-watt bulb.
  • It produces invisible infrared radiation and a faint red light.
  • REPTIZOO Red Heat Lamp can be used during the night if needed.
  • There is a day heat lamp variant that produces incandescent light and is quite bright. This variant produces UVA light. 
  • REPTIZOO is a recognizable brand. 

Best UVA/UVB Basking Lamps

All the basking lights mentioned do not produce UVB light. Some produce UVA lights and they all produce heat. It is essential to pair these light bulbs with UVB light if the turtle doesn’t get access to sunlight. The sun is the best source of both UVB and UVA light but the following lamps are the next best thing.

7. Zoo Med ReptiSun Mini Compact Fluorescent Lamp

Zoo Med ReptiSun 5.0 Mini Compact Fluorescent Lamp, 13 Watts

The ReptiSun lamps are considered to be among the best UVB lamps you can install within your turtle’s enclosure. UVB is essential for vitamin D3 production.

This is the compact fluorescent version. There is also a HO T5 version.

This UVB lamp comes in two strengths – UVB 5.0 and UVB 10.0. UVB 10.0 is stronger than UVB 5.0. UVB 10.0 emits desert levels of UVB and UVB 5.0 emits forest levels of UVB. 5.0 works for turtles endemic to most of North America.

Fluorescent UVB lamps need to be paired with basking lamps that produce heat. These can be ceramic heat lamps or incandescent lamps. I recommend installing ceramic heat emitters over incandescent lamps as ceramic heat emitters are dimmable and can be kept on even through the night.

Features

  • The Zoo Med ReptiSun Mini Compact Fluorescent Lamp produces visible fluorescent light. 
  • It produces UVB and UVA.
  • It is a 13-watt bulb.
  • The 5.0 UVB bulb size is A15 and the 10.0 UVB bulb size is T2.
  • Zoo Med and Reptisun are recognizable brands.

8. Zoo Med ReptiSun HO T5 Fluorescent Lamp

Zoo Med ReptiSun 5.0 HO T5 UVB Lamp, 22

The HO T5 is a high-output T5 fluorescent lamp. This is the tube form of the compact ReptiSun bulb. This fluorescent tube is 55 cm (22 inches) long. There is another version which is 61 cm (24 inches) long. You have to pick a size that fits the turtle’s enclosure.

There are two available strengths and those are UVB 10.0 and UVB 5.0. UVB 10.0 is better suited to turtles endemic to arid regions with strong exposure to sunlight. UVB 5.0 is better suited to turtles endemic to wooded regions.  Fortunately, 10.0 UVB works well for all turtles.

Reptisun basking lights produce 30 percent UVA light and 10 percent UVB light. These percentages should ensure that the turtle gets the required UVA and UVB levels.

Features

  • The Zoo Med ReptiSun produces visible fluorescent light with an output of 10 percent UVB and 30 percent UVA light. UVB is essential for vitamin D3 production. 
  • The wattage of this lamp varies from 18 watts to 24 watts. 
  • The bulb sizes are T8 which is 61 cm (24 inches) long and T5 ½ which is 55 cm (22 inches) long.
  • Zoo Med and Reptisun are recognizable brands.

9. REPTI HOME UVB Reptile Light

REPTI HOME UVB Reptile Light 5.0, 13W Tropical and Sub-Tropical UVA UVB Bulb for Reptiles, Tropical Terrarium Compact Fluorescent Lamp, Reptile UVB Light Bulb for Chameleons, Iguanas and Turtles

This is a UVB reptile light that works well for turtle enclosures. This is a compact light lamp. It produces both UVB and UVA radiation.

Similar to the other UVB lamps mentioned in this section, the REPTI HOME UVB Reptile Light doesn’t produce much heat. You need to use this lamp in conjunction with a heat lamp such as a ceramic heat lamp.

There are several sizes/strengths available. Strengths available include UVB 5.0, UVB 10.0, and UVB 15.0. Wattages available include 13 watts and 26 watts.

Features

  • The REPTI HOME UVB Reptile Light is a compact fluorescent lamp. 
  • This lamp produces both UVA and UVB light. 
  • UVB strengths available include 5.0, 10.0, and 15.0.
  • It has a UVB output of 15% and a UVA output of 30%.

10. REPTI ZOO UVA/UVB Heat Basking Lamp

REPTI ZOO Reptile Heat Lamp 100W Full Spectrum UVA UVB Reptile Sun Lamp Self-Ballasted Vapor Basking Spot Lamp/Bulb/Light for Reptile and Amphibian E26

This is a mercury vapor lamp. These lamps are capable of producing UVA, UVB light, visible light, and heat. These bulbs cover all the bases. These are commonly referred to as sun-basking spot lamps. With a bulb such as this, you don’t need two separate bulbs for heat and lighting.

The sun basking lamps simplify the basking lamp installation process. While they are more convenient, they have their downside as well. You have to turn off the bulb at night. If night temperatures are too low, you will need another heat source that doesn’t produce light.

The REPTI ZOO UVA/UVB heat basking lamp is self-ballasted.

Features

  • The REPTI ZOO UVA/UVB heat basking lamp produces UVA light, UVB light, visible light, and heat. 
  • The available wattages include 100 watts and 125 watts.
  • It is a mercury vapor bulb. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What light is best for turtles?

Turtles require both UVB and UVA light. UVA light helps to keep the turtle active and helps with breeding. UVB is necessary for the production of vitamin D3.

What kind of bulb is best for turtles basking?

The bulb used in the turtle’s enclosure should provide both heat and UV light. A full-spectrum bulb such as ReptiSun should offer the needed UV radiation. A heat lamp such as a ceramic heat emitter should provide the needed heat. Mercury vapor bulbs provide both heat and full-spectrum light which includes UVA and UVB.

Can turtles bask in LED lights?

No, they cannot. You need to provide a heat lamp and a lamp that provides ultraviolet radiation specifically UVB and UVA.

What heat lamp does a turtle need?

The turtle requires a heat lamp that provides the needed warmth for basking. Most turtles require basking temperatures of 85 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The lamp should be able to produce these temperatures.

What color LED light is good for turtles?

For basking, LED lights are of no use. Turtles require fluorescent, incandescent, and/or mercury vapor bulbs.

Final verdict

These are the best basking lights for turtles out there. If you want a single bulb you can install a mercury vapor bulb such as the Repti Zoo UVA/UVB heat basking lamp. This provides visible light, UVA and UVB lights, and heat.

Alternatively, you can install an incandescent lamp such as Fluker’s incandescent basking bulb. Incandescent lamps produce visible light, UVA light, and heat. With these, you need to also install a UVB bulb such as a ReptiSun. You can also pair a cool UVB bulb with a ceramic heat emitter such as a Lucky Herp Ceramic Heat Emitter.

I recommend a pairing of a ceramic heat emitter and a fluorescent UVA/UVB light. Ceramic heat emitters don’t produce light and can be used to keep the enclosure warm on cold nights. They are also dimmable. This setup provides better control of the temperature within the enclosure if hooked up to a thermostat.

For more on UVB bulbs have a look at our buyers guide.

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