Are there realistic non solid-color backgrounds? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-27-2020, 07:37 PM Thread Starter
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Are there realistic non solid-color backgrounds?

I'm setting up a new 50g fresh in a dutch/nature-like aquascape (with manzanita and seiyru hardscape, flourite black sand). I have a black background for starts because that's "the thing you are supposed to do". Black does look good, probably better than any other solid color in most freshwater situations but it does create a cold dark void effect in some tanks. I notice the rimless aquascapers (I'm using clear-for-life acrylic tank so that isn't me) often use white or clear (no background) backgrounds. I can't use clear as I need something to hide canister hose and power cables.

When you search for aquarium backgrounds you are inundated with 100,000's of varieties and vendors of "traditional" aquarium backgrounds, I mean backgrounds of pirate ships, snow capped mountains, scuba divers, solid colors of all shades, etc... There are so many it's impossible to sift through.

Are there any vendors/manufacturers that specialize in backgrounds that are synergistic with an aquascaped tank? I'm thinking a background that is subtle, with a purpose to blend natural elements in the underwater setting you are creating, that creates depth and/or mood, in a manner that is more complex than a solid color yet does not stand out nor look fake.

I feel like it might be better to go DIY and try to be artsy although I'd much rather buy.
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-27-2020, 08:12 PM
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What are your thoughts on a "frosted" look on the back part of the tank? I know there's some sort of film that you can apply to the outer part of a tank that creates a "frosted glass" effect, which makes the tank relatively clear, but potentially distorts out the life support equipment...

I guess it also depends on how you can search for aquarium backgrounds. There are some cool 3d aquarium backgrounds, which assist in showing depth, but can restrict what you're going for to an extent. You could also try for something like a moss wall, which acts as a background, but has plants in it....what are your goals? I assume all the "oceany" backgrounds are out, but do you want something that reflects an image of a planted riverbed or something?
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-27-2020, 08:19 PM
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I sure haven't seen many (if any) that were realistic *to me*, but I suppose that's subjective. I generally paint mine or use frosted window cling. Hides the wires and accentuates the scape without detracting with obviously fake scenery. A lot really comes down to taste and preference though. I probably sell as much neon colored aquarium gravel as natural and as many fake Buddhas and skulls as driftwood, so what I like is clearly not what everybody does!
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-27-2020, 08:26 PM
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Yes, most commercial tank backgrounds have theme, good for fish only tank but distractive for aquascape. Most aquascape tanks have either no background or solid light Color background to reflect light back to plants. Some even use light to shine through the back to simulate sun ray. I have seen double sided commercial backgrounds with theme on one side, and solid color on the other, typically blue or black. There are also rock theme backgrounds that approach solid color and are more natural for plants. Avoid black and dark color that absorb light.
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-27-2020, 08:28 PM
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And black is far and away my favorite, so there you go! I use lights that are plenty adequate, so it's not been an issue for my own tanks.

Nothing good happens fast in an ecosystem.
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-27-2020, 09:20 PM
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If you really want to get fancy you can us a lighted background. Not sure if it's sold in your tank size.

https://aquaforestaquarium.com/produ...a-light-screen

If I have a whitish wall beyond my tank I usually go without a background. Black looks good depending on setup to me.
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-27-2020, 09:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ahem View Post
I'm setting up a new 50g fresh in a dutch/nature-like aquascape (with manzanita and seiyru hardscape, flourite black sand). I have a black background for starts because that's "the thing you are supposed to do". Black does look good, probably better than any other solid color in most freshwater situations but it does create a cold dark void effect in some tanks. I notice the rimless aquascapers (I'm using clear-for-life acrylic tank so that isn't me) often use white or clear (no background) backgrounds. I can't use clear as I need something to hide canister hose and power cables.

When you search for aquarium backgrounds you are inundated with 100,000's of varieties and vendors of "traditional" aquarium backgrounds, I mean backgrounds of pirate ships, snow capped mountains, scuba divers, solid colors of all shades, etc... There are so many it's impossible to sift through.

Are there any vendors/manufacturers that specialize in backgrounds that are synergistic with an aquascaped tank? I'm thinking a background that is subtle, with a purpose to blend natural elements in the underwater setting you are creating, that creates depth and/or mood, in a manner that is more complex than a solid color yet does not stand out nor look fake.

