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75 Gal Terrarium Lighting Advice

Discussion in 'Ball Pythons' started by YunaGirl, Mar 18, 2018.

  1. YunaGirl

    YunaGirl Member

    Hi there! I have a >10 year old ball python that I adopted about 8 years ago. I have a 75 gallon aquarium with a screen top. Currently, I have a heat light (not UV) on one side, set to turn on at 7am and off at 7pm, and a red nighttime light set to turn on at 7pm and off at 7am, each within a ceramic dome-lamp fixture. One side of his tank stays around 80-85 degrees and the other side is cooler/shaded. I am pretty inconsistent with the wattage, I can never remember if I use 100W or 150W bulbs. Last time I bought a 150W bulb and it sticks out too far from the dome lamp, meaning the bulb touches the screen and the lamp doesn't sit flush. Long story short, I'm a little frustrated with the dome lights and buying bulbs every few weeks. It also makes opening his lid and getting him out a pain in the butt, because I can't easily move the lamps, etc. (Once I bought a hinged screen tank lid but the metal hinge in the center aligned with the plastic center of the tank top and it wouldn't fit on the tank.)

    I was wondering... is this the best recommended lighting set up for Ball Pythons? I assume a strip light fixture wouldn't work, as the temperature in the tank needs to have a gradient. Has anyone found a convenient screen lid that maybe has doors or something? Are dome-lamps the only way to go or are there other options? Could I use two small strip lights (one on each side)? I would love to find a way to keep his tank lit/warm enough while also being able to easily open the lid. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thank you so much!

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  2. Darkbird

    Darkbird Moderator Staff Member

    To be honest I would just start over on the whole setup. Ball pythons don't need any sort of light, just heat. And those screen tops cause a lot of issues until they are covered to block the airflow. What I usually recommend is a heat pad under one end of the tank and controlled by a thermostat, and a strip light if the owner wants for viewing purposes. If more heat is needed, a ceramic heat emitter could be used in place of a bulb to emit heat but no light. Those last a LOT longer than bulbs, so will save money and time in the end.
     
    murrindindi likes this.
  3. YunaGirl

    YunaGirl Member

    Hmm, I do have a small (about 6in x 12in) heating pad under the glass on the left side where his rock cave is. So perhaps ditch the dome lamps and see what the temp is, then add a ceramic bulb if needed? Do I not need the whole day/night thing? I thought I read somewhere that it's good to simulate day and night for them. Thanks for the reply by the way!
     
  4. Darkbird

    Darkbird Moderator Staff Member

    So long as there is ambient lighting in the room they will get all the day/night cycling they need. If it is an interior room or one with no windows, then additional lighting would be a good idea. And you'll have to experiment a bit with to find what you need to maintain temps, a lot of things go into that like room temp and cage type. Plus getting some plastic over that screen will probably raise temps, cover everywhere except where the fixtures go through at the very least, and see what you end up with. You can use any type of non porous material, like tinfoil, saran wrap, or really any type of sheet plastic. Heck I've even used sections cut out of heavy duty garbage bags.
     
  5. YunaGirl

    YunaGirl Member

    Interesting! And good point about the natural light, he is in a room with two windows so it will get dark in there at night. Well I will probably look into a much larger, temperature controlled heating pad then, and see about covering most of the top of the tank somehow. It seems silly that there aren't lids that are half screen, half covered or something. I might do one of those dual lamps that can house a ceramic bulb and a regular light together, keep that on one side and cover the other side. How does that sound?
    Thank you again for the advice, I really appreciate it!
     
  6. Darkbird

    Darkbird Moderator Staff Member

    Cover all of the screen, not just one side or the other. This isn't a rodent, and requires a much more controlled environment. Those screen top were originally designed for rodents and are really unsuitable for most any reptile. Even if you covered 100% of the screen, there would still be enough air movement around and under the edges to be adequate for your snake. Since you'll have to make cutouts, you will actually have more ventilation through the fixtures than you need anyway.
     
  7. YunaGirl

    YunaGirl Member

    Ahhh, okay I see. Is there a different type of top/lid I should look into getting?

    I'm a little nervous about just wrapping the screen top in seran wrap or garbage bags, couldn't it melt to the screen or plastic if the lamp gets bumped or moved? And won't it look bad? cheap? messy? How has nobody made a reptile lid that keeps in the heat? XD
    Okay, or use garbage bag plastic and cut it into shapes, using electric tape to tape it to the screen edge? What do you recommend? What will hold up against a lot of movement, because I handle him often.

    Really wishing I could just get a closed lid or something, haha...
     
