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  1. #1
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    Question Keeping Tank at Temp Without Central Heating


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    How can I keep a tank consistently warm in an apartment with no central heating? I live in Northern California, where outside temps in the winter hover around the 50s/60s during the day. There is a baseboard heater in my bedroom that I typically only turn on in the morning when I知 getting ready, and when I get home from work/before bed. I just adopted a leo from another family who came with a day/night overhead basking lamp set up. This is less than ideal, since right now at the end of summer, the warm side can dip to 83-85 F.

    Is it possible to have a setup that will heat the tank enough so I can minimize the use of my baseboard heater? I am thinking of using a ceramic heat lamp rather than a UTH, since it would need to heat up the ambient temp, as well as the substrate, but I am open to all solutions. I知 also considering getting a wifi thermostat with an outlet, so the temp adjusts as the day warms up, but I知 not sure if this is really necessary or if I am just becoming a crazy lizard mom.

    Also, does the type of substrate affect the choice of heat source as well? I am thinking of switching to slate from paper towels and figured it would make a UTH less effective. Thank you all for your insights!

  2. #2
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    if this is a leopard gecko, than a heat mat is pretty much required, they need belly heat to digest their food.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by emmzz View Post
    How can I keep a tank consistently warm in an apartment with no central heating? I live in Northern California, where outside temps in the winter hover around the 50s/60s during the day. There is a baseboard heater in my bedroom that I typically only turn on in the morning when I知 getting ready, and when I get home from work/before bed. I just adopted a leo from another family who came with a day/night overhead basking lamp set up. This is less than ideal, since right now at the end of summer, the warm side can dip to 83-85 F.

    Is it possible to have a setup that will heat the tank enough so I can minimize the use of my baseboard heater? I am thinking of using a ceramic heat lamp rather than a UTH, since it would need to heat up the ambient temp, as well as the substrate, but I am open to all solutions. I知 also considering getting a wifi thermostat with an outlet, so the temp adjusts as the day warms up, but I知 not sure if this is really necessary or if I am just becoming a crazy lizard mom.

    Also, does the type of substrate affect the choice of heat source as well? I am thinking of switching to slate from paper towels and figured it would make a UTH less effective. Thank you all for your insights!
    Welcome aboard!

    Please add details.
    • What size/dimensions is your enclosure?
    • I recommend a heat mat attached to a thermostat. That provides belly heat necessary for digestion. When all the heat is provided with overhead heating (a ceramic heat emitter) air temps get too warm for your leo. An overhead dome requires a second thermostat since air temps are set differently.
    • If the room is not heated during the day, youll also need to add a dome fixture with a CHE on a separate thermostat 24/7.
    • Depending upon how low room temps plumate, getting all your enclosure heat from a single source may be difficult!
    • How will a wifi thermostat be different than a "regular" thermostat?
    • Slate tile will make an excellent substrate! As long as it's about 3/8" thick, slate will conduct heat well. Slate would NOT make an UTH less effective.


    Temperatures - A temperature gradient from warm to cool maintains your leo's health. Here's a temperature guide for all leopard geckos as measured with the probe of a digital thermometer or a temp gun (and controlled by a thermostat set at 91*F/32.8*C):
    • Warm end ground temperature: 88-92 F (31.1-33.3 C) inside a leo's warm dry hide and his moist hide too!
    • Cool end ground temperature: 70ish-75 F (21.1-23.9 C) Usually the cool end ground temperature matches the room temperature where the enclosure sits.
    • no greater than 82ish F (27.8ish C) air temperature - 4 inches (10 cm) above ground on the warm end
    • no greater than 75 F (23.9 C) air temperature - 4 inches (10 cm) above ground on the cool end

    Leave the heat mat/UTH on 24/7. If you wish, during the night turn off overhead lighting/heating (~12 hours on and ~12 hours off) unless ambient room temperatures drop lower than 67ish*F (19.4*C).
    "If you can hear crickets, it's still summer." ;)

    "May the peace that
    You find at the beach
    Follow you home"

    Click: Leo Care Sheet's Table of Contents

    ===> No plain calcium, calcium with D3, or multivitamins inside an enclosure <===

    Oedura castelnaui ~ Lepidodactylus lugubris ~ Phelsuma barbouri ~ Ptychozoon kuhli ~ Cyrtodactylus peguensis zebraicus ~ Phyllurus platurus ~ Eublepharis macularius ~ Correlophus ciliatus ~ (L kimhowelli) ~ (P tigrinus) ~ (P klemmeri) ~ (H garnotii)
    Likes Marillion, emmzz liked this post

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    Great info above by Elizabeth, as always.

