Best Turtle Basking Platform – Complete Guide

Turtles naturally bask in the wild, so it is vital that you provide them with a turtle basking platform or turtle dock to keep them healthy and happy.

Being cold-blooded, turtles can’t regulate their own body temperature so have to use the environment around them to do this. They swim to cool themselves down and bask in sunlight to warm themselves up.

Basking not only raises a turtle’s body temperature, but it also allows them to absorb enough vitamin D3 to keep their shell and bones healthy whilst allowing them to dry off fully which prevents fungal infections and algae build-up.

We’ll be reviewing the best turtle basking platforms available, so you can pick the one that suits your turtles’ needs the best.

Our Best Turtle Basking Platforms

If you’re short on time and want to know the best turtle basking platforms without reading the whole post, here are our 3 top picks.πŸ‘‡

What Is The Best Basking Area For Turtles?

Turtles Basking
Turtles Basking

There are 3 main types of basking platforms, it will depend on your turtle tank set up as to which type of basking platform will suit your turtle the best.

Type 1 – Tank Topper

Also known as an above tank basking area, these sit above your turtle’s tank and have a ramp into the water that your turtle can climb up and down.

A tank topper is definitely the best turtle basking platform choice if your turtle lives in a tank as it allows you to fill your tank right to the top which has 2 major benefits:

  1. Your turtle has maximum space to swim and explore
  2. A larger volume of water is easier to keep clean than a smaller volume

It’s easy to set up your basking and UVB lights above a tank topper, as it’s fixed in place and won’t move.

Type 2 – Floating

If your turtle lives in a pond or large stock tank, a floating basking platform is your best option. As the name suggests, they float in your pond or stock tank rather than being attached to sides.

Your turtle can then bask in the middle of your pond giving you peace of mind that they’re out of the reach of cats, raccoons, or anything else that may try and make a meal out of your turtle.

Type 3 – Fixed

A fixed turtle basking platform attaches to your turtles’ home usually with suction cups stuck onto the tank sides, by hooking over the top of the tank, or by sitting/attaching to the tank bottom.

A benefit of it being attached to the tank is that it stays in one place, so it is always going to be directly below your turtles’ basking lights.

A couple of drawbacks are the suction cups on a lot of these platforms aren’t able to handle the weight of larger turtles and won’t hold in place while your turtle basks.

You’re also limiting yourself to only filling your tank 1/2 – 3/4 full which takes away swimming space from your turtle, and a smaller volume of water is harder for you to keep clean.

Something to be aware of with suction cup basking platforms is that some of them have a gap between the tank and the edge of the platform. I’ve seen people commenting on forums that their hatchling turtle had drowned because they’d got trapped between the platform and the tank with their head underwater.

Choosing The Right Size Platform

When choosing a basking platform, you need to take into account the size of your turtle and how much more it will grow in the future. Your turtle needs to have enough space on the platform so it can be comfortable when basking and be able to maneuver without falling back in the water.

Best Turtle Basking Platform Reviews

Now we’ve covered what you need to look for, here are our best turtle basking platform choices and reviews to help you pick the right one for you and your turtle.

1. Penn-Plax Reptology Turtle Topper

 PENN-PLAX REPTOLOGY TURTLE TOPPER
Penn-Plax Reptology Turtle Topper
  • Dimensions: 17″ L x 14″ W x 10″ H
  • Type: Tank Topper

βœ… Pros:

  • Supported by the tank instead of suction cups
  • Allows you to fill your tank up to maximize swimming space
  • Allows your turtle to dry out completely
  • Gives your turtle greater temperature regulation options
  • Super easy to clean

❌ Cons:

  • The ramp may not be long enough if your tank isn’t full, but is easily modified
  • May take a couple of weeks for your turtle to get used to
  • Plastic may melt slightly if your heat lamp is too close
  • May be too small for fully grown large turtles like red eared sliders

This basking platform is my no.1 recommendation, it’s a great choice and is suitable for most turtles.

It sits on top of the tank rather than being attached to the sides with suction cups, so your turtle won’t become too heavy and have it sink in the water making it useless.

It allows you to fill your tank completely to maximize your turtles’ swimming area while still giving your turtle somewhere to haul themselves out to and bask.

The textured ramp gives your turtle extra grip making it easier for them to climb in and out of their basking area. The ramp is 5.75″ wide at its narrowest point and is 8″ in length. It has a clear marking of where to fill your tank water up to.