  8. Darkbird

    Darkbird Moderator Staff Member

    Sadly you would have to build a lid yourself. The plain fact is the screen lids are cheap to make, and were already in production for the rodent hobby. Easy to just throw a different label on it. And to be blunt fish tanks don't really make the best reptile cages. I lost a bunch of the sites when I switched tablets, but there are a number of places that make some very nice caging out of pvc, though the setup will end up being quite a bit more expensive.
    And if you don't like the options I gave, there are always other things you can use, acrylic sheeting and such. The other stuff I mention is just quick and cheap. As for the fixtures, I have drilled small holes through the edges in the past, and just wired them in place through the screen. Easy enough to take them loose to change a bulb when needed. And if you take time to do a neat job, any of the stuff used to cover the screen will hardly be noticeable.
     
  9. YunaGirl

    YunaGirl Member

    I hear ya. Mkay, I'll see what I can come up with. Again, thank you so much for your advice. I'm headed out in the next day or so to the pet store, so I'll get some supplies and then see what I can come up with as far as covering it. I'd love to have a custom cage but like you said, it's just too expensive for me currently. Maybe in the future though.
    Thank you thank you thank you!!
     
  10. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Just get a piece of 1/4 inch plywood the size of the lid and duct tape it to the edges. Cut out areas for heat or lighting equipment. About as cheap a custom top as you will get.
    I am not a fan of the saran wrap or garbage bag for the reasons you mentioned
    They will melt.
    If that's the way you need to go, go with aluminum foil
     
  11. YunaGirl

    YunaGirl Member

    Hi there! Sorry to keep this thread going but I'm having trouble finding a heating pad that is temperature controlled and fits my tank size. My 75 gal tank measures about 48in long and 18in deep. I keep finding heating pads on Amazon that say "temperature controlled" but the cord has a dial without numbers or anyway to tell what the temp is and they all have bad reviews. I keep finding these "seedling" heating pads that have a digital controller but the description says they are only meant to increase the temp 10 degrees from room temp, which doesn't help much. I'm a little lost! :p Any suggestions? Thank you in advance!
     
  12. Darkbird

    Darkbird Moderator Staff Member

    Your best bet will be a heat pad with a thermostat, and a CHE only if needed to raise ambient temps. Personally I like the Herpstat line of thermostats, pricey but they have the best safety features available. In fact a Herpstat 2 would be able to control both heating devices separately, so you could get the perfect 90° hot spot and keep the tank temps where you want them. You might be able to get a large enough heat pad to do all the heating you need, but I wouldnt go any bigger than covering 1/3 of the bottom of the cage. If you need a cheaper t-stat to start with, you can get a hydrofarm off Amazon. No matter which way you go I would get an infrared temp gun to check the hotspot temps with to make sure you are getting what you want .
     
  13. YunaGirl

    YunaGirl Member

    Okay great, I will definitely look into those then. I really appreciate all of the advice! I ordered the new lamp dome and ceramic bulbs yesterday, so he'll have his new set up soon. Thank you!!
     
  14. toddnbecka

    toddnbecka Well Established Member

    The only heat mats I use are ultratherms from reptilebasics.com. Even w/out a t-stat to regulate the temp they won't get hot enough to cook your critter/s or start a fire. You definitely want an I/R laser thermometer, you can find one on e-bay for around $10 shipped. Herpstat t-stats are what I use for individual enclosures, particularly handy if you need a night drop in temp. I use Helix DBS 1000's on my racks, you can run up to 3 mats or lengths of heat tape from one, but there's only a single temp probe, while the herpstats have a separate probe and temp setting options for each outlet. Some folks want to save some $ on the t-stat, but the cheaper ones are more likely to fail, so not really a bargain even if they don't fail catastrophically.
    On the other hand, I've found that the dollar store sells foam board (1/8" thick styro sandwiched between paper) that can very easily be cut to fit under/inside the screen tops and easily secured with a few small zip ties to help hold in humidity. Just peel off the paper after you cut it down. Best product I've found for securing screen tops on tanks are Tera tie downs, check Amazon for those, the 18" size will work quite well on a 75 gallon aquarium. Actually, the 12" size are really only suitable for small tanks like 10 gallons that are actually less than 12" deep (front-to-back).
     
  15. YunaGirl

    YunaGirl Member

    Wow! Thank you for the information! :) I'll check those options out. I do actually have a bunch of foam board that is peel and stick on one side, but it's white and still sorta feel like it's going to look cheap/finagled. I suppose it's less important what it looks like and more important that he gets the heat/humidity he needs, huh. I might see if they make peel and stick black foam board, that might look a touch better anyway. Again, thank you so much everyone for your help and advice! I really appreciate it!
     

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