You want it all from your backyard pool. You want it to be affordable, easy to install, and fun for the whole family. A stock tank pool could be the answer … if your family is small enough!
What is a Stock Tank Pool?
Stock tanks are oversized metal buckets designed to provide drinking water to horses, cattle, and other livestock. Not so long ago, some handy person used a little imagination, ingenuity, and plumbing supplies to transform a stock tank into a pool. A trend was born!
One writer called them "the Mason jars of backyard pools" – both have a simple, homey vibe. And like Mason jars, stock tanks can be purchased at farm supply and home improvement stores.
A stock tank pool is like a kiddie pool for adults. Yes, their galvanized-steel frames make them sturdier than plastic kiddie pools. But the comparison works for the pools' sizes relative to body size. One adult can stretch out their legs in a stock tank pool; or they can invite friends for a crowded pool party with lots of legs hanging over the sidewall.
Sized for Fun
Round stock tanks range in size from three-feet to 8-feet in diameter. Capsule-shaped stock tanks are also available, but they tend to be quite narrow. Stock tanks have a depth of about two feet, so they can work well as a wading pool or plunge pool.
It's easy for one person to relax in a stock tank pool (temperature permitting) as most adults can lean back and soak immersed to the neck. They're ideal for summer as the steel structure keeps the water cool. For cooler weather, or if you prefer warmer water, you could connect a pump and water heater.
Of course, stock tank pools are too small to function as swimming pools, and they're too shallow for aquatic exercise or therapy.
Water Maintenance for Stock Tank Pools
A sustainable pool of any type must be more than just a tub filled with water. An appropriately sized pool pump and filter are recommended for stock tank pools, just as they are for traditional backyard pools.
If you don't treat the water just as you would in a traditional pool, then you'll have to change out all the water on a regular basis – perhaps as often as once a week. And while small by pool standards, a stock tank pool can still hold hundreds of gallons of water!
Without a pump to keep the water moving, the standing water will quickly become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Also, algae will build up in a stagnant stock tank pool. Algae contribute to the growth of unhealthy bacteria in the water, make surfaces dangerously slippery, and can irritate your skin.
It would also be wise to check the pH of your stock tank pool water on a regular basis, the same as with a traditional pool. Be aware that chlorine will encourage galvanized steel to corrode. A chlorine float, which slowly disperses the chlorine into the water, can help minimize the damage.
Unlike conventional pools, stock tanks do not come standard with a pump and a filter because they aren't manufactured for use as pools. Handy people can use some basic tools and know-how to drill holes in the galvanized steel, attach the necessary equipment, and seal the fittings with a marine-grade sealant.
Installing a Stock Tank Pool
A stock tank pool can be installed above-ground, in-ground, or partially in-ground.
To install an above-ground stock tank pool, you need a solid, level surface. Unlike larger, traditional pools, a cement slab is not necessary; stock tank pools are shallow and so they weigh significantly less per square foot. Compacted sand and crushed granite would be sufficient.
If you plan a little excavation for your stock tank pool, be sure to allow room for pumps and hoses. For your peace of mind, a licensed electrician is recommended for any hookups where water and electricity are involved.
Is it Right for You?
A stock tank pool can be fun for the whole family. The small size certainly presents some limitations. But if you're in the market for a small garden pond, plunge pool, or wading pool, then a stock tank pool could transform your backyard … or at least a small section of it!