31 Stock Tank Pool Designs and Ideas
Move over, above-ground pools and kiddie pools. Stock tank pools—those round, shallow, shiny galvanized steel pools that dominate sites like Instagram and Pinterest—are replacing more traditional alternatives to standard in-ground swimming pools. They might be part of the farmhouse trend, industrial chic, desert bohemian, or a do-it-yourselfer's challenge. They're known as cowboy pools, hillbilly pools, and trough pools and are seen everywhere from urban rooftops to Texas backyards to glamping spots in the California desert. DIYers add decks, sink them into the ground, and come up with all kinds of creative solutions to personalize the pools and make them work for their outdoor spaces and lifestyles.
The intended use for stock tanks is to fill them with water on farms and ranches for livestock, such as cattle, horses, goats, and sheep. Some stock tankers say their parents or grandparents used them as makeshift pools since they were lying around the farm anyway. People used smaller versions of those galvanized receptacles in the early 20th century as the "Saturday night bath," a weekly ritual for rural residents who lacked plumbing, hot running water (or just running water), and/or a sewer system. To properly clean and shampoo for church the next day, pots of water were heated on the stove and then poured into a washtub for a cramped but warm bath.
Enjoy a look at 31 of our favorite stock tank pool designs—along with tips and how-tos—and get inspired.
That beautiful steel stock tank pool you're coveting? You can't have it.
Too late. Stock tanks are the new toilet paper.
“I’m out of them, and I’ve got 40 people on a waiting list,” said an employee at the Buda Tractor Supply Company just south of Austin. “Everybody’s wanting them.”
“We’re selling them faster than we’re getting them in,” said Charley Wilson, president and CEO of Callahan’s General Store, the iconic Austin farm supply/hardware/clothing/throwback appliance shop. “We got some in a couple days ago, but they’re all spoken for. We’ve had customers use them for pools before, but nothing quite like this.”
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“Completely sold out,” said a worker at Tractor Supply’s Cedar Park store. “People are buying them like crazy. In years past, we saw the occasional person do it, like for a doggie pool. But nothing like this.”
Chalk it up to the pandemic. Summer means swimming. But with municipal pools closed and beach vacations uncertain, people are yearning en mass for stock tanks. The shiny, round, Marfa-chic, 2-foot-deep, 8- and 10-foot diameter tanks have become the latest quarantine DIY project.
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Vincent Matocha installed a stock tank pool a few years ago in his Central Texas backyard. He added some decorative rocks and twinkling lights in a scenic grove, creating a classic Hill Country tableau. After he was furloughed from his job as a golf club fitter at a sporting goods store, he decided last week to put out a feeler ad with a picture of his pool and an offer to set up the same for others.
After five days on Craigslist, he had a waiting list of 40 to 50 people. The only problem?
No stock tanks.
“I didn’t realize the magnitude of what’s going on,” he said, adding that he’s currently working with a wholesaler to scare up an order of tank pools.
It’s not just city and suburban types looking for a rustic swimming vessel, either.
“We’ve been waiting on an order for five weeks because we’ve been out,” said an employee at Jackson Bros. Feed & Seed in Abilene, the heart of West Texas cattle country. “We actually ordered more than we got, but didn’t get them because the supplier was running low. As soon we got them in they were gone.”
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In a written statement, a spokesman for Tractor Supply said the company has experienced high demand for the tanks across all of its 1,900 stores, although the statement stopped short of citing the pandemic as an explanation: “As we’ve recently been saying at Tractor Supply, 2020 is clearly the year of the backyard.”
Bill Hyman, executive director of the Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas, remembers getting a stock tank pool for his daughter 30 years ago. COVID-19 aside, he suggested their sudden popularity is yet another example of urban folk discovering what farmers and ranchers have known for years.
“I was watching an HGTV show with my wife the other day,” he said. “Well, let me clarify; I was forced to watch the show. There was a guy and his wife looking for a pool. And he went by a hardware store and saw a stock tank, and bought it and brought it home and said, ‘Don’t tell the kids it’s for cattle.’
“And of course then they had to build a deck,” he added, scornfully.
So far, it seems the stock tank shortage hasn’t harmed any actual stock. Jeremy Fuchs, spokesman for the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, noted that every county in Texas has cattle. And he hadn’t heard about any going thirsty yet.
“Most of our members have tanks dug into the ground,” Fuchs said. With a wet spring, the dirt tanks have stayed full enough to water cattle.
Beyond those, “there’s a fairly limited need. It’s not like you need to go out and buy a new one every year.”
Still, Fuchs said, just hearing about a stock tank sales surge made him nervous. “I would sure hate to see it become a problem” for association members, he said.
