Best Turtle Docks aka Basking Platforms
But while a lot of turtle docks are made to look attractive, they can actually be pretty flimsy. And when basking is so vital for your turtle, the last thing you want is a weak turtle dock! The best turtle docks need to be functional and durable.
So how do you find the best basking platform for turtles? Well, we’ve collated a list of the ten best turtle docks for you to choose from. We’ll take several different needs into account to provide an option for everyone. We’ll also explore why you need a turtle dock and what to look for when purchasing one.
For my money, the best turtle dock has to be the LaBrinx Designs Hanging Turtle Ramp Platform Shelf. It is easy to install, durable and can hold even large terrapins such as cooters and sliders including the one-foot yellow-bellied slider. While this is perfect for large turtles, you may want something more affordable for your tiny or medium-sized turtle.
The best affordable turtle dock has to be the Zoo Med Turtle Dock. If you are on a tight budget, you cannot go wrong with a Zoo Med product. The Zoo Med Turtle Dock is easy to install and quite durable.
Table of Contents
- Comparison Table
- Different Types of Docks
- List of Our Top 10 Turtle Docks
- Best Overall
- Most Affordable
- Best Value
- Buyer Guide
Best Turtle Dock Comparison Table
Why do I need a turtle dock?
Turtles are reptiles. As such, they require heat and light from the sun to warm their bodies, regulate their temperature, and absorb vital nutrients like calcium and Vitamin D. In captivity, these needs are usually met with a basking spot setup, which usually consists of a heat lamp and a UVB bulb.
To get the maximum benefit from their basking spot, your turtle needs a place to sit and bask. Ideally, this should be a high platform up above the water level of the tank. When turtles bask in the wild, they will frequently leave the water so that they can dry off completely.
Turtle docks are one of the easiest ways to provide your turtle with the perfect basking spot. These platforms are usually sturdy ledges or stands that can be fixed to the side of your turtle tank. There are a couple of different types of turtle docks, which we’ll go over briefly in the next section.
Types of turtle docks
There are three main types of turtle docks – fixed docks, floating docks, and tank toppers.
Fixed turtle docks
Broadly speaking, fixed turtle docks include various configurations. However, what they have in common is that they are usually free-standing, although some may be fixed to the side of the tank. Turtle piers, such as the Penn Plax Turtle Pier, are usually more suitable for larger turtles as they are more stable. Some docks like these may include systems that adjust to the water level.
Floating turtle docks
Floating turtle docks, like the Zoo Med Turtle Dock, are small shelves designed to be attached to the side of the aquarium to give the impression that they are ‘floating’ on the water. They are usually attached using suction cups. Floating turtle docks will be suitable for most turtles. However, they may not provide enough space or stability for larger specimens.
Tank toppers are a more unique type of turtle dock. Tank toppers like the Penn Plax Turtle Topper resemble boxes that are positioned above your turtle tank, with a ramp leading down to give your reptile access to the space. Tank toppers are enclosed, giving your turtle a sense of safety. These are usually larger setups, so may not be suitable for smaller tanks.
The LaBrinx Designs Hanging Turtle Ramp makes our list because of its clever versatility and functionality. This turtle dock allows you to adjust the setup at different heights, meaning that it can fit virtually any size tank.
You can fix the LaBrinx Hanging Turtle Ramp to your tank with two methods for extra stability. The ramp uses suction cups as well as a mounting system that hangs over the edge of your tank. For smaller, shallower tanks, you can just use the suction system. The LaBrinx Hanging Turtle Ramp also comes in different widths to suit different size turtles.
While it may not be the most stylish option, the LaBrinx Hanging Turtle Ramp’s amazing versatility makes it one of the best basking platforms for turtles.
- The LaBrinx Designs Hanging Turtle Dock features a versatile design. You can hang up the dock by the side of the aquarium using the hooks provided. The two hooks are then attached to the ramp. You can also use the suction cups provided to attach the dock to the side of the aquarium.
- Personally, I prefer to hang up the dock. This is a quick and easy way to install the dock and it feels more secure. However, it may be necessary to use suction cups. This is especially true if the water level within the tank is low.
