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Can I Use a Regular Light Bulb for My Turtle

Can I Use a Regular Light Bulb for My Turtle?

When you first bring a turtle home, you might be confused about many issues and want to solve them ASAP. One such concerning issue is the right light setup for the turtle tank. You might have already heard about the importance of UVA and UVB rays for turtle health.

Thus, you have to figure out which light bulbs are going to serve the turtle’s necessity. Well, you may also ask, “Can I use a regular light bulb for my turtle?”

Unfortunately, this question has no simple answer. We can say that at times you can replace the heating bulb with the regular bulbs. But for UVA and UVB lighting regular ones won’t serve the cause.

We will discuss the reasons for such special light bulb applications and how to use them too in the following sections.

What Type of Light Do Turtles Need?

When you want to use regular light bulbs for turtles, you have to understand the lighting necessity of turtles. Why do they require lighting? Once you understand the necessity, you will also realize whether or not you can install regular lights inside their tanks.

Turtles are cold-blooded animals, so they will need light as a source of light. Plus, they also need light for UVA and UVB rays as they bask under the lights.

It means turtles will need at least two light bulbs in their tank. These bulbs are-

  1. A light that will provide warmth and heat to keep the turtle at optimum temperature
  2. Another light that will provide the essential UVB rays to help the turtle develop Vitamin D for survival.

Turtles are unable to regulate their body temperature internally. Hence, they depend on the external heating source for warmth. In the wild, they bask under direct sunlight for essential heat. Also, turtles face shell tor due to vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D deficiency happens when turtles lack UVB lighting. In the wild, sunrays feed the turtles with essential UVA and UVB lighting. But in captivation, you will have to use specialized light for it.

Can I Use a Regular Light Bulb for My Turtle?

You should now understand the exact usefulness of lights in turtles’ life, isn’t it?

So, let’s take it a step forward to see how the regular light bulbs fit in the context. And as we see, for UVA and UVB lighting, you will need specialized lights. So, the use of regular lights isn’t possible here. It leaves us with only one option.

Can you use regular bulbs for the heating source turtles?

Yes, you can replace the heating lights with regular light bulbs, given that it generates enough warmth for the turtles. However, it doesn’t mean you can buy any light bulbs and install them inside the turtle tank.

The turtles’ basking spot needs to be at 85-90°F mostly. Hence, you will need to choose a light bulb that can maintain the required temperature. We suggest you use 70W or 100W light bulbs for this purpose. Also, some modern-day hi-tech light bulbs come with more precise wattage control. So, you will have better control over the turtle tank temperature.

Also, you have to consider the tank size and the number of turtles you have. It includes-

  1. Choose 50W and 75W light bulbs for tanks around 50 gallons and two turtles.
  2. If you have more than two turtles and the tank size is over 50 gallons, you should choose 100W light bulbs.

But what about the UVA and UVB lighting? The following section will answer it.

How to Choose UVA and UVB Lighting for Turtles?

Many people think that turtles only need UVB lighting to meet up their Vitamin D deficiency. But that’s not true. They also need optimal UVA rays for their mood and mating success.

But how do you choose these lights?

For this, you may choose a tube light or compact light. Compact light is often called the regular bulb light. But not all of these light bulbs contain a UVB rating. The light mimics the standard white light, is inexpensive, and is easy to use.

So, as a beginner, the compact UVB light will be a great solution for you. If you use the compact light, make sure the turtle isn’t overexposed to these lights. Otherwise, it may cause eye problems, and you have to visit the vet with the turtle.

If you have a little more budget and actually have a bigger turtle tank, we recommend using tube lights as the UVB ray source.

Next, you have to pick the right rating for UVB lighting. The UVB light rating is based on its UVB conversion percentage. Professional pet owners suggest that you should use UVB 10% rated tube lights for turtles.

However, semi-aquatic and land turtles will often come out of the water and sit on the basking spot. Thus, you will need fewer UVB sources for them. In such cases, you can use 5% UVB-rated light bulbs. On top of it, you must ensure that the turtles aren’t exposed to lights for too many hours.

That’s why we suggest you shut down the lights during the nighttime. It will help the turtles to sleep peacefully. If you keep the lights on during nighttime, it will disturb the natural body clock of turtles and suffer heavily.

Can I Use a Regular Light Bulb for My Turtle


Can I use a regular light bulb for my turtle? Unfortunately, you can’t use the regular incandescent light bulbs for turtles’ tanks longer. Yes, you can use the regular bulbs to replace the heating lights but don’t use them as a mainstream heating source. The turtles will face eye problems.

And for UVA and UVB lighting, you can’t but use a specialized UVB lighting source with a 5% to 10% rating. It will ensure the turtle live happily and healthily without vitamin D deficiency which may cause shell rot and the immature death of your favorite pet. So, be aware of these facts.

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