How to Set Up a Bearded Dragon Tank


So you’ve decided to bring home a bearded dragon as a new pet and now you’re wondering, “How do I set up the perfect tank for my scaly friend?” Well, fear not! In this article, we will guide you through the step-by-step process of creating a comfortable and stimulating habitat for your bearded dragon. From selecting the right tank size to providing the necessary lighting and heating, we’ve got you covered. Join us as we embark on this exciting journey of setting up the ideal bearded dragon tank that will make your new pet feel right at home.

Choosing the Right Tank

Glass or acrylic tank

When it comes to choosing the right tank for your bearded dragon, you have the option of selecting a glass or acrylic tank. Both have their advantages and it ultimately depends on your personal preference. A glass tank provides a clear view of your bearded dragon and is generally more affordable. On the other hand, an acrylic tank is lighter and more durable, making it a great choice if you plan on moving or if you have young children who may accidentally bump into the tank.

Size of the tank

The size of the tank is crucial for the overall well-being of your bearded dragon. It is recommended to provide a tank that is at least 40 gallons for an adult bearded dragon, although larger tanks are always better. A larger tank will allow your bearded dragon to have ample space to roam, explore, and exercise. Remember, a happy and healthy bearded dragon is an active one!


Proper ventilation is essential to maintain fresh air within the tank and to prevent the buildup of harmful gases. When selecting a tank, ensure that it has adequate ventilation to allow for proper air exchange. Additionally, positioning the tank in a well-ventilated area of your home will further enhance the airflow and help create a healthy environment for your bearded dragon.


Bearded dragons are known for their curiosity and agility, so it is crucial to ensure that the tank is escape-proof. This means choosing a tank with a secure lid or top to prevent your bearded dragon from escaping. Additionally, regularly check for any gaps or openings in the tank that your bearded dragon could squeeze through. Creating a safe and secure habitat is paramount for the well-being and safety of your bearded dragon.

Setting Up the Tank

Tank location

Choosing the right location for your bearded dragon’s tank is important for their overall well-being. It is recommended to place the tank in an area that is away from direct sunlight and drafts. Direct sunlight can overheat the tank, while drafts can lower the temperature and create an uncomfortable environment for your bearded dragon. Find a spot that offers a stable and consistent temperature throughout the day, ensuring that your bearded dragon is comfortable and content.

Substrate selection

The substrate you choose for your bearded dragon’s tank is important both for their hygiene and overall well-being. Opt for substrate options that are safe and easy to clean. Popular choices include reptile carpet, paper towels, or tile. These substrates are easy to maintain and eliminate the risk of your bearded dragon ingesting any loose substrate, which could lead to digestive issues.

Decorations and hiding spots

Creating a stimulating and enriching environment for your bearded dragon is essential for their mental and physical well-being. Incorporate various decorations such as rocks, branches, and even artificial plants to mimic their natural habitat. These decorations provide hiding spots and climbing opportunities for your bearded dragon, allowing them to display their natural behaviors.

Temperature and lighting setup

Temperature and lighting are crucial elements in maintaining a healthy environment for your bearded dragon. Ensure you have a proper basking spot equipped with a heat lamp to provide your bearded dragon with the warmth they need for digestion and overall well-being. Additionally, invest in a UVB light to provide the necessary UVB rays for proper calcium absorption. Creating a suitable temperature and lighting setup will ensure the optimal health of your bearded dragon.

Creating the Ideal Temperature Gradient

Basking spot setup

Creating a suitable basking spot is essential for your bearded dragon’s thermoregulation. The basking spot should be positioned at one end of the tank and should have a temperature gradient, ranging from 95°F to 105°F. Use a combination of a heat lamp and a reptile thermometer to monitor and maintain the correct temperature at the basking spot.

Heating elements

To achieve the ideal temperature gradient, it may be necessary to incorporate additional heating elements in the tank. This can include under-tank heating pads or ceramic heat emitters. These elements can help maintain the overall temperature in the tank and ensure that your bearded dragon has access to the desired temperature range throughout the day.

Thermometers and thermostats

For accurate temperature monitoring, it is important to use reliable thermometers. Place thermometers at different points in the tank, including the basking spot and the cooler zones, to ensure you are providing the correct temperature gradient. Additionally, consider using a thermostat to regulate the temperature and prevent any extreme fluctuations.

Cooler zones

Bearded dragons also require cooler zones within their tank to allow for thermoregulation. These cooler zones should range between 75°F to 85°F. These areas provide a comfortable resting spot for your bearded dragon when they need to cool down. By creating a suitable temperature gradient, you allow your bearded dragon to regulate their body temperature as they would in their natural habitat.

Providing Proper Lighting

UVB light requirements

UVB lighting is essential for the synthesis of vitamin D3, which is required for proper calcium absorption in bearded dragons. Invest in a quality UVB light that emits both UVA and UVB rays. It is recommended to replace the UVB bulb every 6 to 12 months to ensure adequate UVB output for your bearded dragon. Be mindful of the recommended UVB levels for your specific species of bearded dragon.

