Ultimate Bearded Dragon Tank Setup & Buying Guide (avoid mistakes!)

Welcome, future bearded dragon parents! If you’re reading this, you’re probably excited to bring home your new scaly friend and create the perfect environment for them to thrive. That’s where we come in!

This ultimate guide is designed to help you choose and create the ideal bearded dragon tank setup.

We’ll explore everything from tank sizes and materials to essential accessories and maintenance tips. So let’s dive right in and get started on creating a fantastic home for your new pet!

Choosing the Right Tank Size

One of the most important aspects of selecting a tank for your bearded dragon is choosing the appropriate size. Bearded dragons grow quickly, and the size of the enclosure must accommodate their growth. Providing ample space is essential for their physical and mental well-being. Here, we’ll discuss the recommended tank sizes for both juvenile and adult bearded dragons.

Juvenile bearded dragons

When you first bring home a baby bearded dragon, they might be small, but they won’t stay that way for long! During the first year of their life, they’ll experience rapid growth, so it’s crucial to plan for this when selecting a tank.

For juvenile bearded dragons, a tank that’s at least 20 gallons is the minimum recommended size. This size provides enough space for your young dragon to move around, bask, and explore. However, keep in mind that they will outgrow this tank relatively quickly. It’s often more cost-effective to invest in a larger tank from the start to avoid the need for an upgrade in just a few months.

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Adult bearded dragons

As your bearded dragon matures, their space requirements will increase. Adult bearded dragons, which are typically 18 to 24 inches long, need a substantial amount of space to thrive.

For adult bearded dragons, the minimum recommended tank size is 40 gallons, with a preferred size of 75 gallons or more.

A larger enclosure not only accommodates their size but also allows for a proper temperature gradient, more room to explore and engage in natural behaviors, and reduced stress levels. In short, in a small tank, your bearded dragon will not only be bored, but also be more likely to get stressed or sick!

When considering tank dimensions, it’s essential to prioritize length and width over height. Bearded dragons are terrestrial animals, which means they spend most of their time on the ground or basking on rocks or branches.

A good tank should measure at least 36 inches long, 18 inches wide, and 18 inches tall. This size provides enough space for your bearded dragon to move comfortably and allows you to create different activity zones, such as basking spots and hiding places.

Keep in mind that bearded dragons are active and curious animals. If you have the space and budget, consider providing an even larger enclosure than the minimum size. A bigger tank will offer your bearded dragon more room to roam and explore, promoting better physical and mental health.

Yes, size matters, but it's not everything: A bearded dragon tank setup like this is not a nice home for your little pet!
Yes, size matters, but it’s not everything: A bearded dragon tank setup like this is not a nice home for your little pet! (from Zilla)

Tank Material and Style

Now that you have an idea of the appropriate size for your bearded dragon’s tank, it’s time to explore different materials and styles. The three most common materials for bearded dragon enclosures are glass, wood, and PVC. Each material has its pros and cons, so let’s take a closer look at each one to help you make the best decision for your pet.

Glass tanks

Glass tanks are perhaps the most popular choice for bearded dragon owners. They offer excellent visibility, allowing you to observe your pet from every angle. Glass tanks also retain heat well, ensuring that your bearded dragon stays warm and cozy in its habitat.

Pros:

  • Excellent visibility
  • Good heat retention
  • Easy to find in various sizes

Cons:

  • Can be heavy and cumbersome to move
  • Potential risk of glass breakage
  • Can lead to increased stress if placed in high-traffic areas, as bearded dragons can feel exposed

Wooden enclosures

Wooden enclosures, also known as vivariums or terrariums, are another option for bearded dragon owners. These enclosures can be custom-built or purchased pre-made, allowing for a personalized and unique habitat for your pet. Wooden enclosures often have better insulation, which can help maintain consistent temperatures inside the tank.

