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Bearded Dragon Tank Setup: How To Create The Perfect Tank For Your Beardie

Wondering about the best way to set up a tank for your new bearded dragon? Well, you’re in the right place. Bearded dragon tank setup can be an overwhelming task. How big does it need to be? Where’s the best place to put it? How do I keep it at the right temperature? What is the right temperature?

There’s a lot of information out there about the best way to keep your new friend healthy and happy, and we’re here to cut it down to just the basics. Here’s what you need to know:

Bearded Dragon Tank Setup: The Enclosure

The first thing you need to decide is what kind of enclosure you want for your bearded dragon. If you were dreaming of letting your beardie roam freely around the house or outside like a cat or dog, you’ll want to put that dream to rest. Bearded dragons thrive in hot and dry climates.

Even if you live in the appropriate climate, letting your bearded dragon roam around unsupervised can be incredibly dangerous. So they’ll be spending most of their time in their enclosure.

There are a lot of different sizes, styles, and materials to choose from. One of the most critical factors to consider is the size of your bearded dragon. If the enclosure is too small, your beardie could become stressed.

One of the most critical factors to consider is the size of your bearded dragon
One of the most critical factors to consider is the size of your bearded dragon

Baby bearded dragons are typically under 10 inches long. The ideal tank size is 40 gallons, but they will be fine in tanks no smaller than 20 gallons. If you’re considering a 20-gallon tank, keep in mind that bearded dragons grow a lot in their first year, so you’ll need to replace the tank with a larger one pretty soon.

Keep in mind that it’s possible to put your baby bearded dragon in too large a tank. It can be tempting to get a tank that will suit their adult size so you don’t have to get a new tank later on. However, if the tank is much larger than 40 gallons your baby bearded dragon may have trouble catching its food.

Expert Tip: Juvenile bearded dragons roughly 16 to 20 inches long will need at least a 40-gallon tank. Once they’re over 16 inches long, you’ll want to upgrade to a tank that’s about 55 to 70 gallons.

Adult bearded dragons are typically around 20 inches long, but they can be larger. Bearded dragons longer than 20 inches will need a tank that’s at least 75 gallons. However, a tank of about 120 gallons will be a better option for larger beardies as it gives them all the space they need to get in their daily exercise.

As a general rule on the side of getting a larger tank. If you can afford the larger tank and can fit it in your home, it’s a great way to help your beardie feel more comfortable.

Enclosure Material

Now that you’ve got an idea of what size tank you’ll need, the next thing you need to consider is what material you want the tank to be made out of. Glass is the most common tank material, but there are a lot of options to choose from.

Bearded Dragon Enclosure Material
Bearded Dragon Enclosure Material


Glass tanks are the most popular kind of enclosure and for good reason. Compared to other types of tanks, glass tanks are affordable and easy to find. You’ll be able to see your beardie at all times, and the see-through glass may help them feel less enclosed.

Glass tanks typically come with a mesh screen cover, which is great for making sure the enclosure is getting the airflow needed to maintain lower humidity. On top of that, glass tanks are durable and easy to clean, meaning they’ll last you a long time. Glass tanks are a great option, but there are a couple of drawbacks worth considering.

Glass tanks are heavy, making them difficult to move. Glass isn’t well insulated. Bearded dragons need a warm environment and the lack of insulation will make the enclosure lose heat faster, meaning you’ll need to check on the temperature of the enclosure pretty regularly.

This may not be a great option if you live in a cold area, but it’s definitely doable.

PVC Plastic

PVC is another excellent choice for your bearded dragon tank. PVC tanks are sturdy, durable, and lightweight. They’ll last you a long time and are a great choice if you’ll need to move the enclosure from time to time. They’re also a great option if you’d like to stack enclosures, which is an ideal setup if you have multiple bearded dragons.

They provide excellent insulation, so you won’t need to check on the temperature as often as you would need to with a glass tank.

While you may not need to closely monitor the temperature in the PVC tank, you will need to watch the humidity. These tanks have poor airflow compared to glass tanks. One of the biggest potential drawbacks to PVC takes maybe their cost. These tanks are pricey.

While they’re easy to assemble yourself, you may need to hire professionals to help you install necessary fixtures like heating lamps.

Wood and Glass

These enclosures are made almost entirely out of wood with a glass panel in the front. The glass panel is often a sliding door, which gives you easy access to your pet. Wood provides great heat insulation, making this a good option if you live in a colder climate.

These enclosures are also lightweight and easy to stack. They’ve cost effect, and are even cheap and easy to make if you’re a fan of DIY. Just make sure you appropriate coat and waterproof the wood so it will last longer.

