If you’re on a budget, it’s not always easy to find cheap supplies for your pet turtle. After getting an aquarium, water filter, thermostat, and lights, purchasing a basking area can be a hard blow to your wallet. Fortunately, basking areas for your turtle are easy to make at home and don’t require spending much money.
To help you give your turtle a five-star living space and plenty of basking room, we compiled this list of DIY plans for your tank set up. There are designs that recycle plastic totes, basking areas that you can place on top of or inside aquariums, and a few plans that you can repurpose to suit your needs.
The Top 19 DIY Turtle Basking Area Plans
1. DIY Turtle Tank And Basking Area (Spanish) by Acuarios JMGH
|Materials:||One small plastic tote, one large plastic tote, thermostat, filter, aquarium silicon, plastic sheet, plastic mesh, aquarium stones|
Shop-bought turtle terrariums can be expensive, but you can make your own with a personalized basking area. This design uses two plastic totes — one smaller than the other — along with plastic sheets to form a sturdy tank and a raised, dry spot for basking.
You can make sure the water in the tank area is always clean and at the perfect temperature with a decent filter and thermostat. You can also choose how big or small to make this area, depending on the size of your turtle.
The instructions are in Spanish, but the video itself shows plenty of detail and is easy enough to follow.
2. Island Retreat (Spanish) by Envuelta en Crema
|Materials:||Plastic tote, aquarium liner, plastic pots, aquarium décor|
|Tools:||Aquarium silicon, scissors|
This island retreat basking area might be confusing if you can’t read Spanish, but the pictures are easy enough to follow. It’s a great way to create a stylish terrarium for your turtle while recycling old pots. You don’t need many tools either — just aquarium-safe silicon and a pair of scissors or a sharp knife to cut the aquarium liner and plastic.
Place the grass-covered island in the center or at the edge of a large tote to give your turtle their very own paradise. You can even decorate the island to make it look more like a tropical getaway.
3. Simple Grassy Area (Spanish) by Aquafición
|Materials:||Plastic tote, aquarium liner|
|Tools:||Stanley knife, metal ruler, grinder, heater|
A small tote is a perfect way to add a sheltered basking area to a deep pool or a larger tote setup. This simple grassy area is easy to make if you’re new to DIYing and doesn’t require any additional materials besides the tote and any decorations that you want.
This project doesn’t require many tools. You just need a sharp knife and a ruler to cut a hole in the side of the tote and a heater to mold the ramp into place. With green aquarium liner and a few aquarium decorations, your turtle will have a cozy place to bask.
This design is in Spanish, but the video itself is easy enough to follow.
4. Rocky Basking Area by ENLYERS
|Materials:||Artificial grass, aquarium rocks, plastic tote, egg crate|
If you don’t have any tools on hand, this simple rocky basking area is effective and doesn’t require much work at all. Cut the egg crate big enough to fit on top of a plastic tote or your aquarium, and cut pieces for the ramp. You can decorate the platform with aquarium decorations.
This design doesn’t have a surrounding wall to stop your turtle from falling off the edge. You can use more egg crates or even plexiglass, if you have some, to surround the basking area and keep your pet safe.
5. Turtle Basking Area by The Turtle Girl
|Materials:||Wire coat hanger, zip ties, plastic tote, L brackets, aquarium decorations|
|Tools:||Drill, knife, wire cutters|
Finding cheap plastic totes and wire hangers is easy, and this turtle basking area uses both for a simple design that’s sturdy and durable. You can use any size tote that you have on hand and place it on a larger, water-filled tote or on top of a shop-bought aquarium.
The best part about plastic tote designs is you don’t need extra material for the ramp. When you cut the plastic, leave one edge alone so your turtle can use it to climb up. For this design, the wire hangers help make sure the ramp stays in place.
Aquarium Basking Areas
6. Turtle Dock by Emma – Turtle Talk
|Materials:||Plastic sheet, aquarium stones, aquarium silicon, aquarium plants, four suction cups|
If you have an old aquarium that you want to revamp for your new turtles, this simple turtle dock is a great way to give them a basking area without spending too much money. It’s super quick and easy to make, even if you don’t have much experience with DIYing.
