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Tank Backgrounds


  1. background pictures
    by (WRIGHT HUNTLEY) (20 Jan 1995)
  2. backgrounds
    by IDMiamiBob/ (Tue, 2 Jun 1998)
  3. Backgrounds
    by Doug Valverde <75051.160/> (Tue, 2 Jun 1998)
  4. Backgrounds
    by PJ Jellison <jellison/> (Tue, 02 Jun 1998)
  5. Awesome backgrounds!
    by Thomas Moeller <n9345228/> (Tue, 2 Jun 1998)
  6. slate backgrounds...
    by Thomas Moeller <n9345228/> (Wed, 3 Jun 1998)
  7. Backgrounds
    by "Bruce Hansen" <bhansen/> (Wed, 3 Jun 1998)
  8. Re:background
    by "Jennifer Koopmans" <flyer/> (Tue, 2 Jun 1998)
  9. RE: Slate Background
    by August Eppler <augiee/> (Thu, 04 Jun 1998)
  10. R.E.:Backgrounds made of plants. Read !
    by Tom Barr <tcbiii/> (Mon, 25 Jan 1999)
  11. RE: Plastic needlepoint canvass and java moss wall
    by "James Purchase" <jpurch/> (Fri, 22 Jan 1999)
  12. RE:Attaching Moss to cork
    by Tom Barr <tcbiii/> (Tue, 23 Mar 1999)
  13. RE:Rock wall
    by Tom Barr <tcbiii/> (Sun, 21 Feb 1999)
  14. Cork& glue
    by "II, Thomas Barr" <tcbiii/> (Thu, 01 Jun 2000)
  15. Another tool for cork
    by "James Purchase" <jpurch/> (Thu, 1 Jun 2000)
  16. RE: Cork Tiles
    by "James Purchase" <jpurch/> (Thu, 17 Aug 2000)

background pictures

Date: 20 Jan 1995
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

In <> (Jim Hurley) 

>Some people spread mineral oil on the plastic and just press it on.
>Maybe a piece of tape, too. The oil makes a good connection and
>looks nice if you get all the air bubbles out.
Wow! Sounds like a great idea. People complain about how dark the prints 
are, because the overhead light is attenuated by the poor coupling to 
the lower index of refraction of the air at shallow angles. This should 
make the picture about 10-20 times brighter.


"The first (and key) step to liberty is to be a good neighbor."


by IDMiamiBob/
Date: Tue, 2 Jun 1998

Jeff writes:

<< Looking for ideas for a background for my 60 gallon tank. Does anyone use
> anything that really looks great with a planted tank? I have almost bought
> one of the typical mylar (?) planted backgrounds or rock backgrounds several
> times and back out before they cut it. I have looked at the blue that fades
> from light to dark. Even considered a black one. Just can't decide on one.
I usually spray-paint the back of my tanks black, sometimes dark blue.  It
looks good behind the plants and hides all the stuff hanging off the back.
The only problem with this is that it is permanent. 

Bob Dixon


by Doug Valverde <75051.160/>
Date: Tue, 2 Jun 1998


>> Has anyone ever heard of using mineral oil (or something like that)
the glass and the backgrounds? I read this in the NG's once and cant
remember if it was mineral oil or something else. <<

Mineral oil should work, so will plain kitchen vegetable oil.

Or you can get spray paint and simply paint the background.  If you like
the blue fading to black background you mentioned you can do that by using
a can of black and a can of dark blue spray paint.  It will never bubble
and if you ever want to remove it you can scrape it off with a paint
scrapper.  For a more permanent job etch the glass with coarse sandpaper



by PJ Jellison <jellison/>
Date: Tue, 02 Jun 1998


Most of our tanks have backgrounds made from matte board from
the art supply/crafts store -- there are hundreds of shades of color
to choose from, from soft to bold.  It's not expensive, and you can
change it if you get tired of it after a while!  But I have to tell you
about the different background on a tank I just did!  It might not be to

everyone's taste, but I like it.

It's a 20-gallon long tank.  I used bits of colored glass left over from

various stained-glass projects, and made a random mosaic by
epoxying them to the outside back of the tank.  The colors are mostly
soft browns, blues and greens, with no particular pattern -- the pieces
of glass are about 1 to 1.5 inches each.

I admit up front that I am a bit of a magpie -- I love color.  The
effect in this tank is mostly very subtle, with all the plants in it,
when the sun glances into the tank from the window on the adjacent
side of the room (which it does for about 2 hours each morning), I
feel like my fish have their own cathedral!

