A Complete Guide to Bearded Dragon Tank Setup

Getting a new Bearded Dragon? Congrats…!!

Setting up its home is one of the most exciting things you can do before he arrives home. It’s an exciting as well as overwhelming task because there are millions of ideas in which you can set it up. There are also several questions about the kind of material, the temperature of the tank, sand, surface, décor, lights, sensors, etc.

Don’t worry. We are sharing basics that will guide you to create an ideal tank for your new bearded dragon. The new tank will be safe, comfortable as well as dashing in looks and will cater to all the needs of your dragon. This article will help you to understand the following:

The essential supplies that you will need to set the tank of your little dragon are the following: 

  • Enclosure or tank.
  • UVB light to maintain temperature.
  • Heating element, thermometer, and hygrometer so that heat, temperature, and humidity can be controlled.
  • Basking rock or log for tank.
  • Flooring for tank.
  • Some shallow dishes for water and food in the tank.
  • Live feeder insects and tweezers.
  • Suitable space in your home.

So, what type of tank do you want to give your bearded dragon to keep him happy and relaxed?

It’s an important question as many factors directly have an effect on the health as well as the behavior of your pet dragon. You can consider the size of the tank, its making material, the space you can adjust in your home, the place where you keep the tank, etc. Let’s discuss each of them one by one.

Size is linked with the needs/ size of the pet, i.e. what size of the tank is suitable to make the stay of the dragon comfortable?

The answer is simple.

The size of the tank is directly proportional to the size of the Bearded Dragon.

The larger the pet, the larger the size of the tank. Usually, the standard size of a bearded dragon pet is 40 Gallons, but many adults can find this stressful. So, let’s make a guide/ thumb rule according to the length of your bearded dragon:

  • Dragon Babies (under 10 inches long): The size of the Tank is 20 gallons
  • Dragon Juveniles (10 to 16 inches long): The size of the Tank is 40 gallons 
  • Dragon Adults (over 16 inches long): The size of the Tank is 50 to 75 gallons
  • Dragon Adults (over 20 inches long): The size of the Tank is 75 to 125 gallons  

Like, if you are getting a baby dragon, a 20-gallon tank is ideal for him. But remember that, you will need a bigger 40-gallon tank very soon as they grow fast. On the other hand, many pet owners also buy direct 40-gallon tanks to bypass the 20-gallon tank step. Anyway, it’s up to you but the recommended one is 20 gallon tank for babies.

Similarly, some owners also buy smaller tanks due to less space available at their homes, but sooner or later, they have to make more space and buy larger tanks as Bearded Dragons grow fast.

Selecting the proper size of the tank is very important for the health of your dragon as it will make him comfortable, and provide him with a stress-free environment, especially in those initial days when you have freshly brought him to your home and he is still in the adjusting phase. Most importantly, a proper and good-sized tank will avoid the Glass Surfing issue which is most common among them. Smaller spaces make their stay boring as they don’t have space to crawl and climb.

The material of the tank is also very important. There are several options available to choose from, and if you start looking up them online or in the market, you will get confused as each one has its pros and cons.

Following are some of the simple tank materials that you can pick from: 

A common and popular option is glass terrariums/ tanks which are sturdy and easily available. They usually come with a screen lid that is responsible to improve the airflow and regulate the fresh air to keep the low humidity as per dragon needs. You can also get a front-opening glass terrarium that makes it easy to access your pet and clean the tank. On the downside, glass is a poor heat insulator, so you’ll have to check the temperature regularly to make sure it’s not too cold. This isn’t too difficult to commit to especially if you have a thermometer gun.

This is the second most common option and many keepers prefer it due to its more strong structure. Usually, one side is made of glass and all the other sides are made of wood or the base is made of wood and all sides are made of glass. The former is more common due to its durability. The use of wood is the preferred material as it is an excellent insulator of heat and it doesn’t allow the heat to leave the tank and helps in maintaining the temperature for these cold-blooded dragons. By using a tank made of wood and glass, you don’t need to take any tension to maintain the temperature of the tank.

PVC plastic is another considerable option as it’s quite lightweight and available in many colors to choose from. If you are planning to adopt more than one bearded dragon, PVC enclosures are a considerable option as they are often designed for stacking. With PVC tanks, there is only one issue which is poor air flow and resultantly unfavorable humidity level in the tank. But you can control it by periodically checking the airflow and by using a hygrometer, exhaust fan, etc. 