Get a thin sheet of hard plastic for the base and aquarium-safe silicon to fix the decorations in place. You can decorate it however you want; aquarium stones and fake plants can give it a natural look. Finally, attach a few sucker cups, and set it up in your turtle’s aquarium.
7. Aquarium Basking Area by Bulldog – Turtle Talk
|Materials:||Egg crate sheet, 60 zip ties|
For existing tank setups, having a basking area that fits securely on top gives your turtle or turtles plenty of room to swim around. This design is made with sheets of egg crate, and it’s a great way to reuse materials that you don’t need anymore. Also, few materials are required, which makes it an affordable alternative to some other DIY plans.
You also don’t need many tools, unless you need to cut the crate down to size. It might take a bit of work to make sure it goes together nicely, though. You can use zip ties if you don’t have any glue. Decorate it with plants or stones for a more natural look.
8. Plexiglass Basking Box by Pet DIYs
|Materials:||Plexiglass, aquarium silicon, gutter guard, aquarium decorations|
|Tools:||Carriage bolts and nuts, glass cutter, tape measure|
Making a basking area from scratch is sometimes the easiest way to make sure it fits your aquarium. This plexiglass basking box can be adjusted to fit any size tank. It might take a bit of work to cut the plexiglass to size, but once you’ve fixed everything into place, you can decorate it any way you want.
It’s heavier than tote alternatives, so you won’t have to find a way to weigh down the ramp or secure it in place.
9. Covered Plexiglass Basking Area by Pet DIYs
|Materials:||Plexiglass, river rocks, wire mesh|
|Tools:||Wire cutters, glass cutter, aquarium silicon|
While open-topped basking areas are easy to clean, they can be unsuitable if you have other pets that might pester your turtles. This design is small and covered with wire mesh to keep your turtle safe. It sits on top of your aquarium and can be resized to suit your setup.
You can decorate it with river rocks, aquarium plants, or both to create a cozy resting spot for your turtle.
10. Egg Crate Basking Area Carson’s Aquatics
|Materials:||Egg crates, zip ties, aquarium liner, aquarium rocks, LED light bar|
|Tools:||Scissors or sharp knife|
Reusing egg crates and securing them together with zip ties is a great way to create a safe basking spot for your turtle. They can look a little dull, though, so this DIY plan includes instructions on how to make your turtle’s new basking spot look as snazzy as possible.
It’s fully customizable too, and you can cut it to whatever size you need your basking area to be. Remember to add in a light bar to illuminate the aquarium beneath the basking box.
11. In-Tank Basking Platform by All Turtles
|Materials:||Zip ties, 4-foot ½-inch PVC pipe, 2 ½-inch PVC pipe cap, five two-way tee PVC pipe fittings, five three-way tee PVC pipe fittings, egg crate, play sand|
|Tools:||Pencil, tape measure, pliers, PVC pipe cutter or hacksaw|
There are two options that you can choose for this design: an in-tank basking area or one that sits on top of the aquarium. The second design might be easier if you’re new to DIYing and gives your turtle more room to swim, but the in-tank option is a great way to challenge yourself.
The design that sits on the top of the aquarium is made mostly from egg crates, but the in-tank version is a bit more complicated. You’ll need to stop by the plumbing section of your local hardware store to pick up ½-inch PVC pipe and fittings. You’ll also need to fill the pipes with play sand to prevent the ramp from floating in the tank.
12. Bamboo Raft by Pawty Time
|Materials:||Bamboo sticks, rope or aquarium silicon, aquarium plants, suction cups|
|Tools:||Hacksaw, scissors, tape measure|
Many DIY basking areas use similar materials and can look nearly identical. This bamboo raft might be simplistic, but it makes your aquarium look stylishly unique without taking up too much space. It’s also super light and floats. Once it’s fixed in one place, you don’t have to worry about it sinking or falling over.
You don’t need many tools either. Just take a hacksaw to cut the bamboo sticks down to size, and use scissors to cut the rope.
13. Wooden Dock by Mr Turtledude
|Materials:||Wooden board, suction cups, wooden sticks|
|Tools:||Hacksaw, drill, tape measure, hot glue gun|
While this wooden dock basking area doesn’t use many materials, the difficulty comes in putting it together. It’s still a relatively easy design, though, and is suitable for small tanks. You can also adjust the size if you have more than one turtle.
