The Best Turtle Basking Platforms for 2022

Written by Katie Begley
Published: May 1, 2022

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Creating a comfortable habitat for your pet turtle is easy and affordable, especially when you add things they love like basking platforms. Turtles who live in the water need a special place to get out of the water and dry off. This is why a basking area is so essential for their well-being.

A great turtle basking area is affordable and durable, perfect for creating the perfect kind of tank. They don’t have to cost a lot of money to work with your tank. Whether your turtle is large or small, there is a platform perfect for them. You can also find a basking platform for large tanks, small tanks, and everything in between.

We’ve listed our top picks for turtle basking platforms for every budget and preference. With plenty of reviews from turtle owners, it’s easy to see why these platforms are the preferred basking hot spot for many turtles.

A-Z-Animals Top Picks for Turtle Basking Platforms

  1. Penn-Plax Floating Turtle Pier Platform
  2. Penn-Plax Floating Turtle Pier Platform
    • Easy to set up
    • Floats just above the waterline
    • Comes with a ramp
    • Ideal for larger tanks
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  3. Zoo Med Turtle Dock
  4. Zoo Med Turtle Dock
    • Budget-friendly option
    • Comes in three different sizes
    • Best for smaller turtles
    • The platform is self-leveling
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  5. Penn-Plax Turtle Topper Above Tank Basking Platform
  6. Penn-Plax Turtle Topper Above Tank Basking Platform
    • Attaches to the top of the tank for extra space
    • Includes a submerged ramp
    • Makes the most of your turtle's space
    • Very sturdy
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  7. Penn Plax Shale Ledge Aquarium & Terrarium Decor
  8. Penn Plax Shale Ledge Aquarium & Terrarium Decor
    • Great option for small turtles
    • Replicates a rocky stairstep
    • Made as one resin piece
    • Comes in multiple sizes and configurations
    Check Chewy Check Amazon

#1 Overall Best: Penn-Plax Reptology Floating Turtle Pier and Basking Platform

In our review, the best turtle basking platform is the Penn-Plax Reptology Floating Turtle Pier and Basking Platform. This platform is a great value, easy to set up, and beloved by turtles who use it. It gets rave reviews from owners who love the fact that it combines the best of a floating platform with a spot to bask out of the water. “This works great for our large turtle,” wrote one reviewer. “I had a hard time finding something that would be sturdy, comfortable, and not take up all swimming room in the tank. This was the answer to his problems and has a nice large flat surface with more than enough room for him to stay dry.”

This basking platform connects to the bottom of the tank and floats just above the waterline. There is a ramp to help your turtle get onto the platform. You can adjust it on the supports to make sure that it is in the ideal place for your turtle. It does take some assembly but comes with everything that you need to put it together. “The dock was easy to put together and install. The only difficulty I had was sticking the suction cups to the bottom of the tank because I had to move the gravel,” said one reviewer. “The poles are tall enough that I could fill the tank most of the way or even all the way with water and the dock would still float.” Some reviewers did reinforce the supports with PVC cut to match. This was helpful for those with especially large or heavy turtles.

This is a good option for larger turtles but may be too big for a smaller tank. Most reviewers who liked this option had 50-gallon or larger tanks. It’s a good idea to keep a large enough tank, even for a smaller turtle, to give them plenty of space to swim, bask, and explore.

Overall Best
Penn-Plax Floating Turtle Pier Platform
  • Easy to set up
  • Floats just above the waterline
  • Comes with a ramp
  • Ideal for larger tanks
Check Chewy Check Amazon

2. Best Budget Platform: Zoo Med Turtle Dock

If you want to try a turtle basking platform to see what you and your turtle prefer, consider the budget-friendly basking platform from Zoo Med. With plenty of expertise in reptile habitats, Zoo Med offers one of the most affordable docks on the market. It comes in three different sizes: small for 10-gallon tanks, medium for 15-gallon tanks, and large for 40-gallon tanks and up. These are on the smaller side and not best for large and heavy turtles. Most reviewers recommend sizing up to make sure that the dock can support your turtle’s weight.

This platform is self-leveling. It adjusts to the water level and stays on the top of the waterline to make sure that your turtle has a dry place to bask. It attaches to the side of the tank using four suction cups and a metal bracket. The suction cups are not the sturdiest and some reviewers opted to just let the dock float freely instead. “The dock itself is good and sturdy, I had my last on for many years but was due for a new one. However, the suction cups on this are pretty pointless and detach constantly with the slightest motion from turtles,” one wrote. “I opt not to use them and just let the dock float freely, and that works well enough for my turtles.”

Best Budget Platform
Zoo Med Turtle Dock
  • Budget-friendly option
  • Comes in three different sizes
  • Best for smaller turtles
  • The platform is self-leveling
Check Chewy Check Amazon

3. Best Premium Platform: Penn-Plax Turtle Topper Above Tank Basking Platform

If you worry about the addition of a basking platform in a smaller tank, consider one that works as a true addition to the overall habitat. The Penn-Plax Turtle Topper Above Tank Basking Platform actually attaches to the top of the tank for extra space for your turtle. It includes a submerged ramp to allow your turtle to climb out of the water and into their “penthouse” basking platform area. The platform also has a resting area that extends into the water, allowing for multiple options for relaxing.

This is an expensive platform compared to others on our list. It is one of the best that you can find, both for basking and keeping swimming space open down below in the main tank. It acts as an extension to the tank, rather than an accessory to go into the tank. If you want to make the most of your turtle’s space, this is definitely the one you want to buy.

