Kiddie Pools - Does size matter - I think it does

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Tevyes Dad, Aug 7, 2014.

  1. Tevyes Dad

    Tevyes Dad Leader of the Quack

    Apr 22, 2014
    Hello once again. With only one half of a summer behind me, I am going to pretend I know something about kiddie pools.[​IMG] So keep in mind I haven't figured everything out, but I have some observations for anyone who hasn't crossed this road yet.

    Like most duck owners, I am sure, the grand design of the universe is to someday have a wonderful huge duck pond that is either large enough to not worry about (small lake), or at least able to have a bio-filter system so that maintenance is minimal. For some someday is "It was here when be bought the property and is why we decided we needed to buy ducks to fill it". For others it is "When I close my eyes and go to sleep there is a magical land where I have a big duck pond on my small lot and the ducks talk to me and pitch in on the chores". I would like to think I fall somewhere in between.[​IMG] For many of us it is our lot to deal with temporary pool solutions (with varying degrees of "temporary").

    I am going to compare the merits of 3 ft. vs 6 ft. kiddie pools and the results may surprise you. Here are my qualifications:

    1. I used both 3 ft. and 6 ft. kiddie pools this summer.
    2. I have 13 ducks (read: "too many for 1 kiddie pool of either size on a hot summer day.")
    3. I have a computer with a fully working keyboard and mouse. And I am not afraid to use it.

    With both sizes, I have had at least 3 pools available for the ducks. Both pools were made by SwimFun, so should be about the same quality. So I will go through some comparisons I have noted, the results, and a comment for each.

    1. Diameter: 3ft vs. 6ft This is obvious, but a thing to keep in mind is that most cars will fit a 3' pool somewhere. A 6' pool is cumbersome in anything but an open pickup. A full-sized van/mini van/covered truck will hold them but not easily. In an open pickup, the pool needs to be secured fairly well if you plan on driving highway speeds. Also in either case, 4 pools is only slightly larger than 1 pool since they nest well. Winner for transportability: 3'

    2. Height: 6" vs 12". Some of my ducks need a step or a ramp to get into the 12" high pool (I know they could just fly in, but they don't[​IMG]). All of my ducks including my 8 wk old runners can not only get into the 6" pool without assistance, they can blast over the top of it like it wasn't even there (when chasing each other). This means the smaller pool is more accessible. Winner for duck friendly: 3'

    3. Number of ducks that can stand around the circumference throwing dirt in the pool: 9 vs 19. This assumes each duck takes a linear foot around the edge of the pool. This actually is relevant as you will see in #7. Winner for less of your yard in the pool: 3'

    4. Maximum capacity of ducks: 5 vs 5. Really... I know some of you probably have gotten more in a single 6' pool, but when I had 3-6' pools out, the most ducks I ever had in one pool was 5 (not always the same ones so it isn't a clique thing). With 3-3' pools, I often see 5 ducks in a pool - just closer together.[​IMG] This one is a tie

    5. Water capacity: 26 gal vs 211 gal. This is calculated based on the pool being a perfect cylinder. I didn't subtract or add the fish shapes or take into account the taper. The point is this is the amount of water (and time) you will have to use to fill and drain your pool. Also at 8 lbs per gallon, the smaller pool weighs around 211 lbs full vs the larger pool at 1692 lbs. Granted both will be about half full as soon as your ducks have a freak out moment in them, but the larger one will still be 8X heavier. If your goal is holding water, then the 6' pool wins by bunches but it doesn't really make the ducks any happier.

    6. Structural integrity: pass vs fail. Both pools are made of the same plastic. If there's a difference in thickness, it's not much. That means that while the smaller pool can easily be lifted and tipped over to empty it in about 3 seconds, the larger pool will buckle if you try to empty it the same way. This will form creases that will eventually make cracks/holes. This means either you need to set up a drain system, or you need to pump the pool at least partially. Either way, it will take longer than 3 seconds. Winner for strong and fast: 3'

    7. Days the pool can support being filled to capacity with ducks before it NEEDS to be cleaned[​IMG]: 1 vs 1. If you put 5 ducks in either pool all day, it will be nasty tomorrow. Depending on how my ducks actually use the pools, some pools are cleaned after 1 day, some after 2 days. The stock tank gets cleaned about every 3 days, but that is not part of this comparison[​IMG] This was the same with the larger pools. With the smaller pools, they are mostly poop with a little dirt. The larger pools had more dirt in them (remember #3?). This one is again a tie, but it took less effort with the small pool.

    8. Price: $10 vs $20. This really doesn't matter since you are talking about one of the smallest expenses you will have supporting your ducks. But say for example, you had a choice of buying 2 - 3' pools vs 1 - 6' pool. With two 3' pools, you could position them so that one would be in the shadows while another was in the sun. Also if you have ducks that don't like each other so much, they can both be in separate pools with their own friends. If you have some young ducks/old ducklings and a crazy randy drake (I have some experience here) you can keep them separated while still allowing them all access to a pool. Winner for economical and flexible: 3'.

    So what I am saying I guess is that for a short term swimming solution, I would recommend a 3' pool over a 6' pool. This would not have been my first instinct (which is why I wrote this) and, in fact I started with several 6' pools. I bought two 3' pools because I lost my pumping capability temporarily I now have that capability back, and don't need it (except for the stock tank) because I bought 2 more 3' pools. The ducks seem just as happy and it takes less than 1/8 the time to drain/fill the pools.

