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The Best Basking Light for Turtles – A Comprehensive Buying Guide

by Janet
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As cold blooded animals, turtles need a constant source of warmth, but regular bulbs cannot do the trick. So, what bulbs are best for them, and why?

When setting up a turtle tank, the main focus lies in getting beautiful turtles, a good aquarium, the best substrate, plants and filter. The truth is, turtles need a reliable source of heat as it allows them proper growth and also impacts the overall health of their shells. What you may or may not know is that regular bulbs cannot do the trick, and you need to get UV or heat specific bulbs. Below is a breakdown of some of the best. 

The Best Basking Lights for Turtles Comparison Table

Product Name
Type of Light 
Zoo Med Aquatic UVB & Heat Lighting Kit
UVA, UVB, heat
100 watts
Exo Terra Swamp Glo Basking Spot Lamp
50 watts
Exo Terra Repti-Glo 5.0
26 watts 
Fluker Ceramic Heat Emitter
60 watts 
Zoo Med ReptiSun 10.0 UVB Fluorescent
13 watts
Evergreen Mercury Vapor Bulb 
UVA, UVB, heat
100 watts 

The Best Basking Lights for Turtles – Products Review

turtle light for basking

This 3-in-1 proves an excellent acquisition because it delivers just about everything your turtle needs as far as light and heat go. 

Key features

  • Comes as a set of 2 bulbs
  • Provides UVA and UVB
  • Emits heat
  • Has a wattage of 100 watts
  • It is a halogen lamp

As a matter of importance, turtles need a constant supply of heat and UV light. finding a product in the market that provides both of these features is pretty difficult, and this is why the Zoo Med Aquatic UVB & Heat Lighting Kit is an incredible product. 

One of the bulbs is made to produce UVB light. This is pretty essential because it helps turtles and other reptiles in the production of Vitamin D3 naturally which, in turn, helps the body absorb calcium properly. This particular lamp produces 5% UVB light which is the recommended threshold for turtles. 

The second bulb is a heat lamp that also provides UVA light. The heat is necessary to keep the turtles warm from time to time. Being as they are cold blooded animals, they are unable to regulate their own body heat, and this is why they need an external source of the same. 

This same bulb is charged with producing UVA light which is also pretty important to turtles. It is responsible for regulating multiple physiological functions such as mating, diurnal movement and feeding. To make sure that the light and heat produced are at recommended levels, the bulbs are fitted inside an aluminum dome which increases overall output by 30%. This same dome is pretty deep so that the bulbs are well covered and safe from easy damage.


  • Comes with both UVA and UVB light
  • Emits heat
  • Aluminum dome increases output by 30%
  • Bulbs are well covered by the dome


  • You have to find a separate stand for it


Even when searching for the best items for our pets, it is always an advantage when we can find an economical deal. This bulb is pretty affordable and delivers everything you need for your turtle, reducing the chances that you would need to buy more than one bulb. 

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swamp basking lamp

If you have a separate lamp for UVA light and are looking for a UVB light, this particular product will work well for your turtles and other reptiles. 

Key features

  • 50 watts
  • Provides UVA light
  • Emits heat
  • Splash proof
  • Ideal for humid environments

If your turtle enclosure is small, or if you only have a small number of pets, this bulb may be ideal for you. It is an excellent UVA emitter that also provides heat, allowing your turtles to warm up and have their physiological functions improved. 

One of the most convenient characteristics of this bulb is that it is splash proof. This essentially means that it can handle loads of humidity with ease. One thing to remember is that a heating bulb will likely cause a degree of evaporation when placed near a tank, and it is ideal to have one that will be able to withstand the humidity around it with ease. However, it also makes an incredibly bulb for dry terrariums. 

The inside of the dome is polished and shiny, and this is to enhance the rays and heat emitted, allowing the bulb more efficiency. Enhancing the rays increases the intensity, and this is the reason why this bulb allows the colors on your turtles’ shells to intensify, giving them a healthy look. 

Even though it comes splash proof, it does not come with its own stand, and you would need to find one on which to mount it. You will also find that it works exceedingly well with other bulbs, especially if you decide to add a UVB lamp in the turtle tank. 