Pat JJ

Kudzu wrote:

Looking for ideas for a background for my 60 gallon tank. Does anyone
anything that really looks great with a planted tank? I have almost
one of the typical mylar (?) planted backgrounds or rock backgrounds
times and back out before they cut it. I have looked at the blue that
from light to dark. Even considered a black one. Just can't decide on

Any great ideas? The green wall behind the tank and the hose and cords
don't get it anymore.

Has anyone ever heard of using mineral oil (or something like that)
the glass and the backgrounds? I read this in the NG's once and cant
remember if it was mineral oil or something else. The poster said it
them adhere to the glass with no gaps.

Jeff <*\\><
"Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds
on the heel that has crushed it" Mark Twain "Kudzu's Christian Clipart Collection"

Awesome backgrounds!

by Thomas Moeller <n9345228/>
Date: Tue, 2 Jun 1998

I tell you what. I have been doing this for a few years now and I
absolutely reccomend it to anyone that has a tank large or small.  Find
some kind of rock is a decent quantity, preferably a shale like rock, that
is non-porous and very natural looking.  Go to a hardware store and get
some 100% Silicone (the stuff that's not poisonous) Bust some rocks up
into thin, fairly small chunks. Get a caulking gun. Take your tank and
clean it big time and lay it on it's back. Take the silicone and glue
those rocks down really well to the back of the glass forming a big puzzle
like pattern all the way to the top with the big rocks toward the bottom.
Cover the entire thing....A glass tank can take this weight no problem. If
you have a huge tank it could be a problem....these rocks greatly increase
the overall weight of the tank-obviously. Then when the rock dries for a
few your tank up and go to town. Stuff anubias and what-not in
the cracks the rock forms and get a planted tank is absolutely
breathtaking....I have a few tanks like of them, my current
masterpiece, I have with lava rock, witch is interesting. I don't like it
as much as the slate, but it is both very light and very 3 dimensional.
I'll post some pictures in awhile. In this tank i have about $400 worth of
Anubias...the combo is great. I say go for it! -Tom

slate backgrounds...

by Thomas Moeller <n9345228/>
Date: Wed, 3 Jun 1998

When I can take some pictures, I will take some of the three tanks that I
have with slate on the back, one with lava rock.  The pieces of slate I
have are not very small...most are about the the size of your palm and
about an inch or so thick. For those of you who are not sure, I guarantee
when you see some pictures you will break your tank down immediately and
find the nearest beach and start looking around for cool rocks. I'll let
you know when I can post some pics on the web! -tom


by "Bruce Hansen" <bhansen/>
Date: Wed, 3 Jun 1998

Re backgrounds

For years now local aquarists here in Brisbane have been making custom made
backgrounds from styrofoam sheets of varying thicknesses sculptured with an
electric soldering iron and painted with black emastak bituminous paint and
various coatings added before drying - e.g. powdered peat moss and various
sands and gravels.
The sheets are then silasticed to the inside of the tank and look good -
various "epiphytic" plants like Microsorium. Bolbitis and Anubias grow well
on these.


Bruce Hansen, ANGFA, caring for our aquatic ecosystems.


by "Jennifer Koopmans" <flyer/>
Date: Tue, 2 Jun 1998

I've never done it but I saw an article where they took window screen
material and sewed plants such as java fern right to it. Then it's draped
down the inside of the back. When it grows in it looks like a solid wall of
plants. The picture was awesome!
in B.C.

RE: Slate Background

by August Eppler <augiee/>
Date: Thu, 04 Jun 1998

One question Jeff. You can actually see the back wall of your tank?;-) 

Gee folks, this type of background has been around for a long time,
thought everyone knew about it. Guess not. I've done somewhere around 25
or 30 like this (some were mine, most were for other people), started
doing them for fish only Cichlid tanks. If you really want to make it
look natural and lifelike, wait until the silicone cures, and then glue
some bog wood to the rocks, just below the surface. Looks like roots and
downed limbs. If your interested I have pictures and an instruction
sheet that I wrote for a buddy in Wyoming. Just drop me a note, off
line, and I'll shoot you a copy. The instruction sheet includes some
precautions and tips, that might save you some work and a lot of

Augie Eppler
Green Cove Springs, Fl     Where it hit 98 degrees again today.

