Aquarium Backgrounds

Although not a decoration in a strict sense, the use of aquarium backgrounds is quite common. These normally are plastic sheets with assorted aquatic scenes attached to the back outside panel of the aquarium.

Sometimes they are provided as a printed part of the packaging of a small kit. They help create the illusion of both greater depth and a more natural aquatic habitat for viewing.

When placed on the outside back panel they block the view of various pipes, cords and hoses that may be hanging outside the aquarium.

Aquarium backgrounds are important in preventing any natural sunlight from striking the aquarium during the day. The only light that should be directed into the tank should be artificial and controlled.

Aquarium backgrounds are important in preventing any natural sunlight from striking the aquarium during the day. The only light that should be directed into the tank should be artificial and controlled.

If sunlight is allowed to enter the system, it is a powerful engine for the growth of algae. There are quite a number of algae strains, but at their most basic they are single celled plants that either are suspended in the water or attach to surfaces in the aquarium.


In the presence of both sunlight for power and an abundance of dissolved nutrients the population explodes. Green water is the result

Aquarium Backgrounds rarely come with a kit. Some desktop aquariums do have a background that can be cut out and attached to the back of the aquarium. These are needed to be consistent with a themed aquarium.

In general, no background comes for any aquarium that requires a stand. It should be purchased at your local pet store. They will have a selection of the available backgrounds.

There are quite a wide variety made by a number of manufacturers. If you do not see one that you want to have right away, you might want to try visiting a few other pet stores and seeing if there is a wider selection to be had.

The same picture is often used for different height aquariums. Generally it is sold from long rolls so you can have any length you need cut to size. Often a picture may be too tall for the aquarium, or you only want to see a particular band of it.

In these cases, it can be useful to buy a width that is larger than the aquarium and cut the plastic to size where the part of the background you want to see is the only part shown.

You want to get a slightly longer piece from the roll than the tank length to be able to position and cut off excess without problems.

Installation of aquarium backgrounds should be done quite early in the aquarium set up process. You need some clear tape and a razor blade, blade knife or sharp scissors to install it.

Position the background sheet on the tank back. If the aquarium is empty at this point, remember that there will be a substantial layer of gravel at the bottom that will cover the bottom part. You can leave a small opening between the background and the bottom if you like

If you plan on doing this, though, it is best to wait until the gravel is in the tank to get an idea of what part of the picture will be shown.

Many people prefer only a part of the picture to be displayed, if the width of the plastic is too large for the tank, cut the excess off from the bottom first to get it easily positioned and held in the frame (if the tank has one).

This way you normally have a straight edge at the top to work with, any ragged edges are at the bottom and hidden by the gravel.

Temporarily tack, with a couple of small pieces of tape, the top of the background in place to the aquarium frame. Look at the the placement from the front and ensure it is the way you want it. When it is, use clear tape to attach the top edge in position.

Then bend the overlapping background around one side edge. Use the razor blade to cut a straight edge against the glass corner and tape the side with clear tape to hold it.

Use your hand to press down and out any wrinkles and waves in the background as you work your way across the entire back, bend the excess background around the other side glass and use the razor blade to cut the plastic to the edge and tape it as well. After this you can finish by taping the bottom as well.

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