    Another option to consider instead of slate is a textured ceramic tile. Slate is somewhat porous and so can harbor some bacteria if not kept meticulously clean. Ceramic tile is sealed so there are less concerns there. But you would need to ensure it is textured to allow some grip.

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    Thank you all for your advice! I really appreciate it!

    - What size/dimensions is your enclosure?
    - He came with a 10 gallon enclosure, but I am looking to upgrade to 15 or 20 gal. The poor guy came on sand with just one hide, so I have switched to paper towels, added a cool hide and a makeshift moist hide. He has only been with me for a week and is just finishing a shed, so I want to make sure he was eating consistently and was a bit more relaxed before making any more major changes. I would like to get a larger enclosure, but also want to make sure I can heat the larger area properly before getting it.

    - I recommend a heat mat attached to a thermostat. That provides belly heat necessary for digestion. When all the heat is provided with overhead heating (a ceramic heat emitter) air temps get too warm for your leo. An overhead dome requires a second thermostat since air temps are set differently.
    - I will definitely get a heat mat asap. I got a bit confused reading online about heat maps vs overhead lamps, but it sounds like heat mats are the way to go. He has been living with just an overhead basking lamp for 8+ years with his old family, so I’m sure he’ll really appreciate it!


    If the room is not heated during the day, youll also need to add a dome fixture with a CHE on a separate thermostat 24/7.Depending upon how low room temps plumate, getting all your enclosure heat from a single source may be difficult!
    - I am definitely willing to use multiple heat sources! It seemed a bit wasteful to heat an entire room if I could make the tank nice and comfortable.

    How will a wifi thermostat be different than a "regular" thermostat?
    - Apologies for being unclear! I was looking at this thermostat on amazon http://https://www.amazon.com/Inkbir.../dp/B01AHS5LEYthat has a heat probe. To keep the temperature in range, it will turn on and off the power to the heating element. Other thermostats I saw in the pet store seemed to just allow you to adjust the temperature with a dial, but doesn’t have the feedback loop to react to the temperature in real time. I’m not sure if this is necessary, or if playing around with a CHE and a dimmer until the ambient temp is in range is okay.

    So if I understand correctly, I can use a UTH with < 3/8” textured ceramic tile to get the substrate temp in range, and then supplement with a CHE when it gets colder to make sure that the air temp is okay?

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    - What size/dimensions is your enclosure?
    - He came with a 10 gallon enclosure, but I am looking to upgrade to 15 or 20 gal. The poor guy came on sand with just one hide, so I have switched to paper towels, added a cool hide and a makeshift moist hide. He has only been with me for a week and is just finishing a shed, so I want to make sure he was eating consistently and was a bit more relaxed before making any more major changes. I would like to get a larger enclosure, but also want to make sure I can heat the larger area properly before getting it.

    - I recommend a heat mat attached to a thermostat. That provides belly heat necessary for digestion. When all the heat is provided with overhead heating (a ceramic heat emitter) air temps get too warm for your leo. An overhead dome requires a second thermostat since air temps are set differently.
    - I will definitely get a heat mat asap. I got a bit confused reading about heat maps vs overhead lamps, but it sounds like heat mats are the way to go. He has been living with just an overhead basking lamp for 8+ years with his old family, so I’m sure he’ll really appreciate it!

    -If the room is not heated during the day, youll also need to add a dome fixture with a CHE on a separate thermostat 24/7. Depending upon how low room temps plumate, getting all your enclosure heat from a single source may be difficult!
    - I am definitely willing to use multiple heat sources! It seemed a bit wasteful to heat an entire room if I could make the tank nice and comfortable.

    How will a wifi thermostat be different than a "regular" thermostat?
    - Apologies for being unclear! I was looking at a thermostat on Amazon that has a heat probe. To keep the temperature in range, it will turn on and off the power to the heating element. Other thermostats I saw in the pet store seemed to just allow you to adjust the temperature with a dial, but doesn’t have the feedback loop to react to the temperature in real time. I’m not sure if this is necessary, or if playing around with a CHE and a dimmer until the ambient temp is in range is okay.

    So if I understand correctly, I can use a UTH with < 3/8” sealed/textured tile to get the substrate temp in range, and then supplement with a CHE when it gets colder to make sure that the air temp is okay? Just want to have a happy and healthy lizard!

    Edit: Forgot to say, but thank you all for the advice! This seems like such a great community!

