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Hi all, I have a 125 gallon tank and have been debating what to do with the background. My old 55 gallon has a background paper that I purchased from Petsmart and it looks ok but you can see air pockets where it doesn't make complete contact which doesn't look good.

What are your thoughts on painted versus decorated paper? If you did paint, which paints did you use that can be easily removed if I change my mind? Please note I can't use spray paint as the tank is already up and running with fish in it.
 

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I have read of people using a small roller and a paint like rustoleum I think it was. The problem is any paint will be difficult to remove. What if you used a section of black garbage bag pulled tight to see how you like the overall look?
 

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i think either can look great!, painted or decorated... i used black poster board but played with the idea of using something with a pattern / print...
personally i think plain might be best though. less to take attention away from the tank, plants, critters, etc unless its something subtle. just my 2 cents tho. cant speak on paint types but if overspray is a concern you can always roll it on...
 

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I have read of people using a small roller and a paint like rustoleum I think it was. The problem is any paint will be difficult to use. What if you used a section of black garbage bag pulled tight to see how you like the overall look?
Just curious why paint would be difficult to use?

I have tanks with both. As mentioned, the air pockets can look horrible or interesting depending on your taste. I know lots of people use 2 inch rollers and nothing more than latex paint. To me that's a lot more work and mess than spray-painting in the driveway. I'm about 90% of the way thru moving the fishroom to the opposite corner of the basement (a painful once-in-a-lifetime effort) and spray painted the backs of 4 20Gs in the driveway in less than 20 minutes. If you ever change your mind either method of painting comes off easily enough with a razor blade.

I guess the drawback to either paint method is that you'll have to dismantle and move the tank if you change your mind down the road if there's no access to the back of the tank.

You can also get creative with spray paint and do the lower half in a dark blue and work your way up to a lighter blue. The blue is just an example, I've seen it done and it really looks nice.
 

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Just curious why paint would be difficult to use?

I have tanks with both. As mentioned, the air pockets can look horrible or interesting depending on your taste. I know lots of people use 2 inch rollers and nothing more than latex paint. To me that's a lot more work and mess than spray-painting in the driveway. I'm about 90% of the way thru moving the fishroom to the opposite corner of the basement (a painful once-in-a-lifetime effort) and spray painted the backs of 4 20Gs in the driveway in less than 20 minutes. If you ever change your mind either method of painting comes off easily enough with a razor blade.

I guess the drawback to either paint method is that you'll have to dismantle and move the tank if you change your mind down the road if there's no access to the back of the tank.

You can also get creative with spray paint and do the lower half in a dark blue and work your way up to a lighter blue. The blue is just an example, I've seen it done and it really looks nice.
My apologies, I meant to say remove. I have one tank painted black and will be doing so in the future. But if the tank is in place I could see where removal would be more difficult than application with it still in place.
 

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I used a small 4-inch long roller with cheap acrylic paint that you can get at any craft store. It doesn't need to be anything fancy. A tube of black paint that you would use on a canvas is fine. I taped up the trimand rolled on 3 coats to get complete coverage. This was on a 36 gallon tank that was up and running and it wasn't too bad. I was done in about 3 hrs, with moving, taping, and drying time in between coats. Looks much better than the plasticy background that I had on before. Really looks 100% better imo. I would paint if you can.
 

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Hi all, I have a 125 gallon tank and have been debating what to do with the background. My old 55 gallon has a background paper that I purchased from Petsmart and it looks ok but you can see air pockets where it doesn't make complete contact which doesn't look good.

What are your thoughts on painted versus decorated paper? If you did paint, which paints did you use that can be easily removed if I change my mind? Please note I can't use spray paint as the tank is already up and running with fish in it.
Just painted my 15 gallon back with a black primer. I used a high quality roller and it too about 3 coats painting at 90 degrees from the previous coat. I love the results. Paper is a cheaper more temporary alternative, but paint in my opinion will always looks better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Just curious why paint would be difficult to use?

I have tanks with both. As mentioned, the air pockets can look horrible or interesting depending on your taste. I know lots of people use 2 inch rollers and nothing more than latex paint. To me that's a lot more work and mess than spray-painting in the driveway. I'm about 90% of the way thru moving the fishroom to the opposite corner of the basement (a painful once-in-a-lifetime effort) and spray painted the backs of 4 20Gs in the driveway in less than 20 minutes. If you ever change your mind either method of painting comes off easily enough with a razor blade.

