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Old 10-17-17, 04:30 AM   #1 (permalink)
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LED or UV tube for pythons?

I'm getting a new viv built and have the option of either a 20 watt UV fluorescent tube or a similarly sized LED strip light. Personally, I don't like LED (they look like they're flickering), but then again I'm not a python. Any thoughts?
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Old 10-17-17, 11:45 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: LED or UV tube for pythons?

To give a complete spectrum, you'll need both + a normal incandescent/halogen light ..

LED doesn't give any UVa, reptiles can see UVa, and they do use UVb. But fluorescent light doesn't give off a continuous spectrum and is piss poor with reds (at least those UV lights are)

Will there also be live plants inside?
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Old 10-17-17, 04:42 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: LED or UV tube for pythons?

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Will there also be live plants inside?
No, probably not. When I kept chameleons they had UV tubes, incandescent basking bulbs and lots of live plants. My snake enclosure will be much simpler, at least for the time being.
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Old 10-17-17, 06:56 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: LED or UV tube for pythons?

Then a UV tube (T8 or T5HO) over half the length of the enclosure combined with a heating light on the same half will give the snake all it needs in terms of light spectrum.

Depending on the distance between UV light and animal there are various options and configurations available.

No need to add LEDs.
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Old 10-17-17, 10:44 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: LED or UV tube for pythons?

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Then a UV tube (T8 or T5HO) over half the length of the enclosure combined with a heating light on the same half will give the snake all it needs in terms of light spectrum.
Thanks. The viv dimensions will be 1100mm long x 550mm deep x 500mm tall. The UV tube is 580mm, so perfect. I'll be using two 76W overhead heat panels and one 38W UTH for heating, do I still need an incandescent bulb to assist the fluorescent tube?
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Old 10-18-17, 02:47 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: LED or UV tube for pythons?

No you dont need an Incandescent light in that case... just take care with UV that it is not too strong. Check here, it may assist you picking the right one: RAWG UV Tool - Fluorescent tubes (High-Output T5) Index
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Old 10-18-17, 04:22 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: LED or UV tube for pythons?

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No you dont need an Incandescent light in that case... just take care with UV that it is not too strong.
I'd read that UV tubes can produce too much UVB in relation to their brightness. The animal's pupils then dilate to let in more light, resulting in over-exposure to the UVB and ultimately blindness. The suggested solution was to use a bright incandescent bulb alongside the UV tube to restrict pupil dilation.

Perhaps this is outdated information, the tubes I've used in the past have all been very bright. The one I'll get for my snake is a 'soft' UV tube, with a relatively low UV output.
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Old 10-18-17, 05:49 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: LED or UV tube for pythons?

As long as the UV output is reasonable (around UVI of 1 for most snakes is enough) there's no need to worry. T5HO bulbs are sufficient bright to to cause issues these days, also many of the old bulbs are either some output in UVc (mainly (old) CFLs and this problem, and today still some cheap Chinese made UV basking lights are very dangerous) or too much output in the shorter wavelength UVb (around 290-295nm).

Also note that UVb bulbs generally do not appear bright to us as 5-14% output is in the UVb spectrum, about 30% is in the UVa spectrum, and almost everything else is in the visual spectrum for us. But reptiles can see UVa, so the lights are quite a bit brighter for them than for us.

For 500mm tall I would say a 6% T5HO mounted on the ceiling without a reflector is the most suited candidate. It isn't until 15cm close that I would say it would become unsuitable and it's powerful enough to still give UV exposure at 50cm distance. Only if there's a fine mesh (3mm or less) in between I would consider a reflector.
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Old 10-18-17, 07:09 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: LED or UV tube for pythons?

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For 500mm tall I would say a 6% T5HO mounted on the ceiling without a reflector is the most suited candidate. It isn't until 15cm close that I would say it would become unsuitable and it's powerful enough to still give UV exposure at 50cm distance.
I was considering putting a shelf in the viv so my snake can get closer to the heat panels. Maybe not such a good idea if it'll put him closer to the UV light. I'll put the shelf nearer the opposite end.