  • Provides UVA light and heat
  • Splash proof
  • Enhances the color on the turtles’ shells
  • Works pretty well with other bulbs


  • Does not provide UVB light


While it is convenient to get a bulb that delivers UVA, UVB and heat, there are turtle and other reptile owners who prefer to get separate bulbs for everything. This particular one makes an ideal source of UVB and heat, and it is also pretty affordable. 

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tropical turtle lamp

If you are looking to spend your money on an affordable lamp that delivers both UVA and UVB light, this lamp will make a great acquisition for you. 

Key features

  • Provides both UVA and UVB light
  • Comes in 13 and 26 watts
  • It is compact
  • Works well with other bulbs

UVA and UVB lamps can be pretty expensive, and finding the right one can be a task. The Exo Terra Repti-Glo 5.0 makes an ideal match for turtles and other reptiles for its ability to provide both UVA and UVB light that is essential for the growth, development and comfort of turtles. 

The fact that it comes as a compact bulb makes it ideal for small aquariums and terrariums, and this is largely why it makes an ideal match for smaller reptile species. It is important to note that the UVB light emitted by this lamp only reaches 12 inches (30 centimeters), making it ill equipped to handle large aquariums and enclosures.

When you buy this lamp, it is recommended that you also buy a lamp that provides heat since all it does is provide UV rays. It does not bear the capacity to keep turtles warm, and this is why it is best combined with such a lamp as the Exo Terra Swamp Glo Basking Spot Lamp which emits heat. 

Even though it is a small lamp, it has been proven to be pretty hardy, and many users have claimed to have had theirs for years. It is a product that is designed to perform well and to last a good deal of time, making it pretty economical. 

Just as with many lamps in the market, this particular one does not come with its own stand, so you may need to buy one separately or have it made for you. 


  • Provides both UVA and UVB light
  • Small and compact
  • Pretty affordable
  • Works great when combined with other bulbs


  • Does not emit heat
  • Needs to be combined with other lamps


If you already have a heat source for your turtles and are looking to find a convenient but affordable source of UV light for your reptiles, you may want to get this product. However, if your aquarium is large, you will have to get a few to make sure that the light is enough for every turtle. 

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ceramic turtle basking light

Light bulbs have the tendency to disrupt sleeping cycles of some animals, so sometimes it is necessary to get one that produces heat without light. 

Key features

  • Produces infrared light
  • Ideal for extremely cold areas
  • Small and compact
  • Enhances digestive capabilities

One aspect about UV lamps that most people do not put into consideration is that they have a tendency to disrupt the sleep cycle of reptiles. Having light all through is not a natural phenomenon, and it may cause them to get confused at some point. This I why it is recommended that you switch off the basking light in the evening.

So, what happens when you live in an environment that is too cold to have the light and heat off? In these places, such products as the Fluker Ceramic Heat Emitter comes in great handy for its ability to produce heat with no light at all. This makes sure that your turtles stay warm all through without having to experience any sleep disruption. 

One thing you need to note, however, is that this heat emitter has the capacity to get exceedingly hot, so you want to make sure that it is set in a safe location where your animals are unlikely to get hurt. You can try and install a sort of barrier that allows the heat through but that keeps the animals away from direct contact. 

Seeing as the heat it emits could also melt away plastic bulb holders, it is important that you find a holder that is metallic, preferably one from Fluker, that is specifically designed to handle this task with ease.  On the downside, you have to get a separate lamp or two to supply your turtles with UVA and AVB light. 


  • Ideal for providing heat in extremely cold places and for hatchlings
  • Does not produce light that could affect the sleep cycle of turtles
  • It is pretty compact
  • Reasonably priced


  • You may have to buy a separate lamp for UVA and UVB light


The Fluker Ceramic Heat emitter comes in handy when you have turtles that need to stay warm all through. The best thing is that it does this without disrupting their sleep cycles and causing them unnecessary stress. 

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uvb turtle basking light

This fluorescent lamp makes an ideal acquisition for persons who have large aquariums or a large number of turtles. 