The LaBrinx Designs Hanging Turtle Dock strong enough to support even large terrapins such as a large female red-eared slider. The LaBrinx Designs Hanging Turtle Dock comes in three sizes – narrow, wide, and extra large. The extra large size is large and sturdy enough to even support large terrapins with carapace lengths of 12 inches (30 cm). Very few docks can support such large terrapins and this is one of them.
There’s a reason why Zoo Med consistently show up in our product lists – they make outstanding products for our turtles! And this trend continues with the Zoo Med Turtle Dock. This floating basking platform for turtles is designed to resemble a rocky ledge, which provides enrichment and a natural feel for your turtle. It looks great and will suit virtually any turtle tank.
The Zoo Med Turtle Dock is also super easy to install. It has two suction cups that you can position at any height in your tank. It also comes in various sizes, from ‘mini’ up to ‘large’, to suit any size turtle. This dock also features a self-balancing system to allow it to react to changing water levels, keeping your turtle dry and happy while basking.
The Zoo Med Turtle Dock is a solid all-rounder suitable for beginners and experts alike.
See our Zoo Med Turtle dock review for a more in depth look.
- Zoo Med is a recognizable brand. Zoo Med is a popular brand when it comes to pet reptile accessories and products. Their products can be trusted for their quality and functionality. Even before you open the package, you know that you will get a great product.
- Zoo Med Turtle Dock can be trimmed to fit curved walls. Unlike other turtle docks, the Zoo Med Turtle Dock is made of solid hard foam instead of hard plastic. This means that you can trim the dock. Of course, if you decide to trim the dock, you do so at your own risk.
Zoo Med Turtle Dock is easy to install. All you need to do is rinse the dock thoroughly under running water and attach the suction cups.
Our next contender is the Penn Plax Reptology Floating Turtle Pier. First of all, this dock looks great thanks to its charming little stairs, wood-like texture, and maritime dock aesthetic. This impressive turtle dock isn’t just for show either.
The Penn Plax Reptology Floating Turtle Pier combines sturdiness and stability with an ingenious water-level system that keeps the platform floating right at the surface. Four strong pillars give this turtle dock a durable foundation and are fixed to the bottom of your tank with powerful suction cups. Your turtle can easily access the wide platform, making this one of the best basking platforms for large turtles.
The Penn Plax Reptology Floating Turtle Pier is easy to put together and will suit most tanks that are 20 gallons or larger. This product is also a great turtle basking platform for ponds.
See our Penn Plax turtle pier review for more.
- Penn-Plax is a recognizable brand. This is another recognizable brand. Penn-Plax is known for its quality pet reptile accessories and this floating dock is no different.
- The Penn Plax Floating Pier is large. The Penn Plax is a large dock that can fit even large terrapin. Your red-eared slider or yellow-bellied slider should have no problem hanging out on this dock. If you want a floating dock that can fit large turtles then this is one of the best.
The Penn Plax Floating Pier is easy to install. Flooring docks are generally easy t install and this one is no different. It is simple to assemble and simple to set up.
This is a great basking platform for small to medium-sized turtles. This is a corner dock. This means that it is designed to fit into corners.
The whole setup comes with two suction cups which you use to attach the basking platform to the wall of the aquarium. The suction cups are large and ensure that the dock adheres securely to the side of the walls.
The dock is made with resin and as such floats effortlessly. Additionally, it can be used in both brine and freshwater. It doesn’t deform or rot.
The slopes of this dock are interesting. While not steep it encourages exercising. It is just steep enough that the turtle will need to climb up but gentle enough that the turtle should have no issue using it.
- The Kathson Turtle Basking Platform is low-priced. This is an affordable yet quality product. If you are on a budget, then this is one of the turtle docks you can buy. Of course, this is the biggest selling point of this dock.
- The Kathson Turtle Basking Platform is a corner pier/dock. A corner pier or dock is designed to fit snugly into a corner. Not many docks are corner docks. Since it fits into a corner, it can be out of the way.
The Kathson Turtle Basking Platform is easy to use. Most with a suction setup are easy to install. All you need to do is adjoin the suction cups to the side of the walls and you’re done.