Expert Tip: The primary drawback of a wood and glass tank is it requires a bit more maintenance than a glass tank. If a wooden enclosure isn’t well maintained, it will rot pretty quickly.

Avoid Wire

Some tanks have walls or parts of walls made from wire screens. Wire cages are a bad option for bearded dragons for two reasons: 1) they can’t maintain heat, and 2) they will cause damage to your beardie’s nose.

The wire lids on top of glass enclosures are okay as a bearded dragon won’t be able to climb up and touch it as long as the decor is properly arranged.

Location In Your Home

Bearded Dragon Enclosure Location In Your Home
Bearded Dragon Enclosure Location In Your Home

It’s a good idea to decide on where you’ll place your bearded dragon tank as soon as possible. Ideally, you will have a space selected before you buy your tank. There are several factors you need to consider beyond size when finding a good place to put the enclosure.

That said, don’t forget about size. Think about the size of your dragon, as you’ll need to find a space large enough to accommodate an appropriately-sized tank. You’ll also want to consider:

Pets and Children

If you have other pets or small children, you need to make sure the tank is out of their reach. Cats, dogs, and small children can topple the tank or otherwise kill or seriously injure a bearded dragon. Not to mention, if the tank toppled over it would likely harm other pets and children as well.

Expert Tip: If you can’t keep the tank in a room with a door, you’ll need to take extra precautions to ensure the tank is secure.


Although bearded dragons come from hot climates, you don’t want to put the enclosure in direct sunlight. This is because the enclosure will trap the heat from the sunlight, causing the temperature within to rise to a deadly level.

Day and Night Cycle

Tank needs to be placed in a room that can be completely dark at nighttime
The tank needs to be placed in a room that can be completely dark at nighttime

The tank needs to be placed in a room that can be completely dark at nighttime in order to make sure your bearded dragon will get the proper amount and quality of sleep. Any lights left during the night anywhere near the tank could cause sleep issues.

If you were thinking of keeping the tank in your home office, for example, it won’t be a good option if you work late at night. Even a computer screen in an otherwise dark room can disrupt their sleep.


As you walk around your home looking for the perfect spot, make sure you’re listening too. The tank needs to be somewhere that is consistently quiet. Bearded dragons don’t like noise.

Putting the tank in your living room might seem like a good idea, but if you watch TV in there often it may be too loud for your beardie. Even traffic noises may upset bearded dragons.


Bearded dragons need dry air. Ideally, you want to put them in a climate-controlled room that is easy to dehumidify if necessary. If you live in a humid climate, it’s a good idea to put your tank in a room with a door so it’s easier to control the humidity levels.

Expert Tip: Keep in mind that dehumidifiers can be loud. Your bearded dragon should be okay if you occasionally turn on a loud dehumidifier, but make sure you keep a close eye on it.


You’re probably going to need to get into your bearded dragon’s tank at least once a day, so you want to put it in a spot that’s easy to access. For many bearded dragon owners, the top two pieces of access advice are 1) get it off the ground, and 2) make sure it isn’t behind anything.

As you’re no doubt aware, dragons need lots of love and regular baths. On top of that, you need to clean the enclosure regularly. You’ll save yourself a lot of energy if you just make sure the tank is easy to access, to begin with.

To summarize these points, the perfect location for your bearded dragon tank is somewhere that’s quiet away from direct sunlight, dark at night, dry, and easy to access for you but difficult to access for other pets and children. Now, the perfect place for a bearded dragon tank doesn’t exist in every home and that’s okay.

The only hard and fast rule on this list is you have to keep the tank out of direct sunlight. The rest are more like guidelines. That’s what you’re aiming for but there are ways you can adjust the environment to meet your dragon’s needs if you can’t get the tank placement just right.

Flooring Options

Flooring for your bearded dragon tank setup
Flooring for your bearded dragon tank setup

As for what actually goes inside the tank, you’ve got to pick out some flooring for your bearded dragon tank setup. The best and worst flooring is pretty hotly debated among dragon beard lovers, so the key here is going to be to figure out what makes your particular bearded dragon feel happy.

It’s a good idea to ask the previous handlers of the dragon what sort of flooring they used in its enclosure and talk to other beardie owners about what their dragons prefer.

Here are some solid options:


Easily the cheapest way to line the bottom of your bearded dragon tank, the newspaper is a great option for babies. Baby bearded dragons use that bathroom more frequently than adults. Newspaper is easy to replace, which will make cleaning the enclosure a breeze.


