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Published: Sep 7, 2021, 3:00pm
Enjoying a slice of tropical paradise doesn’t have to mean flying to a remote island. It doesn’t even have to mean digging up your backyard for an in-ground pool or constructing an above-ground pool.
When you set up a stock tank pool, it’s so easy because the pool comes pre-assembled and nearly ready for use. After just a few adaptations, you can change this sturdy steel tank, normally meant for farm use, into a water-filled backyard paradise.
A stock tank pool starts with a stock tank: a round or oval galvanized steel tank meant for supplying water to livestock. Since stock tanks are built with the safety of the animals in mind—with rounded metal lips, smooth surfaces and no sharp edges—they’re perfect for humans who want to splash around in them, too.
Along with cost, one factor that will influence your stock tank purchase is the size of the tank. Personal-size oval stock tanks are two to three feet wide and up to eight feet long. Tanks max out at round versions 10 feet in diameter.
All stock tanks are two feet deep. When shopping, be careful to buy a stock tank, not a sheep tank. Sheep tanks are only one-foot deep.
Conventional above-ground pools come disassembled, so they can be transported in the back of many vehicles. Not so with stock tanks; they come welded together and fully assembled.
So, you’ll need to assess your transportation options. Unless you’re buying a slim oval model, most stock tanks will not fit in pickups or SUVs. Factor the cost of stock tank delivery into the total cost of the stock tank pool.
Watch for different gauges of the galvanized steel, even in stock tanks of the same size. Smaller gauge numbers actually mean thicker steel. So, a 20 gauge steel stock tank is thicker than a 22 gauge stock tank.
Though shallow, stock tank pools are still deep enough to present a drowning hazard. In terms of safety, treat a stock tank pool as you would any other pool: install a safety barrier at least four feet high or provide a locking safety cover. In many places, pool safety measures are legally mandated. Check with your local department of health for safety recommendations or mandates.
The best location for the stock tank pool is one that is completely level and flat. Be mindful of the weight, so don’t locate the stock tank on a deck. An eight-foot round stock tank pool plus water weighs about 6,000 pounds.
Keep the stock tank pool within 15 feet of the house for access to the home’s GFCI outlet for the pump/filter.
Lay the two-by-four on the site in several different directions to check for level. Fill holes with landscape gravel. Grade down high spots with the shovel or screed them with the two-by-four.
Set the stock tank on end and roll it to the setup area. It’s best to have an assistant help you. Center the stock tank on the spot. Check along the edges underneath for any depressions in the ground. If so, lift the side of the tank and prop it up with wood while you add landscape gravel to the spot. Then, gently rest the tank back into position.
Add about a foot of water to the stock tank. Check for leaks along the base edge of the pool, where the bottom is welded to the sides. Small leaks can be patched with silicone caulk.
Check the diameter of the plastic hose fittings on the pool filter/pump. In many cases, this is 2-3/4 inches, but some filter/pump combinations have smaller fittings. Choose an area of the side of the tank about one foot below the upper edge. The area should be smooth and not located on one of the tank’s ridges or indentations.
After drilling the hole, use the metal file to smooth the edges of the hole and remove any metal burrs.
Screw the hose fittings into the hole on the side of the tank. Attach the hoses to the fittings. Follow the instructions to make sure you assemble the fittings in the correct order with all of the necessary gaskets.
Use the shop vacuum to thoroughly clean the inside of the stock tank pool, especially the metal filings.
Fill the stock tank pool with water. Plug the filter or pump into the GFCI outlet. Run the filter/pump according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Maintain the pool by regularly adding chlorination tablets to the filter/pump, checking and cleaning the filter, replacing the filter as needed and skimming the pool’s surface.
While there aren’t many professionals who will build a stock tank pool for you, there are pros who can help with aspects along the way. Speak to representatives at your local pool and spa supply store for information about the best type of pump/filter for your stock tank pool.
If you have a difficult site for a stock tank pool, hire a landscaping company to grade and smooth it for you. And you may choose to hire a contractor or deck company to build decking around the pool.
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Lee is a home improvement writer and content creator. As a professional home expert and an avid do-it-yourselfer, he has decades of experience at fixing up and writing about houses. When he’s not wielding a drill or hammer, Lee loves to untangle difficult home topics for readers across a range of media outlets.
Samantha is an editor who covers all topics home-related including home improvement and repair. She edited home repair and design content at websites like The Spruce and HomeAdvisor. She also has hosted videos on DIY home tips and solutions and launched multiple home improvement review boards staffed with licensed pros.