To give your pet turtle a fantastic basking experience, look no further than the Penn Plax Turtle Tank Topper. This turtle dock sits on top of your tank and provides your turtle with separate enclosed basking and eating area.
The clear plastic sides allow you to observe and interact with your turtle whilst also being easy to clean. Access is provided by a ramp that drops down into the water, and there’s also an underwater platform for your turtle to rest on after a bout of swimming.
The Penn Plax Tank Topper uses side-mounted clamps and suction cups to provide a stable platform and is built to suit tanks up to 55 gallons. This makes it ideal for larger turtles.
See our Penn Plax topper review for a deeper dive on the product.
- Penn Plax Turtle Tank Topper has a heat lamp mount. The Tank Topper features a mount for our heat lamp. This allows you to easily install your heat lamp or UV lamp onto the turtle’s aquarium. With this dock, you can solve two problems with this addon. The turtle has a place to dock, and you have a place to attach your heat lamp.
Penn Plax Turtle Tank Topper is completely dry. A common problem with most turtle docks is that sometimes they remain submerged in water. When turtles bask, they need to completely dry. The above tank dock is attached to the top of the tank. Because of this, they are never submerged regardless of how heavy the turtle is or how high the water level is.
The Uxcell Turtle Basking Ramp is great for smaller turtle tanks and helps provide some enrichment for your turtle. The easy-to-climb resin ramp has been designed to resemble a rocky ledge, creating a more natural and comfortable environment for your turtle.
It also features a swim-through tunnel underneath, giving your turtle a hiding place or fun route for swimming. The Uxcell Basking Ramp suits smaller species of turtle perfectly, and its resin construction won’t harm the water quality in your turtle tank.
- The Uxcell Turtle Basking Ramp is affordable. This is one of the more adorable turtle docks on the list. It may well be the most affordable one on the list. This turtle ramp is low priced for a reason, it is designed for small turtles. Medium or large turtles cannot use this mount.
The Uxcell Turtle Basking Ramp is perfect for hatchlings and juveniles. If you have a hatchling or a tiny turtle then this is a quality basking ramp for them. The sloop is very gentle and easy to climb onto. As mentioned in the previous point, this will not work for large turtles.
Yet another entry from Penn Plax, this Corner Pier may suit some turtle tanks better than its larger counterpart mentioned above. This turtle dock is one of the best water turtle basking platforms for smaller tanks, giving your turtle a comfortable basking spot in the corner of its aquarium.
Like the larger Penn Plax Turtle Pier, this corner configuration features a floating water-level system designed to react to changes in depth. The three sturdy pillar legs provide a stable platform thanks to powerful suction cups, while the pier boasts a charming rustic maritime style and easy-access ramp.
The Penn Plax Corner Pier is another versatile turtle dock and can fit tanks of 10 gallons or more.
- The Penn Plax Small Turtle Pier features an easy docking ramp. One of the best features of this dock is the easy docking ramp. This ramp is easy to climb and even the smallest turtle can easily use it. The Penn Plax Small Turtle Pier is rough with several ridges that provide grip so the turtle doesn’t slide off when climbing it.
The Penn Plax Small Turtle Pier has an optional filter holder. Very few docks have filter holders. You may be wondering what the use of the filter is. This is an elegant design as it allows you to simplify your setup and reduce cluster. Instead of having the filter in a different location within the aquarium, you can have it attached to the platform.
Similar in style to the LaBrinx Ramp, but lacking the extra hanging mount, the Oasis Turtle Ramp is still a great choice of turtle dock. With a choice of sizes to suit individual turtles, the Oasis Turtle Ramp is a versatile, sturdy option. Three strong suction cups help fix this ramp to the side of your tank, while the easy-to-clean acrylic construction helps you keep the ramp well maintained.
You can easily adjust the ramp level of the Oasis Turtle Ramp to suit the size of your tank, while the grippy surface helps your turtle easily reach the basking platform. Your reptile can also shelter underneath the ramp if they so choose.
See our Oasis turtle ramp review to learn more about it.
