Best Turtle Docks aka Basking Platforms
Turtle docks can be a great way to provide your turtle with the perfect basking spot. Basking is vital for a turtle’s health as it helps warm them up and absorb UVB light. 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!
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.
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 dock, which we’ll go over briefly in the next section.
Types of turtle dock
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.
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.
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.
The BigTron Turtle Platform is another natural-looking floating turtle dock that offers great versatility. The platform is built to imitate a rocky shelf which feels more natural for your turtle and also looks great in virtually any type of tank. This floating basking platform for turtles is easy to set up and is great for beginners.
The BigTron features an adaptive water-level system that keeps it floating at the surface even during water changes. The four powerful suction cups attach to both the bottom and side of your tank, creating an incredibly sturdy platform. Two bendable metal rods connect the suction cups and thread through the platform, allowing you to tailor the BigTron to any type of tank.
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 a 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 BigTron Turtle 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 platform for turtles! In this article, we’ve covered why you need a turtle dock as well as giving 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 providing 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!