An in-ground swimming pool is a luxury many people simply can't afford, and the maintenance is something for which many people don't have time. That's why so many people have turned to the humble but wonderful DIY stock tank pool, which really started trending over the summer of 2020 when people couldn't visit public pools or those at their friends' homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Just because these pools require less upkeep than others doesn't mean they require no effort whatsoever, however. That's why it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the most common problems associated with a typical stock tank pool before you create your own backyard oasis — and learn the solutions to keep them clean and safe.
Stock Tank Pools Aren't Easy to Purchase
Unlike a traditional above-ground pool, you can't buy a stock tank pool at your local pool retailer. Instead, you'll have to head to a farm supply store (or an online vendor, such as Tractor Supply Company), and it won't necessarily be able to answer your questions about pool maintenance and installation since the stock tanks are sold so animals can drink, not so people can swim.
Similarly, these companies generally expect farmers to be able to pick up the products themselves, so few of these companies offer delivery. This means you'll need to have a truck ready to move your (possibly very large) tank or shop around to find a company that delivers. Keep in mind that delivery fees may also add quite a bit to your budget, though a stock pool will still cost far less than any of the alternatives.
Of course, that doesn't mean you can skip the pool supply store altogether. To prevent mosquitoes and algae buildup, you'll also want to purchase a water filter pump combo system, hoses, a pool skimmer, pool chemicals and more. Remember that bigger isn't better when it comes to pool pumps, as more powerful systems require more water to function properly.
Buying the Right Tank Requires Research
Before buying your stock tank, you'll need to do some research on the right material and tank size for your needs. Many people buy the first tank they find without knowing whether it's really right for them.
Plastic tanks are easier to move because they weigh less, won't rust and don't conduct heat as well as metal, so a light-colored pool may be a bit cooler than a metal tank pool. On the downside, they can crack if subject to heavy impact, and the material makes them more difficult to scrub clean. It's also worth noting that some models need a separate frame to support them and that dark-colored tanks can absorb sunlight and may be just as warm as a metal stock pool. Galvanized metal tanks, on the other hand, are easier to clean, difficult to break and always self-supporting, but they are a little more expensive, are subject to rust and corrosion and may have slightly warmer water in the summer.
As for size, a tank that is too small won't feel comfortable for you and your friends and family members, but one that is too large can be a huge waste of water, especially if you just want somewhere to cool off really quick. Stock tanks come in round and rectangular sizes, measuring from 2 feet wide to 10 feet wide, and they can hold anywhere from 25 to 800 gallons of water.
When buying a stock tank for a pool, always look for a design that holds at least 80 gallons of water and that is at least 5 feet wide. An 8-foot-wide round tank is the most common size. It holds 700 gallons of water and can comfortably hold two lounging floaters or eight people. Look for a tank with a drainage spigot to make draining the pool easier, or you might find yourself struggling to tip over the whole thing. Most tanks are 2 feet deep, so if you want more than a wading pool, you may want to get a traditional above-ground pool instead.
Stock Tank Pools Can't Go Just Anywhere
Once you have all the supplies, you'll need to find a suitable location that can support a very heavy tank of water filled with people. Be particularly cautious when installing a stock tank pool on a deck, as it may not have enough support for the weight of a stock tank pool. There are many horror stories online about decks collapsing under the weight of a full stock tank pool. Ideally, the tank should be placed on a level patch of solid ground that is free from rocks. The location should be within 25 feet of an electrical outlet so the pool pump can be plugged in since manufacturers do not recommend using an extension cord for pool pumps.
The DIY Installation Process Isn't Easy
You'll need to be prepared to cut a lot of holes in the stock tank to change it from an animal's watering area into a bonafide stock tank pool that has a built-in filtration system. This is a real DIY project, and you need to have plumbers' tape and epoxy ready to fill any holes around the hoses so the pool doesn't leak. Be sure to watch plenty of videos on how to turn a tank into a pool before you attempt to do it yourself. Some people bypass the use of pumps and filters, but this means you'll need to dump out the water after every use or be prepared for the pool to become a slimy breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Slimy Algae Buildup and Mosquitoes
Two of the biggest problems are slime building up on the sides of the pool and mosquitoes buzzing around the pool. The slime is algae, and it will build up on any surface filled with standing water. Algae doesn't just look and feel gross; it can also result in bacterial growth in the pool and can irritate your skin.