Pros:

  • Better insulation and temperature control
  • Can be custom-built to desired dimensions
  • Provides a more natural and private environment

Cons:

  • Can be more challenging to clean and maintain
  • Limited visibility compared to glass tanks
  • Wood can absorb odors and moisture over time

PVC enclosures

PVC enclosures are made from lightweight, durable plastic material. These enclosures are becoming increasingly popular due to their ease of maintenance and their ability to maintain stable temperatures. PVC enclosures can also be custom-built to accommodate specific size requirements.

Pros:

  • Lightweight and easy to move
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Good insulation and temperature control

Cons:

  • Limited visibility compared to glass tanks
  • Can be more expensive than other options
  • May require a custom build for desired dimensions

When choosing a material and style for your bearded dragon’s tank, consider factors such as visibility, insulation, ease of maintenance, and budget. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages, so it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons to determine the best fit for your bearded dragon’s needs and your personal preferences.

Bearded Dragon Tank Setup

Once you’ve chosen the right size and material for your bearded dragon’s enclosure, the next step is setting it up to create a comfortable and stimulating environment. This section will guide you through essential aspects of tank setup, including layout, temperature gradient, substrate, and lighting.

Tank layout

Designing an engaging and functional tank layout is crucial for your bearded dragon’s well-being. Consider incorporating the following elements:

Hiding spots: Bearded dragons need places to retreat and feel secure. Provide at least one hiding spot, such as a cave, log, or artificial plant, where your pet can escape from view.

Basking areas: Bearded dragons love to bask under a heat source. Create a basking area with rocks, branches, or hammocks where your pet can climb and soak up the warmth.

Climbing structures: Bearded dragons are active and enjoy climbing. Provide branches, logs, or other items that your pet can climb on to promote exercise and exploration.

Decoration is an important part of your tank setup - not only for aesthetics, but for the well-being of your beardie!
Decoration is an important part of your tank setup – not only for aesthetics, but for the well-being of your beardie! (from BeardieBungalow)

Temperature gradient

Maintaining a proper temperature gradient is vital for your bearded dragon’s health. Create a warm basking area with temperatures around 95-110°F (35-43°C) and a cooler area with temperatures around 75-85°F (24-29°C). This gradient allows your pet to regulate its body temperature by moving between warm and cool zones.

Use a heat lamp or ceramic heat emitter to provide warmth in the basking area. Make sure to monitor temperatures regularly with a thermometer and adjust the heat source as needed.

Substrate

Selecting the right substrate is crucial for your bearded dragon’s health and cleanliness. Avoid using sand or loose particle substrates, as these can cause impaction if ingested. Instead, opt for safer alternatives such as (in order of quality):

  • Bioactive substrate
  • Soil blend
  • Reptile carpet
  • Slate or ceramic tiles
  • Newspaper or paper towels (only for temporary use)
Ready for Use

Bioactive bedding is the best long-term option in most cases, as it not only provides the most natural experience for your beardie, but also has self-cleaning properties thanks to its micro-fauna!

Lighting

Proper lighting is essential for your bearded dragon’s health. Provide a UVB light source to help your pet synthesize vitamin D3, which is necessary for calcium absorption. Without adequate UVB exposure, bearded dragons can develop metabolic bone disease (MBD). Install a basking light to create a warm basking area and mimic the sun’s natural heat.

Ensure that your bearded dragon has a consistent day-night cycle with 12-14 hours of light during the day and complete darkness at night. Use a timer to automate the lighting schedule for a stress-free experience.

In conclusion, setting up your bearded dragon’s tank involves creating an engaging layout with hiding spots, basking areas, and climbing structures. Maintain a proper temperature gradient and choose a safe substrate to ensure a comfortable and healthy environment. Lastly, provide adequate lighting to support your pet’s well-being.

Bearded Dragon Tank Maintenance

Keeping your bearded dragon’s tank clean and well-maintained is crucial for the health and well-being of your pet. Regular maintenance helps prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria, parasites, and odors. Here’s a breakdown of essential tank maintenance tasks:

Cleaning frequency

It’s essential to establish a routine for tank maintenance. Perform daily spot cleaning to remove feces, leftover food, and any soiled substrate. This simple daily task goes a long way in maintaining a clean environment for your bearded dragon.