R.E.:Backgrounds made of plants. Read !

by Tom Barr <tcbiii/>
Date: Mon, 25 Jan 1999

I use cork backing instead of needle point sheets because I hate tying
stuff with fishing line!Good Lord ! I'd be spending days upon days
roping the amount of plants I have !
   Cork works far better than anything I've seen so far.By using wire
,cut with wire cutters @1" or however long you need ,bending this
straight piece into a "U" shaped nail ,you can attach plants very fast
to any surface covered with cork.Place the plant in the "U" and push
into the wall.That's it !This also gives you a vertical planting surface
instead of just a horizontal
one . A good example is the entire back of your tank! Amano uses black
backgrounds .I prefer plants.Quite a few Europeans use the cork also.
So I silicone a sheet of cork 1/2" thick to the backs of some of my
tanks. On this ,I attach java fern-moss,Anubias, Bolbitis (these do very
well) and Riccia etc........You don't have to do something as permanent
either.Just clamp the top piece of cork with a small plastic clamp and
bury the bottom in the gravel so it doesn't move around.
   Another very useful technique is to glue a piece of cork on a
glass(or any rigid or bendable material that sinks).
These can be shaped any way you wish.Glueing cork OVER this material
will allow you to make any 3D shape or 2D shape you wish ! Yes, even
Aquatic topiary ! Abstract art or ..........
Flat slats covered on one side are very useful for terracing and they
cover up perfect and because you can use glass or whatever you wish
you'll be able to get the perfect size for your needs .No more looking
for that perfect piece of driftwood . This works with paladiums too !
It's cheap to play around with also and really makes for a unique work
.Moving the plants on the background is a snap with the U nails and
makes for a modular aquascaping possibilities .Try it .
   No plants at all in the gravel but only on the background give new
possibilities .I saw a tank with Bolbitis all over the back with a bunch
of SA cichlids that normally dig and uproot anything .Being very dark
green ,the Bolbitis made a beautiful contrast with the vivid colors of
the fish on the background I must say.
 I think I'll make an aquatic topiary of a cat using the litter box in
my next tank<G>!
    Tom Barr     AGA

RE: Plastic needlepoint canvass and java moss wall

by "James Purchase" <jpurch/>
Date: Fri, 22 Jan 1999

"Jack" is wondering about using plasitc needlepoint canvas as a support for
a Java moss "wall" along the back of his tank. Hey, sounds like a nice idea
to me. I believe that it was Susan Romano who initially had some ideas about
this material, and it turns out that there are quite a few of us who have
discovered it, and its many uses within an aquarium.

To attach the Java Moss (or Java Fern - I think that would work as well), I
would recommend nylon thread or monofilament (fishing line). Get yourself a
needlepoint needle and just "sew" the moss to the canvas. The craft stores
here in Toronto carry various sizes of plastic needlepoint canvas and in two
hole sizes, I generally use the coarser material. I think (but I'm not 100%
sure) that the plastic might be too slick and impervious for the Java Moss
(or Java Fern) to attach to it in the same fashion that they do to wood (at
least not as securely), but due to the holes, I'm sure that they could grow
thru and around it enough to give the plant a good enough grip to stay put.
For attaching it to the back wall of the tank, I'm at a bit of a loss - what
about using some of that "loop and hook" material - put the loop material on
the aquarium glass, the hook portion on the canvas and then just press them

To keep detritus away from the canvas and to help the growth of anything
growing on it, I'd use a powerhead to create a current over it. A spray bar
from a canister filter properly directed would probably work well for this

James Purchase

RE:Attaching Moss to cork

by Tom Barr <tcbiii/>
Date: Tue, 23 Mar 1999

This may be done several ways. I use wire(picture wire-galvinised steel)
cut in small lenghts about an inch long. These are bent to form a "U"
shaped nail that can hold a plant or moss of your choice. Thick super
glue has worked also but is more permanent and the plant needs to be
dried and the cork also before application.Epoxy also but the wire
methods are the best and easiest from many perspectives of attaching
things to cork. Bolbitis grows super on cork BTW .Once the moss has
"taken" it will crawl all over the back in no time .Moss can get very
messy though. Riccia can be done also in this same manner if your heart
desires........ looks great but is laborious to maintain !!!
For the paranoid, the wire does corrode eventually(months after the
graft has taken) and is quite harmless, as are the cork backings. This
can be a very modular system and holds much in the way of creative
Hope this helps.
      Tom Barr       AGA/SFAS

RE:Rock wall

by Tom Barr <tcbiii/>
Date: Sun, 21 Feb 1999

I saw an interesting set up a fellow did with his reef tank and it would
work with FW also. He drilled holes into the rocks and used steel
(stainless) rods and stacked the rocks right up to the surface. Lava
rocks would work nice for this or other "softer" rocks. Kinda a pain
though....but movable and non-permanant.Also check the FAMA archives for
If you like slate or other flat type rocks , using a glass sheet as kind
of a roof base and gluing on the rocks in a shingle type fashion.This
takes some work also but is very beautiful and worth it !
This is my favorite for a back wall but it's not rock..........
Use cork backing glued to back of the tank.You can attach
ferns,Anubias,moss, and have "a wall of plants " instead of rock.I use a
dark cork siliconed to back of my tanks.It's about 3/8-1/2" thick and
smells kind of smoky.It last for years also . This is found at hardware
stores and I can't recommend the thin light colored cork at all .
Attaching things to this is many times easier than wood or rocks.
Bending wire (picture) into U shapes you can simply push the U shaped
nail into the cork and attach any plant.
You don't have to stop there folks.........Using glass slats with a
piece of cork glued on you can create terraces and attach ferns to hide
them the cork completly.......There are many uses and only your own
imagination hold you back........yes even topiary!
Tom Barr        AGA/SFAS

