I made my background out of polystyrene foam (pink insulation from Lowes) and painted it with different shades of Krylon paint. Then I sealed the entire thing with silicone. Once it was cured, I siliconed it to the back of the tank and used Great Stuff to fill in some gaps at the bottom. It's been two years and I've had no issues with flaking paint or anything like that. I can't see the Great Stuff because it's covered with rocks and sand, but the only fish I've lost was due to male/male aggression, so it's not poisoning the tank at all. I did have a diatom issue at one point, and it's still there on the background in the nooks, but I actually think it makes it look better, so I've not tried to remove it.
Once you've gotten your plant fix, come talk fish!
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