Since summer looked a little different last year, we added a Stock Tank Pool to the backyard as a vacation substitute. We figured if we couldn’t go to the beach, the beach could come to us. Or at least a beach like experience. Since then I have received tons of questions on our stock tank pool and how we set it up. With summer right around the corner, I am spilling all the details on our DIY stock tank pool setup, how we keep it clean, where to buy them and answering all your burning questions. We even built a deck and added a sunbed! SO, who’s ready to go for a swim?
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Stock Tank Pool Set up
2 – Plunger Valves (10747)
1 – Threaded Strainer Connector (10744)
1 – Strainer Nut (10256)
1 – Strainer Grid (11072)
Extra Rubber Rings
Chlorine Test Strips
Flamingo Drink Floats
* NOTE if you plan to set up a stock pool for use this summer, I HIGHLY recommend ordering these parts ASAP. Last year everywhere was sold out by the end of June.
Before we dive into this project, I want to give you a little back story. Several years ago we made over backyard which included a fire pit area we dug out a few years before. But the original state of this space was tragic to say the least. This is what it looked like in the VERY beginning.
So when we decided to add a stock tank pool, this was the perfect spot.
Buy the stock tank. Stock tanks are meant to provide water for livestock on farms and can be found at farm and ranch supply stores like Tractor Supply. We purchased ours locally at Stockyards Ranch Supply in Denver.
They come in several different diameters but are usually 2 feet deep. Our stock tank pool is 8 feet in diameter and holds 718 gallons of water. It is big enough for Barry and I to both float on a raft at the same time. FYI, most places do not deliver these, so you will need a truck or have to bribe a friend. Beer is usually a good incentive 😉
Level out an area to set up your stock tank. The area we chose to put our pool is where our fire pit used to be and was already dug out to accommodate pea gravel. Since we literally have several tons of rocks there, we decided they needed to stay. However, we did temporarily move the rocks from the area to properly level the ground. We used a pick axe and a tamper to level out the ground. This part was not fun.
The pool does need to be quite level, otherwise you may end up with a leak due to the pressure of the water leaning to one side. We spent a lot of time on this step using a four foot level duct taped to a long 2×4 to ensure the ground was as level as possible.
Then we used paver base and paver sand to make minor adjustments under where the tank would sit. This filled in any low spots and made sure there were no bumpy spots under the pool. There is no pea gravel under the pool. ONLY around it.
Place the stock tank pool where you want to set it up. Our eight foot pool weighs 180 lbs (empty) but we were able to lift it into place just the two of us. Once it was set, we again checked to ensure it was still level from side to side and front to back.
Step 4 (optional)
Since we already had tons of pea gravel, we replaced the weed barrier around the pool and filled the area back up with pea gravel. At this point we also marked out the area for the deck.
Step 5 (Optional)
Paint the pool. I really wanted a black pool so I decided to paint ours. There is definitely some debate on painting stock tanks since they are galvanized steel which paint has a difficult time adhering to. I decided to give it a go anyway. I cleaned the outside off with water and vinegar and then washed it down with dawn dish soap before I painted it.
I used Behr Exterior flat in the color Black (the actual color name) with a foam roller. I had to apply about two and a half coats to achieve a smooth, clean finish. I decided not to paint the top rim of the pool since it would be the most prone to scratches and I think that was a good call. I have also seen where some people have painted the inside of their pools as well, but I didn’t want to be repainting it each year so I decided against that.
If you paint your pool in the heat of the summer like I did, do not leave your plastic paint tray sitting in the hot sun. They do melt. I may or mat not have learned this the hard way.
Step 6 (Optional)
Build the deck. We really liked the idea of making this a fun hangout spot so we added a partial deck around the pool. I will cover this in another post in a few weeks, but if you want to add a deck, this is the time in the process I would do it. Full tutorial coming soon.
Drill the holes for the pool pump. In order to keep water circulating and clean, we added a pump. To accommodate this, we drilled two holes in the side of the stock tank with this hole saw and our drill. These holes should be drilled under the waterline, on the flat part of the tank, not over the ridges.