Screen terrariums are highly not recommended as their walls are made from wire screens which are extremely dangerous for dragons, they can hurt them, and injure them. Another issue with them is temperature control as they are very poor when we think about heating. In short, screen-walled terrariums are not recommended.

New dragon keepers don’t know the importance of the location where they keep the Dragon’s house. There are many considerable factors in selecting the most suitable location for your pet dragon, which will play an important role in the dragon’s comfortable stay in the tank and will also save you from stress in the future. Some key considerations are as follows: 

Placing the tank in direct sunlight seems good for bearded dragons as they like warmer environments but have you considered the trapped heat in the tank? Especially when the tank is made of glass, the heat from sunlight will be trapped in it and raise the temperature to that point which is deadly for your pet dragon. Consider an example of a parked car in direct sunlight, the internal temperature is very high, same is the case with glass tanks.  A tank in direct sunlight will become the reason for the death of your pet. A better practice is to use a good quality UVB lamp to provide the heat and light they need.

If you are new, you will not have an idea of how much space is required for the tank. A standard tank is 40 Gallons (As already discussed) which means it is 36 inches long by 18 inches wide by 18 inches deep. So, you will need a clean, sturdy, and solid surface for the tank, so make sure you have measured it in advance.

If you have other pets like cats or dogs in your home, be very conscious to place the tank in a separate room. They can kill your beardie. Similarly, they can topple the tank and cause a lot of trouble for you and your pet. So, always place your tank at a secure location. The same is the case with children, they can also topple the tank and can cause damage or even the death of your pet. On the other hand, your dragon can also cause damage to them by biting them, so never leave your children unsupervised with a bearded dragon.

Similarly, the presence of other animals or pets near bearded dragons can cause stress in them which is not good for their well-being. A bearded dragon may think of other pets as predators and feel unsafe. That is also a reason to place the tank in the corner where it is free from the interference of other pets.

The tank will need your attention as you need to regularly clean the tank. Similarly, you also want to take out the dragon when it’s play time when it’s tank cleaning time, or when it’s dragon’s bath time. So, keeping the tank at a secure location but easy access to yours is necessary.

Loud noises are not good for the health of your dragon. Earshot from loud music, electric guitars, or big TV screens, or from any other source is harmful. So, place the tank in a calm location.

Bearded Dragons need to have a calm environment to sleep. So place the tank where the light is dim during the night. 

If you have more than one bearded dragon, never think of placing them together in a tank. They will fight and kill each other. Housing them together is rarely a good idea as they are territorial, especially when both are male, they will fight for their territory/ tank and will kill each other. In the case of two females, the dominant female will take over all the food and space. In the case of males and females, they will reproduce and you will be taking care of multiple babies. You may also read my other article about the care of bearded dragon babies.

Choosing the best suitable flooring is another important key factor for giving your beardie a comfortable home.  Again, many options are available, but we will guide you to choose the best one. One way to think is what is the best flooring for your pet, you have to choose that one. Flooring that will help your pet to stay comfortable and happy in his house. A flooring that will keep them clean, healthy, and safe. Similarly, flooring is easy to clean and manage for the owner as well. Let’s discuss each part in detail.

Substrate is one of the most confusing topics among dragon keepers. In my experience, many substrates available online or in the market are not good options and are not safe due to the following reasons: 

  • Substrates can have poor health effects they can cause eye and nose irritation, impaction, and even internal injury. 
  • Substrate can also be difficult to keep clean and free of bacteria and parasites. 
  • The substrate can easily home the Live insects. 

Many people use sand as substrate and I can say that it is one of the most common options among dragon owners but have you considered its quality? & Origin of sand? A new owner may think that sand is the natural companion of the dragon but the sand people use or sand available online/ in the market is not the real Australian sand and can cause many health issues for bearded dragons. It can easily be inhaled, can cause gut impaction, can cause respiratory issues, can stick in the eyes and cause irritations, etc. The only recommended sand is original Australian sand which is not available at any store or online. So sand is a NO.

Peebles and rocks are also a big NO. Your dragon can chew them and they can cause impaction and break your dragon’s teeth.

