As you set up your new aquarium, you may be tempted to skip the aquarium background. After all, it is an expense, and you want to spend that money on fish or underwater decorations. Before you skip the background, you should understand the role it plays in your aquatic environment.
Fish Like Backgrounds
Believe it or not, your fish will thrive better in a tank that has a background. The fish can be stressed by the reflection of light on the back of the tank. Some will even fight with their own reflections, which can lead to injuries and increased overall stress. In addition, the background will limit the amount of light that enters the aquarium, which means you will probably have less algae buildup. It can also be used to hide lines from equipment, making a more pleasing overall look.
Options for Backgrounds
The most affordable aquarium background is a self-stick one. These are basically giant stickers that you place on the back of your tank, either inside or outside, depending on the design. They are made of vinyl, so water is not a problem. If you use the sticker inside, make sure the adhesive is safe for your fish.
For something a bit more prestigious, consider buying a molded three-dimensional aquarium background. Most of these are made of Styrofoam and plastic and sit against the back in the tank. Fiberglass versions of these backgrounds are used in zoos and aquariums.
Finally, you must decide if you want the background to just cover the back of the tank, or if you want it to wrap around the sides. As far as your fish are concerned, the more of the glass that you can cover, the less stress they will feel, so consider covering the sides as well as the back, if your background is large enough.