UVB and LED Light for Red Frogs
UVB light (in the 280 to 315 nm range) is critical for the health of many reptiles. For many dart frogs, it's optional, but if you want them to be colored up and as red as possible, you need to add a source of UVB.
Finding a good UVB source and getting it into your display so it can be effectively adsorbed has been a problem in the dart frog hobby for some time.
A UV source will often run too hot. It can't pass through glass, so it has to pass through a screen. A UV light that is strong enough for the animals to benefit is not a suitable source of light for the entire display and the plants. Almost everyone knows these issues all too well.
Because of these issues, I've always been trying to find an elegant and easier solution. Currently there are 3 sources that I'm using and testing as sources for UVB and they each address a need for a different niche of the herp industry.
- T5 florescent -- the Arcadia 14% bulb is expensive, but runs fairly cool and puts out enough usable light to be considered very effective for animals that do not need added heat to their display.
- Halogen Style Bulb -- this is a new tiny spotlight coming out of China specifically marketed to the reptile hobby. It puts out a lot of heat, so it's best for animals that need a basking lamp in addition to UVB, which is suitable for a lot of lizard species, but probably not best for frogs.
- LED large chip diodes -- I'm working with several Chinese manufacturers to design and test a solution using this source. It potentially holds the most promise once it becomes a mature product line that targets the needs of our hobbies.
Here's a new display (30x20x20), still being built, that is designed to get a high level of UVB into the enclosure for dart frogs that need it for good color and health.
Notice that the center vent is where the UVB light has to enter the display, so the tank and the light need to be designed in tandem to work effectively. With these design criteria in mind, here is a light panel that lines up the UV source with the vent and includes LED strips that will grow plants extremely well and provide optimal light for viewing your animals.
The T5 bulb pictured is the "Arcadia D3+ HO 14% UVB Dragon 22 inch" which retails for about $35, so the parts for this light are expensive. A florescent bulb also needs it's own power supply, which allows you to control the T5 and the LED lights individually. The overall height of this light panel is still quite sleek at only 1.5 inches.
That makes for a compact and clean look when sitting directly on top of the glass and over the vent.
It should work well to support the color and health of some really nice red frogs.
For lizards and animals that require both UV and heat from a spotlight, I'm using and testing a light panel that looks like the one below. The overall height is just 2.5 inches. As I write this blog post, neither of these light panels are offered for sale in my store, but they will be there soon.
If you're interested in helping to test these, please contact me via email or phone.