This design is lightweight and might need to be secured to the side of the aquarium with rope or suction cups. Make sure to use wood that isn’t treated with chemicals that can harm your turtle.
14. Grecian Themed Basking Area by Long Live Your Turtle
|Materials:||Plywood, wooden boards, acrylic sheet, plexiglass, vinyl tiles, aquarium silicon, wood glue, finishing nails, epoxy, paint, Grecian columns|
|Tools:||C-clamps, large square, caulking gun, sawhorse, wood saw, hammer, carpenter’s square|
For those with big budgets, this Grecian-themed basking area is the way to go. It’s stylish, unique, and a great challenge if you’re tired of simple DIY plans. Mostly made of wood, it’s also sturdier than many other designs. However, it is also more expensive due to the supplies needed.
Along with the easy-to-climb ramp, the design features two plexiglass walls that you can view your turtle through. The original design is for a 75-gallon aquarium, but you can adjust it to suit your needs.
15. Acrylic and Aluminum Basking Area by Builds by Alexis
|Materials:||Acrylic sheet, plexiglass, aluminum strip, superglue|
|Tools:||Plexiglass cutting tool, ruler, pliers, circular saw, tape measure, clamps, jigsaw, sander|
Despite how much work goes into making this acrylic and aluminum basking area, it’s not that challenging. It’s an expensive design due to all the acrylic panels and aluminum strips that you need, but it’s relatively easy to put together. You can make it the same size as your existing setup and blend it almost seamlessly with the rest of your turtle’s tank.
16. Naturalistic Basking Area by DIY Reptiles
|Materials:||Driftwood, scrap wood|
|Tools:||Drill, wood screws|
Egg crates and plastic totes are great items to recycle, but they can look out of place if you’re trying to create a natural-looking habitat for your turtle. This log basking area is made from driftwood for a rustic, natural appearance.
While you might need to adjust the size of the driftwood depending on your tank, this DIY plan doesn’t take much work. Fix it to a piece of scrap wood to secure it to the top of your aquarium, and you’re done!
17. Simple Basking Platform by Daniel
|Materials:||Egg crate sheet, 10-foot ½-inch PVC pipe, PVC pipe elbow, and T joints, zip ties|
|Tools:||Hacksaw, rat-tail file, measuring tape|
Difficult DIY turtle basking areas are rewarding and look nice, but they can be incredibly time-consuming to put together. If you’re too busy to spend days on a project or just don’t have the space for extravagance, this simple basking platform is the way to go.
It’s made with PVC pipe, egg crates, and zip ties, which makes it sturdy but light. Remember to fill the pipe with sand or something similar to weigh it down so it doesn’t float in your tank.
18. Above-Tank Basking Area by Long Live Your Turtle
|Materials:||Wood boards, plywood, acrylic sheet, vinyl tiles|
|Tools:||Heat gun, drill, measuring tape, putty knife, clamps, saw, construction screws|
This above-tank basking area is a project best suited for long rainy days when not much else is going on. The plan is one of the simpler ones, with the materials listed and an included blueprint to follow, but the time and effort make it a challenge. If you’re familiar with carpentry and reading blueprints, this basking area is worth checking out.
Designs to Repurpose
19. Homemade Basking Rocks by Bearded Dragon Advice
|Materials:||1-inch Styrofoam (or alternative material)|
|Tools:||Grout, pet-safe paint|
Although these homemade basking rocks might take a bit of work to make suitable for your turtle terrarium, it’s a good way to make the habitat look more interesting. While the original design is simple — it just needs glue and Styrofoam — making it turtle appropriate is a great way to challenge your DIY skills.
Try making it with different materials, or find a way to weigh it down properly to avoid it floating in the water. You can also add ramps on each of the stones to make it easier for your turtle to climb.
DIY projects are a great deal of work, but they’re a rewarding way to keep to a budget and reuse scrap materials. When it comes to turtle basking areas, there are many plans to choose from, with a range of difficulties. Whether you choose a simple plastic tote design or the in-depth Grecian theme, we hope that these plans have helped you find the perfect basking area to make for your turtle.
Featured Image Credit: Relax_with_nature, Pixabay