The Story Behind Stock Tank Pools

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How does a product designed for cattle feed take over your Instagram feed? The simple answer — stock tank pools.

Yes, the concept of converting a cattle trough into a functioning pool has recently taken social media by storm, and it's easy to see why. These inexpensive alternatives to aboveground pools create for a fun and customizable DIY project that results in an easy-to-maintain way of cooling off during the heat. They've become so popular that there are now blogs, videos and websites dedicated to offering advice on building these postworthy pools.

Ryan Stanton, a mechanical engineer in Nashville, started the site Stock Tank Pools as a way of documenting his own experience, but it soon became a source for others on designing and maintaining their ideal stock tank project. He says the first few years of the trend started off relatively simple, but the more attention they attracted, the more people began taking the concept to the next level.

"I remember seeing a number of folks in Joshua Tree that had stock tank pools on their property," says Stanton, "and there were all these images of people in customized DIY pools out in the middle of the desert. Now people are incorporating steps around the back of their pool or putting a privacy fence around it. It's cool to see people leveling up from something that started on some dirt in the desert."

From installing waterfalls to building multi-thousand dollar decks around the pool, it's no wonder these projects are getting so many likes. Even though some go above and beyond with their designs, many still find they prefer adding upgrades that are simple yet functional: a filter pump, a chlorine dispenser or a floating thermometer. But at the end of the day, it can be as simple as filling a stock tank with water.

While the project is affordable and fun, it's important to remember that they're still pools and should not only be cleaned regularly to avoid a build up of bacteria, but also managed with care and caution. "With any kind of pool you have to keep safety and drowning prevention in mind," reminds Stanton, "and that's just as important with a stock tank pool. You still need to consider safety as a major factor into this project, especially when you're building them for kids. I don't see people addressing that aspect enough."

For anyone looking to begin designing an Instagrammable oasis of their own, now might seem like the perfect time to dig out the tools and look into buying a used cattle trough — though with its sudden rise in popularity, part of the fun might be in finding one.

"So many places are starting to sell out," Stanton says. "I don't think anyone expected how much this trend would truly take off. But the good thing is, I've yet to meet someone who has regretted doing it in the end."

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