Spot cleaning

Spot cleaning involves removing any visible waste or soiled areas in the tank. Use a reptile-safe disinfectant to clean the affected areas and replace the substrate as needed. This will help maintain a healthy environment and prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria.

Deep cleaning

Deep cleaning should be performed every four to six weeks, depending on the tank’s size and the bearded dragon’s habits. This process involves removing all decorations, substrate, and accessories from the tank and thoroughly cleaning them with a reptile-safe disinfectant. The tank’s interior should also be cleaned and disinfected. Allow everything to dry completely before reassembling the tank and reintroducing your bearded dragon.

Preventing health issues

Regular tank maintenance is crucial in preventing health issues such as respiratory infections, skin infections, and parasites. Ensuring that your bearded dragon’s environment is clean and well-maintained will significantly reduce the risk of illness.

A happy, healthy bearded dragon needs a clean, well-equipped habitat to live in!
A happy, healthy bearded dragon needs a clean, well-equipped habitat to live in!

To make your bearded dragon’s tank a comfortable and engaging environment, consider adding these recommended accessories:

Thermometers

Accurately monitoring the temperature in your bearded dragon’s tank is essential. Invest in a high-quality digital thermometer, and an infrared temperature gun to ensure your pet’s environment stays within the ideal temperature range.

There are many thermometer-hygrometer combi devices. Use these on both the warm and cool side of the tank.

The infrared thermometer gun should be used from time to time to check specific hotspots, like below any lamp, heat lamp, or above any heat pad.

Hygrometers

Monitoring humidity levels is also crucial for bearded dragons. A hygrometer will help you keep an eye on the humidity inside the tank and make adjustments as needed.

You should have two hygrometers in the tank: one on the warm side, and one on the cold side. Check these from time to time to make sure that the humidity levels stay within the normal range.

Decorations

Decorations such as artificial plants, rocks, and caves not only add visual appeal to your bearded dragon’s tank but also provide essential hiding spots and stimulation. Choose decorations that are easy to clean and safe for your pet.

Water dishes

Bearded dragons need a shallow water dish in their tank for hydration. Ensure the dish is shallow enough for your pet to easily access the water without the risk of drowning.

Purchasing a Bearded Dragon Tank

After learning about the essential aspects of tank setup, maintenance, and accessories, you’re ready to purchase a tank for your bearded dragon. In this section, we’ll discuss where to buy a tank, factors to consider when making a purchase, and budgeting tips.

Where to buy

There are several options for purchasing a bearded dragon tank, including:

Local pet stores: Many pet stores carry a variety of reptile enclosures. You’ll be able to inspect the tanks in person and consult with knowledgeable staff to help make the best decision for your pet.

Online retailers: Websites such as Amazon, Chewy, and specialized reptile supply stores offer a wide selection of tanks and accessories. Shopping online allows you to compare prices and read customer reviews before making a purchase.

Custom builders: Some companies and individuals specialize in creating custom-built reptile enclosures. This option allows you to order a tank tailored to your specific needs and preferences. Keep in mind that these will cost 2-4x more than pre-made tanks.

Factors to consider when purchasing

When buying a tank, keep the following factors in mind:

Tank size: Ensure that the tank is the appropriate size for your bearded dragon, taking into account their current size and future growth.

Material and style: Choose a tank material and style that best suits your needs and preferences, considering factors such as visibility, insulation, and ease of maintenance.

Budget: Determine a budget for your tank purchase, keeping in mind that additional costs for accessories, lighting, and heating elements will also be necessary.

Budgeting tips

Invest in quality: While it may be tempting to cut corners to save money, investing in a high-quality tank and accessories will pay off in the long run. A well-made tank will last longer and provide a healthier environment for your bearded dragon.

Shop sales and discounts: Keep an eye out for sales and discounts at pet stores and online retailers. You may be able to find great deals on tanks and accessories, allowing you to stretch your budget further.

