Purchasing A Stock Tank

Purchasing a stock tank for a soaking tub can give a person a feeling of warm satisfaction – like beating the system, because in a sense you have. However, it must be noted, that in order to get what you want, you must do your homework. You probably won’t get any encouragement from the sales staff. In fact you may even be scorned and ridiculed, “You wanna do what with a stock tank?” Therefore, to bolster your confidence and reinforce the vision of a steaming hot soaking tub, we’ve compiled this fact sheet to help you on your quest. Take this sheet with you along with a tape measure, and you’ll come across as some kind of an expert.

You can also save yourself some time by calling around to various feed stores to see if the brands and sizes you want are available. And remember, don’t think too big. This style of tub naturally has cozier leg-room. Each person does not need 20 sq. ft. of space to be comfortable; after all, this is a communal affair and more enjoyable that way. The smaller the tub, the faster it heats and the easier it is to drain.

Where To Buy A Stock Tank

Almost all feed stores carry stock tanks. Some have both metal and plastic, so you can check-out both kinds. We recommend that you actually sit in them to get an idea of the size you want and how they feel (never mind if employees think you’re weird). Remember, it will feel much different when your body is supported by water, but this will give you an idea of the size you want. Note: always bring a tape measure to verify dimensions.

Metal Tanks

There are two important criteria to be aware of when shopping for a metal tank:
  1. Brand Preference – Not all metal stock tanks are created equal. The main difference (for our purpose) is in the size of the lateral corrugations used for stiffening. Large corrugations are undesirable because they hit you in the back when leaning against the side of the tank (which is all the time). The other problem is that large corrugations are difficult if not impossible to flatten when installing the through-wall circulation ports. (See “Evaluation of Stock Tank Brands” below.)
  2. Sizes – Metal tanks are shipped nested one inside the other (like Russian dolls) for economy in shipping. This creates some confusions, however, because there may be two or three sizes with the same designated size printed on the side – for example: a tank labeled five foot diameter can actually be 5ft, 4ft 9inches, or 4ft 6inches. This is where you need to have a measuring tape to verify the size. NOTE: When shopping for a two person oblong tank, always choose the larger, outer tank. The outer 5x2ft tank will measure true to dimension, but the inner tank will only be about 21 inches wide – too narrow for a two person tub.


Pro’s of Metal Tanks

  1. The metal plated surface has a very comfortable feel to the touch, when you’re in the tub. This comes as a surprise to folks, who anticipate something rough and uncomfortable.
  2. They’re easy to insulate because of vertical, straight sides. You can easily wrap around polyethylene insulation and put on an outer covering of wood or marine vinyl. (See – Metal Stock Tank Kit)
  3. You can easily make a depression in the metal for recessing the bottom drain.
  4. Metal tanks are usually more available than plastic and a little cheaper.

Con’s of Metal Tanks

The zinc plating over steel, although very durable, will eventually wear-off. Depending on the mineral content of your water, the presence of chlorine in the water, and how often you use the tub, a metal stock tank will last from 2-10 years before it starts to rust. (but heck, for the price, you can justify buying another one.)

Evaluation of Metal Stock Tank Brands

Small Corrugations (preferable)

Behlen (used to be called Universal)
Hutchison Western
Klein Mfg.
Large Corrugation (avoid)

Farm Master
Big Husky

Plastic Tanks

We know of four brands of plastic stock tanks. Two of the brands, High Country and HiQual are manufactured at the same factory with only slight differences, although High Country makes some larger sizes. Rubbermaid, is the most commonly available. Behlen plastic tanks are new; we’ve only seen them on the web.

The main difference between plastic tanks is the size and number of inset steps in the side used for stiffening. The top step on all brands tends to hit the middle of your back when you lean against the side, however, not to worry because by placing a foam pad (see Stock tank accessories) above the step, this potential problem can be transformed into a desirable comfort feature.

Pro’s Of Plastic Tanks
  1. They have sloping sides, which some people prefer to the vertical sides of the metal tanks. The rounded top rim is 2 inches in diameter and very comfortable to lay your arms and neck on.
  2. They’re extremely light and easy to move.
  3. Plastic tanks are reputed to have a long life span, however, they haven’t been around long enough for a track record. They will probably last at least 10 years, before sun and heat causes deterioration.

Con’s Of Plastic Tanks

  1. Depending on personal aesthetics, some people just don’t like the feel of plastic.
  2. Since the sides are sloping and have angled steps, it’s difficult to put on insulation, and a wood skirting. It can be done, but it takes some ingenuity. Some people solve the problem by building a square wooden framework around the tank.
  3. You can’t make a depression to recess the drain fixture, like you can with metal tanks.

Websites Of Stock Tanks Companies

HiQual Mfg. – www.hiqualmfg.com (dealers listed by state)
High Country Plastics –www.highcountryplastics.com (call them for dealers)
Behlin Mfg. –www.behlencountry.com (make both metal and plastic tanks).