- The OASIS Turtle Ramp features an interesting black traction tape. This tape is to offer traction as the turtle climbs the ramp. The slope of the ramp is also really gentle is long. It allows turtles of all sizes to easily climb onto the basking platform.
The OASIS Turtle Ramp is a simple ‘no-fuss’ ramp. This ramp doesn’t have any special or unique features but it just works. It does what it is meant to do with no fuss and excess at it. The ramp is also easy to clean.
For a versatile budget option, the Zilla Basking Ramp range is a good pick. Available in three sizes from Small to Jumbo, and with a choice of either a corner or platform configuration, the Zilla ramps can suit most sizes of turtle.
The arch design of the Zilla ramps helps keep them stable and sturdy. These ramps are made to look like natural rock, which helps provide an immersive environment for your turtle. If the need arises, your turtle can also shelter underneath the platform, while the whole setup is very easy to clean.
Check our Zilla basking ramp review for more info.
The Zilla Reptile Habitat Décor Basking Platform is a budget option. There are several budget options on this list and this is one of them. The affordable Zilla platform actually has steps. Unlike other ramps of other docks that simply have traction tape or ridges, this dock has steps that turtles have no difficulty climbing.
The final turtle dock on our list is another budget option that doesn’t skimp on quality – the HelloPet Basking Terrace. This strong and sturdy acrylic basking ledge uses two powerful suction cups to fix to the side of your turtle tank, while the platform itself is wide enough for most species of turtle. If you have smaller specimens, they could even bask side by side!
The HelloPet Basking Terrace is easy to install, making it a good choice for beginners. The easy-access floating ramp design allows your turtle to reach its basking spot without any issues.
The HelloPet Turtle Basking Platform is made with high-quality material. There isn’t much to this basking platform. It is designed for small to medium-sized turtles and functions very well. The dock is made of acrylic plastic. It is hard and durable and should last for a long time. It is designed for small turtles and works well with small to medium-sized turtles. Installation is simple and it is easy to use.
Best Overall Turtle Dock
A lot of turtle docks on the market are designed for small to medium size turtles. These are great and serve their functions excellently. However, there are times when you need a turtle ramp and basking platform for a big turtle. The best basking platform for your huge boy or girl is the LaBrinx Designs Hanging Turtle Ramp Platform Shelf.
This basking platform is wide enough for even the largest terrapin including an adult female red-eared slider or even a yellow-bellied slider. Anyone with a slider or a cooter knows how large the females can get. These turtles can reach carapace lengths of over a foot (12 inches) and weigh an excess of 7 lb (3.2 kg).
If you have a large terrapin, then I recommend the LaBrinx Designs Hanging Turtle Ramp Platform Shelf.
Best Affordable Turtle Dock
Just because a turtle dock is low-priced doesn’t mean it has to be weak. If you are in search of an affordable yet durable and functional turtle dock then I recommend the Zoo Med Turtle Dock.
Many of us know Zoo Med quite well as they produce a large number of pet turtle accessories. While they are not a premium brand, their products are functional and work well.
If you are on a tight budget, then you cannot go wrong with Zoo Med. The Zoo Med Turtle Dock is no different. This basking platform is the best you can get in its price range – which is very low.
The Zoo Med Turtle Dock resembles a rocky ledge and will look inviting to a terrapin that wishes to bask. However, this platform is made of solid hard foam. The platform floats just like a log would in the wild. It is sturdy and rises or falls with the water level in the tank.
The best value for money on this list has to be the Penn Plax Small Turtle Pier. you may be wondering why this is so. The Penn Plax Small Turtle Pier is made by Penn Plax. This is a recognizable brand known for its quality pet turtle accessories. The Penn Plax Small Turtle Pier may not be the cheapest but it is the best for its price.
Penn Plax Small Turtle Pier is designed for small turtles. The ramp is well made and easy to climb as the steps are easy to grip and quite rough. The platform itself is well elevated above the water level. The small turtle can dry off completely.
Another feature that adds value to the product is the optional filter holder. You may be wondering about the essence of the filter holder. Well, it simplifies the enclosure setup and reduces cluster. Instead of having the filter in a different location within the aquarium, you can have it attached to the platform.