  7. #7
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    I would like to get a larger enclosure, but also want to make sure I can heat the larger area properly before getting it.
    I strongly suggest upgrading to a 20 long enclosure (30 x 12 x 12 inches tall) right now. PetCo has $-per-gallon sales frequently. A 20 long could make a good forever home for your leo. I would NOT heat your 10 gallon with a heat mat + an overhead CHE -- even with 2 thermostats. There is too much room for error.

    Heat mats are definitely the way to go as the main heat source! Invest in an Ultratherm heat mat: 11 x 17 inches. Ultratherms are TOPS in the industry. That will NOT be overkill for a 20 long. This way you'll be able to locate the warm dry hide and the warm moist hide right on top of the heat mat.
    Reptile Basics: (336-308-5767) also carries Ultratherm heat mats [11 x 17 inches = $22]

    Inkbird thermostats are fine. But if you use 2 separate heating devices, you will need 2 separate thermostats, because ground temps and air temps require different settings.

    Thermostats are automatic devices that are set to say 91*F. Thermostats turn off a heat source when the temp reaches 91*, drop a couple degrees, and then automatically turn the heat source back on. There are 2 types of inexpensive thermostats: digital & analog (dial-type). I prefer digital thermostats, because they are easier to set. Proportional thermostats are more expensive. I don't think a proportional thermostat would help more in your situation.

    Then there are rheostats/dimmers. Rheostats can't turn off a heating device when it overheats.

    I use Hydrofarm's Jump Start thermostat for my leo.

    So if I understand correctly, I can use a UTH with < 3/8” sealed/textured tile to get the substrate temp in range, and then supplement with a CHE when it gets colder to make sure that the air temp is okay? Just want to have a happy and healthy lizard!
    Like Marillion suggests, textured ceramic tile about 3/8 inch thick may be a better substrate option for your leo. Please note the temp chart I shared. You may need to increase room temps for this to work satisfactorily.

    Edit: Forgot to say, but thank you all for the advice! This seems like such a great community!
    You're definitely welcome! Geckos Unlimited is a wonderful community! I'm happy you're a part of GU!
    Last edited by Elizabeth Freer; 09-15-2019 at 03:17 AM.
    "If you can hear crickets, it's still summer." ;)

    "May the peace that
    You find at the beach
    Follow you home"

    Click: Leo Care Sheet's Table of Contents

    ===> No plain calcium, calcium with D3, or multivitamins inside an enclosure <===

    Oedura castelnaui ~ Lepidodactylus lugubris ~ Phelsuma barbouri ~ Ptychozoon kuhli ~ Cyrtodactylus peguensis zebraicus ~ Phyllurus platurus ~ Eublepharis macularius ~ Correlophus ciliatus ~ (L kimhowelli) ~ (P tigrinus) ~ (P klemmeri) ~ (H garnotii)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marillion View Post
    Great info above by Elizabeth, as always.

    Another option to consider instead of slate is a textured ceramic tile. Slate is somewhat porous and so can harbor some bacteria if not kept meticulously clean. Ceramic tile is sealed so there are less concerns there. But you would need to ensure it is textured to allow some grip.
    Good advice, Marillion!

    I really appreciate your confidence.
    "If you can hear crickets, it's still summer." ;)

    "May the peace that
    You find at the beach
    Follow you home"

    Click: Leo Care Sheet's Table of Contents

    ===> No plain calcium, calcium with D3, or multivitamins inside an enclosure <===

    Oedura castelnaui ~ Lepidodactylus lugubris ~ Phelsuma barbouri ~ Ptychozoon kuhli ~ Cyrtodactylus peguensis zebraicus ~ Phyllurus platurus ~ Eublepharis macularius ~ Correlophus ciliatus ~ (L kimhowelli) ~ (P tigrinus) ~ (P klemmeri) ~ (H garnotii)
    Likes Marillion liked this post

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    I agree that a 20 gallon long with an under tank heater and heat mat are a good idea. Others feel differently, but I feel that with that setup, even if it's cold, the gecko can spend the coldest time in his warm hide. The floor will be warm and the air inside the hide will also be warm.

    Aliza
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    I got a 20 gal tank from Petco yesterday, have a UTH, thermostat, and CHE on order from Amazon, and my roommate and I are making a trip to Home Depot to pick out some safe and stylish tiles!

    Thank you again for all of the input. I know it must be frustrating to answer newbie questions, but I found so much contradictory information in my research, and it is so nice to check and ask questions here. (And Elizabeth, your gecko guide is really helpful!) I think my gecko’s previous owner was trying their best with the information given to them by the pet store, but hopefully “Speedy” is much happier in his new habitat.
    Likes Elizabeth Freer liked this post

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