UVB light placement

Proper placement of the UVB light is crucial to ensure your bearded dragon receives the necessary UVB rays. Position the UVB light above the basking spot, approximately 12 to 18 inches away from your bearded dragon. This placement allows for optimal exposure to the UVB rays while they bask in the warmth of the basking spot.

Basking light setup

Alongside the UVB light, you will need a basking light to provide the necessary heat for your bearded dragon. Select a heat lamp that emits a natural sunlight spectrum, creating a warm and inviting basking spot. The basking light should be positioned next to the UVB light, creating a single area where your bearded dragon can bask in both the heat and UVB rays.

Lighting schedule

Establishing a proper lighting schedule is crucial for maintaining a natural day and night cycle for your bearded dragon. Aim for 12 to 14 hours of light per day, followed by 10 to 12 hours of darkness. This helps regulate your bearded dragon’s sleep-wake cycle and ensures they receive the necessary rest periods.

Maintaining the Correct Humidity

Humidity levels for bearded dragons

Bearded dragons require low humidity levels within their enclosure. Aim for a humidity level between 30% to 40%. Excess humidity can lead to respiratory issues and promote bacterial growth, while insufficient humidity can result in skin problems for your bearded dragon. Monitoring and maintaining the correct humidity level is vital for their overall health.

Adding a humidity gradient

Creating a humidity gradient within the tank allows your bearded dragon to choose the most comfortable humidity level. To achieve a humidity gradient, you can lightly mist one side of the tank while keeping the other side drier. This provides your bearded dragon with options to regulate their own moisture intake, ensuring a healthy and balanced environment.

Misting the tank

To increase humidity levels within the tank, you can lightly mist the tank with water. However, it is important not to oversaturate the tank as excess moisture can lead to health issues for your bearded dragon. Use a gentle misting technique and monitor the humidity levels regularly to ensure it remains within the recommended range.

Using a hygrometer

To accurately measure and monitor the humidity levels in the tank, use a hygrometer. Place the hygrometer at different points in the tank to ensure you have an accurate representation of the overall humidity levels. This allows you to make necessary adjustments to maintain the ideal humidity range for your bearded dragon.

Feeding and Watering

Feeding schedule

Establishing a proper feeding schedule is essential for your bearded dragon’s health and growth. Younger bearded dragons will require more regular feedings, while adults can be fed less frequently. For younger bearded dragons, aim to feed them twice a day, with a mixture of live insects and fresh vegetables. As they grow older, you can transition to feeding them once a day.

Choosing the right diet

Bearded dragons require a balanced diet consisting of both live insects and fresh vegetables. Popular choices for live insects include crickets, mealworms, and dubia roaches. When it comes to vegetables, opt for a variety of leafy greens, such as collard greens, mustard greens, and dandelion greens. It is important to research the specific dietary needs of your bearded dragon’s species to ensure they are receiving the appropriate nutrients.

Water dish placement

While bearded dragons primarily obtain their hydration through the moisture in their food, it is still essential to provide a water dish within the tank. Place the water dish in a location that is easily accessible to your bearded dragon, but away from the heating elements to prevent evaporation. Regularly clean and replenish the water to ensure your bearded dragon has access to fresh water at all times.

Supplements and vitamins

To ensure your bearded dragon receives all the necessary vitamins and minerals, it is recommended to provide them with appropriate supplements. Calcium and vitamin D3 supplements are especially important for proper bone development and overall health. Dust the live insects and vegetables with these supplements according to the recommended dosage based on your bearded dragon’s age and species.

Handling and Attention

Acclimating the bearded dragon

Introducing your bearded dragon to handling and socialization is a gradual process. Start by allowing them to acclimate to their new environment and become comfortable with their tank before attempting to handle them. Gradually introduce short handling sessions, keeping in mind their comfort level and body language. With time and patience, your bearded dragon will become more accustomed to handling and enjoy the interaction with you.

Proper handling techniques

When handling your bearded dragon, it is important to support their body properly to avoid any injury or stress. Gently scoop them up from underneath, supporting their body and allowing them to feel secure. Avoid gripping or squeezing them tightly. Interact with your bearded dragon in a calm and gentle manner to establish a trustful bond between the two of you.

Bathing and soaking

Occasional bathing and soaking are beneficial for your bearded dragon’s hygiene and hydration. Fill a shallow container with lukewarm water and allow your bearded dragon to soak. This not only helps them stay hydrated but can also assist with shedding. Always supervise your bearded dragon during bath time and ensure the water temperature remains comfortable for them.

Socializing and interaction

Bearded dragons are social creatures and thrive on interaction with their human companions. Spend time with your bearded dragon outside of their tank, allowing them to explore their surroundings and interact with you. This helps prevent boredom and promotes a healthy bond between you and your bearded dragon. Whether it’s simply sitting nearby or engaging in gentle play, regular socialization is crucial for their overall well-being.