Turtle Dock Buyer’s Guide
When choosing a turtle dock for your aquarium, there are a few factors to consider. In this clear and concise buyer’s guide we’ll cover all the things you should look for to make sure that you get the best basking platform for your turtle.
Getting the right size
While this seems like an obvious thing to consider, it can sometimes be overlooked. What’s the point in buying a big, expensive turtle dock when you’ve only got a 20-gallon tank? Most turtle dock manufacturers will provide measurements for their docks, so use these when making your decision.
Some manufacturers may also give recommended gallon capacities for tanks that their turtle docks are suitable for. Remember that the basking spot shouldn’t take up a huge amount of space relative to your turtle tank. When dividing your tank into water and land areas for semi-aquatic turtles, the land area should never take up more than half of the tank.
Within the land area, the basking spot shouldn’t cover the whole terrestrial space as your semi-aquatic turtle will want to have cooler areas as well. For fully aquatic turtles, the basking area can have a relatively small footprint in the tank.
A good rule to bear in mind is that the basking spot for any turtle should be at least as wide as its shell. Check the measurements of the various turtle docks on offer to pick the right size for your turtle.
Installation and ease of cleaning
You should also bear in mind how your turtle dock is going to be fixed to your tank. Most turtle docks will use a suction cup system to fix them in place, whether on the side of the tank like the Kathson Platform or on the bottom like the Penn Plax Corner Pier. Some, like the LaBrinx Hanging Platform, provide additional mounting options such as being able to hang them from the side of the tank.
Again, make sure that your tank has the space to fit the mountings of the turtle dock. A larger product like the Penn Plax Turtle Tank Topper isn’t going to be suitable for smaller aquariums, whereas the smaller sizes of the Zoo Med Turtle Dock might be better options.
Make sure the fixing system is also easy to use and quick to detach. This will make cleaning the turtle dock much easier. Suction cups will need to be kept clean as sometimes algae can build up on them and affect their levels of adhesion. Being able to take out your turtle dock easily is something to bear in mind for cleaning.
You may also have to assemble some turtle docks when first installing them, like the Penn Plax Reptology Floating Turtle Pier. Read the instructions carefully and make sure they are easy to understand. The last thing you want is your turtle’s basking platform collapsing because the dock wasn’t built correctly!
When choosing a turtle dock, you want to make sure that you are buying from a reputable brand that is synonymous with quality. Flimsy components or faulty designs will not give your turtle a pleasant experience. Most turtle docks are made with durable acrylic or resin materials. Make sure that the fixings, in particular, are stable and sturdy, especially with something like the Penn Plax Turtle Tank Topper.
The brands on our list are all proven commodities, especially heavy hitters like Zoo Med and Penn Plax. Rely on these trusted brands to get the highest quality turtle dock.
Having a versatile turtle dock, especially one that you can adjust or automatically reacts to changing water levels, is a good thing to aim for. Adjustable ramps or turtle docks that utilize floating systems to adapt to the water level are your best bet.
This is especially true if you are raising hatchlings and will need to increase the size of their aquarium over time. To save having to buy a new turtle dock when they are bigger or need more water, choose a versatile turtle dock to start with that will hold their adult size and weight.
Best Turtle Dock (Basking Areas) Video Explainer!
So that wraps up our list of the ten best basking platforms for turtles! In this article, we’ve covered why you need a turtle dock as well as give you a rundown of our top ten turtle docks on the market. We also looked at the different types of turtle docks available, as well as provided a clear and concise buyer’s guide to help you choose the best turtle dock for your pet.
In terms of the best turtle dock, it depends on your turtle’s size and the capacity of your tank. For most sizes of turtle, the LaBrinx Hanging Shelf and the Zoo Med Turtle Dock are safe picks. Both are easy to install for beginners and both are extremely durable.
The best basking platforms for large turtles are the Penn Plax Reptology Floating Turtle Pier and the Penn Plax Turtle Tank Topper. Both provide plenty of space for bigger specimens and are sturdy enough to hold their weight.
Did you enjoy our list? If you did and if you are thinking of purchasing any of these products, please don’t hesitate to comment down below!