DIY Stock Tank Pool | Stock Tank Pool 2022

You’ve seen them on Instagram or other social media platforms. Quaint, redneck-y, trendy, stock tank pools. There was a time when I passingly considered them “cute.” But then the pandemic hit and we were faced with spending a summer at home—no water parks, no public pools, no visiting friends’ pools. With a 5-year-old to keep busy for the summer, I suddenly started to look at a stock tank pool as something we needed. So, after a frantic search for the biggest stock tank possible, an afternoon of research, and an Amazon order, the project was set in motion.

In a few days, I had everything I needed to get started. It took me a day to figure things out and get it set up, and another day a short while later to go overboard and add a small deck. I’m sharing how I set up ours as a general guide on how to build your own DIY stock tank pool. Below is a list of things you’ll need. I’ve provided the items I used, but you should pick the sizes or models that work best for your pool. If you choose a smaller tank, you might want to use a smaller pump and filter. Or, if your tank is much smaller, you might forgo the pump and filter altogether and just refill it when you want to use it. Be prepared to improvise a little, as you’ll be connecting things that may not have originally been intended to work together.

Stock Tank Pool Materials and Supplies

    Note: I have legitimate reasons—beyond style, aesthetics, or being trendy—for choosing to build a stock tank pool, even though there are plenty of small, soft-sided, inflatable pools available to buy as kits all ready to install. While these other pools seem to be reasonably durable, there’s always a concern about puncturing the pool material. This is also something to keep in mind with the pools designed with a tube frame and exposed sides. With a metal or poly stock tank, there’s very little risk of damaging it with a string trimmer, debris kicked up by a lawn mower, kids swinging sticks, or dogs trying to get in or out.

    Planning and Selecting Components

    The first thing is to determine the size of stock tank you want—this decision will guide what other parts you’ll need. It helps to understand what a stock tank actually is, in order to know where best to find one. Typically, stock tanks are used on farms for watering or feeding livestock—so farm supply stores and farm and garden classifieds were where I was looking. I wanted the biggest one possible, but if you’re setting one up, consider where you’re putting it before settling on a size. I liked the rustic farm aesthetic of a galvanized metal tank, so I was going to get this 8-foot-wide by 2-foot-high model made by CountyLine. But at the last minute I settled on a Behlen Country 9-foot-wide poly tank that I found on Facebook Marketplace for $150. Aside from being wider, the poly tank was also 4 inches taller.

    stacked galvanized stock tanks

    A stack of galvanized steel stock tanks at our local Tractor Supply Store.

    Bradley Ford

    The stock tank I chose had a capacity of almost 1,000 gallons, so I wanted a robust pump with a decent filter. I ended up choosing an Intex Krystal Clear cartridge filer pump with a 1,000 gallon-per-hour flow rate. This should be able to filter all the water in the pool every hour. Note that Intex makes most of the things I used in my pool—they’re inexpensive and have held up reasonably well. In addition to the pump and filter, I also wanted a skimmer to catch debris that fell into the water before it sank and cluttered the bottom. The skimmer isn’t necessary, but I have our pool situated near a tree to provide some afternoon shade and expected to have some leaves to deal with. The last major pool accessory was a ladder. If you have kids that will be using the pool, it’s an important thing to have for safety.

    You will also need some pool maintenance basics for testing and treating water. Dealing with the water quality was one of my biggest worries. Eventually, I found a simple test kit that was super easy to use. For chlorination, I got a small floating chlorine dispenser and 1-inch chlorine tablets. I found that adding three to four tablets every three to four days kept the chlorine level in the desired range. You’ll want to get these things before the pool is set up so you can treat the water as soon as it’s filled.

    Set the Stock Tank

    laying out a space for a stock tank pool

    Bradley Ford

    Once you’ve got all the parts, the next thing to do is make sure the place you want to put your stock tank is level. In my case, I did this by using a 2×6 and a level. I then used a stake, a rope, and some survey marking paint to mark the outline where the tank would go. The bottom of my tank was a little over 8 feet across, so the I tied the rope to the stake, measured 4 feet and a couple of inches on the rope, tied it to the can, and then sprayed the paint on the grass in a big circle.

    leveling the ground for a stock tank pool

    Bradley Ford

    I used a shovel to cut around the circle and then remove all the grass and a little dirt on one side. Strictly speaking, if you ground is pretty level, you could just drop the stock tank where you want it—it’ll be fine. My location was over an inch high on one side, and I wanted it level, so I cleared and leveled it. The second year I set the pool up, I got a couple bags of play sand to make the spot even flatter.

    Installing Fittings in the Stock Tank

    If you’re using a pump and a filter like the one I chose, you’ll need to drill/cut holes in the side of your stock tank for the inlet and outlet lines. Doing this and installing the inlet and outlet housings are the most important steps in setting up your stock tank pool. They need to be secure and sealed so they won’t leak.

    stock tank pool outlet flange

    Fastening the pump inlet flange inside the stock tank. Use the largest fender washers you can to help distribute the pressure and seal the flange. I filed away two edges on each of the washers to fit better.

