Blog    |    DIY: Setting up a Poly Tank Pool

One of the most common signs of wealth and status, especially in the warmer regions of the world, is the ability to host a great pool party. Backyard pools are the purview of busy doctors and lawyers (who often never get to swim in them) and successful salespersons who use them as a way to draw a crowd and entertain clients. Mansions can be old, majestic, and full of history, but every modern home for the wealthy includes a swimming pool somewhere.

However, swimming pools have not always been the privilege of the wealthy alone. There are generations of poorer rural farmers whose children enjoyed makeshift backyard swimming pools in the form of round cattle troughs. You may be unable to swim laps quite as well or dive off diving boards, but for younger children, or those who just want to splash around or folks who enjoy tamer pool fun, it was a perfectly natural way to get wet and cool off from the summer heat. I am sure that many children got scratched or cut by rusting metal in those used cattle troughs over the years and had to get a tetanus shot. Thankfully, we have new technology and safer options for creating your own inexpensive and easy to maintain backyard pool.

Poly Tank Pools

Poly water tanks have long been used as alternatives for livestock watering devices, so it is no surprise that they should follow in the same path as their aluminum and steel predecessors, improving on their work and providing lighter, safer, and less expensive alternatives to backyard recreation everywhere. How is this true?

Traditional pools are permanent installations. They have to be drained at the end of every summer and cleaned thoroughly throughout the year. You have to keep toxic cleaning chemicals on hand and measure the pH balance of the water to prevent mold, mildew, and algae from contaminating the water and getting into the tile. While any kind of pool or body of water is at risk for those three kinds of nuisances, permanently installed pools are more difficult to clean thoroughly.

Poly water tanks can be set up and used as a temporary pool. What do you need to get a poly tank pool in your backyard?

 Measure Your Pool Space

 As you begin your DIY pool project, the first task you need to do to set up your DIY pool is measure the kind of space you have available for a pool. You will not find Olympic size plastic water tanks for backyard training, but you can expect to find six to eight-foot length tanks in either round or rectangular shapes. These often come between one and four feet in depth. These are primarily the size of pools for children or hot tubs. This should not be surprising since the origin of their use was not just children’s recreation, but as a family washbasin for those in rural areas without running water.

Does that mean that you are unable to entertain more than a few guests with your poly tank? No. It means that you may need multiple tanks to accommodate more guests. So, returning to the original question, how much space do you have available for a pool? Are you looking for a simple tank set up in your backyard or are you wanting to build a deck or patio around this pool? You need to design the entire space so you will know what shape and size of poly tank you need to get.

Prepare the Area

 Poly tanks are resistant to bumps and scrapes, but if you fill them with water, they become quite heavy and can begin to sink into the ground, especially if water has been spilling out around it making the soil soft and muddy. Ideally, you want the ground to be level and solid underneath to keep the poly tank pool water evenly distributed when full. If you have a concrete slab to put the poly water tank on, it is even better. Poly tanks can also be partially buried with a layer of stone and gravel underneath the poly water tank.

To install your poly tank pool on a foundation, you will need:

  • A shovel
  • Enough gravel to cover the pool area at least an inch in depth.
  • A wheelbarrow, or something to mix concrete in
  • Concrete mix
  • Enough two-by-fours to build a frame around the pool area
  • Concrete leveling tools


  1. Dig out an area at least one foot wider on each side.
  2. Arrange the two-by-fours around the edges and make sure they are secure and level.
  3. Fill in the center area with an inch of gravel.
  4. Mix the concrete together.
  5. Pour the concrete in on the top of the gravel, up to the level of the two-by-fours.
  6. Use the concrete leveling tools to level the concrete before it dries.

NOTE: DO NOT place the poly water tank on the concrete slab until it is thoroughly dried. If you put it on too soon, you may be unable to move it later.

Purchase Your Poly Water Tank

 There are a few key factors you need to think through when purchasing a poly water tank for a pool. You need to buy a tank that matches the size and shape of your designated area. You also need to factor in the height of the tank (or depth of the pool) to determine whether you will need to create some kind of steps into or out of the poly tank pool. Since most large poly tanks are considered custom items, you may have some ability to customize the size and dimensions to a small extent.

Another consideration is the chemical makeup of the plastic used to manufacture your tank. Some forms of plastic have a tendency to leak toxic chemicals into the water they hold over time, especially when exposed to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. To prevent exposure to these toxins, it is best to purchase poly water tanks that are made out of UV resistant plastic. One of the best places to find tanks like these is among water trough options for livestock. These tanks are made so that the water is not only safe for swimming in but also safe enough to drink (although this is not recommended for humans).


Potential Problems With Poly Tank Pools

 Stock tank pools have been nicknamed “Hillbilly Hot Tubs” and have grown in popularity in the last few years. However, they have their own challenges too.

  • Algae buildup

Algae is one of the smallest forms of plant life on earth. Wherever there are water and sunlight, you can expect to find algae. Permanent swimming pools must use chlorine in the water to battle the onset of algae within the pool. Poly tank pools need to do the same thing if they are used for many days in a row. Failure to do this will cause green growth along the edges of the tank and a green tint to the water itself. If the water in your tank is not transparent, there may be an algae problem that needs to be cleaned out.

  • Mosquitoes

The second problem of the water in tanks is that mosquitos are attracted to standing water. Leaving the water out overnight or during the daytime unattended will attract mosquitos. It is expensive and wasteful to empty and refill the water every day. However, the problem of mosquitos can easily be remedied by using a cover or tarp to keep over the unattended poly tank pool, or putting up mosquito nets around it.

  • Hot water

There has been some concern about how hot the water can get when setting out in 90-100 degree temperatures outside. However, studies have shown that few pools grow hot enough to burn or scald anyone… even in the southern parts of the United States where the temperature can get up to 100 degrees.

  • Storage

Where can you store such a big water tank during the off season? If you have a garage or shed space large enough, or a barn if you live on a farm, these places can easily accommodate your pool. You need only drain it and put it away. Since poly tanks are weather resistant, you can also turn it upside down and keep it that way through the colder months of the year, or drain it and put a tarp covering on top of it. Perhaps it could double as an outdoor table or platform, so long as you do not put too much weight on it.

Poly water tanks are durable, easy to clean, rust-free, and inexpensive solutions to how to enjoy backyard pool parties in your neighborhood. What better way to bring your neighborhood together than to purchase several tanks, gather up the kids, and create a mini water park between you and your neighbors. You won’t need lots of money to be the talk of the town and the most popular location for summer staycation with your DIY poly tank pools for your backyard parties.

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