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Black or White? Choosing the right background for your Aquarium

Updated on January 21, 2013
The Aquarium with a white (opague) background
The Aquarium with a white (opague) background | Source

One of the considerations that hobbyists face while setting up their aquarium,is whether the aquarium should have background scenery or not. Many people prefer it without a background,but then again that depends on what you have behind the aquarium. If you have a plain white wall,maybe you would like to leave the aquarium without any background,but what if the view behind the aquarium isn't all that appealing? Then again,would you rather prefer an underwater scenery or a simple plain poster - Black,Blue or White?

Many hobbyist like to go for an underwater scenery,however one rarely comes across a right mix of the appropriate elements. Either the picture is a mix of some 'not so skillful' work on photoshop,or the scales are all over the place - this gives a very unnatural feel to what should ideally be a natural scene combined with the real life plants and fish inhabitants.

This is the reason why many advance aquarist prefer to go for plain backgrounds,Black,Blue or White.

Blue is generally best used for marine reef setups,as it accentuates the colours of the inhabitants and provides a more natural feel to the setup. A Black background provides a more natural setup for doing biotopes where the underlying theme is dark water,as in the amazon river biotope. Combined with driftwood and black substrate,this provides a complete natural look as close to the real thing.

A white background provides a lot more depth to the aquascape and showcases the plants and fish very well. WHile a dark background absorbs the colours and generally 'shrinks' the perspective,a white background on the other hand accentuates the colours well.

I have experimented with both,beginning with a black background for my amazone biotope tank (featured in these pictures) and then moving on to a white opague background as shown here.

Do note,it is the same aquarium and the only difference here are the background posters which were replaced from the outside (No photoshop tricks here!)

One can see the difference for oneself. Once I used this background, I was hooked. Shown below are some of the pictures from my other setups using white opague backgrounds.

Little wonder then that most professional aquascape artists use white opague backgrounds to accentuate their aquascapes! Did we just stumble upon a secret here?


The same Aquarium with it's original black background.
The same Aquarium with it's original black background. | Source
My Nano Nature Tank with a white opague background.
My Nano Nature Tank with a white opague background. | Source

Featured above is my Nano Nature Aquarium with the white opague background.You can read more about this setup here.

My Six Foot Planted Nature Aquarium with a white opague background.
My Six Foot Planted Nature Aquarium with a white opague background. | Source

To my mind,given my personal experience I would go with a white opague background for a planted aquarium anytime and a dark blue to a light blue background for a marine reef setup. Then again, it's a matter of personal choice and if you do get a good background featuring a nice underwater scenery with the right scales for everything...why not?

If you want help in putting up a background poster without getting any bubbles,just like the pros do it, do read my other article on the same subject here.


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