How to build a Portable Live Bait or Fish Keeper Tank


There are a number of boats that have these Bait Tanks or Fish Keeper Tanks pre fitted for people to keep their catch/bait alive. I go to a number of competitions but do not have a live well pre fitted and therefore need to take a live tank so I can keep fish alive for weigh in. Therefore I had to make one. I am the first to say that this design is not the only one out there (I originally got this design off my Brother-in-law Steve) and it has served me well and is a very inexpensive way to make your own Keeper Tank.


I have used an 80L roller bin from one of those “$2” shops. The size can vary from 60L to 100L, but for most situations an 80L will suffice. If you intend to fish with a mate quite regularly, I would suggest that you buy the bigger one and put a divider in the middle to separate your catches (Don’t want to mix fish…No that’s my fish… No it’s not!!!!) You get the picture!

Baffles are a must and when you have a full tank of water, it doesn’t take much to spill water into your boat. Rivet a piece of 50mm x 50mm plastic angle 60mm from the top of the Tank. Make sure it goes right around the tank.


In this particular design, the inlet water comes from a separate 12v pump (360GPH) that I put over the side of the boat. It draws the water and fills the tank via a 25mm right angle thru hull fitting with a 25mm clear hose. The short piece of hose that is inside must point down or the water will spray everywhere. I have placed the fitting 40mm from the top of the tank. The length of the hose from the pump to the fitting will vary for each application, and also take into account where your battery is so your leads to your pump are long enough. Make sure also that you have a fuse for your pump, in case you get a short.

This design is good when you have finished for the day, you can take off the inlet hose from the fitting, put it outside the boat and then put the pump into the tank to drain it.


The outlet must point rearward and is a 32mm 90 degree thru hull fitting with a clear hose that runs straight out the back. The level of outlet is 50mm from the top of the tank and can vary depending at what water level you decide on. Do not let the end of the outlet hose that is out the back hang in the water as this may block the flow of water and make the tank overflow.


 When I first wrote this article I had a 385 Quintrex Explorer with no live well, however there are boats with a live wells pre installed. The difference among other things, is that they are fitted with a very small livewells. However, don’t despair, you can still use your existing plumbing with a new tank using the same design that I have described above

 Adapting the plumbing with Pre-installed Live Wells

What you need to do is re-route the plumbing from the fixed livewell, so that it draws water from the river etc, but instead of going in to a small livewell of the boat, it is diverted to the inlet fitting of the portable tank and then when the water reaches the height of the top outlet pipe, it is directed into the fixed livewell and out of the boat. You could always use a longer hose (As I have described above) and take it over the stern if that is better for you.

I currently have this in my 420 Hornet Trophy and it works really well, but if you have to put up with a lot of rocking, it is suggested that adding some rubber strips to the top of the tank and underneath the lid is very beneficial.

As suggested above, add a divider with some clear perspex, which slides midway along the longest baffle which is great when fishing in comps.

Happy Fishing.

Written by Rod Cumming Copyright 2013