There are a few things you need to get right with said lighting, such as; making sure it's positioned at a proper distance from the basking spot, making sure the light has both UVA and UVB lighting, and, what this article is concerned with, the best turtle basking light wattage.
Maybe you've looked around, but you're still unsure about this whole "wattage" thing.
Fear not, because this article is going to quickly, and easily sort you out!
What's the Best Turtle Basking Light Wattage?
If you've been shopping around for a basking light for your turtle, or you're just interested in the subject, you've probably that most reptile lights have a wattage listed typically from 50, 75, 100 and 150 watts.
Let's get straight to the point and answer your most pressing question.
So, simply put, a 100 watt turtle light bulb is going to be much more powerful (and use a lot more electricity) than a 50 watt bulb.
Which begs the question, then what's best for my turtle?
The answer is that it really doesn't matter.
Wait, how can this not matter?
A 50, 75 or 100 watt bulb will be fine. What's really important is that:
The second of these requirements is what is really important when it comes to your basking light wattage.
Because one of your most immediate, pressing goals when setting up a proper habitat for your pet turtle is to get the temperature inside the tank or tub right. This is why you need a good thermometer.
How do you do this?
Through your lighting.
Here's a closer look.
The difference is in the details. Meaning, depending on your circumstances, you may opt for a 100 watt instead of a 50.
If you said yes to any of the above questions, a 50 to 75 watt is perfect
If you said yes to any of the above questions, you should opt for a bigger, more powerful 100 watt bulb
Since a 100 watt turtle basking light would produce a bit more energy, it would also be able to produce more heat, as well as have a larger basking diameter. Thus, you would be able get a bigger basking area that is around 90 degrees a lot easier with a 100 watt basking light than a 50 watt basking light. If you've got a larger tank, say from 75 to 100 gallons, it's going to be much more difficult to get the basking temperature right with that extra space.
With 1 or even 2 turtles this is normally not much of a problem with a 50 watt, especially with a smaller aquarium, or if you've got a smaller basking area (that is perhaps, 2-3 lengths of your turtle).
Another practical difference is how close you will need to place your basking light. Because your goal should be to maintain a basking area with a temperature of 85-90 degrees, you will certainly need to place a 50 watt light closer than a 100 watt light.
Depending on how your tank is set-up, that may or may not be problematic.
Generally speaking, usually this distance is between 8-15 inches, however, you will need to both check the instruction manual on any light you purchase as well (and more importantly because the actual tank conditions are differ) as manually take the temperature of your basking area once it's all set-up.
Typically, a 50 watt light will need to be placed around 5-7 inches away from the basking area.
Again, these are general rules of thumb, as things such as the surface of the basking area, material, etc. will all play a role in how close or far you need to position your light.
But that's not all:
One thing that absolutely, positively, needs to be mentioned here, purely for safety concerns, is that although your light wattage doesn't really matter, you must check that your light fixture matches and can handle whatever light wattage bulb you have.
Check your light fixture's wattage rating before screwing or purchasing any reptile light.
So, the main point here is to get the temperature of the basking area right. That's the sole focus here.
This is extremely important, as:
The Temperature is More Important than the Wattage
Thus, the important part isn't the wattage, it's the UVA light, the UVB light, the temperature and the light itself (that mimics actual sunshine, this is better for species that are active during the day). The wattage is only important in terms of how big your desired basking area is, and how you intend to set up your tank.
The two main factors in ensuring that your basking area is 85 to 90 degrees are:
Only after adjusting these 2 factors should you pop out your thermometer and ensure that the temperature is between 85 to 90 degrees.
So, you need to do 2 or 3 things:
- 1Take the temperature at the bottom of your turtle's basking
- 2If it's too cold, you need to either buy a light bulb with a higher wattage or move the light closer to the basking area
- 3If it's too hot, you need to either downsize your bulb by decreasing the watts or simply move the light further away from the basking area
Wattage isn't Important, UV-B Light IS
Remember, the wattage doesn't really matter, the temperature of the basking area does.
However, just having a basking area that is around 90 degrees isn't enough. Whatever turtle light bulb you choose, please make sure that it also emits UVB light. This is crucial. You don't need 1 light bulb to have everything, you can use 2, 1 for warmth and 1 for UVB (and UVA light), but you do need to ensure that UVB light is at least hitting your turtles, daily.
This is why:
So, as long as whatever light bulb you opt for can achieve these 3 things, you are well on your way to ensuring that your turtles live a long, healthy and prosperous life.
If you'd like to check out a good light for your turtle, check out my article on the Best Turtle Light Bulb.