The clear lid top allows you to enjoy watching your turtle basking and has 2 ridges to mount your clamp style basking lights.

The lid has a 7.25″ x 8″ grille door that lets the heat and UVB light from your lamps pass through while providing ventilation to allow moisture to evaporate from inside so your turtle can dry out fully and keep its shell healthy.

The internal dimensions are 16″ x 12.25″ which allows your turtle to regulate their temperature better. They can bask directly below the heat bulb to get warm, but if they get too warm they can move to another area to cool down without having to get back in the water.

There’s an additional 11.25″ x 4″ ledge beneath the tank topper for your turtle to rest on, but this can be removed if it’s not required.

Fits 55-gallon tanks up to 13″ wide, but if your tank is wider, there’s a set of extender clips available so that it will fit tanks up to 19.5″ wide.

There are also videos on YouTube showing you how to make this fit to other sized tanks with a bit of simple DIY.




2. LaBrinx Aquatic Reptile Basking Platform

LABRINX AQUATIC REPTILE BASKING PLATFORM
LaBrinx Aquatic Reptile Basking Platform
  • Dimensions:
    • Narrow: 14” L x 7” W x 11” H
    • Wide: 14” L x 10” W x 11” H
    • Extra Large: 15” L x 16” W x 14” H 
  • Type: Fixed

βœ… Pros:

  • Available in 3 sizes
  • Supported by the tank instead of suction cups
  • Fitted with friction grip tape
  • Allows good temperature regulation

❌ Cons:

  • Grip tape may need re-attaching in the future
  • The included screws could be more durable

If you don’t want a tank topper basking platform, but still want something that is supported by your tank instead of suction cups, the LaBrinx Reptile Basking Platform is a great choice.

It hooks over the top of your tank so will not sink into the water as your turtle grows and the height that the platform sits at is fully adjustable so you can increase or decrease your water level as you choose.

The friction grip tape fitted to the ramp and basking area allows your turtle to climb up and down easier and prevents them from slipping off as they adjust position.

The large size platform allows your turtle better temperature regulation as they can move from directly beneath their heat lamp to cool off without having to go back into the water.




3. Penn-Plax Reptology Floating Turtle Pier

PENN-PLAX REPTOLOGY FLOATING TURTLE PIER
Penn-Plax Reptology Floating Pier
  • Dimensions: 16” L x 11” W x 1.25’ H
    • Pylons – 7.75″ H – Suction cups not included
    • Extensions – 4” H – Connection tab not included
    • Base Frame – 2.63” Above the tank floor
    • Ramp – 6.5” L
  • Type: Fixed

βœ… Pros:

  • Cheaper than a tank topper
  • Easy to assemble
  • Looks good
  • Easy to clean
  • Large area for turtles to bask on

❌ Cons:

  • Turtles over 6″ may be too heavy (DIY solution below)
  • Suction cups may not stay attached to the bottom of the tank
  • Fixings that join the legs together can break if you’re not careful

Not recommended for smaller tanks due to its large size, check it will fit your tank before buying. The Penn-Plax Floating Turtle Pier is a great choice if you don’t want a tank topper and your water isn’t deeper than 16″.

It’s a nice design and looks like it’s made of wood but is actually heavy-duty plastic.

4 suction cups stick the legs to the bottom of your tank while the platform floats on top of the water due to the molded air pockets underneath.

If your turtle is boisterous and bangs into the legs the suction cups may become unstuck, so you may want to fix them in place with aquarium-safe glue or silicone.

If your turtle gets too heavy for the platform to float, you can fit some PVC pipe cut to size over the legs to stop the platform from sinking or fit some plastic zip ties on the leg supports just below the floating dock at the height you want.




4. Zoo Med Turtle Dock

ZOO MED TURTLE DOCK
Zoo Med Turtle Dock
  • Dimensions:
    • Mini: 8″ L x 3.5” W
    • Small: 11.25″ L x 5” W
    • Medium: 15.5″ L x 7” W
    • Large: 18″ L x 9” W
  • Type: Fixed

βœ… Pros:

  • Available in 4 sizes
  • Designed to move up and down with the water level
  • Looks natural
  • Slopes into the water to make it easier for your turtle to climb on and off

❌ Cons:

  • Suction cups may need upgrading
  • Algae can be difficult to clean off it
  • May be damaged by your turtle biting it

Available in a variety of sizes for different sized tanks and turtles, the Zoo Med Turtle Dock is a popular choice.