Due to similar reasons, shells also pose an extreme threat to your dragon’s health.  

Many other substrates are also available in the market for bearded dragons like substrates made of some kind of wood chips, calcium powder, coconut fiber, or some kind of edible material.

Always consult with your vet before using any of these options as they can have positive as well as negative effects on your pet. To know more about substrates, read: What Is The Best Substrate For Bearded Dragons?

One of the most common issues with these softer, dense substrates is that they absorb moisture, which will raise the level of humidity in the tank and consequently, affect the health of the pet. If you want this type of substrate, a hygrometer is compulsory to monitor the humidity level.  

One other common issue with this porous substrate is that live insects can hide in them. Insects like crickets, Dubia roaches, and worms will try to escape and hide in loose substrate during mealtime. Although it’s fun to watch, a bearded dragon chasing live insects can be dangerous. These hidden insects can bite your dragon, you know, crickets are notorious for this, they bite and their bite also hurts your dragon.

Insects can also die in tank substrate and start rotting, causing the smell and posing a threat to your pet’s health.

In case you are using this type of substrate, use a special area or large plastic container to feed live insects to your bearded dragon.

Sand mats can also cause health problems for your dragon. If a dragon has swallowed some dislodged pieces, it can cause impaction or internal injury. So, it’s not also a good option.

Reptile carpets are one of the suitable options, but it’s also controversial. It’s cheap, easily available, easy to clean and prevent odors. You know, you have to remove it to clean it, so it is recommended that you have a spare carpet. In case you have a baby dragon, you will need more than two as they go to the bathroom more often as compared to the adult one.

Before purchasing the reptile carpet, make sure that it doesn’t have a rough surface, or your bearded dragon nails will catch in them. So reptile carpets with surfaces not too scratchy or rough are recommended.

Ceramic or slate tiles are a very acceptable and popular choice among Dragon Keepers. Dark-colored tiles are ideal choices as they will prevent the dragon from getting cold. They also facilitate him with traction to move around comfortably.

Make sure you don’t use too slippery tiles like vinyl or linoleum. These materials also absorb too much heat which is not recommended and can burn your pet.

Be careful when placing tiles on the floor of the tank as they can damage the floor, especially when it’s made of glass. Use some pressure absorbent like a towel or newspaper between tiles and the tank floor to prevent it from breaking or getting damaged. 

Clay is also a good option for your dragon as it doesn’t cause any health issues to your dragon. The only issue with clay is your time, as you have to clean it and replace it, from time to time. If you are a person with less time, then clay is not a good option for you. But in case you can spare time for your pet, clay will be good for the dragon.

Clay can also become a fun option as you can design multiple sculptures like a highway, burrows, caves, hideaways, etc.

Mix the water with the reptile excavator clay, and let it dry, once it’s done, let your dragon have fun in the tank. It will not break off and cause impaction.

If you want the cheapest option, then the newspaper is the one you are looking for. They are easy to replace and if you have a baby dragon, then a Newspaper is a good option for you.  

Dragons don’t generate their body heat as they are cold-blooded and native to the Australian desert. So, proper heating, lighting, and coping with their natural environment are necessary for their survival. Poor lighting and heating can cause many problems including metabolic bone disease which is a very serious condition for your dragon. It can wrap up your dragon’s skeletal system inhibit digestion and absorption of nutrients and can paralyze and eventually kill your dragon.

Following are some of the things that are essential to do the proper heating, lighting, and set humidity level for your dragon’s comfortable stay in the tank:

Self-ballasted mercury vapor UVB lamp emits heat along with UVB light and is recommended by many vets. To ensure the best quality rays for your pet, it’s important to replace the UVB lamp. Each quality of lamp has its own life but usually 6 months is recommended to change the blub.

In case you are using a UVB blub that doesn’t emit heat or heat emitted by the blub is less, then you will need a separate heating bulb.

They are good heat emitters and you will need them if your home temp is and you need to maintain the temp of the tank above 65 degrees Fahrenheit, especially at night.Thermometer or Temperature Gun: A thermometer or temperature gun is necessary to check and record the temperature level of the tank, to maintain it, and to increase or decrease it through heating elements. You can install digital thermometers at either end of the tank or you can also use a heat gun to quickly and easily check the temperature level at different parts of the tank.