I feel like it might be better to go DIY and try to be artsy although I'd much rather buy.
How about finding a photo that you like, having it enlarged and cropped to the size you need, and then treating the paper with a water resistant coating?
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-27-2020, 09:51 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ichthyogeek View Post
What are your thoughts on a "frosted" look on the back part of the tank? I know there's some sort of film that you can apply to the outer part of a tank that creates a "frosted glass" effect, which makes the tank relatively clear, but potentially distorts out the life support equipment...
The frosted thing is something I have not considered, that is an interesting idea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ichthyogeek View Post
I guess it also depends on how you can search for aquarium backgrounds. There are some cool 3d aquarium backgrounds, which assist in showing depth, but can restrict what you're going for to an extent. You could also try for something like a moss wall, which acts as a background, but has plants in it....what are your goals? I assume all the "oceany" backgrounds are out, but do you want something that reflects an image of a planted riverbed or something?
In my minds eye it's hard to see anything with an actual image, whether drawn, painted, or computer generated, to fit the bill, even it if it is a picture of "underwater river grass" or something relevant. I'm not sure something like that could ever look real enough that it would not distract. Perhaps if it had images of the same plants as in the tank, and displayed in a manner that creates an illusion of a seamless continuum off into the distance. That would be some sort of custom or DIY project.

For an off-the-shelf product, i'm thinking something subtle like a gentle gradient of a single color, that get's darker with depth, to create the illusion of depth without stealing any focus from the tank. Maybe more sophistication would be to add some slight hint of a god ray through the water as if from a point source to further add to the illusion of natural light (e.g. sun/moon). Or maybe something subtle that creates an illusion of water movement. Many possibilities.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asteroid View Post
If you really want to get fancy you can us a lighted background. Not sure if it's sold in your tank size.

https://aquaforestaquarium.com/produ...a-light-screen

If I have a whitish wall beyond my tank I usually go without a background. Black looks good depending on setup to me.
That is one cool product! The larger one would fit I think. At $430 its about as much as the acrylic tank it would go on, rather pricey. Going to check some youtubes on it though. I think its outside my price range but an interesting find none-the-less.
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-27-2020, 10:26 PM
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So....something like this?

https://www.google.com/search?q=samu...w=1153&bih=898

Lol. But more seriously, something like this?

https://medium.com/@eggradients/dark...t-fbaaf5c8b443

So many fish/plants/inverts to keep, not enough aquaria.
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-28-2020, 12:34 AM
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What looks real depends on where you've had your head under the water! Oceans edge or river and stream are a couple of items which change the answer as well as where the river might have been. A look around a river in Minnesota may get you lots of brown while Georgia may get you red but where I'm most used to is the middle of the country where limestone if the dominant rock, so a full back wall fashioned to look like a limestone bluff looks "natural" to me! Lots of cichlid keepers do DIY on back walls to form them from Cement and then color it to look like what they feel is "natural" as nature has lots of options.
I go with black because when underwater, it often does fade into dark in the distance and changes frequently so black suits as well as I can begin to create and it is far more simple than getting too involved in art that is not my thing.
So what is natural to you?
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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-28-2020, 07:07 AM
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I've been looking for something similar - a gradient of color or subtle mottling - and the best solution seems to be a fabric backdrop. A solid batik fabric in a darker shade of brown or green might look good, or even just different tonal shades of black. Quilting shops have a wide variety of these.
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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-28-2020, 03:08 PM
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Here is one of the gradient films for my Lightground LED background for my 120p that I am setting up.
I am also getting the White/blue film.


https://www.thelightground.com/about-1
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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-28-2020, 04:34 PM
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On my tanks I have one black (painted), one frosted (plastic) and one clear. I've toyed with several ideas on making a rock wall out of slate or dragon stone, but my aquariums are relatively narrow and I ultimately didn't want to give up the space. I once tried taping up a print from a photo I took, but that particular photo quality was made worse by blowing it up big enough to use as a background. It looked hideous.


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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-28-2020, 10:57 PM
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Hi @ahem,

Possibly something like one of these?

Roy_________
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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-29-2020, 12:19 AM
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I use this moire type film made by Rowland Technologies: https://www.canalplastic.com/collect...illusion-films

It provides a 3D effect that gives the impression of depth. It comes in colors of your choice.
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