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Alternative Aquarium backgrounds


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I just got a photo backdrop it's 5 foot long by 3 ft tall. (For my 55g) vinyl photo backdrops? Right now I'm just running a solid piece of cardboard as my background I plan on putting the vinyl over that and then reattaching to my tank. It's a great-looking forest scene was only $9 I don't think I could beat it the normal aquarium backgrounds are pretty expensive. Was just wondering if anybody else has tried this and how it turned out I'm getting ready to do it here in a little bit so I'll try to and some photos to this later tonight or tomorrow

Edited by Jimycle
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I've seen those, they stick to the glass don't they?  The problem I would have is having enough room between the wall to put it on and remove the bubbles.  Instead I took a nautical chart of our Gulf Islands that was laminated and taped it top and bottom to the  40 gallon.  It looks pretty good, much nicer than no background.  

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It won't work for bigger tanks, but I love to use black foam board from the school supply section of Walmart or such places. They're 30"x20" and work great as backgrounds on smaller tanks. It can be easily cut to size with a utility knife and straight-edge. I secure them with clear packing tape to the frame in the back (rimmed tank, of course). Quick and easy, and I was able to easily put it on established tanks. Thus, those I couldn't move to apply a back to.

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I'm working on my own three dimensional Rock background for a 20 long I completely built the foam from pieces and detailed it. I'll be doing that in the next few days. But for larger tanks I've seen people use the foam insulation board and then do like I'm doing with my 3D background and shape it but knives Hot Irons and or power tools. Then you will add a water down mix of hydraulic cement let that dry then come back and hit it with a normal mixture painting it on with a paintbrush then let it cure. The next step would be to soak it or keep it submerged in the tank with no fish or plants because for a few weeks the concrete will cause a spike in pH but then it will go back down to normal and become inert and completely waterproof. Do you want to over exaggerate your details because you will be going over it twice with the concrete it will diminish some of your detail. Next song background to cut it shape it and have it where it is took me about two to three hours. And that was trying to get it done fast but I had to build layers and I used glue and toothpicks to keep it all together the water down hydraulic cement full feeling all the small cracks and bond it a regular mixed Set It all solid

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For my 29 gallon, I experimented with using 18x18 peal and stick vinyl flooring tiles.  I found two colors of stone patterned ones which blend well side by side and bought two of each color then stuck them back to back (off center so the seams don’t end up in the same place.  I had to trim off the excess to make it fit and then taped it in place.  I can turn it to the other side if I want to change up the color scheme.  The tiles were about $2 each.  Nice durable background that looks like stone.

The cat likes it.😁

CF496F9B-5AEA-448C-B357-F12E5B2EA264.png

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2 hours ago, Lifeisgood said:

For my 29 gallon, I experimented with using 18x18 peal and stick vinyl flooring tiles.  I found two colors of stone patterned ones which blend well side by side and bought two of each color then stuck them back to back (off center so the seams don’t end up in the same place.  I had to trim off the excess to make it fit and then taped it in place.  I can turn it to the other side if I want to change up the color scheme.  The tiles were about $2 each.  Nice durable background that looks like stone.

The cat likes it.😁

CF496F9B-5AEA-448C-B357-F12E5B2EA264.png

I really like the looks of that. I need to do a background for a 29 gal too. Since a 29 gal is 30 inches wide, it obviously takes more than one tile to go across. Is the seam where the 2 tiles meet very noticeable? Your photo looks great, and it doesn't appear to be very noticeable, but I can't really tell from that picture either.

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Right—the glare on the glass was a problem.  You might be able to see it better with the picture below.  But the best thing to do would be to go to home improvement store near you and see what options you have to choose from. They usually sell some individually so you can pick out the ones that look most seamless together.  
 

The seam in my tank below is almost right in the middle.  I have to really look for it to see it in person. So compared to hiding water heaters and sponge filters, a well placed plant goes a long way.😊

D054BEEC-F4C6-4DCF-A7B4-A7B363999397.jpeg

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13 minutes ago, Carolina Guy said:

I really like the looks of that. I need to do a background for a 29 gal too. Since a 29 gal is 30 inches wide, it obviously takes more than one tile to go across. Is the seam where the 2 tiles meet very noticeable? Your photo looks great, and it doesn't appear to be very noticeable, but I can't really tell from that picture either.

I should have quoted you to alert you to my answer to your question.  (I am a newbie to how the forum works.🥴)

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5 minutes ago, Lifeisgood said:

Right—the glare on the glass was a problem.  You might be able to see it better with the picture below.  But the best thing to do would be to go to home improvement store near you and see what options you have to choose from. They usually sell some individually so you can pick out the ones that look most seamless together.  
 

The seam in my tank below is almost right in the middle.  I have to really look for it to see it in person. So compared to hiding water heaters and sponge filters, a well placed plant goes a long way.😊

D054BEEC-F4C6-4DCF-A7B4-A7B363999397.jpeg

Thanks for your reply. I'm going to check that out and see whether I think it'll work for me.