    Bradley Ford

    The pool pump and filter I chose came with all the fittings to connect it to a pool. But you’re connecting it to a stock tank, so you’ll need a couple of more things. First, cut two holes in the stock tank to mount the inlet and outlet. I used a 1 and 3⁄8-inch hole saw and a drill to do this. Then cut gaskets from a sheet of silicone material to go between the tank wall and the inlet and outlet flanges. I simply traced the flanges onto the silicone and cut them out. Then drill four holes through the flanges, gasket, and pool wall.

    pump inlet installed on a stock tank pool

    On the outside of the stock tank, you can use plain washers with nylock nuts. Don’t over-tighten them; the gasket will seal fine with them just snugged up.

    Bradley Ford

    Using stainless-steel machine screws, stainless-steel fender washers, stainless-steel plain washers, and nylock nuts, I fastened the inlet and outlet to the tank walls. You don’t need to crank them down super tight, in fact doing that can deform the plastic and cause the gasket to not seal. Just tighten them down snug.

    intex cartridge filter hoses

    The original hose that came with the pump and filter were easy to connect with thumb screws. But I eventually replaced them with tougher vinyl reinforced hoses.

    Bradley Ford

    Connecting the Pump and Filter

    With the inlet and outlet installed, you can simply follow the directions that came with the pump to connect it to the inlet and outlets with the included hose and clamps. The hose was a little flimsy, and the clamps alway leaked just a little bit, so when I set up the pool the second year, I replaced them with much tougher 1.25-inch ID vinyl-reinforced hose and stainless-steel hose clamps. For one of the fittings, I had to make a bushing out of 1-inch ID vinyl hose to size it down to fit.

    vinyl reinforced pool hoses

    I replaced the original hoses with tougher material that won’t be easily damaged.

    Bradley Ford

    When I first set it up, I noticed the pump could easily be knocked over. The base of the pump house has holes in it, so I screwed it to a square piece of plywood to stabilize it. When I built a small deck for the pool, I included a shelf where the pump could be mounted.

    mounting the pump for a stock tank pool

    Originally the pump was attached to a square of plywood to keep it from falling over. When I built a deck for the pool, I included a shelf to anchor the pump to.

    Bradley Ford

    Plug the Drain Hole and Fill the Pool Up

    put a plug or valve in the stock tank drain hole

    Bradley Ford

    If your tank gas a hole to drain it, you’ll need to put a plug in it before filling the pool. The poly stock tank I used had an NPT (National Pipe Thread) threaded aluminum insert in the drain hole. I used PVC fittings, which won’t react with the aluminum and seize, to connect a ball valve so I can easily drain the pool. You could also use a PVC pipe plug to seal it up. With the drain closed up, you can fill the pool up.

    Plug in the Pump and Start It Up

    The pump comes equipped with a Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) plug, so that if there is any electrical fault, it will “trip” and cut off power to the pump. You will still need to protect the plug from water though. If your pump is close to an outdoor outlet with a weatherproof cover, that’s an ideal place to plug it in. If not, you’ll need to use a heavy extension cord and a weatherproof connection enclosure to ensure the plug doesn’t get wet and your pool guests don’t get electrocuted.

    In a pinch to get our pool going, I actually made a weatherproof box for the plug out of a locking food storage container with a gasket. This was attached to the side of the pool deck, and the holes the cords feed through are all on the bottom of the box.

    weatherproof connection enclosure

    A weatherproof connection closure made from a locking food container.

    Bradley Ford

    Once everything is set up and filled, you should run your pump and filter 8-12 hours a day. I’ve found that the cartridge filters generally last about two weeks before they need to be replaced, and I empty out the skimmer every other day.

    Add a Skimmer

    stock tank pool skimmer

    Bradley Ford

    Installing the skimmer was a relatively simple task, following the instructions it came with. The skimmer is designed to mount over the round edge of a rigid pool frame, but the edge of my poly stock tank is kind of square. So, in order for the clamp to grip it, I had to cut a strip of PVC pipe and screw it to the rim of the stock tank.

    pool skimmer mounted on a stock tank pool

    A strip of PVC pipe gives the pool skimmer clamp something to grab onto.

    Bradley Ford

    Test and Treat the Water

    Water quality was initially something I worried about, but I found a simple test kit that is very easy to use. To treat the water, I got a small floating chlorine dispenser and used 1-inch chlorine tablets. Once I had the chlorine level in the right range, I found that adding three or four tablets every three to four days maintained it. I typically test the water once a day—it takes less than a minute—because extreme weather can cause levels to drop sometimes. This is especially true on very hot days or following heavy rains.

    Cool Off and Enjoy Your DIY Stock Tank Pool

    dog in a stock tank pool

    Bradley Ford

    Get creative and add a deck, sink it into your patio, or add a slide dropping into it. Whatever you do, enjoy your summer, cool off, and have fun in your stock tank pool.

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