How to Make Your Own Aquarium Backgrounds

By Lillian Downey

Sometimes all the colorful decorations and fish you add to your aquarium just aren't enough. Something still doesn't look quite right. Maybe you can see too many wires through your aquarium glass, or maybe your wallpaper or paint color looks distorted and unsightly through the glass. If that's the case, it's east to solve those problems with an aquarium background. An aquarium background will add depth to your aquarium's landscape and hide the wall and cords from showing through. They can be as easy as a child's drawing or as complex as a detailed work of art. The initial process is simple--the direction you take it is up to you.

Measure the back of your aquarium using the measuring tape. You need to know both how tall and how wide it is. Use these measurements to cut out a piece of paper that will fit perfectly against the back of your aquarium.

Decorate your paper. There are many ways to do this. You can make a watercolor painting, or use markers, crayons or colored pencils to create a seascape. You can print pictures from the Internet or cut pictures out of magazines to create a collage. Chose colors that compliment your decorative tank items and the color of your fish and gravel.

Attach the finished background art to the aquarium using masking tape. This is just to see how your background looks. If you are unsatisfied, make any necessary adjustments. If you like your background, carefully take it down and remove the piece of masking tape.

Protect your image from water damage by covering it with clear contact paper. Roll out a sheet of contact paper, face down, on a flat surface. Use your pencil and measuring tape to draw the dimensions of your background on the tape, adding three inches to each side. The extra three inches are to make attaching your contact paper easier. If your image is taller than the contact paper, roll out two sheets, putting one on top of the other, securing them with masking tape where they meet. Once you have marked your measurements, cut out the contact paper. Repeat this process so you have enough contact paper to cover the front side and back side.

Remove the backing from the piece of contact paper reserved for the back of your background image. Lay the contact paper on a hard, flat surface with the sticky side up. Locate the middle of your image and the middle of your contact paper (roughly estimate). Press the back of your image to the contact paper and work from the middle outward, smoothing the paper with your hand to prevent air bubbles. It helps to work in a circular motion using your flattened hand to firmly press the image onto the contact paper.

Remove the backing from the other sheet of contact paper. Locate the approximate center of the sheet. With the sticky side down, press the middle of the contact paper onto the middle of your image. With the same firm, circular motion, use your hand to smooth the contact paper over the image.

Use scissors to trim off the excess contact paper. You may wish to leave a quarter inch border around the background picture to create a seal against water. Use double stick tape to attach the picture to the back of your aquarium and enjoy.