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11 hours ago, Jimycle said:

I just got a photo backdrop it's 5 foot long by 3 ft tall. (For my 55g) vinyl photo backdrops? Right now I'm just running a solid piece of cardboard as my background I plan on putting the vinyl over that and then reattaching to my tank. It's a great-looking forest scene was only $9 I don't think I could beat it the normal aquarium backgrounds are pretty expensive. Was just wondering if anybody else has tried this and how it turned out I'm getting ready to do it here in a little bit so I'll try to and some photos to this later tonight or tomorrow

I 've done it. and it worked well.  For me, the direct to glass method has always failed over time.  I actually used foam board.  It is a little stiffer, and will survive humidity and the occasional splash.

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Well I ran out of hydraulic cement because I only got a small $7 tub I will have to get one more it looks pretty good but I want to do the final coat on it and add some more texturing. I can kind of understand now why these things are so expensive this is about 6 hours of work fabricating it from scratch with probably an hour left not including affixing it to the back of the 20 gallon long it was created for

IMG_20210310_153734_01.jpg

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15 minutes ago, Gideyon said:

If I ever get a large tank, I personally like black backgrounds.  It looks great painted, but not sure if I'd do that.  

Window tint was an idea I heard. But I never have luck even putting a screen cover on my phone.  

Paint is really great if you want black. Easy on, easy off, looks clean and professional. I used regular craft acrylic, and I can blade it right back off if I change my mind. I have considered sponging on colors to do a rock look, I think that would also be easy and effective, but I am kinda a fan of plain--too much pattern distracts from the fish and makes the tank look smaller in my tanks.

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1 hour ago, Gideyon said:

If I ever get a large tank, I personally like black backgrounds.  It looks great painted, but not sure if I'd do that.  

Window tint was an idea I heard. But I never have luck even putting a screen cover on my phone.  

If you want the paint I recommend plasti dip since you can peel it off if you decide don’t like it later and it provides the same black look I use the rustoleum version 

this is a reptile one but it’s still basically the same my painting isn’t the best though 😂 

image.jpg

Edited by Angelfishlover
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I've seen the use of a vaccum former in prop replication to get exact, detailed, and light weight replicas of different items. It makes me wonder about using one for 3d backgrounds. It seems like it would be an ideal application. Just lay out some flat stones and wood pieces and form the plastic around them. I'm not sure about the plastics you would use and if they would be aquarium safe though. Or maybe you could use the form as a mold for use with aquarium safe materials. It's something I would like to try if I had a work space.

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I love messing around with various background options. I put the Current Serene background kit on my living room display tank recently---

1518855464_LivingRoom3-11-2021.jpg.a28d9d31e05a8cc19f86acad92b7aff9.jpg

92621398_LivingRoom3-11-2021v2.jpg.29ade56c4789e808c9b5f4253444f19e.jpg

 

I made a big 3d background for my 90 gallon bedroom tank:

 

I tried making a 3d background via another method but didn't like how it turned out. I ended up using it in my guppy breeder.

IMG_20210311_175845.jpg.177f03e08319604c589170aa073fe6f8.jpg

 

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6 hours ago, Hobbit said:

I use window cling and it’s more forgiving than a phone cover in my experience. You spray soapy water on the glass and then you can use a credit card to scrape any bubbles out to the edges. You do have to be able to get behind the tank though.

I looked this up. Looks like a great option.  But likely would have to put it on before putting the tank in its final spot. And just hope it doesn't come undone 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 3/11/2021 at 7:38 PM, StephenP2003 said:

I love messing around with various background options. I put the Current Serene background kit on my living room display tank recently---

1518855464_LivingRoom3-11-2021.jpg.a28d9d31e05a8cc19f86acad92b7aff9.jpg

92621398_LivingRoom3-11-2021v2.jpg.29ade56c4789e808c9b5f4253444f19e.jpg

 

I made a big 3d background for my 90 gallon bedroom tank:

 

I tried making a 3d background via another method but didn't like how it turned out. I ended up using it in my guppy breeder.

IMG_20210311_175845.jpg.177f03e08319604c589170aa073fe6f8.jpg

 

How did you make these two different 3-D backgrounds?

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3 hours ago, Lifeisgood said:

How did you make these two different 3-D backgrounds?

The first one is foam board as a base, then cover it with great stuff foam. Immediately top with a crap-ton of sand, and I mean basically make a sandcastle on top of that foam. This will sort of prevent the foam from expanding too much, and the sand will imbed itself into the foam. Alternatively, you can go lighter on the sand, and let the foam creep out above the sand, and this will create a more cavernous look in the end. I didn't do this because I keep small/medium fish and didn't want anyone to get stuck somewhere.

Let the foam under the sand pile dry for a few hours. Then dump all the excess sand on your floor unless you were smart enough to prepare a tarp first.  

Coat with a polyurethane - I used oil-based minwax brand.  Or, you can use krylon fusion paint to add your own custom colors first. I used a bit of black, beige, and brown to add some depth. 

Let it cure for a comfortable amount of time. I waited a couple weeks.

Second one, it's randomly cut up pieces of styrofoam topped with concrete that I dyed various colors. Not something I would repeat.

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