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Should I Put A Background On My Fish Tank Aquarium

It is often overlooked when putting together a fish tank aquarium however one of the most important factors involved which will influence the colouration and behaviour of your tropical fish is the background put in your tank.


There are a few options and ways of doing this which include 3D backgrounds, painted background or vinyl backing. If going for the painted background then most will paint the outside of the tank either blue or black however you could go for any colour of course but the best results, depending on the type of fish you keep are either blue or black.

There is a vast range of vinyl backgrounds available which are sold by the length and can give a lot more depth to your aquarium, especially if you manage to make the foreground and aquascape of your tank blend in to the background you have used. These are attached to the outside of a fish tank and often held in place with gaffa tape or equivalent. The main draw back of this type of background is there is the risk of water getting in between the glass and the background giving water marks on the glass and a faded look due to light getting in between the background and the glass. There are products on the market which seem to be oil based and if applied correctly bridge this gap and give a much more solid look however applying them in a larger area can be very tricky and if any air bubbles appear or occur over time then they are extremely noticeable.


The final type of background available is a 3D background, these sit inside the aquarium and come in various different forms. Thin backgrounds don’t offer as much depth however can give you a realistic feel to the tank without taking up too much of the inner tank space giving more room for water and fish. Deeper backgrounds can give a more realistic look to the biotype you are trying to create however mean you will lose water and tank space. Some 3D background attach directly to the tank walls with silicon or equivalent (we find the Gold label pond and aquarium sealer is perfect for attaching these types of backgrounds) and other types that do not float and are thin but allow for water behind them so water capacity is not decreased as much however you run the risk of fish getting behind the background in this case.

Another final option, although technically not a background could be to use rocks or other aquascape to cover the side or back of a tank which is not ideal however it does give the effect of a 3D background and can look very striking.


It is strongly advised to have a background on a fish tank due to fish seeing their reflection in the glass and therefore not feeling like they are safe or have a good hiding spot. We would recommend putting background on at least 2 sides but ideally 3 sides of the aquarium to ensure the fish are able to act as naturally as possible.

Whilst vinyl backgrounds can look great, they will not always eliminate the reflection issue we are trying to overcome so in our opinion the 3D background option is the best type to go for.