A good turtle basking platform is essential for your turtle’s health and happiness.
Turtles need a basking platform (under a heat lamp) that gives them somewhere to dry out their shell and produce vitamin D.
Basking in the sun or under a lamp stops bacteria and algae from multiplying, prevents shell rot, and allows turtles to absorb heat – among other things.
Here are some of the best turtle basking platforms for indoor turtle tanks.
Best Turtle Basking Area
Penn Plax Turtle Tank Topper
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Oasis Turtle Platform & Ramp
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Zoo Med Turtle Platform
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Hanging Turtle Ramp
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Tetra Turtle Tank Kit
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Basking platforms are important because turtles need a spot to dry their shell, as well as somewhere to rest and relax.
If a turtle is not able to get completely dry and warm up under a heat lamp, the shell will rot, and it could have major difficulties shedding its scutes.
You do not want a ramp or platform that may scratch or bruise your turtle’s underbelly. This can lead to ulcerative shell disease – an infection that can get in under the shell.
Also, some turtle basking platform designs can be better or worse depending on your turtle breed and tank setup.
I’ll make some further suggestions relating to that below, so let’s take a closer look at some of the best turtle basking platforms.
1. Best Turtle Dock For Large Turtles
By far, one of the most popular and feature-rich platforms is the Pen Plax Turtle Basking Platform.
It sits on top of your tank, rather than down in it, which means you’re able to have a greater volume of water in the tank – which is obviously great for the turtles.
This topper can be used with tanks up to 55 Gallons and it is quite large.
The downside is that it can interfere with light bar setups, but it is designed to have a lamp positioned over top. Also, it doesn’t float in the water as some platforms do, so you need to keep the water topped up to a level so the ramp remains submerged.
Features of this turtle basking platform include:
- Wide docking ramp
- Underwater resting dock
- Clear top with mounting for heat lamps
- The easy-open grill allows heat through
- Made from strong easy-clean plastic
- Attaches to the tank with suction cups
- Quick and easy to install on turtle tank
- Quality turtle basking dock
This basking platform is more expensive than most other options, but it is by far one of the best.
It’s suitable for most kinds of pet turtles, including larger breeds that have up to 10″ shells. That includes red-eared sliders, painted turtles, mud turtles, and more.
Some turtles, such as sliders, are too big and heavy for floating platforms, but the Penn Plax platform is good for the.
Check out the reviews here to ensure this is the right option for your type of turtle.
2. The Oasis Turtle Ramp
The Oasis Turtle Basking Ramp And Platform is another popular option for small to medium sized turtles.
Compared to the previous tank topper, this is a less ‘in your face’ basking platform. It’s still quite large at 16 x 11 x 1.5 inches, but it has a thin profile.
This one is simply secured to the side of your tank with suction cups. It does not hang over the top of your tank and is much less intrusive.
Some breeds, like mud turtles, like being able to jump back into the water quickly. With this type of platform, they can just pop straight back in without looking for the ramp back down.
Features of the Oasis platform:
- Rubber grip to help turtle climb
- Made from acrylic
- Very easy to wash
- Install above or below the water level
- Easy to install and remove for cleaning
- Also great for frogs, salamanders, etc
This turtle basking ramp is a similar price to the one above but it is much simpler. However, for those wanting a less noticeable ramp, it will certainly be ideal.
Personally, I prefer the large on-tank basking area as it will help nervous turtles feel more protected, but the Oasis Turtle Ramp is a more than suitable alternative.
The downsides are that some people have trouble with the suction cups staying attached to the tank. This is obviously an important thing that needs to work well!
Larger turtles may weigh too much for the design which may be causing the ramp to come loose.
3. Zoo Med Floating Basking Platform
The Zoo Med Turtle Dock is a popular floating turtle platform.
This unit is available in 4 different sizes from a simple hanging shelf to the much larger 19″ x 8″ total basking area.
One of its best features is the self-leveling feature. This means it will adjust its height depending on the water level (which is always slightly decreasing due to evaporation).
It attaches to the side of your tank using 4 suction cups, which, as with other designs, may come loose with larger turtles.
Also, heavy and larger turtle breeds will simply cause the platform to sink and will not be suitable. It’s best for small breeds like mud turtles.
Other features include:
- 4 suction cups for best attachment
- A floating dock
- Suitable for red-eared sliders
- Sturdy platform
- Strong durable materials
- Submerged ramp for easy access
You can get a much better idea of what the turtle’s basking area is like in this video.
