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. This should make it way easier for you!
Other posts you may be interested in:
- 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Stock Tank Pools
- DIY Painted Tile On Concrete
- DIY Stock Tank Pool Bench

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. Here is a plastic one.)
- 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.

47 comments

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

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    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.

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  2. 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?

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    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.

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  3. 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:)

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    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.

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

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

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    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.

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  6. 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: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00PHX0D3O/ref=ask_ql_qh_dp_hza

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  7. 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.

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  8. 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.

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  9. 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?

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  10. How do you keep it clean all year round? Do you ever have to empty it? This is such a beautiful back yard and great idea!

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    1. We don't keep it up year round. We turn it upside down during the offseason to keep it from filling with leaves and dirt. And thank you :)

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  11. Super helpful video showing the assembly. This is on my list this year. Thank you!

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  12. Did the bottom of your stock tank have a big line across the center from where it looks like it was welded together? We just purchased ours and when my husband got it home there is this big caulk like line down the middle but it also has black marker on the bottom that I can't seem to get off! We bought it from a feed and tractor store but was curious if this was the norm. Thanks!!

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    1. yes, it did come with a seam at the bottom but no marker on the bottom.

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  13. I'm wondering why the 2 3/4 drill bit when the valves are 2 1/4?

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  14. Can you use a salt water chlorination system in a stock tank pool? Any problems with the metal tank rusting, etc?

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  15. Replies
    1. 19 and 15 where can we get them from?

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    2. It comes with the pump. Everything you will need is linked in this post.

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  16. Hello. Do you think this would work if we do not live where we would put this pool? Its our weekend place. Perhaps putting the pump on a timer daily? I honestly do not think it would workbut wanted your input. May just have to settle on blow up pools until we live there. Ha. Thanks in advance.

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    1. The pump we use (and linked above) has a timer on it so it will run at the same time every day. Should be fine if you can check on it weekly!

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  17. The pump says the filter has to be changed every two weeks. With the pool being smaller than normal, is this so? How often do y'all change yours?

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    1. We changed ours maybe twice over the summer.

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  18. Hi ladies - thank you for this very useful post and agree your backyard looks fab. :-) I have got my stock tank where I want it but am still figuring out all the parts that need purchasing. it is more complicated (and expensive) than I realized but I am still excited and inspired by your set up. my main question is I read on one blog that you could simply drape the pump tubes/hoses over top of the pool wall - and forego this pain-in-the neck drilling of holes. it might not look that pretty but sure would make it easier to get it going as I am not very handy! thank you!

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  19. Question, does it matter if the pump pushing the water back into the pool is lower than you have it? i was thinking of putting in the middle of the pool (instead of the water line) but still above the filter. Thoughts?

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  20. Hi - how long do you run your timer each day? Mine is a 1500 gal pump and has a 2hr, 4hr, 6hr, 8hr option. I'm at a loss. Thanks in advance!

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  21. Hey Wanderer,

    I just got my stock tank going. I used your video which was great BTW, and I still have a slow drip leak at the inputs. We’re you able to get no leak at all? Just curious if this is an actual concern or if a drip is normal. Thanks!

    -Anthony (Houston)

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  22. Gah!!! I have an awesome stock tank pool (plastic, not metal) we'd originally gotten for our dog from Tractor Supply Co. but I came to enjoy it too. However, I need to set up a skimmer. The bugs & leaves that get in there make a mess of things within days if I can't skim it daily. I'm looking at the Intex, cup-like one but it seems so wimpy & the way it's set up, with high sides, seems all wrong. I have a little Hayward sand filter on mine & while it cranks, it needs a skimmer as it's the grody bugs & broken down leaves that make it a bummer.
    On a positive note; if you haven't tried the Arm & Hammer Clear Balance tablets (added along with the chlorine tablets in the floating dispensers), you need to try it! The water feels so silky, the pH is ALWAYS perfect & the clarity is 1000% better too. If anyone has advice as to how I can make a decent skimmer with the only outlet that goes to the filter being the drain hole near the bottom of the wall; PLEASE let me know.

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    1. Thanks for the awesome Arm and Hammer Clear Balance tip - will try that soon. Here's the floating skimmer we bought for our 8'x2' galvanized stock tank pool: http://www.floskim.com/

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  23. Hi! Thanks for the super detailed post, I have my tank and have bought all the parts suggested with one exception. I am not able to locate the threaded strainer connector anywhere! It is no longer available on the Intex site and is sold out everywhere else. :\ Since you have gone through the set-up before, perhaps you have some insight into another possible way to attach the strainer without this particular part? Thanks in advance!

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    1. I'm looking into this and seeing if I can find another place to buy this part online. This isn't the most aesthetic idea- but you can just throw the hose over the stock tank pool wall and not cut a hole in the tank until the piece is available again. The pump will still work that way!

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    2. Thanks for the quick reply, I really appreciate the help! I will take your suggestion in the meantime. I'm also hopeful that once I have the pump and all the other parts in front of me it will be easier for me to figure out a substitute.

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  24. I am in my first year of stock tank pool ownership and I LOVE it. Thanks so much, Hey Wanderer, for providing the inspiration and instruction.

    We live in MN, so the pool season is shorter than yours, but i Love it so much that I am looking into the least expensive heating options, AND just added an inexpensive fountain for this year because it's already too cold to use.

    2 questions:

    1. I had a hot-tub guy recently tell me that he is a chemical engineer and the combo of zinc (the metal they use to galvanize the steel) and chlorine can give you zinc poisoning. Called a local commercial pool supply store and their chemists doubted that was true. Have you ever heard anything about this?
    2. I see that you just flip your pool in the winter. Our is built in with boulders and landscaping stones - any suggestions on what we need to do to winterize it?

    Keep the blog and posts coming, Hey Wanderers, love your stuff!

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    1. Thank you for your kind words! To answer you questions:
      1) I've heard someone say this before but we are on third season and as far as I know- no one has had zinc poisoning. However, if that is a concern, you could paint the inside of your pool. We did this this season to prevent/stop rust from happening (it's inevitable).https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjMgpvE6pLeAhVK3lMKHbjIAKwQwqsBMAF6BAgFEAc&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D2rb_bMLsu74&usg=AOvVaw11k6KdsG2l-8mSLP1zZpAA. <---- that is a link to the video on how we did that and what we used. You cannot use regular paint.
      2) Honestly, I don't have any tips. This was our first year flipping it. Previously we had a cover that Savannah made but didn't really work well. You can buy a pool cover but it will probably fill up with water anyway. I would drain it and do my best to keep the leaves out (if that's an issue for you). Sorry I don't have better advice! This post has a link to the cover we use -http://www.heywandererblog.com/2018/07/18-things-you-need-for-your-stock-tank.html

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