This platform works in tanks up to 55-gallons. It is also suitable for larger turtles because it is so sturdy. “I have a 20-year-old, very large (11×8 inch), red ear slider and this is perfect for her!” said one reviewer. “Now I can fill my entire 55-gallon tank with water and this doesn’t take up any of that space. She also fits inside of it with plenty of room and she can lift her head and look out the sides so she can still see all of us if she chooses to from inside.”

Best Premium Platform
Penn-Plax Turtle Topper Above Tank Basking Platform
  • Attaches to the top of the tank for extra space
  • Includes a submerged ramp
  • Makes the most of your turtle's space
  • Very sturdy
Check Chewy Check Amazon

4. Best for Small Turtles: Penn-Plax Reptology Shale Scale Step Ledge and Cave Hideout

Don’t worry that we’ve forgotten about our small turtle friends! While many of the research and reviews on turtle basking platforms focus on large turtles (because platforms can be tricky to use for heavier pets), there are great options for small turtles as well. Another great platform from Penn-Plax that works for smaller turtles is the Shale Scape Step Ledge and Cave Hideout. This platform replicates a rocky stairstep that your turtle can climb to get up to the basking platform. It is one resin piece, however, so you never have to worry about it slipping.

It comes in multiple sizes and configurations, making it the perfect option to customize your turtle’s habitat. The platform on top is a bit smaller than other options on our list, while the stair steps take up quite a bit of space inside the tank. If you have a larger tank and a smaller turtle with room to spare, they will love the enrichment from climbing and basking. There are also natural places to hide underneath the steps, something that turtles enjoy.

Best for Small Turtles
Penn Plax Shale Ledge Aquarium & Terrarium Decor
  • Great option for small turtles
  • Replicates a rocky stairstep
  • Made as one resin piece
  • Comes in multiple sizes and configurations
Check Chewy Check Amazon

Choosing the Best: What to Look For

When deciding between the various turtle basking platforms, consider the size of your tank, your budget, and any special design features that appeal to you.

Size

Turtles need plenty of space to explore inside their tanks. When you add a basking platform, some of that valuable swimming space can be taken up. If your turtle is tight on space to swim, consider a platform that floats on top of the water or an extra addition to create the necessary space for basking.

Budget

Turtle basking platforms aren’t super pricey by themselves but when you add it to the cost of setting up a tank, adding accessories, and just making sure that your turtle is happy and healthy, it can get quite expensive. We recommend investing in a high-quality turtle basking platform that will meet your needs. If you want to start with a lower-cost option to see what kind of environment your turtle likes, a budget-friendly platform is a great way to learn more.

Special Features

A turtle basking platform doesn’t need to be super fancy to be effective. As long as your turtle has a place to get dry and bask, as well as a way to get to it, it will be happy. Some turtle basking platforms do come with extra resting areas, climbing steps, or hideaway caves. These can create additional enrichment opportunities for your turtle. While sometimes a bit more expensive, consider a basking platform with special features to create the ultimate habitat for your turtle.

The Different Types of Turtle Basking Platforms: Pros and Cons Compared

Turtle basking platforms can be floating platforms or attached platforms. Each has its own pros and cons, which we’ve listed here.

Floating Platform

ProsCons
Maintains plenty of swimming areaNot great for large or heavy turtles
Can be customized to height of waterMay sink in the water
Replicates natural environmentSuction cup attachments can be weak

Attached Platform

ProsCons
Sturdier for large and heavy turtlesOften more expensive
May create extra space in tankMore difficult to install
Ensures it stays dry

Verified Review: User Experience

Our top choice, the Penn-Plax Floating Pier and Basking Platform got some of the best reviews. “My babies love it and sunbathe all day long!!!” said one reviewer with two turtles. “It fits my tank and the dock comes all the up so they can fully get out the water.” Other reviewers with large turtles also liked it. “My turtle is 17-years-old so I have had a lot of different docks over the years,” wrote one reviewer. “I bought this one a few months back and I couldn’t be happier. Gus, my red ear slider, absolutely loves it. He is a pretty big turtle and it holds up great. I strongly recommend investing in this. Just make sure you have a large tank because it takes up a lot of room.”

Many did mention that the suction cups were not sturdy enough to hold up to the weight of the platform and turtle. “Bought this because we wanted a basking spot for our turtle in her 65-gallon tank. She is large and heavy,” said one reviewer who made modifications to make the platform work for a larger turtle. “So we used zip ties to prevent the dock from going down or sinking into the water when she gets on. It stays afloat and just over the water with the zip ties. It works great and she loves it.”

While it is expensive, the Penn-Plax Turtle Topper Above Tank Basking Platform also gets top marks from reviewers. Fortunately, it is also well-made and will last for a long time. “I previously used the turtle ramps but the suction would give out on those every couple of years and I kept having to go up in sizes as my turtle and tank sizes increased,” said one reviewer. “This adds living space, looks great, costs the same amount, and doesn’t rely on suction. It fits a 10-gallon to a 55-gallon tank, which should really be big enough for all but maybe the largest female turtles.”

About the Author

Katie is a freelance writer and teaching artist specializing in home, lifestyle, and family topics. Her work has appeared in At Ease Magazine and The Spruce, among others. When she is not writing, Katie teaches Creative Writing at Indian Creek School and was awarded an Author Fellowship to Martha's Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. She also enjoys spending time with her three kids and cat.