The other thing is that Japanese fluorescent tube bases are all different sizes to the big name international brand tubes. I need a 20 watt tube, and in Japan that means 580mm. ZooMed bulbs are all in inches and are too long. That means I'll have to use a Japanese bulb, but most things made here are very high quality.
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Old 10-18-17, 07:38 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: LED or UV tube for pythons?

Use the less powerful bulbs if you can. You're just lighting the enclosure, even a simple tiny led strip with a few nodes can do enough.
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Old 10-18-17, 11:09 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: LED or UV tube for pythons?

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Use the less powerful bulbs if you can. You're just lighting the enclosure, even a simple tiny led strip with a few nodes can do enough.
I'm going to have the UV tube base fitted as it needs wiring work done which I'd rather leave to a professional. Then I can use a low-intensity UV tube or change to an LED tube in the future. I know Timor pythons can be hard to enough to breed as it is, and having some UVA might be beneficial to put them "in the mood" if I decide to try my hand at breeding one day.
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Old 11-11-17, 06:29 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: LED or UV tube for pythons?

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For 500mm tall I would say a 6% T5HO mounted on the ceiling without a reflector is the most suited candidate.
Looking at the tubes which will fit in my base unit (580mm), there are really only two choices available. The Soft UV tube looks like it might be the most suitable. Comparing them to the 6% T5HO, what do you think?

Soft UV/Power UVB
UV_20w_PogonaClub.jpg

Here's the Arcadia and ZooMed to compare them to:
UV_20w_Arcadia_T5.jpg
UV_20w_ZooMed.jpg

This one also looks quite good (Level 5), but at 600mm I don't think it will fit in my base.
UV_20w_HerpCraft.jpg

Given the rate at which 580mm UV tubes seem to be disappearing from the market, I think I should stock up while I can!

Last edited by scales.jp; 11-11-17 at 06:38 PM..
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Old 11-12-17, 09:07 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: LED or UV tube for pythons?

That soft UV tube doesn't seem to have any significant UV at all (neither a nor b). The Arcadia and Zoomed seem to have the best spectrum to cover their vision.

Here's the key wavelengths of vision in a ball python



Also, just a side note, you can't apple for apple compare spectrometer graphs unless you know how they have been calculated.. the little white one's seem to be going by power rating in %, while the Arcadia one is drafted using absolute values.
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Old 11-12-17, 08:08 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: LED or UV tube for pythons?

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Originally Posted by TRD View Post
That soft UV tube doesn't seem to have any significant UV at all (neither a nor b). The Arcadia and Zoomed seem to have the best spectrum to cover their vision.
The tube situation here seems ridiculous. All the fixtures are a set size, non-adjustable. The standard 20W size is 580mm, but only one company I can find makes UV tubes specifically for reptiles that length (the Soft UV and Power UVB tubes). I called another company today (HerpCraft) to see if their 594mm tube would fit in a standard base and they said no. They also said they didn't know what type of fixture their tubes will fit into! Why don't they just make them 14mm shorter!

ExoTerra used to make their tubes in standard Japanese sizes, but now only the international sizes are available. I think this is because more and more people are switching over to the twisty style bulbs for UVA/UVB and LED for lighting.

(Comparison of available tubes in post below....)

Last edited by scales.jp; 11-12-17 at 08:25 PM..
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Old 11-12-17, 08:27 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: LED or UV tube for pythons?

So basically my choice is the Power UVB (compared to the ZooMed 10.0):

UV_20w_PogonaClub_Power.jpg
UV_20w_ZooMed_10.jpg

or the Soft UV (compared to the ZooMed 2.0):
UV_20w_PogonaClub_Soft.jpg
UV_20w_ZooMed_5.jpg
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