If you are going to take the plunge of keeping a lizard in captivity, then you might as well provide it with living conditions that will prove to keep your pet in a good state of well-being and health. It won’t come as a surprise to hear that like other reptiles, Chinese water dragons are cold-blooded as well. So they rely upon external heating so that their body temperature is regulated. Another thing that you should keep in mind while considering the proper lighting for the tank of your Chinese dragon is that they are active during the day and tend to sleep at night. This diurnal nature of the Chinese dragons requires you to turn off the light in their tank at night as they rely on light to know if it’s day or night.
The best Chinese water dragon lighting is hands down the natural sunlight. Although, I do understand that it’s not easy for everyone to let their lizard have access to sunlight. If providing natural light for your pet is a possibility for you, then that’s amazing. However, if you can’t, then you should go for the second best option which is UVB lighting. Whenever you have the opportunity to provide natural sunlight for your water dragon, you should, but under your supervision because water dragons could get overheated which is fatal for their health.
The Right Temperature
Before we get into the lighting, here are the temperatures you need to reach inside your tank.
Overall temperature: 84-88 °F
Basking spot: 90 °F
The temperature at night should be between 75°F and 80°F.
Lighting is a very important element when it comes to the health of your Chinese water dragon. In the absence of sunlight, they require UVB lighting to produce vitamin D which is crucial for Chinese water dragons because they need it to process calcium. Calcium is important for the well-being of your dragon because the deficiency of calcium can lead to metabolic bone disease. UV lighting tubes are a great source of UVB lighting. UVB lighting is preferred because they provide the light waves which are pretty same as the sun.
UV lights can’t get through glass so you should place the light right above the tank on a screencover. It’d be best if you set the lighting on timer because as mentioned earlier, Chinese water dragons are diurnal, which is why, you need to turn off the light in their tanks at night. 10-12 hours a day is the perfect amount of time for the light to be turned on for.
The Best UVB Lamp
A normal incandescent bulb will not do the job, however what is the right uvb lamp for a Chinese water dragon? There is a lot of information and a lot of missinformation on the internet. So I can understand if you might be a little bit confused when it comes to this topic.
So the ReptiSun from Zoomed has proven to be one of the best UVB lamps in the market. It does the job, it does not burn out quickly, it is not dangerous for your pet in any way and it is not expensive. Further it provides a good strong, bright light, which is important for reptiles. I use this lamp for many years now and I never had a problem with it. So if you need to get a UVB lamp, this is the one you should go for. Further the ReptiSun comes with a lamp fixture which is great, because you can easily place this lamp above your tank on a screencover. Click here for more information on the ReptiSun!
The Heating Lamp
This is a very much discussed topic. Some people think that a normal incandescent bulb which gets warm is good enough to create a good basking spot for Chinese water dragons. Others think that you need to get one of those special, official reptile basking lamps to create the perfect environment.
The problem I have with most official basking spot lamps is, that they burn out quickly. I do not know if this is on purpose or if they are just not able to produce their bulbs right (Seriously, it has to be on purpose). A lot of people claim that they only used their bulb 2 weeks before it burned out. Luckily the manufacturers send you a new bulb when that happens.
So if you want to use an official reptile basking lamp I´d recommend to use the lamp which you can see in the image on the right. It only has 5 star reviews on Amazon and it will be warm enough for a Chinese water dragon. Click here for more information on this lamp!
Heating And UVB All In One!
There are also lamps on the market whcih have it all. A good bright light, UVB output and they are also heating lamps. Those lamps are getting more and more popular these days, because they have a lot of advantages over two seperate bulbs.
They do not burn out so quickly and they are way cheaper than getting a heating bulb and an UVB bulb. Further it is not so complicated for new reptile owners to set up the right lighting for their pet then. Simply get one bulb with a fixture, place it on your terrarium and you are good to go.
One of the best bulbs is the 100 Watt UVA/UVB Mercury Lamp which you can see below. It will provide the right temperature for a Chinese water dragon and it also has the optimal UVB output.
You can get this bulb together with the fixture you can see above on the right and you are all set when it comes to Chinese water dragon lighting.
Bulbs You Should Not Use
There are some UVB bulbs on the market which are proven to be harmful for reptiles. No one really knows why they are still sold, but that is another story. The bulbs I am talking about are UVB coil bulbs. Many reptile owners had huge problems with them, because they made their reptile very sick.
Further they are not only bad for reptiles, they are also hamrful for humans. Burned skin, and burning eyes are just a few of the negative effects of those bulbs.
If you need more information on Chinese water dragons have a look at this care guide for Chinese water dragons.