Best Turtle Basking Platform (2021) | Buying Guide & Reviews

by Carl Crane | Updated: November 20, 2021

In the wild, all turtles both aquatic and terrestrial bask daily. 

Basking refers to the act of lying in the sun to dry off and absorb sun rays.

Turtles need this to remain healthy and so you need to make provision for your pet to have the fullness of the sun.

Since your pet turtle is not in the wild, it won’t be readily exposed to the sun, and it won’t have the same environment from where it can bask comfortably. To prevent this, we bring to you the best turtle basking platforms.

Turtles need to bask because they need to absorb both UVA and UVB light. UVA helps them with metabolism, mood regulation, and behavior, while UVB light is important for the production of vitamin D3 which helps with their bones and shells.

Basking is also important as it allows your turtle to dry out and keep warm. Fungi needs moisture to grow and so constant basking makes it more difficult for your turtle to get fungal infections. 

If your turtle is kept in an environment where it cannot bask, it will get stressed and ultimately die due to the number of health problems that will arise.

We Recommend

After seeing numerous turtle docks, we have a pretty solid idea of what things make the best turtle basking platform, and the Zoo Med 78098 Turtle Dock it’s our top choice.

Types of Turtle Basking Platforms

Topper Basking Platform

Topper platforms are the best options when it comes to conserving space.

They sit at the top of your aquarium and allow your turtle enough basking space.

Setting it up, cleaning, and maintenance are all straightforward and easy. It gives you a whole lot and demands very little from you.

Most topper basking platforms come with a ramp so your turtle can easily get to the top and bask.

They have a natural design that is appealing to turtles and it is important because it encourages basking.

These types of platforms are very secure and your turtle won’t be going anywhere.

A downside to this type of platform is that it is made for most small-sized to medium-sized turtles, so the big ones can’t benefit from it.

Floating Basking Platform

Its simplicity of design and affordability is what makes this type of platform popular among turtle owners.

It is very easy to set up and maintain. A major drawback to these types of platforms is the limitation in turtle size that can benefit from it.

It can barely bear the weight of a medium-sized turtle and is best for small ones.

So if you are using this type of platform, you will need to replace it as your turtle grows.

DIY Basking Platforms

As the days go by, DIY platforms are getting more popular. Basking platforms are easy to make and cost almost nothing and above all, turtles love to bask in them.

You get to use your own design and style it the way you want. Materials that can be used include Styrofoam, large river rocks, natural logs, etc.

If you have a large turtle, it is better to make your DIY platform using natural logs.

They can hold your turtle’s weight and turtles love them too. Before exposing your turtles to these types of basking platform however, run it under boiling water to make it germ-free and safe for your pet.

A downside to the use of DIY basking platforms is the mistake some owners make. Some use toxic materials unknowingly and end up doing more harm than good to their pets.

Common Materials That Are Used To Make Basking Docks

The choice of material used in the construction of a platform is very important because a wrong material could be toxic to your turtle, or lower the quality of water in the aquarium.

Here are some common materials used in the construction:


Plastic is one of the most commonly used materials in the building of basking docks but not all plastics are good enough.

So if you want to make use of plastic, be sure that the plastic doesn’t emit Bisphenol A. These types of plastics are toxic and will cause harm to your turtle.


Styrofoam is another popular material used in the construction of turtle basking platforms.

They have good features like being lightweight and being able to support a good amount of weight.

If you want to make use of Styrofoam platforms, choose the one that is smooth and durable so as to bear the weight of your turtle irrespective of the size.

Another good choice of foam are those made from ethylene-vinyl acetate.

Do not make use of foam you get from arts and crafts stores as they are not strong and break easily.

The flakes and crumbs that are deposited after the break are also harmful to your pet.

Metal Sheets

The use of metal sheets is a good choice as metals are strong and long-lasting.

A downside to the use of metal sheets lies in the fact that they get corroded with time.

If you must use metal, make use of aluminum. It lasts longer without being corroded.

If you want to make your metal last longer, apply a protective layer on it.

Check that the protective layer is safe for your turtle before you apply it so your pet remains safe.

Ceramic Tiles

Just like metal sheets, ceramic tiles are very durable and can last a long time.

Unlike metals, they do not corrode, making them a great alternative to metal sheets, and they are more pleasing to the eyes.

