In SCUBA diving, pony bottles provide a separate air source. Pony bottles are usually smaller in size and capacity than the diver's primary air tank and have different uses: A separate or redundant emergency air source, separate air supply for the dry suit (may contain air or other gases such as argon), or a stage or deco bottle used in technical diving. Pony bottles can be attached to the primary tank or to the BCD using special bracketing systems. Technical divers may strap the pony bottles to their BCD for easy access. The pony bottle is not the same as an alternate air source, or octopus (octo) which is connected to a diver's primary stage, for their buddy. Taking the time to Install and check the placement of a pony bottle ensures a smooth set up before a dive.
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Things you need
- Primary tank
- Optional: Dive buddy or assistant
- Optional: Bracketing system
- Optional: Screwdriver
- Optional: Duct tape
- Optional: Strap system
Install the bracket to your tank or BCD according to the manufacturer's instructions and leave the pony bottle ring loose. If necessary, set up the regulator and/or hose set up on your pony bottle.
Set up your primary tank and regulator to your BCD and make sure the tank strap is tightened. Check the height of the tank by donning your set up. Remove your set up before proceeding with the pony bottle attachment.
Insert your pony bottle into the bracket ring and adjust the height for easy access. Mark the location of the ring with duct tape by wrapping the duct tape around the pony bottle. Tighten the pony bottle to secure the secondary tank.
Set up the regulator and/or hoses for your pony bottle. Attach your strap system and clips to your pony bottle according to the manufacturer's instructions. Tighten all brackets.
Check the configuration of your set up by lifting the pony bottle from the clips or straps to make sure the first and second stages are hanging down, free from possible depression or entanglement during the dive. If necessary, make any adjustments to the clip or strap installation.
Assemble your primary tank, regulator and BCD. Determine which side you plan to carry your pony bottle (usually the right side, same side as the regulator). Clip the top of the pony bottle (closest to its first stage) to the D ring on your BCD shoulder strap. Clip the bottom ring of the pony bottle to the BCD back D ring.
Check that the placement of the pony bottle doesn't interfere with other hoses or equipment and verify the position of the pony bottle prevents accidental depression of its regulator. Make any necessary adjustments to the strap or clip positions. Detach the pony bottle from the BCD.
Don your BCD with primary tank set up. Attach your pony bottle and check its placement and position of the regulator and hoses (ask for assistance in clipping/securing the pony bottle, if necessary). Remove and dissemble your gear and tanks to prepare for your dive trip.
Tips and warnings
- As part of your predive safety check, make sure your dive buddy knows how to use your pony bottle and its set up as a secondary air supply, in addition to attaching and detaching the pony bottle set up if necessary.
- Check the air gauge on your pony bottle as part of your pre-dive set up and check.
- As a separate air supply, pony bottles hold less air than a primary tank. Use your pony bottle to safely ascend to the surface; do not continue diving using your pony bottle as your primary air supply.
- Your pony bottle is an air tank. Maintain visualisation and hydro tests and equipment according to manufacturer's instructions.
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