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Hi, we have a 3 month old male Panther Chameleon and we bought a complete setup that included a Mercury Vapour bulb but, I have read varying threads about using them, some good and some bad! Should I keep using the Mercury Vapour bulb or should I switch to a T5 bulb along with a basking bulb?

The basking area is around 85 degrees and ambient temps of around 75 degrees. He is housed in a 45cm x 45cm x 90cm Exo Terra glass terrarium. Lots of branches for climbing along with live plants that provide shade and hiding places both at the top and bottom of the cage.

Just want to know people's views on the Mercury Vapour bulbs and whether they think a T5 kit would be more beneficial? He is like our 3rd baby and we really want to make sure we are doing everything right for him.
 

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I personally try to use both in my larger setup, the tubes have the benefit of letting the critter fully expose its body to UVB and different intensities of light, MVB’s tend to be able to provide just a focal point of “some heat” and some UVA.

The pros of a standard MVB stand as.

1. It provides a decent amount of UVB when set up appropriately.
2. It emits (some heat).
3. It can provide a focussed intense beam of light.

The cons of MVB

1. They emit a narrow wave length of UVB so are not very good for an elongate animal to get the full body underneath. They should be used with another source such as the Arcadia T5 lighting irrespective.
2. They do not emit enough heat to be used at the recommended UVB distances so need to be used in conjunction with another heat source.
3. They do not provide the day light spectrum of 6500k-7000k

Pros of the Arcadia T5 lamps.
1. They emit very good levels of UVB.
2. The iguana can get right under neath the lamp
3. They provide about 30% UVA.
4. They are flicker free
5. Offer some protection to water when fitted properly.
6. They emit some warmth surrounding the lamp.
7. Brilliant white visible light 7000k
8. They are easily distanced and setup.
9. They garuntee them for up to an entire year.
10. There are some reporte that these bulbs can last up to an entire year plus sometimes. (Solar meters are advised to check this otherwise play it safe)

Cons of the Arcadia T5 lamps.
1. They require a starter to kick start the lamp.
2. They are prone to electrical surges and faults so better put them in surge protectors.
3. They should be used with reflectors.
4. They must be used in conjunction with other heat bulbs. (This is the ball ache for me when attempting to mimic a true vertical gradient across 5-8ft of space (you probably should be better easier to accomodate this in a smaller enclosure.

This link explains UVB tube flourescents a little more indepth.
UV Lighting for Reptiles: Introduction to UVB Fluorescent Tubes

In my own opinion and experience I have found myself getting more and more frustrated with the whole lighting thing because it should really be looked at as a process rather than just a practice of one bulb over another.

They can all play a part in husbandry but it ultimately comes down to where you are at and what you want to see out of it.

In my largest vivs, I have something like MVBs, Jungle Dawns and T5 lighting going at once, (its frustrating because it costs more and I find myself running out of plug sockets faster)

That said, if you opt to go for the T5 you will still require some additional basking source, an MVB may provide this, but then standard R80 lamps or PAR38 can acheive the same.

The reason in my mind especially with my lizards as to why I use so many bulbs is quite simply it makes no difference what I am using alone, its not replicating sunlight in the true sense, (and I see HUGE) behaviour differences when exposing my animals to the outdoor enclosures in the summer months and to the trees. Id like to eventually see some product developed and designed that addresses all the spectrums/hear controlling nicely rolled into one plug socket that can just be fit to the roof of larger vivs but we will probably be waiting ages to see something like this emerge.
 

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I'd go for a basking spot and either a T5 or a T8. I find myself a lot like Salazare - too many plugs, not enough sockets!

All of my panther setups are bioactive with T8 6% Arcadia UVB (changed yearly), a basking spot - I use Eco Terra swamp bulbs, they're not cheap but I find that with the misting they don't blow like regular bulbs, and then 2 x Arcadia Jungle dawns for the plants.

I would also suggest a dimmer stat on the basking spot to give you better control.

You're also going to need to increase his tank as he gets bigger - a 45 Exo will be fine up until about 5-6 months - after that he will need approx 3ftx2ftx3ft (wxdxh). Longer term either go for mesh or wood depending on whether you can keep the humidity up. Personally I've tried mesh and failed miserably (we heat the house on solid fuel in the winter and it just sucks the moisture out of the air so can't keep the humidity up) so I stick with the Vivexotic arboreal wood enclosures - my adult males are in the medium size each quite happily; a lot of cham keepers swear by mesh but I know a lot of people who are successful with wood (its down to preference really) - if you go for wood make sure you seal all the joints with aquarium silicone well and give it a week to cure before putting the cham in.....

If you want any pics of setups etc let me know...
 
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