Maintaining Hygiene and Cleanliness

Spot cleaning

Regular spot cleaning is essential to maintain cleanliness within the tank. Remove any visible waste or uneaten food on a daily basis to prevent bacterial growth and maintain a fresh living environment for your bearded dragon. Use a reptile-safe disinfectant to clean any affected areas thoroughly.

Deep cleaning

Performing regular deep cleaning of the tank is important to eliminate any hidden bacteria or buildup. Remove all tank accessories, such as decorations and substrate, and clean them thoroughly with warm water and a reptile-safe disinfectant. Additionally, wipe down the walls and bottom of the tank, paying close attention to any areas of residue or waste accumulation. Rinse everything thoroughly before reassembling the tank.

Disinfecting tank accessories

To prevent the spread of harmful bacteria, it is essential to regularly disinfect tank accessories. This includes decor items, water dishes, and any other accessories within the tank. Use a reptile-safe disinfectant and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper usage. Ensure all items are thoroughly rinsed before placing them back into the tank.

Preventing bacterial growth

Maintaining proper hygiene and cleanliness within the tank plays a crucial role in preventing bacterial growth. Ensure that waste is promptly removed, uneaten food is not left in the tank for extended periods, and water is regularly changed. By practicing good hygiene habits, you can create a safe and healthy environment for your bearded dragon and minimize the risk of bacterial-related health issues.

Monitoring Health and Wellness

Regular veterinary check-ups

Regular visits to a reptile-savvy veterinarian are essential for maintaining the health and wellness of your bearded dragon. Schedule annual check-ups to monitor their overall well-being, discuss any concerns or questions you may have, and ensure that their care requirements are being met. A veterinarian can also provide tailored advice based on the specific needs of your bearded dragon to optimize their well-being.

Signs of illness or stress

Being aware of the common signs of illness or stress in bearded dragons is crucial for early detection and prompt intervention. Watch for signs such as appetite loss, abnormal bowel movements, lethargy, weight loss, abnormal posture, or changes in behavior. If you notice any of these signs, consult with a reptile veterinarian as soon as possible for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Common health issues

Bearded dragons are susceptible to various health issues, including metabolic bone disease, respiratory infections, parasites, and digestive problems. Understanding the common health issues that bearded dragons may experience allows you to be proactive and take necessary preventive measures. Regular veterinary check-ups and proper care practices can help minimize the risk of these health issues.

Behavioral abnormalities

Changes in behavior can often be an indicator of underlying health issues or stressors. Bearded dragons may show abnormal behaviors such as aggression, excessive hiding, or a lack of appetite when they are unwell or stressed. Monitor their behavior closely and seek veterinary advice if you observe any persistent or concerning changes in their behavior.


Setting up and maintaining a proper tank for your bearded dragon is essential for their overall health and well-being. By choosing the right tank, providing the appropriate temperature and lighting setup, maintaining proper humidity levels, ensuring a balanced diet, practicing proper handling techniques, maintaining hygiene and cleanliness, and monitoring their health, you are setting your bearded dragon up for a happy and healthy life. Remember to always consult with a reptile veterinarian for personalized advice and expertise. With proper care and attention, your bearded dragon will thrive and bring joy to your life.

Summary of essential tips

To summarize, here are the key points to remember when setting up a tank for your bearded dragon:

  1. Choose between a glass or acrylic tank based on your preferences and needs.
  2. Provide a tank that is appropriately sized for your bearded dragon’s comfort and well-being.
  3. Ensure proper ventilation and escape-proofing to create a safe environment.
  4. Select the ideal location for the tank to avoid direct sunlight and drafts.
  5. Choose a safe and easy-to-clean substrate for the tank.
  6. Incorporate decorations and hiding spots to create a stimulating environment.
  7. Create a suitable temperature gradient with a basking spot, heating elements, and thermometers.
  8. Use appropriate lighting, including UVB and basking lights, and establish a lighting schedule.
  9. Maintain the correct humidity levels in the tank using misting techniques and hygrometers.
  10. Follow a proper feeding schedule with a balanced diet of live insects and fresh vegetables.
  11. Provide a water dish and offer supplements and vitamins as needed.
  12. Acclimate your bearded dragon to handling and socialization gradually.
  13. Practice proper hygiene and cleanliness with spot cleaning and deep cleaning.
  14. Schedule regular veterinary check-ups and monitor your bearded dragon’s health and behavior.

Final thoughts

Caring for a bearded dragon is a rewarding experience, and creating the perfect tank environment for them is a crucial part of their overall well-being. From choosing the right tank to maintaining proper temperature, lighting, humidity, and cleanliness, every aspect of the tank setup plays a vital role in promoting your bearded dragon’s health and happiness. By following the tips and guidelines outlined in this article, you can ensure that your bearded dragon thrives in their tank and enjoys a long, healthy, and fulfilling life. Remember to always prioritize the individual needs of your bearded dragon and seek professional advice when necessary.

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