It still might, said Greg Eickmeier, sales manager for Behlen Manufacturing of Nebraska, one of the country’s largest manufacturers of stock tanks.
“The normal season for our traditional customers is the heart of summer — June, July, August,” he said. “So that’s yet to come.”
For now, the company, which delivers to retailers in every state, can’t keep up with orders, most of them from nontraditional customers seeking a splashy backyard amenity.
“There’s been a lot of talk about it on Pinterest,” Eickmeier noted.
He said Behlen’s sales were up more than 200 percent compared with the same time last year.
“We’ve received 12 months-worth of orders in the past five months,” he said.
Even with two of the company’s manufacturing plants running 24 hours a day — the third is pulling 20-hour shifts — Behlen has struggled to fill the demand.
“Our mills can only turn so much steel,” he said.
Of course, there are always plastic tanks, which are easier to find. But Matocha said they aren’t much in demand by sweltering Texans dreaming of lazing about in their own social-media-ready pool.
“No one wants a plastic tank in the yard,” he said.
For those lucky enough to find one, Matocha said most people should be more than happy with an 8-foot galvanized tank.
“Everyone thinks they want a 10-footer,” he said, because, well, it is Texas.
But, he added, not only are those much more expensive, “They’re unicorns. Suppliers say they have them. But no one does.”
Building a Stock Tank Pool: An Easy & Inexpensive Way to Cool Off
In 2017, the average cost for backyard pool installations ranged between $20,000 and $30,000. Factor in today’s prices, the added issue of COVID-19 business closures, and the demand for some of the materials you need for the job, and you’ve got a hefty price tag on your hands. Not only that, but the time required to schedule installation now that added lockdown measures are in place has increased. To mitigate this mess and circumvent the problems, you might encounter while trying to cool off, why not consider installing a stock tank pool? Not only will it help cool your family off, but it can also look just as outstanding as its mainstream counterparts.
Over recent years, stock tank pools have popped up all over Texas as a creative means to an end. You and your kids want to keep cool in the summer heat. Livestock water troughs provide an inexpensive vessel from which a pool can easily be constructed. Although there are a number of DIY stock tank pool projects posted online, a recent upload to YouTube by Austin Edible Gardens has a few people tuning in. These projects have won the hearts of those who are budget-conscious and make for an innovative solution to enjoying all of the benefits of a standard pool.
Stock Tanks and Stock Tank Pools
Your perfect backyard oasis without the hassle!
We offer industry-leading 20-gauge galvanized steel stock tanks and stock tank pools delivered directly to your home. For those of you interested in only a tank, we deliver the unmodified tank to your door. For those of you who want the total package, we deliver and install the whole she-bang. All we require is that you have a leveled site prepared with a clear delivery path and access to a standard GFCI outlet. Let us do the work and get you floating in no time!
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What People Are Saying
“Can’t say enough good things about Allison, Lauren, Kyle and Dustin! From the start, Allison was responsive and patient in answering all of my questions about installing a stock tank pool. Kyle and Dustin did all of the installation, and Lauren explained how to maintain our pool once they were done. Even after the pool was installed they responded quickly to every text and email we sent to ask questions about maintenance… I highly recommend Sister Stocks & Co for all of your stock tank pool needs. You won’t get better, more personalized service anywhere else!”
— Denise, SS&Co customer
“We absolutely loved our experience with Sister Stocks & Co, and we continue to enjoy our stock tank pool. Everything about the experience was super easy and they made having the stock tank pool a breeze…
Perfect for a young family or folks who just want to add some hip relaxation to their backyard!”
— Max, SS&Co customer
“It was so clear that Allison, Kyle, and the rest of their team take pride in their work and wanted us to have a great experience with our pool long term. I normally don't go out of my way to leave reviews of companies but my experience working with Allison and Kyle was so exceptional I felt obligated. I cannot say enough good things about Sister Stocks and Company and their pools. Highly recommend you drink your next margarita from a Sister Stocks and Company pool, we love ours!”
—Shelly, SS&Co customer
“HIGHLY recommended! I have been entertaining the idea of a stock tank pool for some time now. I reached out for information. They responded immediately and answered all my questions. They even came out and explained how to prep my area. On install day they were quick and pleasant, even letting me film their pump instructions.
Good people and a good product!”
— Karen, SS&Co customer
Amazing experience with Allison & Kyle. Definitely recommend Sister Stocks & Co!
— Victoria, SS&Co customer
They are truly amazing. They are super easy to work with, very clear in their instruction on what is needed for the installation as well as what to expect
…The customer service is exceptional.
I highly recommend them if you are looking for an alternative to traditional pool, have a small yard or just want to cool Austin vibe.
— Cony, SS&Co customer
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