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We are planning to painting our tote to keep the algae growth down, it is currently fishless cycling, and will therefore be painting by brush and not spraying.

Right now I have wrapped the tote with folded tarps to make it dark to kill off the algae which has developed in our FT.

I was wondering which kind of paint works best for adhering to plastic and metal on the totes?

Any suggestions on which brand of paint is best? Is black a good color to use or do you suggest something else?

How much paint did you need for a 275 gallon IBC Tote?

Any suggestions or comment would be greatly appreciated.


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Got the same problem I'm thinking about using Krylon Fusion.  Anybody have experience with it?

Come on there has to be more than Ralph and I who want to paint their Totes?

Help us to decide what kind of coating we should use?

Is there a special brand?



Please someone help us with a suggestion or comment.


The plastic tank will need to be primed in order for your color coat to stick. Automotive supply stores have the right primer for this purpose as most cars are plastic and metal. There is also plastic primer paint available in pressure pack. 

I just wrapped the tote in heavy landscaping fabric ( extra heavy ). But if you use the light stuff just wrap it several times.

So I guess I could just leave the folded tarps on as is and that's all.

GREAT less work for me.  

We used Krylon Fusion paint on our totes.  We pulled the totes out of the metal cages, painted them and put them back in.  Can't say how well it sticks on the metal cage.  It probably took 4 cans per tote.  And we used blue.  So far, so good!

I'm learning AP, but I know a little about painting....done a lot of it for a long time.

My opinion- on the galvanized frame....use Rustoleum Z-Prime (oil base){or any other manufacturer recommended galvanized metal oil primer}....  1 QT should cover the tote frame...For the finish coat- I'd use the Rustoleum Enamel (oil base).

and then for the plastic liner.... you might use Rustoleum Specialty Plastic Paint.  I used this paint (in a spray can from H.Depot) to paint the outside of my plastic veggie buckets and plastic containers 3 years ago and they're holding up pretty good. 

This "spray paint for plastic" says right on the can that you don't need to prime the surface, but they do sell a spray plastic primer which would pretty much make sure that your finish coat will stick and last longer. 

The Rustoleum web site also says that with this primer,you can pretty much use any type of finish paint over it.  {Because my buckets were really smooth I roughed them up with medium sandpaper before spray painting them with the plastic spray paint using no primer at all}. 

I don't deal with Rustoleum in any way except a once in a while customer from H.Depot....but I've watched the quality of paints decline in the last 20 years as a lot of the "good stuff" that made it stick and last has been removed due to anti pollution laws.  Rustoleum sticks, covers, and last on the stuff around my place...and I'm always building things around here.

Like all's a good idea to always paint a small area and try it out before you do the whole thing.



I tried some expensive automotive spray paint that was supposed to stick to plastic but found that it was a complete waste of money. I then turned to a cheap brush on latex paint (Rust-Oleum Painters Touch). The key to making this work was using the Rust-Oleom primer that is made to stick to many common surfaces including plastic. You can get both of these products at Home Depot. Be prepared to touch up the tanks when putting them back in the IBC frames because you will scratch the surface and peel some paint. After they are in place the paint sticks well enough. I used a dark hunter green but any dark color will be a good deterrent for algae.

I painted a 275 gal fish tank, a 150 gal sump tank and (3) 14" deep IBC grow beds with about (4) or (5) 32 oz cans of paint. Seems like I used 3 cans of primer. I used 2 coats of primer and 3 coats of paint.

Hope this helps,



Hey Doug

I was planning to paint mine white to reflect the sun/heat from the tote liner outer surface.  My guess is that painting the outside dark would tend to heat the water...which could be an advantage if you needed more water heating help...than cooling.

I'm going to have to think about this carefully.  Maybe I'll set up the system and then track the water temps for a while and see whether I need more heat to the water or cooling... and choose white or dark color accordingly.

Hi all ,
Total newbie here but excited about everything about aquaponics.
I am currently facing same problem.
Have IBC tote just cycled and added my new edible family to it last night flaming tilapia.
My nitrates are reading 80 ppm at the moment but the green slime is taking over the walls of my tank fast.
I have some closed cell expansion foam left over from a project and was thinking it would do the same as paint to block light to the walls of my tank .
It also may stop direct sunlight from over heating the water also?
Not sure how effective that it might be and seeing I'm in the north east it might help keep tank warmer in winter.
Anyone ever try this before?

Cant a simple screening on all 4 sides with something like bamboo matting or the like be used?

For a neater, better looking solution, plywood painted any colour that you like


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