Besides the tank itself, you will also need accessories such as tank covers, lights, tank-flooring, etc. This section will go over everything you need so you can make sure your beardie has everything he/she needs to say healthy and active.
Tank Covers & Lids
If you are using a glass tank (or a tank with an open top), you will need a screen cover. This tank cover will keep your bearded dragon from escaping and it will also keep other pets, insects, and objects from getting into the tank and harming your bearded dragon.
Your cover will need to allow air to easily flow in and out of your bearded dragon's tank. Do not use a solid plastic fish tank lid or any other tank cover that will restrict air flow. If air does not circulate it will cause too much humidity within your bearded dragon's tank which can make him/her ill. Because of this we highly recommend a good quality screen cover Zilla Fresh Air Screen Cover for your beardies tank.
Your bearded dragon will not get enough light from the room his/her tank is in (even if the tank is right next to the window). In order to give your bearded dragon the light he/she needs you will need to illuminate the tank with a UVA/UVB fluorescent light for 12-14 hours each day. Since bearded dragons are from the desert, they rely on the sunlight to stay healthy. This means you will need to use a full spectrum UV light (it provides all types of UV rays just like the sun). Don't forget, your bearded dragon will also need a basking light for warmth, so make sure both lights will be able to fit into the tank.
The most recommended full spectrum light is the Reptisun Full Spectrum Light. It will provide all the UV rays that your bearded dragon needs to remain healthy. Many owners claim that these lights not only make their beardies more happy, but it also helps with their color as well.
Again, bearded dragons come from a desert environment which means they like HOT temperatures. Your bearded dragon will need his/her tank temperature to be no cooler than 85°F and no warmer than 110°F. Do not use electrically heated rocks as they can burn and injure bearded dragons.
If your tank is large enough you will want to have a hot side and a cold side of the tank. Your hot side will be where the basking light is and the cool side will be the side without the basking light. You should monitor both the temperature and humidity of your beardies tank to make sure it matches their habitat as closely as possible.
Choosing A Basking Light
A basking light is pretty much a heat lamp that focuses the heat into one specific part of the tank. It is very important to get a good quality basking light. Do not use regular house light-bulbs. The basking light will stay on for 10+ hours each day and will get very hot. The heat cause lower quality bulbs to burn out quickly and some to explode. Because of this we only recommend high quality basking light bulb such as Zoo Med's Basking Light Combo.
Under Tank Heater (UTH)
Since heat rises, under tank heaters (UTH) allow you to heat your bearded dragon's tank from the bottom. While these are not necessary, most bearded dragon owners will use them to keep their bearded dragon's tank warm overnight. Generally, you do not need a UTH at night unless the temperature falls into the mid 60's.
Monitoring Temperature & Humidity
You will need a way to monitor the temperature and humidity of your bearded dragon's tank. You will want to keep the humidity as low as possible and the temperatures between 85°-110°F during the day and no lower than 65°F during the night.
Temperature and humidity gauges are fairly inexpensive, so it's recommended to get two thermometers (one for the cool side and one for the hot side) and one humidity gauge. A popular gauge of bearded dragon owners is a combination thermometer humidity reader, which display both temperature and humidity.
Your bearded dragon will also need some type of flooring for his/her tank. Most bearded dragon experts do not recommend loose flooring such as sand, wood chips, pebbles, etc. because bearded dragons can accidentally ingest the substrate which can cause impaction. Impaction is a very serious issue with bearded dragons and should be avoided at all costs. Because of this, we only recommend you use reptile carpet for your bearded dragon's tank. If you cannot get reptile carpet, you can also use newspaper, paper towels, or butcher paper.
Your bearded dragon will need a place where he/she can have some privacy. Having a hide will give your bearded dragon a place to feel secure as well as seek shade from the lights. You can purchase hides that resemble the natural rock hides that bearded dragons use in nature, or you can attempt to build your own hide.
Some owners feel their bearded dragon stays in the hide for too long and will remove their beardies hide during the day. However, it's recommended to keep your beardies hide in his/her tank 24 hours a day so your bearded dragon can use it whenever they're feeling tired vulnerable, or just want some alone time.
When choosing a hide, make sure it is large enough that your bearded dragon can move around once inside. If the hide is too small, your bearded dragon will not use it.
Bearded dragons love climbing and perching on various items to bathe in sunlight, so it's no surprise that beardies absolutely love reptile hammocks. These reptile hammocks use suction cups to easily attach to the inside of your beardies tank and can easily support even the heaviest bearded dragons.
As mentioned earlier, bearded dragons are great climbers so having a branch or two in your tank that your bearded dragon can climb and/or sunbathe on will not only add decoration to the tank, but it will also help to make your bearded dragon feel more at home. When choosing a branch, make sure it is thoroughly cleaned before you put it in your bearded dragons tank. If you're using natural wood, make sure all the bark is stripped from it (you don't want your beardie accidentally eating a piece of wood) and verify there are no holes that crickets can hide in.
A basking platform will be the place where your bearded dragon sunbathes beneath the basking light to get warm. It can be as simple as a rock, the top of your reptile's hide, or a tree branch. The best basking platforms will absorb heat and stay warm (like dark rocks), this way the basking platform will be warm to the touch which can warm your beardies underside while he/she basks beneath the light.
Bearded dragons are not used to walls and expect to see scenery in all directions. Because of this, many bearded dragon owners claim that their beardies seem happier and less grumpy when they use a tank background. Since plain painted walls are not in nature (and not impressive to look at), getting a background will help perk your beardies mood as well as improve the tank's appearance.