Choosing a background
While choosing the correct interior for your aquarium should be a fun activity that unlocks your inner interior designer, you still need to consider a few things before going on a decor spending spree!
Naturalism vs Aesthetics
The main aim of everyone decorating a fish tank is to make it look nice, which often means installing a realistic background piece that makes the aquarium the spit of the deep blue sea!
But before picking your favourite, you should probably also consider your fishes’ feelings and their natural environment. For example, if your scaly pals are freshwater fish, it doesn’t really make sense to have a classic coral reef scene.
However, it really is up to you and you’ll see differing arguments about whether natural background environments have any effect on the health and happiness of your fish.
If you already have a couple of plants, rocks and ornaments you want to install in your tank, you’re going to want to make sure they match up rather than create an odd clash of cultures and geographical regions.
If you have lots of open space, rocky 3-D terrains can help fill in the blanks, but if you plan on filling your aquarium full of bits and pieces, a plainer background will probably do just fine.
Types of Background
There are essentially only two types of background, 3-D natural terrains and 2-D poster backgrounds.
3-D models are usually designed to look like rocks and natural sea backgrounds and are attached inside the tank, requiring more fiddly and exact attachment. 2-D posters are much more simple to fix to your tank and are usually just high-quality photographic paper placed outside of the tank.
Important Features To Consider
Sizing & Cutting
It seems obvious, but the most important thing to consider for your aquarium background is the size, as it has to fit to look the part!
To avoid disappointments, the majority of backgrounds come in really large sizes which can then be trimmed down to fit your tank. Some feature handy grid panels on the back to help you get exact measurements, others you’ll have to measure yourself!
It’s always important to try and find a background which is modifiable and can be cut easily with DIY tools or are a sharp pen knife, otherwise you risk being unable to get an exact fit!
The standard position of a background is unsurprisingly the back of your tank at the rear wall. However, some fishy followers choose to opt for slightly larger backgrounds and wrap the background around the sides of the tank to to create a more immersive effect.
Fish tank backgrounds need to be fixed to your aquarium, otherwise, they’ll usually end up falling down on your fish or floating up to the surface! Generally, there are three main types of attachment.
Taped backgrounds usually provide fish tank owners with a small piece of adhesive tape which allows them to secure the board or poster to the tank at all four corners. These are less secure than adhesive glue models, but a lot less time consuming and fiddly to set up
Much like applying glue to something, special aquatic adhesive gels are available to fix things to your aquarium and many large scale intricate models require a good glueing down to ensure they stay stable within the tank! Some models are even fully adhesive, meaning they already feature a thin layer of glue that sticks to the back of the tank. These are obviously more difficult to attach though as you’ll need to fit them essentially perfectly!
These are attached without the use of adhesives and simply attach to the tank using water pressure and static to cling to the surface.
You always want any fish background to be durable and stand the test of time when purchasing and a lot of this has to do with the materials it’s made from. If shopping for 3D terrain try and look for items which are PU (polyurethane) and resin mixes, as these ensure they are easy to cut and shape, but that the design won’t wear out or become damaged too easily thanks to a resin cover.
For 2D poster designs, make sure the material is a high-quality paper, or better yet something like PVC!