Help me please


New Member
Live planted terrarium and Chameleon types
I am looking to set up a 55 gallon fish tank I have laying around. I am horticulture major in college and am very interested in setting up a large planted terrarium. I am interested in knowing the answers to the following questions.
• What type of chameleon would be a good beginner pet?
• What equipment as far as lighting, heating source, and such will be required to sustain plant growth and critter heath?
• What plant material should I look into, as well as other structures should be located in the cage?
• Will I need ventilation fans to reduce heat or increase air flow for both plant and critter health.
I am looking for a brightly colored pet that will serve as a show piece to go along with my plants I just want to make sure that the heath of the chameleon is maintained. I’m looking to spend no more than 10 hours a week on maintenance for both the plants and pet.
Is this feasible and do you have any pointers for me.
I live in central PA so it is starting to get chilly my living quarters are usually about 65 to 70 degrees
Thank you for your help


Chameleon Enthusiast
Both male panthers and veiled chameleons are colorful and can do well in captivity as long as the husbandry is good and you start off with a healthy chameleon in the first place.

It important to make sure that the plants are non-toxic and well-washed both sides of the leaves.

Here is some information that you might find helpful..........
Exposure to proper UVB, appropriate temperatures, supplements, a supply of well-fed/gutloaded insects, water and an appropriate cage set-up are all important for the well-being of your chameleon.

Appropriate cage temperatures aid in digestion and thus play a part indirectly in nutrient absorption.

Exposure to UVB from either direct sunlight or a proper UVB light allows the chameleon to produce D3 so that it can use the calcium in its system to make/keep the bones strong and be used in other systems in the chameleon as well. The UVB should not pass through glass or plastic no matter whether its from the sun or the UVB light. The most often recommended UVB light is the long linear fluorescent Repti-sun 5.0 tube light. Some of the compacts, spirals and tube lights have caused health issues, but so far there have been no bad reports against this one.

Since many of the feeder insects have a poor ratio of calcium to phosphorus in them, its important to dust the insects before you feed them to the chameleon with a phos.-free calcium powder to help make up for it. (I use Rep-cal phosphorus-free calcium).

If you dust twice a month with a phos.-free calcium/D3 powder it will ensure that your chameleon gets some D3 without overdoing it. It leaves the chameleon to produce the rest of what it needs through its exposure to the UVB light. (Some UVB lights have been known to cause health issues, so the most often recommended one is the long linear fluorescent Repti-sun 5.0 tube light.) D3 from supplements can build up in the system but D3 produced from exposure to UVB shouldn't as long as the chameleon can move in and out of it. (I use Rep-cal phos.-free calcium/D3).

Dusting twice a month with a vitamin powder that contains a beta carotene (prOformed) source of vitamin A will ensure that the chameleon gets some vitamins without the danger of overdosing the vitamin A. PrEformed sources of vitamin A can build up in the system and may prevent the D3 from doing its job and push the chameleon towards MBD. However, there is controversy as to whether all/any chameleons can convert the beta carotene and so some people give some prEformed vitamin A once in a while. (I use herptivite.)

Gutloading/feeding the insects well helps to provide what the chameleon needs. I gutload crickets, roaches, locusts, superworms, etc. with an assortment of greens (dandelions, kale, collards, endive, escarole, mustard greens, etc.) and veggies (carrots, squash, sweet potato, sweet red pepper, zucchini, etc.)

Calcium, phos., D3 and vitamin A are important players in bone health and other systems in the chameleon (muscles, etc.) and they need to be in balance. When trying to balance them, you need to look at the supplements, what you feed the insects and what you feed the chameleon.

Here are some good sites for you to read....


good luck

Most people will tell you that chameleons don't do well in glass cages. I think that it can be done with the proper ventilation and lighting. You would also need to pick the right species. Smaller chameleons that prefer high humidity and less direct light and heat would probably be better. European breeders have been doing it for years. Your difficulties might be keeping a clean enclosure with the proper light, ventilation, and heat for your cham. I keep my panther in a very large enclosure that is part glass and screen with my plants planted in the cage. It is not the norm but it has worked for my panther and his plants for two years. It is something I have always wanted to do. Don't be discouraged by all that you read. Do you research and have a back up so your cham won't suffer. Go for it.


Avid Member
I doubt your tank is tall enough for a more aboreal species of chameleon (especially a planted one!) Bearded pygmy chameleons would probably do well in the tank if you take ventilation into account and set up the husbandry accordingly. They aren't terribly hard to care for, but they are a little more sensitive than panthers and veileds.

If you want colorful, dart frogs are your best bet.
Top Bottom