Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD)

Metabolic bone disease is not just one disease, but rather a general term for a collection of medical disorders that affect the bones.

  • Nutritional Secondary Hyperparathyroidism (NSHP, most common)
  • Renal Secondary Hyperparathyroidism (RSHP)
  • Hypertrophic Osteopathy (HO)
  • Osteopetrosis

In most cases, MBD is a highly preventable disease. A properly-kept sandfish should never develop MBD.


  • Lethargy
  • Loss of coordination
  • Muscle spasms/twitching
  • Curved limbs
  • Swollen limbs
  • Soft jaw


  • No UVB
  • Lack of dietary calcium
  • Imbalanced nutrition


If you suspect that your sandfish may have MBD, the first thing you should do is make an appointment with a certified reptile veterinarian. This is not something you can treat on your own, especially not once the disease has progressed. The damage can’t be undone, but you can stop it from progressing further with the right treatment.

UVB is a requirement for keeping sandfish skinks. Strong, high-quality UVB lighting like the Zoo Med Reptisun 10.0 T5 HO or the Arcadia Forest 12% in a reflective T5 HO fixture can help a sick sandfish heal by promoting natural vitamin D3 synthesis.

If you already have a UVB bulb installed, the problem may be the brand, the age of the bulb, or that you’re using a coil bulb rather than a tube. The bulbs mentioned above should be replaced every 12 months. You can read more about how to use UVB here.

A sandfish with MBD should also receive supplementary pure calcium powder with added vitamin D3 like Miner-ALL Indoor or Repashy Supercal MeD to restore vitamin D reserves, dusted on all insects. Feeder insects should be properly gut-loaded for maximum benefit.

Further treatment will be prescribed by your vet based on the specific kind of MBD that your sandfish has and how severe the symptoms are.

Other common sandfish health topics: