DIY Stock Tank Pool: Everything you need to know

Let me start by saying that this project is not for the faint of heart. I don't mean to discourage anyone from doing this project, as long as they know what they are in for. There are many things that could go wrong during setup (I am a witness to this), so there is a lot of troubleshooting. Anyway, I'm here to hopefully save you some trouble by telling you all the things that went wrong for us and how we fixed them.
We had our stock tank pool last year and it was set up by our landscaper (who also does ponds.) We knew we wanted our pool to be chlorinated and with the mosquitoes here in Tennessee, we definitely didn't want standing water. This is where a pump comes in. Our landscaper used a pond pump/waterfall pump and we soon discovered we needed something else. We dealt with the pond pump through the summer, but knew we would get a filter pump (for real pools) this summer. Without it you are left with sand/dirt/tiny molecules of things that aren't being filtered out. This made us drain and refill the pool way more than we wanted to. The whole purpose of the pump is to not have to refill the pool all summer because the water is being cleaned.
When I ordered the pump, I realized that a lot of random parts don't come with it. It came with the input parts, but not the output parts. So I've made a list of exactly everything I purchased to make this happen.

Things you will need:
- Stock tank (size of your choosing- ours is 8 ft. and we got it at a local co-op.)
- Above Ground Pool Pump
Weatherproof Silicone Sealant
- 1-3 Rubber Washers (or Gaskets)
- 1 Strainer Nut

Other things you will need for maintenance:
- Chlorine Tablets
- Floating Pool Dispenser
- Water Testing Kit

The pool pump setup guide packet says you only need 2 rubber washers (the pump comes with 1), but I ended up using 3, and you could end up using 4 depending on preference.

In lieu of step by step pics, I recorded a video of the process. The steps are listed below, but I hope this visual is more helpful!

Step 1- Find a nice level area to lay the stock tank on. If the area where you have chosen isn't level, use sand or rocks to build up whatever side needs it. It is very important that your stock tank be level so there aren't any unexpected leaks.
Step 2- Cut holes in your stock tank. I'm not going to lie- this is a pain in the butt. We bought a hole saw with an arbor and it took two people to get through the metal. You will need two holes, one at the top and one at the bottom. In an above ground pool, these aren't usually right on top of each other, but ours are. We haven't ever seen this as a problem.
Step 3- Start assembling the parts. In the pool pump package there is a packet with instructions, warnings and troubleshooting. This packet proved to be vital in the setup of the pool. I did end up getting 2 gaskets for the bottom section (the drain section), one for the inside of the pool and one for the outside. It only says you need one for the inside, but this was causing a drip for us. I also put thread seal tape around the connections that were closest to the pool. There are a lot of connections, and each one has a gasket, so you could probably get away without the tape. I didn't put it on all the connections, the only ones that really seemed to matter were the ones that are connecting the hoses to the pool.
Step 4- Apply silicone waterproof sealant around all crevices involving the input and output parts. I did this on the inside of the pool and the outside. And I applied it VERY HEAVILY and did two layers, allowing one to dry before the second was applied. Sealing these crevices is one of the most important parts. This is what is going to keep the water in the pool. Well all of these steps are leading up to keeping water in the pool, but if there is any chance that it's going to be getting out, this is what will save you.
Step 5- Test for leaks. Before I added water to the pool, I took a water bottle and poured a good amount of water on the input and output parts. You could also just use a water hose. I would make sure the hose wasn't on full blast. You don't want to accidentally penetrate the sealant.
Step 6- Once you are sure there aren't any leaks, fill the pool just above the bottom hole/output. Check again to see if any leaks have started. If there aren't any, fill the rest of the pool up!
Step 7- Turn the pump on. Make sure both plunger valves are open/unlocked. When you first do this water may not come out of the output, but there is a solution! Twist off the knob on top of the filter pump to let some air out. Some water may escape too and that's okay, just be ready to screw it back on as soon as the water starts coming out.