The frame used to attach it to your tank fits through the platform allowing it to automatically adjust to your tank’s water level and the submerged ramp makes it easier for your turtle to climb on and off.

Not recommended if you have a hatchling turtle as they can get stuck between the frame and the side of the tank.

If you have a larger turtle such as a red eared slider, the Zoo Med Turtle Pond Dock (see below) may be a better choice.




5. Zoo Med Turtle Pond Dock

ZOO MED TURTLE POND DOCK
Zoo Med Turtle Pond Dock
  • Dimensions: 24″ L x 12″ W x 4.5″ H
  • Type: Floating

βœ… Pros:

  • Large size allows better temperature regulation
  • Looks natural
  • No flimsy suction cups
  • Works well in 75 gallon+ aquariums as well as ponds and stock tanks
  • Keeps outdoor turtles safe from predators
  • The best option for larger turtles such as red eared sliders and painted turtles

❌ Cons:

  • Not the cheapest option
  • The shorter ramps can be difficult for a small turtle to climb on
  • Some reviews have said the coloring started to fade quickly
  • Harder to position for heat lamp

This extra large turtle basking platform offers plenty of space for larger species of turtle such as red eared sliders and painted turtles.

Instead of fixing with suction cups, this basking platform is held in place with a nylon cable attached to a weight bag that sits on the bottom of your pond/tank.

The nylon cable supplied is 75″ in length and can be shortened to suit the depth of your tank or pond.

Great for large aquariums, I’ve seen one of these used in my buddies 150-gallon stock tank and there was plenty of room for his turtle (red eared slider) to climb in and out of the water at either end.

Because of its large size, you could have your basking lights positioned at one end of the dock and still give your turtle somewhere to go to cool off without having to back into the water.

If you have a pond you can fix this large floating turtle dock in the center so that your turtle can bask in the sunlight safely out of reach of cats, raccoons, and other predators.




6. Kathson Turtle Basking Platform

KATHSON TURTLE BASKING PLATFORM
Kathson Turtle Basking Platform
  • Dimensions: 
    • Small: 6” L x 2.7” W x 2.7” H
    • Medium: 8.2” L x 3.3” W x 3.1” H
    • Large: 7.1″ L x 6.3″ W x 2.7″ H
  • Type: Fixed

βœ… Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Looks natural
  • Makes a good ramp onto a larger basking area

❌ Cons:

  • For small turtles only
  • Hatchling turtles may become trapped in the hollow bottom
  • Suction cups may need upgrading

The kathson turtle basking platform is a great choice for owners of smaller turtles, such as mud, Texan map, and common musk turtles.

With a natural rock appearance, it will blend in nicely with your other decor. The gently sloped ramp is stepped which makes it easier for your turtles to climb.

If your turtle is struggling to get onto its basking area, this platform can also be used as an access ramp to assist them.




Turtle Basking FAQ

5 frequently asked questions about turtle basking are:

What Do Turtles Like To Bask On?

In the wild turtles bask on logs, stones, or anything else that they can rest on. Some turtles such as mud turtles don’t come out of the water to bask, they get all of their UVB by floating at the water’s surface.

Your choice of turtle basking area should replicate their natural environment as closely as possible.

How Long Should My Turtle Bask?

A turtle will generally bask anywhere from 2-8 hours per day.

How Often Should My Turtle Bask?

Your turtle should be basking and fully drying out on a daily basis. How often they do this each day all depends on your turtle and their mood.

How Hot Should A Turtle Basking Platform Be?

A turtles basking area should be between 90Β°-95Β°F

How Do You Build A Basking Area For A Turtle?

When it comes to myself, DIY means; Don’t Involve Yourself! But, if you’re a budding Darren Keefe, there’s a ton of turtle basking platform DIY videos on YouTube if you want to learn how to build a basking area for turtles.

Final Thoughts…

There you have it, our top picks for the best turtle basking platform. Hopefully, this has helped you choose the best turtle dock, so your little buddy can bask away…..dreaming that they are in St Tropez, cocktail in hand…..and soak up some essential vitamin D3 to keep their shell and bones in tip-top shape.

Best Turtle Basking Platform

If you’re still undecided, here’s a quick recap of our top picks:

Check out my equipment section for more in-depth reviews like this.