Despite all the perks of ceramic tiles, they also have their downsides.

They are heavier than metal, and cannot float.

The Best Turtle Basking Platforms

best basking turtle dock

1. Zoo Med 78098 Turtle Dock

Top on our list of best turtle basking platforms is this Zoo Med Pond Basking Dock. It is specially made for your large turtles that also have the tendency to be destructive.

Just as the name implies, it can be used on ponds and large aquariums.

You do not have to worry about the water level with which to use it as its self-leveling feature enables it to adjust to any water level.

Your turtle can easily get on the dock through the submersible ramp that is easy to climb.

It is easy to set up and you can be rest assured it won’t float around in the water.

You have three sizes to choose from depending on the size of your turtle.



2. Penn Plax Turtle Tank Topper – Above-Tank Basking Platform for Turtle Aquariums

The Penn Plax Turtle Tank Topper is a great basking platform that is meant to serve turtles of all sizes.

It gives your turtles a spacious basking area while ensuring they are safe. Its dimensions of 17 x 14 x 10 inches is a standard and will fit perfectly with standard aquariums.

The topper is of durable heavy-duty plastic which makes it easy to clean. It also has attachments for heat lamps and UVB lamp, with an easy to open feature in the middle of the top cover.

This improves ventilation and heating. The topper has a hanging platform from which your turtle can rest underwater.

Its submersible ramp makes it easy to get up to the dock and the grip textures at the sides of the ramp makes it easy to climb. Much has been put into the construction of this platform to give your turtle the best.



3. LaBrinx Designs Hanging Turtle Ramp Shelf

Labrinx built this dock with one thing in mind; versatility. You can make use of it with any tank size as it has adjustable heights. Its mounting systems also make matters easy.

One is a suction cup that you can stick to the side of your tank, and the other is a mounting system that ensures your ramp stays in place for as long as you want.

Apart from its physical attributes, the 100% money-back guarantee for defective products is an attractive feature.



4. Penn Plax Reptology Life Science Turtle-pier

From its look, you will admit that Penn Plax did a great job here. With its marine ship design, little stairs and wood-like texture, your tank will have a great look with this platform sitting on it.

Even with a partially filled tank, the dock will still float above the water level because its water level system is separate.

Great for your turtle to bask on and free from health threats, this is one of the best floating turtle basking platforms you can get.



5. Exo Terra Turtle Bank Magnetic Floating Island

And we will wrap it up with this Zoo Med Turtle Dock. It is a floating type of platform and has a self-leveling feature that allows it to adjust to any water level.

Your turtle can easily get to the top through its easily climbable ramp that is accessible from the water.

Held in place by magnets, the Exo Terra Turtle Bank can be positioned in the corner of the terrarium to maximize swimming area.



Things to Look Out For In a Good Turtle Basking Platform

When choosing a turtle basking platform, there are certain features you need to look out for. These features are pointers to how well a product will serve you.

FAQ About Turtle Docks

Q: How Long Should Turtles Bask?

The duration of basking is dependent on your turtle’s needs.

Some days it may bask for 3 hours and other days it could go for as long as 9 hours. There is no specific length of basking time, it all depends on your pet.

Q: How Often Should A Turtle Bask?

All turtles need to bask in the sunlight or a source of UVB radiation every day for at least a few hours. This is important for the overall health of your pet.

Q: Do Turtles Need A Platform?

Yes, turtles need a basking platform. They are cold-blooded and need a source of heat to keep them warm.

They also need vitamins from the sun for their overall health quality. A platform is an avenue for them to leave the water and take in sunlight.


Now you can ensure that your pet stays healthy by providing with all its needs.

The use of these basking platforms ensures the safety of your turtle and provides it with an environment that is comfortable enough to dry off and absorb the sun.

We have narrowed down your options to these top 5 but if you are still confused, then we recommend Zoo Med 78098 Turtle Dock. It is perfect for those turtles that have the tendency to destroy things and is perfect for large-sized turtles too. 

Penn Plax Turtle Tank Topper is another perfect choice that will provide your turtle with a lot of basking space. No matter your choice from this list, you will get maximum satisfaction, so go with what suits you best and give your pet the best life.

Carl, the reptile-obsessed creator of this website, got his first turtle years ago and he made a ton of mistakes along the way. His goal now with TheCritterCove is simple: help others to not make the same mistakes that he did!