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How to Apply an Aquarium Background (5 Easy Methods)

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By Lindsey Stanton


In the process of searching for ideas and accessories that will make the tank stand out more and with a clear view of our fish, we look towards purchasing an aquarium background.

We choose our favorite aquarium background, and then off we go to apply it to the back of the tank, but then there’s an issue. How do you apply an aquarium background if the front part is not sticky? In this article, we will be explaining some methods you can use to shape, and stick your aquarium background easily.

  • Note: Always measure the dimensions of your aquarium before shopping. The store can cut the roll of the background to fit your tank as best as possible. Although, there is no guarantee you won’t have to resize it yourself.

aquarium plant divider

How to Choose the Right Aquarium Background for You

Begin by going to a local fish store that sells a variety of aquarium backgrounds. Choose a background that matches your aquarium setup. A natural aquarium with plants, driftwoods, and rocks fit well with darker backgrounds that mimic a natural river. It ensures the tank looks smart and if you stick the background on well, you will not have to worry about how you will get it off.

Tanks with artificial decorations fit with a background that contains bright colors, such as red and orange coral reef backgrounds. Some backgrounds even come with two different sides, each displaying its picture. Choose a design you feel happy with and one that makes your aquarium look even better!

You will have to take caution when choosing a two-sided background before you secure it to the aquarium.

Image Credit: Maverick Ace, Shutterstock

Interior and Exterior Backgrounds

There are two main application areas to secure your aquarium background. This includes the back part inside of the aquarium and the outside of the aquarium. There are limited options available for materials to apply your background inside your aquarium. When placed inside most of the materials used to secure a background can seep into the water and poison the inhabitants. Interior backgrounds are constantly exposed to water, this makes the sealant struggle to grip appropriately. Whereas exterior backgrounds are not exposed to water and can be applied using a variety of materials.

aquarium plant divider

How to Shape the Background to Fit Your Aquarium

Use a tape measure to get the dimensions of the panel of glass. Take a ruler and a pencil to mark where you are going to cut or carve the sides of the background to fit it on the aquarium. This ensures no undesirable edges are overlapping. Make sure all the sides are even and up to your standards before you apply the background. If you are not happy with the dimensions before you apply it, then you will struggle to fix it after.

The 5 Methods for Applying an Aquarium Background

1. Tape

masking tape-pixabay
Image Credit: Capri23auto, Pixabay
How to Apply an Aquarium Background Using Tape
  1. Get someone to help you hold the background on one side. The side should be held down tightly in each corner to avoid drooping.
  2. Fold the tape around the corner of the tank. The majority of the tape should be in the background. The rest should be stuck on the other side of the glass panel.
  3. Once both corners on the one side are stuck, the other person should hold the next side in the opposite corners.
  4. The background should be pulled slightly so the middle does not fold.
  5. Tape the corners the same way as the opposite side. If you feel the background needs more tape, apply it around the sides and bottom of the aquarium.

2. Safe Glue

How to Apply an Aquarium Background Using Safe Glue
  1. Line the glue or sealant around the outside of the tank close to the rims. While adding extra to the corners.
  2. Once the glue is layered in each spot, carefully place the background onto the glue,
  3. Press firmly to ensure there are no bubbles or folds.

Do not put glue on the background itself. Avoid using too much glue as when it dry’s it leaves a white residue.

3. Vaseline

a tub of vaseline
Image Credit: JenJ_Payless, Shutterstock
How to Apply an Aquarium Background Using Vaseline
  1. Scoop a decent amount of Vaseline into the palm of your hand.
  2. Rub the Vaseline between your palms still there are no thick clumps left
  3. Start swiping the Vaseline onto the outside of the aquarium panel where you plan to apply the background.
  4. Make sure an even layer is applied. Be cautious not the layer is too thick.
  5. After washing your hands, place the aquarium background firmly onto the Vaseline.
  6. Press the background onto the panel, rubbing away any folds or bubbles.
  7. If some Vaseline leaked out the sides of the aquarium, use a cloth to wipe it away.

4. Cooking Oil

Image By: congerdesign, Pixabay
How to Apply An Aquarium Background Using Cooking Oil
  1. Pour a small amount of cooking oil into your hands.
  2. Rub the cooking oil across the aquarium panel. Ensure every part is covered for your background to stick securely
  3. Press the background onto the oil. It will be slippery so you will have to have someone help you hold one side.
  4. Press firmly around the rims of the background.
  5. Wipe excess oil that seeps out the sides with a cloth.

5. Static Cling

How to Apply Static Cling Aquarium Backgrounds
  1. Peel the white back part off of the corner that faces you.
  2. Turn the background around so that it faces you.
  3. Place the top edge of the background to the top of your tank.
  4. Smooth the background onto the glass panel to get rid of wrinkles.

Silicone for Interior Backgrounds

If you want to put the background on the inside of the aquarium, you need to use aquarium safe glue. Aquarium silicone is a top choice for this background application. The aquarium will have to be free of water before this can be done.

You can outline silicone along the rim of the aquarium’s panel. To make sure the background is secure, make a line of silicone down the middle. Press down the background to get rid of bubbles and unevenness. Let the silicone dry for 2 hours before adding water.

aquarium plant divider


There are many options to use to make sure your aquarium background is kept securely in place. To get rid of any air bubbles after apply the aquarium background, we recommend using a credit or debit card to smooth down the bubbles. We hope this article has helped you decide on a method you can easily apply your aquarium background.

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Featured Image Credit: Maverick Ace, Shutterstock

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