To check the humidity level in the tank, a hygrometer is the best option. It will help you to keep a favorable level of humidity in the tank. 

After installing these supplies, you need to keep this guideline in mind to maintain heating, lighting, and humidity levels:

The recommended UVB exposure for your pet is only 12 hours a day for both types of UVBs, i.e. self-ballasted or another type.

To achieve the natural habitat humidity level of a bearded dragon, the reading of the hygrometer should be 35% to 40%. Adequate ventilation, placing the water dish away, and avoiding misting the tank will help you achieve this level.

In nature, bearded dragons are used to sleep in the complete dark or soft light of the moon or stars. But in homes, people usually install a red light in tanks, which is not the same as that of the moon or starlight. So, Red Light is not recommended to install this red light. Your dragon feels very uncomfortable in light and can’t sleep in peace.

The basking spot of your pet in the tank should be between 95 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and other parts of the tank should have less temperature so that your dragon can regulate body temperature as he wants.

During hours of darkness, the complete tank’s temperature should be between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. A basking spot is not needed at night.

For more details, you can read: Bearded Dragon Complete Lighting, Heating and Humidity Guide

When it comes to décor, the sky is the limit. It is one of the most fun parts and there are no limits to creativity. Some layback pet owners prefer the simple tank with essentials while others set the tank in a very elaborate theme like exotic desert or tropical rainforest, etc.

In case you are a new owner, a simple tank is easy to maintain, but the choice is yours.

Following are some items to include in your bearded dragon’s tank setup to make it look better and more interesting:

To facilitate the basking of your bearded dragon, a basking log or large rock is recommended beneath the heating lamp.

Several types of hideaways are available and you need to select the one which goes with the theme of your tank. These hideaways are also important for your dragon during his bedtime, brumation, and following the instincts of burrowing.  

Your dragon loves to climb so you can place branches, rocks, logs, or some other fixture according to your theme in the tank. Just divide the tank so that your dragon has space for climbing and rooming around. Hammock. Your bearded dragons love lounging in hammocks and hanging out so you can place one in the corner opposite the heating lamp. 

Live or fake plants increase the natural look of the tank and dragon owners decorate their tanks with them. But you need to keep in mind that natural live plants will change the humidity level of the dragon’s tank, so be sure to look at the hygrometer after setting the tank with live plants. Similarly, your dragon may also eat them, so you may choose the plat that is eatable by dragons i.e. herbs that are safe for bearded dragons.

There are also many safe toys that you can use in your bearded dragon tank and to keep them active, there are many activities that you can do with your dragons.

They are eatable but don’t let your dragon eat too much of it. It can cause diarrhea.

like rosemary, basil, oregano, and parsley. Replace them when they go bad and also keep an eye on the hygrometer as they will change the humidity level.

They are also edible and safe for your dragon.

such as Echeveria and Haworth.

Remove the spines before placing them in the tank.

You also need to take care of live plants i.e. water them and maintain them. You will also need to change them when they go bad. So, if you want to avoid all this, and go for the safest option, then use plastic plants. Just use high-quality plants that are not chewable and your dragon can’t pluck them or eat them.

There are several items, available in the market or online for tank of bearded dragons which are helpful aids when we talk about feeding. Some of the essentials are the following:

You will need 3-4 shallow dishes for greens, fruits, insects, supplements, and water.

When we talk about live insects feeding on a bearded dragon, it’s recommended to use tweezers. One, it will hold the insect, and will not allow them to run away and to hide and your dragon can eat them easily. Two, you don’t have to touch the insects. Third, it will protect your hand from insect bites. Four, it’s fun to feed your dragon. So, 2 pairs are tweezers are recommended.

A large, shallow, plastic container helps feed the dragons when you want the food to remain in the dish. Your dragon will not spread the food in the tank and you don’t have to clean it after each meal.

Bearded dragons of all ages, whether they are babies, juveniles, or adults love to eat live insects. You will need a live insect feeder for them. 

To know, what do bearded dragons eat? Read followind articles:

Good luck with the tank setup of your Bearded Dragon. We wish you to set up a tank that will provide a natural environment including heating, lighting, and humidity, so your dragon may have a comfortable and healthy home.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. We will get back to you ASAP.

Good Luck.

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