I am not going to lie, this is difficult to drill. Be very careful because the drill will pull and if you are not careful it may swing around and hit you. It took us about 20 minutes to drill both holes. I also recommend doing this on the back side of the pool because the pump will need to sit close by. Ours is on the back right side of the pool.
Setup the pool pump. The pump should be convenient to get to so you can change the filters easily and troubleshoot leaks if needed. First, you will attach the water intake and outtake to the inside of the pool and then plunger valves on the outside. We used one rubber ring on the inside and outside of each attachment to make a tight seal with the tank. We bought the extras here.
Then we attached the pump and hoses but left the valves closed. See the FAQ below for details on the stock tank pool set up parts.
Fill it with water. We only filled our stock tank pool just past the valves so we could test for leaks. This way if it leaked we didn’t have to drain as much water into the yard. DO NOT add chlorine yet. If you have to drain it, you don’t want to kill your grass.
To test for leaks we used my highly scientific, patent pending method. Paper towels 😉 But seriously, this works. Place a paper towel under the valves and let the pump run for 15 minutes or so. If there are drip marks on the paper towel, you have a leak or the nuts are not tight enough against the pool. They need to be VERY tight.
Fill up the stock tank pool all the way once you are certain there are no leaks. This is when we added the chlorine. We have this shark fin tablet dispenser and these chlorine test strips. Because it’s a small pool and the dispenser is a little top heavy we added some rocks to the bottom of the dispenser and 3-4 tablets to get the pool going. Once the PH was good, we probably only added one tablet a week to the dispenser, but this will vary based on use and your water’s natural PH. I do not recommend adding chlorine directly to the water.
Add pool floats and drink floats and enjoy! PS. Marvin still will not get in the pool even though he is incredibly curious, haha!
Stock Tank Pool FAQ
How often do you change the filter and add water?
We change our filter about once a month. This will vary based on how frequently you use the pool, if you have a cover, and how often you skim it. We loose about an inch of water a week to evaporation. We try to keep our water in between the first groove on the pool and the top edge. We did not drain the pool until the end of the season.
What do you do in the winter?
As I am writing this, the pool is buried in 2 feet of snow. Back in October we drained the pool for the season and disconnected the pump and put it in the shed. The stock tank does have a bung hole plug in the front that you can open to drain it but we decided to use this instead. It hooks up to the hose and sucks the water out which we drained to the street. Several weeks before we drained the pool we stopped adding chlorine tablets to the dispenser and let the PH neutralize before draining.
Do you have a cover?
No. We did attempt to cover the pool with a tarp for the winter, but it did not hold up to the snow and now seems like a waste. I was just hoping to save some time cleaning. During pool season we use a skimmer to get leaves out that are too big for the pump.
I’m confused about the parts. What comes with the pump and what do I have to buy seperately?
I totally understand! This part is super confusing. The pool pump comes with the hoses, one filter and the inlet fitting. Separately you will need the below parts (5 in total). We ordered a kit which we thought included everything but it did not. So we ended up ordering additional parts directly from Intex which took almost 2 weeks to get. I have linked the extra parts individually at the top of this post. If you want to set up your stock tank pool for use this summer I HIGHLY recommend ordering ASAP because these parts sell out!
Does the pump run all the time?
No. Ours runs for two hours a day which we found to be enough. The pump we have has a timer and it kicks on at the same time every day.
How do you keep it clean?
The pump filters the water and anything larger like leaves, we use a skimmer for.
Why a stock tank pool instead of an above ground pool?
We don’t have a ton of space for an above ground pool and liked that we could customize the stock tank a bit more. Blue plastic isn’t really for me.
Can you turn it into a hot tub?
I have seen many others do this but we do not plan to turn ours into a hot tub.
Does the metal get hot?
No, the rim of the tank stays fairly neutral even in the hot sun.
Does the water get hot?
Over the summer the temperature of the water did get a little warmer, but we also did not drain ours until the end of the season so little fresh water was added. In my opinion, the water was always refreshing and sometimes chilly, even in the dead of the summer.
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