You can find rolls of fish tank backgrounds at nearly any fish store, but they lack sorely for realism and look like what they are — flat and static photographs. You can make a 3D background that will add a significant amount of realism and texture to your fish tank with little expense and only about an hour of work. My total cost for the project was $US10 for a box of slate tile from the clearance bin and $US3 for some silicone.
You’ll need some basic supplies and tools including a hammer, a screw driver or chisel, and a caulk gun. On the supplies side of things you’ll need a tube of silicone caulk and a box of slate floor tiles. Make sure you buy silicone caulk without any additives. If you want to be extra cautious you can buy only from a fish store but I’ve been buying silicone caulk from the hardware store for years without any problem — just make sure you read the label carefully and buy silicone that doesn’t have any fungicide or other additives, GE Silicone 1 for Doors and Windows is the brand I’ve always used.
Once you’ve broken the tiles, look through the pile of pieces of corner and edge pieces. You’ll want four good corners and a fair number of pieces that have a straight edge on them. These pieces will be the corner and edges of your background respectively. The rest of edge pieces will need to be chipped with the hammer to break up the straight lines for a more natural look. Slate “naps” pretty easily, so you can hit just the very edge and it will chip away in an irregular pattern.
It’s worth noting that although I started with an empty and dry fish tank it is possible do to this project with an already established fish tank. Instead of adhering the tile directly to the back of the fish tank you’ll simply adhere the tile to a piece of acrylic sheeting cut to fit inside the tank and then slowly and carefully lower the background into the established tank and lean it against the back.
A guide to building a fish tank background wouldn’t be complete without a picture of the fish that ended up in the tank:
Have your own DIY pet-related project to share? Let’s hear about it in the comments.