Dark-colored slate or ceramic tile is a popular choice among beardie owners. The dark colors will help keep the tiles from getting cold, and ceramic and slate are comfortable for the dragon to walk on.

Expert Tip: If you go with tile, it’s a good idea to line the floor with newspaper or a thin towel before installing the tiles. This will help protect the floor from getting scraped up or breaking.


Your bearded dragon will love a clay floor in their tank. A clay floor is a bit of a time commitment, but it may be worth it. Clay gives your beardie the ability to burrow, which is something they love to do. You can even sculpt the clay to create terrain similar to a bearded dragon’s natural habitat, which will create a great environment for them.

You’ll be able to purchase reptile excavator clay from your local pet store, but you’ll need to mix it with water by hand and let it dry in the tank before you put your beardie back in. You’ll need to repeat this every few months, as the clay will need to be replaced.

Reptile Carpet

Specially designed to be the floor of reptile enclosures, a reptile carpet is a great option. It’s easy to clean. It’s also affordable, so it’s easy to have a couple of carpets you can switch out. Some reptile carpets have odor control properties, which is a good choice for folks who may be sensitive to the smells of a soiled carpet.

Materials to Avoid

Materials to Avoid for Bearded Dragon Enclosure
Materials to Avoid for Bearded Dragon Enclosure

While some hold that there are substrates safe to use in bearded dragon tanks, most substrates are undeniably harmful to bearded dragons. This is because they can cause impaction, meaning the digestive system is blocked by a hard mass.

They can also irritate your beardie’s eyes and nose, and may even cause internal injuries. You absolutely can’t use sand, peddles, or walnut shells.

Expert Tip: Be extremely cautious with any other substrates, and make sure you do extensive research before using a substrate in your bearded dragon tank.

You’ll also want to avoid linoleum and vinyl. While easy to clean, these materials are too slippery to allow your dragon to walk comfortably. Additionally, they trap heat, which can burn your dragon.

Proper Lights, Heating, And Humidity

One of the most important things to get right about your bearded dragon tank setup is the lights, heating, and humidity. Bearded dragons are cold-blooded, meaning they can’t produce their own body heat. You’ll need to use lighting and heating to mimic their natural habitat. So what do you need to do that? To start, you’ll need:

  • A UVB lamp, or a heat lamp with a UVB bulb
  • A ceramic heat emitter
  • A basking lamp
  • A thermometer
  • A hygrometer (to measure humidity)

Here are the guidelines for a healthy environment for a bearded dragon:

  • Bearded dragons need 12 hours of UVB exposure a day
  • Aim for 35 to 40% humidity
  • The basking spot should be between 95 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit during the daytime
  • At night, the tank should be between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit


Bearded dragon enclosure design
Bearded dragon enclosure design

You want to create an environment for your bearded dragon that will keep them stimulated, comfortable, and happy. Here are some key elements you’ll want to include:

  • A basking rock. Look for a basking rock made of natural rock, as other materials can get too hot under the basking lamp.
  • Tunnels and other hideaways. Bearded dragons are easily frightened, and need a place they can escape to that helps them feel safe. Make sure you find a hide large enough to fit your dragon’s whole body.
  • Things to climb on. Bearded dragons love to climb!
  • Artificial plants. They can help make the enclosure feel more like a bearded dragon’s natural habitat which can help your beardie feel more comfortable.
  • A hammock. It’s not necessarily something your dragon needs, but it is something that it will love. Hammocks provide a great place for your beardie to lounge, and will also help keep it stimulated.

Feeding Essentials

Bearded dragons need live insects to be part of their diet
Bearded dragons need live insects to be part of their diet

Bearded dragons need live insects to be part of their diet. As such, you’ll want to make sure you have a plan for how you’re going to keep and care for these insects, as well as how you’re going to feed them to your dragon.

If you’re using substrate or clay for your tank floor, you may want to get a feeding container. Live insects may burrow and hide and can bite your bearded dragon if they hide successfully. You’ll want to put them in a large shallow container to keep the situation more controlled.

You may also want to get a couple of pairs of insect tweezers. These will help prevent you from having to touch insects with your hands, you can also feed your dragon with the tweezers, which can be fun.

Make sure you also have a few shallow dishes. You’ll need them for water, supplements, and the other food your bearded dragon will need.

Setting up your bearded dragon tank is an exciting part of preparing to bring home your new scaly friend. Getting the right tank and the right supplies will play a huge role in making sure your bearded dragon will be happy and healthy.

Now that you know the basics, it should be easy for you to figure out what works best in your home and what works best for your bearded dragon.

About Rencel Leyran