DIY projects: Some aspects of tank setup and decoration can be done using DIY methods. For example, creating your own basking platform or hiding spot can save money while adding a personal touch to your bearded dragon’s environment.

Common Questions

Can you use plexiglass for a bearded dragon tank?

Yes, plexiglass is a suitable material for a bearded dragon tank. It is lightweight, durable, and easy to clean, making it a popular choice for reptile enclosures. However, it is important to ensure that the plexiglass is thick enough to withstand the weight of the substrate and decorations and that it is securely sealed to prevent escape.

How often should you clean a bearded dragon tank?

It’s important to establish a regular cleaning routine for your bearded dragon tank. Spot cleaning should be done daily to remove feces, leftover food, and any soiled substrate.
Deep cleaning should be done every four to six weeks, depending on the tank’s size and the bearded dragon’s habits. This process involves removing all decorations, substrate, and accessories from the tank and thoroughly cleaning them with a reptile-safe disinfectant.
The tank’s interior should also be cleaned and disinfected. Regular cleaning helps prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria and parasites.

What should you clean a bearded dragon tank with?

To clean a bearded dragon tank, use a reptile-safe disinfectant or cleaner. Avoid using harsh chemicals, as these can be harmful to your pet.
There are many commercial reptile cleaners available, or you can make your own solution by mixing water and white vinegar in equal parts.
Be sure to rinse thoroughly and allow everything to dry completely before reassembling the tank and reintroducing your bearded dragon.

Can you use a fish tank for a bearded dragon?

While a fish tank may seem like a suitable option for a bearded dragon, it is not recommended. Fish tanks are typically long and narrow, which does not provide the necessary space and floor area that a bearded dragon needs for exercise and exploration. Also, aquariums usually don’t have good ventilation (the top is completely covered) and no holes for cables for things like thermostats or thermometers.
It’s best to choose a tank specifically designed for reptiles, with the appropriate size and material.

How much do bearded dragon tanks cost?

The cost of a bearded dragon tank can vary depending on various factors, including size, material, and style. A basic glass tank can cost around $100 for a 40-gallon size (for juveniles only!), while larger tanks can cost between $300 and $500.
Additionally, the cost of accessories such as lighting, heating elements, and substrate should also be factored in. It’s important to determine a budget before making a purchase and to consider the long-term investment of a well-made and appropriate tank for your bearded dragon.

Conclusion

In this comprehensive buying and setup guide for bearded dragon tanks, we’ve covered various aspects that are essential for new and future bearded dragon owners. To provide the best environment for your pet, remember these key lessons:

Tank size: Choose an appropriate tank size based on the age and size of your bearded dragon. A minimum of a 40-gallon tank is recommended for juveniles, while adult bearded dragons require at least a 75-gallon tank. Go for 120 gallons if you want to provide your beardie with a nice home.

Tank material and style: Consider the pros and cons of different tank materials, including glass, wood, and PVC, to determine the best option for your needs and preferences.

Setting up the tank: Create an engaging and functional tank layout with hiding spots, basking areas, and climbing structures. Maintain a proper temperature gradient and select a safe substrate. Provide adequate lighting for your bearded dragon’s health and well-being.

Tank maintenance: Establish a routine for tank maintenance, including daily spot cleaning and deep cleaning every four to six weeks. Regular maintenance helps prevent health issues and ensures a clean environment for your pet.

Recommended tank accessories: Invest in essential accessories such as thermometers, hygrometers, decorations, and water dishes to create a comfortable and engaging environment for your bearded dragon.

Purchasing a tank: Explore various purchasing options, including local pet stores, online retailers, and custom builders. Keep factors such as tank size, material, style, and budget in mind when making your decision.

By following this guide and implementing the key lessons, you’ll be well-equipped to provide your bearded dragon with a comfortable, safe, and stimulating environment. With proper care and attention, your bearded dragon will thrive in its new home, and you’ll enjoy the rewarding experience of owning a happy and healthy pet.

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