Key features

  • Provides both UVA and UVB light
  • Delivers 30% UVA
  • Delivers 10% UVB
  • Ideal for larger enclosures
  • Has a wattage of 100 watts

When you have a larger enclosure than usual, it can be quite pricey getting multiple lamps to get the whole place well lit and warm. With the Zoo Med ReptiSun 10.0 UVB Fluorescent lamp, you would only need to get a few as opposed to many to get the tank evenly lit and warm. 

As an added advantage, it delivers both UVA and UVB light that is ideal for the physiological well-being of your turtles and other reptiles. With 30% UVA light, you can expect many turtles to enjoy basking all day. UVB light is emitted at 10% which is twice as high as the recommended threshold, meaning that it can handle a good number of turtles and a larger aquarium with minimal fuss. 

Unlike the dome shaped lamps that are made to increase the rate and intensity of light transfer, this lamp is a fluorescent device that is well equipped to handle this kind of transmission without needing a boost. When it comes to size, this product is pretty small, meaning it does not take up much room in the aquarium. 

On the downside, this device does not emit heat, meaning that you might have to buy a separate bulb to deliver heat to your pets. 


  • Emits both UVA and UVB light
  • It is a compact device
  • Does the work of two bulbs
  • Great for large enclosures and multiple reptiles


  • You may need an extra source of heat


The Zoo Med ReptiSun 10.0 UVB Fluorescent makes an incredible acquisition for persons who have many and large aquariums. However, you still need to get a separate source of heat for your pets. 

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basking light

This mercury vapor bulb makes a great source of visible light for your turtles, as well as a source of heat for when it is cold, or when you have young and sickly pets. 

Key Features

  • Produces UVA and UVB light
  • Emits heat
  • It is large
  • Wattage of 100 watts
  • It is a mercury vapor bulb

When finding lighting for large enclosures, may pet owners find that it is petty difficult to find conveniently sized bulbs that cover a considerably large area. The Evergreen Mercury Vapor Bulb is pretty large, and it made to handle large areas quite well.  

Seeing as it emits UVA and UVB light, it proves efficient in facilitating improved health for your turtles as it allows them to naturally produce their own Vitamin D that in turn helps with the absorption of calcium. 

As an added advantage, this mercury vapor bulb is also able to emit heat, making it an excellent tool for people who have hatchlings, sick turtles or who live in extremely cold places that need a constant source of heat. It is also built to have exceptional quality, allowing it to last a good deal of time without breaking or getting damaged.

Since it gets pretty hot, it is recommended that you install it in a corner or location that is hard for your pets to reach. Do not use a plastic socket with it, either, as it may end up melting. The manufacturer of this tool recommends the use of ceramic sockets as these can easily handle the heat that comes with it. 


  • Delivers both UVA and UVB rays
  • Emits heat
  • Pretty large and ideal for big enclosures
  • Made to last a long time


  • You may need to buy a ceramic socket if you already do not have one


Large enclosures can get pretty difficult to warm, so it is convenient when you can find a bulb large enough to handle a wide expanse. This, and the fact that it is built to last, makes this bulb an ideal buy. 

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Buying the best basking lights for turtles – What to have in mind

Type of light

Make sure you identify the kind of light you would like to provide for your pets, and try as best as you can to buy a bulb that performs multiple functions at once. 

Size of lamp

The size of lamp that will be most idea for you is dictated by the size of your enclosure and the number of your turtles. Be certain to pick one that caters to the needs of all turtles without much fuss.


You might want to go for reasonably priced products to save on a coin here and there, but if you feel that you want to splurge, go right on. 


Turtles that live out in the wild are able to take advantage of nature to get everything their bodies need. In captivity, however, it can get pretty difficult making sure they receive sunlight every day. With one of the above bulbs, however, you can be sure that your pets will have as much UV exposure as they need, and that they stay warm when they need it. 


Can I use the Evergreen Mercury Vapor Bulb for my toads?

Yes, you can. It is designed to provide natural light needs to multiple reptile and amphibian species in captivity. 

Is the Exo Terra Swamp Glo mist resistant?

Aside from being splash resistant, this device is also able to operate without forming mist even when it is highly humid. 


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