It’s easy to install and easy for turtles to climb up on. Also, it’s designed to look like a rock or something in a turtle’s natural environment which is nicer than plain plastic.
4. Hanging Turtle Platform
This Hanging Turtle Ramp Shelf is another minimalistic option for those who don’t want to detract from the turtle (or turtles).
It hangs from the top of your tank and can be further secured with suction cups to the side of your tank.
The height of the platform can be altered to suit your water level and tank, but it isn’t floating like the Zoo Med Platform.
Features of this turtle tank topper include:
- Different levels allows a turtle to be nearer or further away from lamps
- Black grip tape to help turtle climb out
- Made of acrylic
- Unobtrusive design
- Easy to clean
- Easy to insert and remove
This platform is very similar to the previous model but has the hanging feature as well. This is good for those who don’t want to rely on suction cups.
This LaBrinx Designs Hanging Ramp is also good for larger turtles because it won’t sink because of the hanging features.
It comes in three different sizes: wide, narrow, and extra large. It’s made of clear acrylic.
5. Cheap Turtle Basking Platform
There are plenty of cheap turtle tank toppers out there as well, which can be picked up for less than $20.
These options are great for those who have a limited budget or who just need a temporary solution.
Most of these models are made from acrylic, and some, like the one pictured above, are lined with some sort of grip tape to support your turtle’s movements.
The thing to make sure of before buying a cheap turtle platform is whether or not it will support the weight of your pet. Most of these are only suitable for small turtles.
They generally only have 2 suction cups which means they are not as stable and secure. Nevertheless, they are suitable for some tanks.
Turtle Tank Kit With Basking Rock
Alternatively, you could purchase a turtle tank that comes with a basking platform included.
The Tetrafauna Aquatic Turtle Deluxe Aquarium Kit pictured above is one such option.
It comes with everything for turtle keepers when first getting started, including a 20-gallon tank.
The basking platform is rock styled and actually contains a filter as well!
It’s suitable for medium-sized turtles, so if you are just starting out it’s worth considering.
Because it is only a 20-gallon tank, it probably won’t be suitable for the life of your turtle. He or she will probably outgrow it, especially if you’ve got a red-eared slider or similarly sized turtle.
Baby turtles will be fine in this type of tank.
It comes with:
- 20-gallon tank
- Screen top
- Filter and cartridges
- Basking rock
- Plant mat
- Dome lamps
It also comes with some turtle food and water treatment products.
All you really need to supply beyond this kit is the turtle!
And perhaps a few good turtles toys!
If you wanted to buy a turtle basking rock separately, which is similar to the one in this kit, check this one out on Amazon (best-selling).
Turtle Basking Ramp FAQs
What is the best basking platform for large turtles?
We think the Penn Plax Tank Topper is the best basking platform for large and/or heavy turtles.
It sits nicely above the tank and has two separate basking areas – one that sits on top of the water and a larger one that is much higher.
Because it is not supported by suction cups it’s much better suited for bigger turtles.
What is the best basking area for multiple turtles?
As above, the Penn Plax Basking Dock is good for many turtles.
It certainly fits two but can fit up to 4 mid-sized turtles quite comfortably.
Can you make a DIY basking area?
Yes, a lot of people make their own basking platforms for turtles.
You can see a DIY standing platform in the second video shared above.
There are many DIY turtle platform tutorials on YouTube made using a range of materials.
What do turtles bask on in the wild?
As in the picture above, turtles will bask on whatever they can that is sitting up out of the water.
This includes rocks, logs, and even the banks of lakes, ponds, or rivers.
Can I use driftwood in my turtle tank?
Yes, when properly prepared driftwood is usually fine to use in a turtle tank and can even be used as a place to bask.
Check out our post on aquarium driftwood to learn more.
Turtle Platform For Aquarium
This video from Turtle Girl has a whole lot more good info on buying the right platform for your tank and turtle and it features some of the options from this post.
The biggest problems most people have when buying these products are:
- The suction cups don’t stick
- The platform isn’t big enough to support the weight of their turtle
For that reason, I ultimately recommend the Penn Plax Platform or the Labrinx Hanging Platform.
Both of these are suitable for large turtle breeds and can hold a fair amount of weight. The other models are good for small and light turtles.
Let me know if you have any more questions in the comments below.
Remember, a turtle cannot live without a shell, so look after the one they’ve got!