Do Turtles Need Light At Night? 4 Things To Consider First

May 23, 2021

do turtles need light at night

Light forms an immense part of a turtle’s growth process. A basking place with UVB lights helps your turtle maintain its body temperature. Turtles are cold-blooded animals. So, they need this heat from light sources. Most turtle owners keep UVA/UVB lights on during the day, but can they be lit at night? Let’s dwell further. 

To answer the query do turtles need light at night? No, turtles do not require lights at night. Most turtles aren’t nocturnal, so they are active during the day and sleep at night. And keeping the lights on at night will definitely disturb your turtle’s sleep cycle. 

And when you disturb the internal clock, your turtle will be stressed and will lose its appetite. Consequently, this leads to further complications. 

Do Baby Turtles Need Light At Night?

Yes, baby turtles will need light at night. It is because of the size of their lungs. A baby turtle doesn’t have fully developed lungs as adults do. Therefore, they need to come outside to the basking place to breathe while resting and sleeping.

And when they come outside for breathing, they have to sleep in a colder atmosphere compared to the water, which usually is set to the right temperature required by the baby turtle. 

However, you should consider dim lights which aren’t bright enough to hamper your baby turtle’s sleep, 

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Types Of Night Lights To Use In A Turtle Tank 

There are several types of lights available in the market which can be lit even during the dark. Though lighting in the night isn’t recommended for turtles, some lights are dim enough to not disturb your sleeping turtle. I have found that these lights make my turtles sleep even more soundly than they do with the lights off. 

They usually come in two colors, blue and red. Though I haven’t heard from other users about the red one, my turtle sleeps soundly under the dim blue light. 

What Type Of Lights Should I Use For My Turtle?

It’s best to use lights that emit both UVA and UVB rays for your turtle. Although harmful to humans, turtles pressingly need UVB light rich in Vitamin D3, which helps them to absorb and use calcium. 

Lights aren’t just kept for lighting the tank. These lights are essential as they generate heat for the turtles as well . In the wild, turtles fulfill all of their light and heat needs by basking in the sun. However, in captivity, specialized bulbs replicate the sun rays and support a turtle’s healthy growth in the tank.. 

While most bulbs available in the market emit heat and UVA light, only some effuse UVB lights. That’s why most owners install a seperate UVB bulb. 

But there’s a more convenient alternative. You can use a mercury vapor bulb that is built to emit heat, UVA, and UVB lights. 

Here’s one by LUCKY HERP that enjoys the best reviews on Amazon.

What I liked the best about this light is that it has an average lifespan of 6,000 hours. Plus, you get a six-month warranty. 

Why UVB Light For Turtles? 

A typical light only helps in promoting the turtle’s diurnal cycle. However, a turtle tank needs to have a UVB light placed above it. The deficiency of UVB light will lead to improper shell and bone growth, skin disease and respiratory infection. Shell rot is common in turtles who lack vitamin D3. 

Is There Any Alternative To UVB Lights For A Turtle? 

Yes, there is, and it is the natural sunlight. However, your tank needs to be placed in an area where the natural light falls from morning to evening. Turtles in the wild bask on the banks where natural lights fall the whole day. 

It is a no-brainer that artificial light can never replace natural sunlight. However, not all of us have the pleasure or space in our home to keep our turtle tanks in a place where it receives sunlight throughout the day. 

It is recommended that your turtles at least get an hour or two of natural sunlight in their tank. Although UVB lights do an excellent job at fulfilling your turtle’s basking needs, ensure your turtle receives some natural light every day as well. 

What Happens If Your Turtle Tank Doesn’t Receive Natural Sunlight? 

turtles under sun
turtles under sun

If you have your tank set up in a room with no natural light, you need to focus heavily on artificial lighting . 

Invest in a high-quality bulb that is durable and has around 25 watts. The light handle should be flexible enough to be rotated in every direction. Make sure to buy lights with anti-oxidation and explosion-proof features. Also, if the light bulb has both hooking and hanging options, it’ll give you more flexibility with placement.

Here’s one that I use for my turtle tank.

I love its fully adjustable head that can be rotated in any direction!

4 Things To Consider When Buying Lights For A Turtle Tank 

Just adding the lights doesn’t suffice. When it comes to turtles, there’s no margin of error because light is inevitably tied with their health and wellbeing. From buying the right lights to placing them correctly, gauging the correct distance, and replacing them timely, there are quite a few things to keep in mind. 

I have explained them in short below! 

Correct Bulb Placement

The correct bulb placement above the turtle tank is of utmost importance. You need to align it with the basking area so that your turtle can enjoy basking while taking in those necessary vitamins. You do not want your lamp on the opposite side of the basking spot . Also, do not put it too close to the water – it could cause electrocution. 

Check Distance From Basking Spot 

You shouldn’t put the UV lights too close to the basking spot, as it can burn off the turtle’s carapace (shell). And if you place it too far, your turtle will barely enjoy the benefits. Fix it at a medium distance from where your turtle can benefit the most.

Check For The Light Holder

Cheap lights often have a lousy holder to hold the bulb’s weight. An inappropriately put light can lead to accidents in your turtle tank. Incidents like electrocution are highly probable if the light holder isn’t functioning correctly. So you need to check whether the holder is appropriately holding the lamp now and then.

Replacement Of Bulb

Just like every other bulb, UVB bulbs also wear out after use. A worn-out bulb won’t provide enough light and vitamins necessary for a turtle to grow. This probably happens after six months of usage. So, change the bulbs once every 6 to 8 months of use. 

Conclusion On Do Turtles Need Light At Night? 

Here’s a quick rundown of all the important bits of the article. 

So, do turtles need light at night? No, they don’t. They’re diurnal creatures and have a sleep cycle quite similar to ours. Turning on the tank lights at night will only hamper your pet’s slumber. However, some turtle owners prefer to keep a dim light on at nighttime as well. 

And although turtles don’t need light at night, it’s quite pivotal to their overall health. From boosting immunity and promoting shell growth to utilizing the body’s calcium content, a good lighting translates to happy and healthy turtles. Make sure to buy a full spectrum light that emits both UVA and UVB lights vital for turtles. 

Relevant Readings:

Can Turtles Eat Oranges? Consider These 4 Points First

Do Turtles Eat Apples? Can Apple Seeds Cause Cyanide Poisoning?

Can A Turtle Eat Tomatoes? Read About These 6 Risks First!

rohit gurung author at urbanfishkeeping

About Rohit Gurung

My never-ending love and fascination with Aquascaping started when I received a red-eared turtle for my 10th birthday.

Apart from researching and writing, I spend hours gazing at my 3 turtles. And yeah, I bask alongside them too.