Introduction: Styrofoam Turtle Dock

This is my tutorial on making a styrofoam turtle dock. I seen everybody else was making them, so I thought, " Why not?". It is my own design and if there are any additional concerns or suggestions on improving it, feel free to comment. The turtles love it, as their old zoo med dock was too small, and they weren't comfortable on it. I am only a teenager, but I have tons of experience with turtles. I have reared 8 from hatching, and other turtle lovers will know how hard it is. I currently own a 5 year old Western Painted, and a 3 year old Eastern Painted. If you're sick of that old zoomed (cork) dock, that your turtles can't even lay on without it being wet, then listen up.

P.S. Very wet turtle docks are a cause of shell rot. If conditions show, leave them in a dry tank overnight, and feed them dog food.(the dry stuff)  This is one of the best known ways of fixing it. Conditions should improve.

Step 1: Step 1: Supplies

"All of these supplies should cost a max of  $20.00."

1. A large piece of styrofoam( take size slightly larger than tank, so it fits tight) White,
compressed styrofoam.

2. LOW TEMPERATURE  glue gun. This is important because a high temp glue gun will only melt the styrofoam. It should be smaller and will have blue label saying low temp. I bought the mini gluesticks. I found out from the manufacturer that there are NO toxic additives or compounds. However, if you're still concerned about toxicity, feel free to use an aquarium sealant or epoxy instead.

3. A very sharp knife.You should have one at home. ( For slicing the styrofoam, and turtle dock)

4. Assorted SMOOTH rocks, fake or real plants, whatever you want on your new dock. Be Creative!

( You need smooth rocks, because sharp aquarium gravel will damage shells) 

Step 2: First Step!

Take your sheet of styrofoam, and cut it about 1/2 cm bigger than the width of your tank. If you want a big land area, just adjust the size of your styrofoam. Don't be worried about weight as with all the rocks it will seem quite heavy. A foot in diameter square of styrofoam will hold 50 pounds! Now peel off all labels on the styrofoam. Make sure the sticky coating isn't left behind. When cutting your styrofoam, be careful not to bend blade, or it will cut messily. Face the uncut edge of the sheet out toward where your turtles are.

Step 3: Step 2

Now take your smooth rocks, plants, or whatever you have to put on. Heat up the hot glue gun, and start glueing them in place. Make sure it will be comfortable for your turtles! Arrange them how you would like. If your turtles have behaviour issues, and like chewing on the styrofoam underneath, now is the time to glue plants, plastic, etc to cover up the styrofoam, and discourage them from biting it.

Step 4: Step 3

Now that you have the main part done, it may seem a little heavy, but remember not to worry about it. Next, take your old Zoo med turtle dock, or buy one of the appropriate size for your turtle at Walmart. Should be about 10 bucks. Cut off the ramp part of the dock, and glue it to the front of your styrofoam. If you want, you can cut a lip in the styrofoam to make it sit nicer. Make sure it is on a slant, so the turtles can climb up. Put hot glue on the whole bottom crease, and it will hold. It may seem like it might fall off when you lift the thing up. Don't worry, because when in the water half of that weight will be gone. 

Step 5: STEP 4!!!

You now almost have your very own turtle dock! Calm down, and take the plunger back that holds the Zoo med turtle dock to the wall of your tank , and attach it to the back of your styrofoam. If your styrofoam is snug enough, you will not need to do this. If you do, make two holes for the two poles through the styrofoam with a pencil. Work them through the holes, being careful not to snap the styrofoam. Make sure your basking lamp is not extremely hot, as you don't want the rocks hot enough to burn your turtles. Next is the final part before putting it in the tank.


Take any remaining fake plants, or plastic, and glue it to the front of your styrofoam dock. This will even further discourage your turtles from biting the styrofoam. If you think the top is now adequately covered with decor, and you think the neighbour turtles are going to be eyeing up the crib, do this final part. Hot glue tends to leave lots of annoying little strands of glue behind. If you are concerned you can take the time to peel all of the little strands off. This is what I did.

Now is the finale you've all been waiting for! Carefully lift up your new dock, and place it in the tank where you would like it to sit snugly. YOU'RE DONE! Yay!

Don't be worried about the glue coming undone in water. As long as you let the structure dry fully before putting it in, it will hold up fine.

Enjoy the pictures belooowww, and be sure to comment. I am interested to see pics of your designs, as well.