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Stock Tank Pools Are Here to Save Your Summer

They're a pain in the ass. They're also worth it.

Stock tanks, traditionally used as livestock watering tanks, are now being shipped en masse to the suburbs for use as makeshift pools. The reasons for this detour are complicated and multivariate but can be more or less boiled down to one word: Instagram. Rustic images of kids and adults chilling in backyard stock tank pools have become increasingly common over the last few years, raising non-farm demand. Pools are great. Splashing around in them is great. And stock tank pools definitely look great as kiddy pool alternatives. Still, it’s worth noting that installing a stock tank pool is a job, and livestock water tanks aren’t true replacements for swimming pools. If you’re up for the challenge, however, the benefits are pretty real. Stock tank pools are far sturdier than their blow-up counterparts, and way, way more affordable than their in-ground or even above-ground compatriots.

Get wet. Get very, very wet, in this 8 by 7 foot wide large stock tank pool with a depth of a little over two feet.

Pool retailers still do not sell or install non-farm stock tank pools. To find a stock tank, you’ll have to go to a farm store where they sell tanks of various sizes. The tanks, which range from $150-$400, aren’t an over-the-counter solution to the backyard swimming problem (note that even above-ground pools can run you in excess of $1,200). They can be upwards of 150 pounds, making the transfer from a delivery truck to your backyard difficult.  And in order to create a usable stock tank pool, you must have holes cut into the side of the tank to install — with quite a lot of epoxy — a water filter pump.

This 550 gallon capacity traditional stock tank is 7 feet wide and 2 feet deep. Most importantly, it comes with a drain plug and a one year warranty.

The installation itself is fairly basic: You choose a flat area in your yard, deposit the stock tank, add the ground pool pump/filter, and you’re in business.

Since this is a DIY project, there’s no universal way to custom fit the tank for personal needs. Customizing your stock tank pool might include cutting holes to include water hoses, water removal pumps, or tank heaters. Or you can skip the pump, cut your losses, and either empty the water after each use or accept your fate of soaking in a filthy, mosquito-bitten reservoir.

If you can't score a stock tank, this is a good alternative. It can fit a family of five, and its compartmentalized air chambers ensure that one hole won't take down the whole pool.

Customization aside, there are best practices, and Stacey Maaser, a mother of five children, and blogger at Embracing Motherhood has cracked the stock tank tub code. Last year, she installed a stock tank tub and wrote about it.

The biggest challenge, Maaser says, is keeping the DIY stock tank pool clean. Maaser says she dumps the tank water about two-to-three times every summer and tries to avoid algae build-up with bleach or a strong natural cleanser. She dumps the water by tipping over the tank and it swamps up the yard. She could have bought an inexpensive above-ground pool pump but she’s not worried about it. That’s easy stuff. The harder stuff is making sure the leaks are unintentional. Maaser notes that cutting the holes into the tank is the most critical step.

This inflatable family pool inflates in just three minutes and is thicker (and therefore more durable) than most.

“It’s getting the right cut, the right fit with the attachment pieces and using plumber’s tape and epoxy,” she says.

Lifestyle bloggers the Joshua Tree House posted a pretty comprehensive list of how to set up and maintain a stock pool. They recommend treating your pool once a week to “keep consistent chlorine and pH levels” and replace the filter every 2-3 months. You want to use pool test strips to check the aforementioned pH and chlorine levels, and chlorine tablets to keep the water clean.

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