Doesn’t the tank get too hot?
Great question, and no! As long as the tank is filled with water, neither the metal nor the water will get too warm to touch or use. The water usually doesn’t get above 90 for most places in the southern US. In the picture below, I’m holding the bare metal in direct sun on a ~100 F degree day (the water temp is about 87 F). That said, having shade from an umbrella or tree definitely keeps the water cooler in the summer. Some people choose to cut a pool noodle lengthwise to cover/cushion the metal rim but it’s not required.
Do they need to painted or sealed?
Nope! In fact, I recommend against it! All steel tanks are galvanized with a zinc coating which resists rust, corrosion, and paint 😬. They’re also sealed at the seams with a special industrial sealant so they don’t leak. It’s possible to paint them, but if you do, be aware that 1) it can be somewhat expensive ($100 - $200) and 2) it’s time consuming because you’ll need to prep the surface, otherwise you’ll end up with a pealing, flaking mess! Check out my painting guide here for more!
How do I treat the water? Should I use chlorine or saltwater?
Water treatment is surprisingly simple! Most people choose to use a simple floating chlorine dispenser. I recommend using 1-3 one inch chlorine tabs per week (typically used for spas and hot tubs). Any more than that and your tank’s galvanized coating may be compromised.
Saltwater is possible, but I don’t recommend it for steel tanks as I’ve heard of some people having trouble with rust on their tank. If you want saltwater, I recommend using a poly (plastic) tank.