What To Know About Stock Tank Pools

Often referred to as the adult version of a kiddie pool, stock tank pools are taking social media by storm. Is one right for your backyard?

According to a recent home improvement survey by Thumbtack, homeowners are expected to spend upwards of $1,000 on their backyards this summer. “Compared to the same time last year, we’re seeing an increase in interest for backyard upgrades and additions taking outdoor living to the next level,” the report states.

If Instagram is any indication, much of this interest centers around the concept of stock tank pools (check out #stocktankpools to see what we mean). It’s an option some aspiring pool owners consider more affordable and accessible but just as much fun as a traditional in- or above-ground swimming pool.

What is a Stock Tank Pool?

A stock tank pool is exactly what the name implies — a pool made out of a stock tank, AKA a large galvanized metal tub. Is this the same sort of metal tub that farmers use to water livestock? Yes!

“In Texas, you see them used for cows and emus,” says Lauren Attal, co-owner of Austin-based Sister Stocks and Co., which sells and installs stock tank pools.

Stock tanks are typically 24 inches deep. They are available in diameters from two feet all the way to 10 feet, but Attal says the eight-foot model is popular for pools. This size holds about 800 gallons of water.

Having trouble getting past the fact that this is an animal watering trough? Rest assured: Part of the appeal of stock tank pools is that they allow for lots of design versatility. So even though they are watering troughs, they don’t necessarily look like water troughs once everything is said and done.

A few design ideas to consider:

Stock Tank Pools Pros and Cons

Is a stock tank pool a good choice for your family? As with anything, you need to weigh the pros and cons before making this decision.

The pros of stock tank pools:

  • Stock tank pools are less expensive than many other types of pools. The cost of an in-ground pool, for example, starts at around $25,000. Stock tank pools are a fraction of that. (See pricing details below.)
  • While cleaning and maintenance are required, the tasks are straightforward and don’t take a ton of time, especially if you do them regularly. If you are familiar with cleaning in-ground or other above-ground pools, cleaning a stock tank pool will feel like a piece of cake.
  • Once you have the supplies and equipment, a stock tank pool can be set up quickly.
  • They’re sturdy and stand up well to the elements.
  • You can warm the water with a heat pump.
  • Most importantly, they are great fun, says Attal. Two full-sized air mattresses or floaties can easily fit in one stock tank pool.

The cons of stock tank pools:

  • Demand can be high, says Attal. Likewise, supply is low. This means procuring a tank and all the associated supplies can be challenging.
  • Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other bugs. If you don’t properly maintain your pool, this will become a problem.
  • While installation and set-up is doable for a moderately handy DIYer, it is nearly impossible to haul stock tank pools on your own. “Just getting them home can be a challenge,” says Attal. Larger stock tanks sometimes require wide load permits and specialized trailers.
  • This isn’t a con so much as something to be aware of — stock tank pools do require chlorine. Attal recommends using two chlorine tablets each week to keep the water clean. Unfortunately, some parts of the U.S. are experiencing chlorine shortages, thanks to recent mishaps at chlorine plants in Louisiana and Washington state. This could hinder you from staying on schedule with the tablets.
  • While they are easy to drain (simply remove the drain plug), you’ll need to pay attention to where the water goes so it doesn’t over-saturate nearby landscaping or flood your basement.
  • You can’t just place them anywhere. Stock tank pools belong on concrete or other level surfaces that are not riddled with rocks, sticks, dirt, etc.

Are Stock Tank Pools Safe?

As with any pool, safety is of utmost importance. While these stock tank pools are not inherently unsafe, there are a few important safety-related things to keep in mind.

  • If you choose to use a pump to heat your pool, remember that a heat pump involves horsepower and electricity. Improper installation or mishandling is dangerous and can lead to electrocution. As always, call an electrician if you have any qualms about your ability to safely install a heat pump.
  • Attal says some people have a false sense of security when it comes to stock tank pools simply because the pools are on the small side. She urges people with children or pets to install two layers of security around the pool (a pool cover and a locked gate, for example) because drowning is still a risk, even in such shallow water.
  • Concerned that the metal will cause the water to become dangerously hot, or that hot weather will do the same to the metal pool itself? Attal says any part of the pool in contact with water will remain cool to the touch. And because water takes so long to heat up, it’s unlikely it will ever get hot enough to burn your skin.
  • As for the parts of the pool that are not in direct contact with water, Attal says they usually stay cool enough to the touch as well. You can always cover the top edge with a pool noodle that has been cut in half with a serrated knife just to be sure.
  • And, as with any pool, it’s always a good idea to watch your step as you get in or out so you don’t slip. And no diving — remember, it’s shallow!

Are Stock Tank Pools Expensive?

As mentioned above, a stock tank pool costs far less than an in-ground pool.

For the most basic DIY stock tank pool, you can buy the stock tank for around $400 from a farm supply store, along with a bucket of chlorine tablets for $65 and a cute chlorine floater for about $15. Fill it with water from your garden hose, and for less than $500, you’re set. (That assumes you have a way to get the stock tank home and into your yard.)

You can also get a DIY setup delivered. Sisters Stock and Co. will deliver everything you need for between $845 and $1,195, depending on size, if you live within 50 miles of Austin. Other stock tank pool companies have similar programs, so search for one in your area.

Another option? Order a complete stock-tank pool setup with delivery and installation included. Prices and features vary, but at Sisters Stock and Co., they range from $2,000 to $3,700.

Dawn Weinberger
Dawn Weinberger is a freelance writer who has contributed to numerous publications and websites over the past 20 years, including Reader's Digest, Forbes Home, Glamour, Women's Health, Entrepreneur, Your Dog, Northwest Construction News, and many others. Dawn has a BA in journalism from Western Washington University and is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA). With the help of her well-honed research skills and arsenal of subject matter experts, Dawn has written about a variety of topics for FamilyHandyman.com, including home improvement, pet care, insurance, trampoline safety, pests, and more. Dawn is a former landlord who recently completed a largely DIY renovation of her Portland, Oregon, home, where she lives with her husband, daughter, and cat.