Tag Archives: horse trough

Horse Tank Cleaning Tips

Depending on season, ambient temperature, the type of feed eaten (high-fiber diets composed largely of hay increase water consumption, while grazing lush pasture decreases water consumption), and the activities a horse engages in, he or she typically drinks 10 to 15 gallons of water per day. It goes without saying that horses require year ’round, ready access to drinking water. However, if their water is contaminated with algae, feed debris, or other muck they won’t drink as much as they should, which can quickly lead to dehydration and colic. So keep that water clean. Here are some ways to do it.

• Buy a used tennis racquet at a yard sale or used-a-bit shop. To open frozen water tanks, break the ice with your boot or a heavy object (we keep an old axe by our water tank) and dip out pieces using the racquet.

• Use a kitchen strainer, a fish net, or the head end of a pool cleaner to remove leaves and other floating debris from your horse tank.

• Decomposing carcasses in drinking water can cause botulism and in horses, botulism is usually fatal, so immediately empty and thoroughly clean contaminated receptacles using a stiff brush or pressure washer and a cleaning solution made of 1 part unscented chlorine bleach to 10 parts water.

• To help prevent drownings, float short, thin pieces of wood on the surface of your horse tank. That way birds and beasts that fall into the water can get out again.

• When algae is a problem, dump the tank and scrub it using unscented chlorine bleach solution and a long-handled toilet brush or a milk tank cleaning brush from the farm store. Or use baking soda paste made by adding a small amount of water to baking soda (buy it economically in bulk at your feed store) to scrub buckets and horse tanks.

• A power washer makes tank cleaning a breeze. Don’t have one? Load the tank in the bed of your truck and haul it to the car wash.

• Clean off crusted-on algae with a stiff-bristled toilet bowl brush, a putty knife, or metal sweat scraper. It works!

• To cut down on cleaning, try to keep debris out of horse tanks (and if it gets there, skim it off as soon as you can). Don’t place horse tanks under trees in the fall and feed hay and grain in an area away from the horse tank, so horses don’t dribble grain or dunk hay while drinking.

• Many horse owners think bleach solution is too harsh to use for cleaning tanks. Not so, says the University of Minnesota, as long as it’s used in a responsible manner. In their bulletin, “Cleaning Water and Tanks”, Marcia Hathaway, PhD says, “Tanks can be emptied, scrubbed clean, rinsed with a 10 % bleach solution, rinsed twice more with water, and then refilled for immediate use. Alternatively, bleach can be added to existing water in a tank.” She goes on to say that horses shouldn’t drink the water for 1 hour after treatment and 2 hours if the water is cold (less than 50 degrees F.). Only unscented bleach should be used. The publication contains this guide to how much bleach can be safely added:

Gallons of water to disinfect/amount of bleach needed

1 gallon = 2 drops
5 gallons = 11 drops
50 gallons = 1 3/4 teaspoons
100 gallons = 3 1/2 teaspoons
500 gallons = 6 tablespoons

+Produces water with about 2 parts per million of chlorine+

– An excerpt from Horse Tips & Tricks; More Than 400 Ways to Care for Your Horse Better, Safer, Faster, Cheaper, by Sue Weaver

Fish in the Horse Tank

Some folks put fish in their horse tanks to keep algae at bay. Does it work? Sometimes. The trick is in buying the right fish and setting up an environment where they can thrive.

Goldfish are the logical choice. They’re readily available, inexpensive, and stocked correctly, just a few cut down on algae growth, big time. You’ll still have to clean the tank from time to time, but in most cases, not often.

*Goldfish live off of the algae growing on water tank walls and on mosquito larvae, insects, and feed debris that your horses dribble into the water. They also eat their own eggs. You shouldn’t feed them.

*If possible, buy goldfish from a store that sells fish for landscaping pools and water features. They’re hardier because they’re bred for this purpose. If you buy from a pet store, carefully check out the aquarium they’re in. Is everyone swimming around? Don’t buy if some of the fish are sluggish.

*Don’t overstock your tank. A few fish will die within the first few days or so, so you want extras, but plan on 2 surviving fish per 50 gallons. Don’t be concerned that the fish are small. Goldfish grow quickly and in proportion to the container they’re housed in. They’ll be big fish before you know it.

*Float the bag they come in, in your tank 8 hours or overnight to acclimate them to the water temperature. Release the fish the next day by tearing a hole in the bag, so they can swim on out.

*If your fish are up to the task, they’ll keep the water clear and the sides of the tank algae-free. However, sediment will build up on the bottom, necessitating occasional cleaning.

*Check the tank often, removing dead fish, leaves, hay, and similar debris.

*When cleaning the tank or refilling it if the water level has fallen to half full or less, remove the fish and place them in a bucket half filled with old tank water. Fill the bucket to the top with new water and give the fish 15 minutes to acclimate to that before releasing them back into the renewed tank.

*Place a few rocks in the tank and pile them up to provide a grotto for the fish, so they can hide from bright sunlight and potential predators.

*In mild climates the fish can overwinter in the tank if you bury the bottom 4 to 6 inches of the tank in the ground. Otherwise, install a tank heater.

*Goldfish also keep your horse tank free of mosquito larvae. Female mosquitoes lay about 100 to 300 eggs at a time. Eggs float on the surface of the water for about 48 hours before hatching into larvae. Unless something eats them, they live in the tank from 4 to 10 days, depending on species, before changing into a tiny pupa that floats on the water. Roughly 2 days they hatch into adult mosquitoes. Fish break that cycle. Go, fish!

– An excerpt from Horse Tips & Tricks; More Than 400 Ways to Care for Your Horse Better, Safer, Faster, Cheaper, by Sue Weaver