I guess the drawback to either paint method is that you'll have to dismantle and move the tank if you change your mind down the road if there's no access to the back of the tank.

You can also get creative with spray paint and do the lower half in a dark blue and work your way up to a lighter blue. The blue is just an example, I've seen it done and it really looks nice.
Moving and spray painting are not an option on my 125 gallon tank at this point in time. I did leave room behind the tank thinking either the wall or gaining access behind the tank would be needed some time in the future so using a brush or roller would work.
 

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Moving and spray painting are not an option on my 125 gallon tank at this point in time. I did leave room behind the tank thinking either the wall or gaining access behind the tank would be needed some time in the future so using a brush or roller would work.
Gottcha. The real difference is in ease of removal. So while paint's a "relative" breeze to apply, it's hard to argue it's tougher to remove, though certainly not impossible.

Bump:
Moving and spray painting are not an option on my 125 gallon tank at this point in time. I did leave room behind the tank thinking either the wall or gaining access behind the tank would be needed some time in the future so using a brush or roller would work.
If you wander through the box store paint section, you'll probably find some "shorty" roller extensions for just a few bucks. I have a wooden one at home that's about 18" long. Something that might come in handy getting to the lower middle of a 125G instead of a longer pole type extension. and don't forget to tape some newspaper to the wall behind it. The Misses may get ticked off if you create a collage behind the tank.
 
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I'm a big fan of painted over paper background. I would go the roller route. I've tried a brush and it was hard to get coverage. If you need an extension most of the house hold broom handles will screw onto a roller handle. Just about any paint will be fairly easy to remove, there's nothing for the paint to grip on glass.
 

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For prepared backgrounds there are products to attach to the glass, but mineral oil works well. HOWEVER, for a planted tank, I think we want focus on the plants in the tank, not a photo background. A black or deep dark blue background seems best. If you could spray, I think I'd try plastidip (for easy removal), but you could clean the glass well and use an acrylic plaint with a roller. Almost any paint will remove from glass with a razor blade and effort.
I simply used black poster board and used black vinyl electrical tape to secure to the tank. If/when I tire of the black, I just might switch to a dark blue as the cost is very little...and I couldn't do that easily with paint!
 

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Hi all, I have a 125 gallon tank and have been debating what to do with the background. My old 55 gallon has a background paper that I purchased from Petsmart and it looks ok but you can see air pockets where it doesn't make complete contact which doesn't look good.

What are your thoughts on painted versus decorated paper? If you did paint, which paints did you use that can be easily removed if I change my mind? Please note I can't use spray paint as the tank is already up and running with fish in it.
I'm a big fan of "none of the above", especially in larger tanks.

You see, with a larger tank like a 125 you have an 18" or 24" front to back area to work with. It's usually very easy to build you aquascape to almost fully cover that back wall. also if you can see through it, it can sometimes add the appearance of even more depth.

Now there are some exceptions, for example if you have a very open aquascape, or if your getting direct sun through the back, but often "less is more" when it comes to backgrounds.
 

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I always go with black paint of some form. All work but all do have things I don't like. One is spray paint. It tends to be quick to put on and dry between the several coats it will take to get it totally covered. You will want to do several coats and hold a light behind to spot the thin places you will get whether using spray , brush or rolled on. Spray can get those multiple coats dry quicker for the next coat but then it is also somewhat easier to scratch off like when you move a HOB filter. Brushed on seems as good as any to me. With fish in, I would go latex due to the fumes from oil base. But then glass is super slick and super hard to get uniform coverage. Much more than a plain wall for instance. Rollers sound good but in practice I find they are almost impossible to keep from sliding instead of rolling so I would go with what seems right to you.
I find no problem removing either type but I do have several scrapers meant for removing paint from windows. The paint never penetrates glass so it is just setting on the surface and scrapes off easy.
 

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I have a store bought background (simple blue underwater picture with water only) but I didn't attach it with glue/oil - I simply taped the corners to the tank. No fussing, no air pockets and it looks much darker like this.

But... if I could start over I would most likely use black paint or an in-tank 3D background.
 
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