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Maria,
 
> > A pony bottle is a tank that is supposed to be used as an independent sorce
> > of gas for extended bottom time, bail out in case of primary malfunction
> > etc. etc.
> >
> > A stage bottle is supposed to be used as a sorce of gas for decompression
> > stops.  It usually holds different gas than the bottom mix (usually high O2
> > percentage, according to the depth it is supposed to be used in).
> >
>
> I'm not sure I agree with this.  My definition is that a pony bottle
> is for a small amount of redundant gas (i.e. bailout bottle),  while a stage
> bottle can be used for extending bottom times or used to carry a
> deco gas.  As an example, in cave diving, you would often
 
I guess some of the real confusion is coming about due to the various
circles that people travel in.  There are those (gawd I hate this
term) "technical" divers and then there is the recreational community.
 
In the "technical" community, the word "pony" typically refers only to
the size of the bottle.  The words "stage" or "deco" imply intended
use.
In other words you can use a pony as a deco or stage bottle, or, for
another example, you can use an AL80 for a stage or deco bottle.
In cave diving, the bottles of choice for stages are AL80's and
for O2 are LP 72's almost exclusively.  For OW "technical" diving,
pony bottles are much more convenient to carry, to clip and unclip
during entry/exit /etc.
 
But you are also correct that in the "recreational" world of diving,
which we all know is the vast majority, the term "pony" is often used
just like you said, as a bailout bottle.
 
> use a stage bottle to extend your dive time, but the gas in it
> is the same mix as your back gas. I don't see too many people
> doing stage dives in the ocean, but there's no reason you couldn't.
> (I wouldn't want to drop a stage bottle though in the ocean like
> I would in a cave.)
 
Ocean diving with LOTS of deco isn't a good idea for lots of various
reasons.  Doing a dive like the Doria, which unfortunately has
become a "hallmark" of the pseudo wanna be tek diver, would incur
just about as much deco as you'd ever want to do, especially given
the varying conditions of the environment.  I think what you'll
find a bit more common is someone diving a set of twin 80's
and a pony size O2 bottle for deco.
 
But, people who do dive stages in the ocean just don't drop them,
they just carry their gas with them.  Unlike caves, which typically
have currents, when diving inside a large wreck there aren't
any currents.
 
> Now folks often use their pony bottle to extend their bottom time,
> so maybe your first definition is ok (although not as I use or
> recommend a pony bottle be used), but the stage bottle definition
> is definitely not correct.  That definition sounds to me like a deco
> bottle.
 
Yes, the definitions being thrown around there were definitely
inconsistent with "real world" usage by anyones definitions :^)
 
Carl