Cork& glue

by "II, Thomas Barr" <tcbiii/>
Date: Thu, 01 Jun 2000

>The cork backing on the back wall and the terraces allows me to "pin" things
>like java fern, java moss, Anubias, etc. wherever I wish. I'm happy.... and
>so are the fish. Within 30 minutes of putting in some Kribs, they had laid
>claim to the vaious cork ledges and caves along the back wall, and started
>doing their "courtship dance" for potential mates and rivals.
>James Purchase

Sounds like another cork convert:) 
If you like big fish or cichlids etc cork is a good item for your tank if
you wish to have plants.

A nice mono culture back ground would look very nice. All Anubias barteri
var. nana, Bolbitis, Java fern the lace var., mosses and terrarium plants
sneaking out of the back edge.

If your into art etc, the solid color of one type of plant is similar to a
painting's background.
In your foreground, middle ground etc, you add your color, scene, etc. and
leave to solid uniform background. This balances all the mayhem plantings on
the bottom gravel better.  
This gives you a nice starting point to design your tank. You get a mix of
European and Natural gardening styles this way that's easy to maintain.

If your looking for a good photo of glued cork look no further than TFH's
June issue. There several photo's were the cork is seen glued to the glass.
That is silicone being used there.

Tom Barr

Another tool for cork

by "James Purchase" <jpurch/>
Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2000

I forgot to mention this in my earlier post, but I found that a Dremel Moto
Tool with several sizes of engraving and grinding bits was invaluable when
sculpting the cork pieces after the silicone had cured. I was able to knock
off all of the straight edges and soften it up so that the effect is much
older and more natural looking than a raw, freshly sawn edge. I'm sure that
the same thing could be done with some sandpaper sticks manually, but the
Dremel made short work of it.

James Purchase

RE: Cork Tiles

by "James Purchase" <jpurch/>
Date: Thu, 17 Aug 2000

Alex asked:

"So far the only cork tiles (floor and wall tiles) I have found have a
polyrethane binder to hold the cork together.  Is this the type of cork
tiles that are used as backgrounds or are there natural cork tiles without
the poly binder?  What binder is used?  Would the polyrethane binder be
bad for the fish/plants?"

Mmmm.... good question. The tiles I used were NOT designed for use on a
floor, they are meant for use as wall decoration only. I would guess that
more binders and plastics would be needed in something meant to be walked

For possible reference, the tiles I used were made in Portugal (I guess this
is because that's where the trees the cork bark comes from grows) and was
packaged and sold by Boone International, Inc.; 229 N. Sherman Ave., Corona,
CA 91720. They give a toll free number for U.S. and Canadian customers -
800-359-1230 ext. 123. The tiles appear to be raw pieces of cork which were
mixed with some sort of glue and then compressed into a block. After the
glue cured, they sliced off the "tiles". The surface has no obvious glue or
plastic - its just cork.

This stuff hasn't swollen or shown any disintegration in my tank now that it
is wet and there was no problem with water chemistry changes other than the
leaching of tannins from the bark (easily controlled with regular water
changes). The leaching of tannins becomes less of a problem over time.

I bought mine at Canadian Tire but they should be readily available thru
places like WalMart or a home improvements type store pretty much anywhere.

"I may use cork bark instead because it is all natural."

You can buy large pieces of natural cork in most places that sell reptile
supplies. I picked up several very large pieces which are sold by a company
called T-REX Products, Inc.; Chula Vista, CA 91911 (
It is sold as "Nature's Cork" and is 100% natural. Some cork like this
_might_ be treated to prevent parasites (when used for reptiles) - I'd stay
away from that.

But you are right if you are thinking that the totally natural bark looks
good - it can look VERY good, especially when combined and overlaying a back
wall of cork tiles. Very easy to pin plants like Java Fern to.

One hint is to spend some time either with a file and some sandpaper or a
Dremel moto-tool to eliminate any sharp cut edges - make them look kind of
softened and weather beaten for a more "natural look in the tank.

James Purchase

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