    If you are limited for space and are looking for a longer term solution, I wouldn't use a kiddie pool in the first place. If I was going to cut out a spot in a wood deck or have some plumbing for a drain or do anything more complicated than tossing the pool in the yard and filling it - even if you are looking for a small pool, I would move up to a stock tank since they are much more durable and would make a better solution for a "project".
  2. ellie97

    ellie97 Songster

    Apr 24, 2011
    This is interesting-thank you for taking the time to write it! I have always used a 6' pool for my ducks even though I have never had more than 4 ducks at a time (at the moment I have 2) and they have always seemed to enjoy it so much I have never considered switching. Now I definitely will!
  3. khawdashhtchngs

    khawdashhtchngs Chirping

    Mar 19, 2014
    Yukon, Oklahoma
    I have 3 separate pens for my Anconas. In my big enclosure I have a 10'x4'x18" pool, a 2'x2'x2' plastic utility sink, and a 3' round pool. There are 10 ducks in there and will all get in the big pool together but there is generally 6 or less at once, they dont go in the 3' pool much but they love the sink and will get 3 in there are once. I have the pools spaced around in there so that once is always in the shade.
    My second enclosure has 4 ducks in it and they have a 150 gallon stock tank that is about 5'x3'x2'1/2'' they all love it and are in it all together all the time.
    My last enclosure has 3 ducks in it and a smaller 60 gallon stock tank that is about 3'x2'x18" and they all get in it together.

    Overall my ducks always like the bigger and if there is room they will all get in it together. Mine are in the water ALL the time, they sleep there during the day and spend most of their day in the water, which I have heard not all ducks spend a ton of time in the water.
  4. mymoneypit

    mymoneypit Chirping

    Jul 18, 2013
    I have seen similar results with mine, I have one of each size, and both get nasty at the same speed. All the ducks can get in and out of both, and never see more than five in a pool at the same time. Usually when there's 4 or 5 in there, someone does the freak out thing and they all run in and out adding mud and splashing half the water out. Usually they bathe in pairs
  5. Tevyes Dad

    Tevyes Dad Leader of the Quack

    Apr 22, 2014
    All my ducks but one (a Welsh Harlequin) spend most of the time in the water. They are all different breeds and they group up kind of randomly. They really like the stock tank which is only 100 gallons, but it is deep but it is in one of the two gazebos I have. I have a second tank, but still have to build a ramp for it. They like the kiddie pool in the other gazebo best (out of the kiddie pools) whether it is a 3' or a 6' they also like the pool that is being filled or was just filled best (I think because it is the coldest). Usually there aren't more than three in a single pool though most of the time they have had 5 pools (including the stock tank) and they seem to split them up by what they are doing. Mating in one pool, cleaning in one pool then more of them just hanging out in the third. Several of the ducks are competitive with each other so they will almost never be in the same pools. When I spray the garden hose on shower, they will come out of the pools to get sprayed so I think the thing they like most is cold. Every once in a while I buy them a bag of ice and dump it in one of the pools and they love that!
  6. Eluria

    Eluria Chirping

    Jul 31, 2014
    Thanks for posting! I was just looking into kiddie pools today--I was thinking I needed a 6 foot, but will go with a smaller size! I am assuming everyone is using snapset pools and not anything inflatable because of their little claws?
  7. RunamokRanch

    RunamokRanch In the Brooder

    Jul 9, 2014
    water troughs are not badly priced, easy to drain and clean and come in mad sizes, my fave
  8. Tevyes Dad

    Tevyes Dad Leader of the Quack

    Apr 22, 2014
    No on snap sets too. I had a snap set that I used as a brooder base (put the walls inside it and it worked great). But when the ducklings were out of the brooder, I tried to use it as a pool. The ducks walk up the sides and slash it with their claws. The molded pools that you can get outside a feed store, Wal*mart or K-mart are what I was referring too. I have also heard of people using turtle sand boxes with success but they are even smaller. Also with the molded pools, someone else wrote an article here that some have stickers in them and the ducks will peel and eat them, so they should be avoided. Mine are plain blue with shapes stamped in.
    Here is Kaine (who was in jail yesterday for roughing up the ducklings excessively) modeling one of the pools. The bricks were there to help the ducklings, but they don't need them now and I just haven't moved them out of the area. Now here is a funny thing. This pool I agree is too small. It has a sharp taper and is even shallower. The pool in the background is the same brand bought at the same store a week later and is also 3' The 5 ducks standing around it were swimming in it just before I took this picture and they got out when they saw me coming. You can see it doesn't have such a sharp taper. It looks exactly like the 6' pools I have (currently stacked outside the duck area for a rainy day) but smaller.
  9. Tevyes Dad

    Tevyes Dad Leader of the Quack

    Apr 22, 2014
    BTW, in case any of you think I am insane for having that little coop with 13 ducks, the little coop I bought when I got my first two ducks. They went through an entire winter and never used it even at -30F. When all my ducklings grew up the next spring they explored it and they now have great fun (including the original 2) going inside the run (which is just open) and climbing up into the building or lying under it. So even though it is way too small for the flock, it just stays there as a shade/ramp-toy/place where they can peek through the window. Who can figure ducks?

    Our Pekin (who can barely fit in the thing) will climb up into the house look out the window and quack at everyone.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2014
  10. Quacking Mad

    Quacking Mad In the Brooder

    Jul 1, 2014
    I have one 3' pool and my 7 ducks all get in it at once. It hasn't been an issue. It's easy to clean and refill

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