And then you are done!

Since I had many problems while setting up, I'm going to list them below and tell you how I fixed them.

1. Cutting the holes too big. We cut our holes 3 inches across because there were only two hole saw sizes at our Home Depot, one 2.5" and one 3". The parts are about 2 3/4" so we went up. Ideally we would've realized that we just needed to go to another store, but at the time 3" made sense. This caused a lot of dripping problems because there is a small gap between the edge of the hole and the input and output pieces. We combated this problem by adding another rubber washer/gasket on the outside of the pool, before the nut is screwed on. Plus plenty of silicone sealant!

2. Not making sure the pool was level. We actually just had our concrete poured before we set the pool up so the ground was sure to be pretty level. Where we placed the pool was pretty level, but apparently it dipped down a little in the area where we had the holes. This caused all the water pressure to be leaning on the same wall, so there was leaking no matter what we did. All we did was rotate the pool and put a thin piece of plywood under the edge where the holes are and this leveled it out!

3. Using foam sealant to seal the crevices. No. Just no. Our landscape guy did this last year and it worked, but this year when we changed out setup, it never helped. First off, if you are going to use foam sealant, make sure you get a polyurethane based one. The other ones simply don't cure. I originally used one without polyurethane and I left it for 10 hours and it still hadn't cured. No thank you! Also, silicone sealant does a way better just, maybe just because it's easier to get it in the crevices since it doesn't expand. Wear gloves! Everything mentioned is extremely sticky and will become apart of your skin.

If you liked this post and would like to see more like it, please pin the image below!

xo, Savannah

P.S. Want to see how we painted the lounge chairs? Check the post out here!
**This post contains affiliate links.



  1. This is amazing. Do you have the model # of the pump?

    1. In the post we list all the different parts and they are hyperlinked so you should be able to click on it and find out all that info.

  2. Replies
    1. That's awesome! I hope you enjoy it :)

  3. Super helpful blog/video! Wondering if you used a GFCI outlet to plug your pump into? Also, do you have to the plunger valves separately or do pool filter kits come with them typically?

    1. We did plug ours into a GFCI outlet. The plunger valves did not come with our kit. We have all the parts listed in the post.

  4. Hey Wanderer!
    This is soooo helpful so thank you!! Do you find you need to vacuum pool? Does algae build up on floor or walls? Thank you in advance:)

    1. No we don't vacuum the pool or get algae build up because we use chlorine. We do have to skim the pool when leaves fall in.

  5. Replies
    1. No it comes with the pump. Everything you'll need is listed in the post.

  6. Just built mine a few weeks back with guidance from your post- thanks! Do you do anything to balance pH levels?

    1. Yes, we test ours weekly and will adjust accordingly. We usually need to lower the ph and we have a chemical we put in that does that.

  7. hey was wondering if you knew anything about the saltwater/sand filter combo? I have my concerns over the amount of maintenance of your filter/pump system. not to mention salt would be more chemically friendly. Any tips or ideas? would they have the same connection as your pump, as in would it be a direct swap?

    ths is what im looking at:

  8. We don't know anything about salt water pumps. I will say I don't think they are any more easy to maintain. When I researched using chlorine, I felt like that was the most sanitary option. The maintenance of our pool isn't that big of a deal. But pools in general aren't particularly low maintenance.

  9. Hey! Thanks for the tips.
    I just completed my stock tank pool yesterday using your guide.
    I am wondering if I should have put the outlet at the middle ring of the tank as Im having issues with the pump being too powerful and having to fill the pool up quite to the brim to prevent the water being too turbulent and blowing water everyhere. Im currently working on an extension for the nozzle to redirect water when the pump is on to further below the surface of the water.

  10. Because the stock tank is so much smaller than regular pools, I am having trouble finding calculations for how much chlorine to add, etc. Our chlorine dispenser is huge! How much chlorine do you usually use?