Habitat - Indoor :: Basking Dock Size

Turtle tank setups and other indoor configurations.

Post Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2018 12:16 pm   Basking Dock Size

A few days ago we inherited a female RES from someone and we are working on getting it a more appropriate habitat. The RES has a shell that is about 7-8" long. The previous owner had it in a 20g breeder tank. We immediately moved it to a 75g.

I currently have it about 2/3 full with a cherry board attached to a PVC stand for her to bask on. I would like to switch to an above tank setup so she can have more space. The tank came with one of those cheap 48" fluorescent fixtures that fit on the top of the tank. I would like to continue using this to light the tank portion because we have already spent a lot on this "free" turtle. If I push the light fixture as far back as I can, that gets me about 11" for the basking dock.

So I threw together this:

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It is 11" x 22" so it can sit on top of the tank held in place by the frame. The eggcrate floor is 10"x14" and I will cover it with reptile carpet (along with a ramp).

Is 10" wide going to be too narrow for the turtle to feel comfortable getting into it?

Thanks in advance!

The poor thing has been through a lot, when we moved her to the 75g we found that she didn't know how to swim. In the 20g breeder she just lifted her head up for air. It took her hours trying to get to the surface before she figured out how to swim up and float. I know they can go a long time submerged, but I still lifted her up a few times because I felt bad.
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Post Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2018 4:36 am   Re: Basking Dock Size

As long as she a little space to move around, I think she can use it. One of the main benefits of a larger basking area is that there is a temperature gradient and your turtle can choose a warmer spot if she wishes. Without on, you need to be more careful with whatever temperature you choose and regulate.
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Post Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2018 9:51 am   Re: Basking Dock Size

Thanks! At some point I will probably build a bigger one and replace the 48" light with a better one that only spans the other side of the tank.

I have seen several people use egg crate without covering it with anything. Does that work alright? I would think they wouldn't like walking on that, so I was planning on covering it with reptile carpet or perhaps a piece of slate.
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Post Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2018 10:12 am   Re: Basking Dock Size

Nice clean work. The size 11x22" to fit inside frame and a deck 10x14 , are you using this on the breeder tank which is about 30" long and 12" wide ? That would be good size. If on the 75 with a length 48" and 18" wide even with the fixture you have you can offer a little more space to turn around in. Just my thought , use those extra inches the 75 gallon offers ( 48" long and 18" wide ) with her being 7-8" in size ( if that's straight carapace length ) so she don't have to pull her head and tail in to turn around on the 10x14" floor space especially when she grows a little more. Also would offer more temp range if she just wants to dry off.

If that fixture is attached to a hood then I understand that size. Being you are good at DIY you could trim the hood off and use only the fixture part for more room on ATBA to turn around in. Build once for full adult size and done.

Being a female with short claws the eggcrate is ok. If were a male with long claws then maybe cover it that's just me. Nothing smooth you need the plastron to dry off , some slate is very smooth look for a rough finish type for water to drain off.
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Post Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2018 11:28 am   Re: Basking Dock Size

This is to put on the 75g.

I wanted to keep the right side of the tank clear so I can access the inside of the tank easily. The problem with the light is that it spans the entire width of the tank. So if I push it back as far as I can get it, it comes forward about 6". That is why I only have 11" to work with front-to-back.

I was going to make another one of these regardless. It really needs to be taller because its current height requires a cover (that is how tall I could make it with the scrap I had). I would also like to remake it out of baltic birch plywood so there aren't ugly voids in the edges.

Hopefully she will use this for a little bit. Once I get her to a point where her minimum needs are being met, then I can really get creative and design a better setup.

Now for my rant:

This whole endeavor has been crazy. Getting this turtle was unexpected, but the habitat she came with was so inappropriate I am scrambling to get things fixed for her ASAP. Unfortunately nothing is coming together in the order that it should. I used to be really into reef tanks (big reef tanks). I spent a whole year planning, plumbing, running electrical circuits, automating, etc. for my big tank before adding a drop of water. This ordeal has me going insane. Gotta get her into a big tank, but don't have a filter... oh well, lets get her in there now until Amazon Prime can get one to me, more water will do more than that stupid little filter in the 20g anyway. She needs something to bask on and the 3 rocks from the 20g aren't tall enough... oh well, lets zip-tie a piece of cherry to some PVC for now. The filter came, but I can't fill the tank up enough for it to run properly because I don't have an ATBA... well lets throw one together. I can't use the one I made quite yet because the varnish hasn't cured enough to not smell (I doubt she will go an ATBA that reeks of VOCs)... oh well, lets throw one together with egg-crate and zip ties. The whole thing is driving me nuts. I probably should have left her in the 20g until I could get the 75g completely set up, but it killed me to see her in that tiny tank that was half taken up by the basking rocks. I mean one poop and the thing was filthy. The poor thing hasn't had a UV light in who knows how long either. She is surprisingly healthy looking considering her previous care (from what I can tell as a turtle noob). She does have some little pin holes in the marginal scutes of her upper carapace. It looks nice and solid underneath, so I think they just might be preparing to shed. At some point I need to take her out and really feel around and check her over, but with her entire world changing on a daily basis since we got her last Thursday, I think its better to leave her be as much as possible. She is at least eating well, so I guess she isn't too freaked out. At least with fish that is a pretty good indicator. However she wont' touch anything green, she has only ever been fed pellets. Sorry for the rant, but it felt good to get it out.
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Post Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2018 12:19 pm   Re: Basking Dock Size

Great rant , you care , that's even better !
Had reef tanks before you know about cycling that helps a lot !
I got you on the access .
I used Birch when I built RC airplanes in my younger days it cost $$$. What about plexiglass would be cheaper . Have any old tanks around cut the side out so to make use of the length more , use the eggcrate as a ramp all done. That would be clear to see better and no sealers needed to water proof. Just a few ideas for your next ATBA ?
Turtles climb very well , make it escape proof , long way to the floor.
I'm an old retired man and a pack rat myself being on a fixed income. I also keep strap everything. At times I think it's more of an adjustment for us than the turtle.
Since you are handy with DIY that will help save money. I use several price trackers , helps too on your wish list. Maybe one day down the road for a fixture ( to light up the tank) look into those new LED strip light's, are very narrow and light up well to offer a larger ATBA. But you still need a UVA and UVB over the basking dock or one that's does both like a Mega Ray.

A RES is hardy you don't need to rush for everything today. Watch sales carefully and use those price trackers. Extra planning helps so you don't buy inadequate things. Look into making your own filter , a bucket and pump with good media works very well for only a few dollars. Google for ideas. Most filters are sold for fish , a turtle will need 3-5x's the flow of fish . Also most come with media for fish , see media threads for better setup for turtles. Filter with a large media area will only help on the mess a turtle makes. I keep my filter with mostly bio media and a pad on top to keep it clean along with a cycled tank for Piggley , works for us. Stay away from filter's that only use pre made thing you always have to change. Buy bulk and make your own with media bags to fit a turtle needs is better.
It will come together and become very easy for the both of you. Study up and plan things out one at a time if you need to. Use that experience / creativity from your reef tanks. You are already handy on the DIY side . You will be a great parent for her and enjoy many years together. Turtles are Great pets/friends/kids ! Don't go insane :) observing and patience are a big part in keeping turtles. She's already in a better place with you.
Sorry I just saw your other post you attached to anothers thread , see reply.
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