Mosquitoes tend to congregate around standing water because that's where they lay their eggs, which will hatch into underwater mosquito larvae before the bugs emerge from the water as fully grown bloodsuckers. The good news is that algae and mosquito problems are avoidable with basic DIY pool maintenance, which also keeps the water in your pool free from debris and dirt as well.
Skim the surface of the pool regularly and consider using a pool vacuum to keep the bottom of the tank clean. Invest in a quality pool pump and pool filter (or filter pump combo) since this will move the water around and filter out algae and mosquito larvae. Pool chemicals also help kill off algae and mosquito eggs, but you don't have to commit to chlorine tabs. If you prefer fewer chemicals in the pool, you can have a saltwater pool. The important thing is that there is sufficient pH to kill off any problematic microorganisms.
If you forgot to run your pump for too long or neglect to maintain the proper chemical balance, the best thing to do is simply drain the water, scrub the tub with soapy water and refill the whole thing again. When you do this, be aware that your whole yard will likely end up swampy for some time because there is so much water in most stock tank pools.
Some people prefer to fill and drain the pool every time they use it rather than installing a filter and pump and adding chemicals to the pool. In order to do this properly, you'll need to not just drain the majority of the water after use but also use a towel to ensure the surface of the tank is fully dried as even a small amount of untreated standing water can become contaminated with dangerous bacteria. It's a good idea to use a tarp to cover the tank or flip it upside down between uses when it is empty in order to avoid having rainwater or water from sprinklers get into the tank since this water can get contaminated as well.
Of course, even with proper maintenance, you may still get bit by mosquitoes while in your pool. If this is a problem in your area, you can hang a mosquito net from your roof or a nearby tree so it wraps around your pool, which will keep mosquitoes away from swimmers.
Corrosion and Rust on Stock Tank Pools
One benefit of a plastic tank is the fact that it won't corrode and rust like a galvanized stock tank pool. Of course, farmers wouldn't bother buying water tanks that immediately start to rust, so the good news is that metal tanks are reasonably rust-resistant. Unfortunately, the main thing that causes rust in these tanks is the very thing that keeps them protected from algae and mosquitoes: the addition of chlorine, which corrodes the metal. However, chlorine tablets only corrode the metal when they are put directly into the water, which allows them to make direct contact with the surface of the tank. All you need to do to prevent rust is put the tablets in a chlorine float instead. You could also consider sealing the inside of the tank with a rubber coating, like Flex Seal, before using it.
Excessive Heat Conduction
A common concern people have about metal stock tanks is that they will make the water dangerously hot. The good news is that while metal is fairly conductive when it comes to heat, it doesn't make the water too hot to use, though the conductivity may heat the water a bit above the overall air temperature if the pool is placed in direct sunlight. This conductivity also means that the water in a metal tank will cool down fairly quickly at night. In addition, it's worth keeping in mind that plastic conducts heat too, though not as effectively as metal. That being said, dark-colored pools may absorb heat from the sun just as well as a silver metal tank since dark colors absorb more light.
If you prefer your pool water to be nice and cool during the day, you can simply place the pool in a shady place, use a pool cover (or tarp) when the pool is not in use or just buy a plastic tank in a light color, such as white, blue or cream.
It is important to note that the edges of metal tanks can become pretty hot in direct sun. You can fix this problem by building a deck around the rim or simply slicing some pool noodles in half lengthwise and placing them along the edges of the pool.
- Fatherly: Stock Tank Pools Are Here to Save Your Summer
- New York Times: How I Made a Stock Tank Pool My Backyard Oasis
- The Budget Decorator: DIY Stock Tank Pool! Stay Cool!
- Stock Tank Pool Authority: Frequently Asked Questions
- Bob Vila: 6 Things to Know Before Setting Up a Stock Tank Pool
- Country Living: 5 of the Biggest Problems People Have with Stock Tank Pools — and How to Prevent Them
- Simplemost: How To Fix The Most Common Problems With Stock Tank Pools
Jill Harness is a blogger with experience covering architecture, design and decor trends from around the globe. As she lives in what would politely be called a "fixer upper," she is particularly interested in writing about DIY projects and repairs. Most of her home design writing can be found at www.homesandhues.com. You can find out more about Jill's experience and learn how to contact her through her website, www.jillharness.com.