The aquarium background is one of the important aspects of aquarium decoration that aquarists often neglect. They either do not use it at all, or do it only to hide the wallpaper behind the aquarium, as well as cables and hoses, aquarium equipment.
However, it would be much better if the background depicted the underwater bank of a river, pond or lake, that is, a place where the natural conditions are mostly shelter. Fish caught in sudden danger in open water are most often directed under the protection of the shore.
Therefore, if you provide them with such a background, it will set the direction of the aquarium and its inhabitants and provide a sense of security for the fish. In addition, the background is the backdrop for the rest of the aquarium’s decoration.
The background can be either internal or external. All the materials used to make the internal background should be waterproof and non-toxic. The inner background is made both flat and voluminous. It is usually made of polyurethane or plastic, rarely of natural stone or shell.
Aquarists who prefer an open-air aquarium (i.e. one that can be viewed from all sides) or an aquarium that is used as a decorative divider should take into account that the lack of a safe haven in the back of the aquarium and the fact that the fish are visible on all sides or even on both sides causes them stress.
In most cases, the general aquarium contains fish originating from a natural environment where rocks and rocks are abundant. If you keep fish from stony bodies of water, the absolute requirement – the presence of structures in the aquarium of stones.
Stones, as well as the substrate, should not affect the chemical composition of the water – except when this is the intention of the aquarist. They must not contain minerals that could be poisonous. It is also important to avoid stones with sharp chips or protrusions that could cause injury to fish.
This is especially dangerous if the aquarium contains restless fish, which start to panic in fright throughout the aquarium. If the stones are to be used as a substrate for spawning, they should at least have a smooth surface in some places. If there are fish in the aquarium that usually lay eggs in crevices, it is necessary to create an imitation of them.
The main natural stones used in aquariums:
Gneiss. It is a very hard metamorphic rock. Often striped, the stripes are usually grey, grey-green or white, sometimes pink. Usually fine-grained. Practically neutral. Good stones for an aquarium, suitable for any purpose.
A shell is a type of limestone. It consists almost entirely of whole or fragmented shells of marine organisms and has a porous structure. It is usually formed in the shallow waters of seas and oceans. Perfect for an aquarium with cichlids in Africa. Can crumble, which leads to an untidy appearance of the aquarium.
Granite. Hard rock of volcanic origin, has specks, gray, black or white, is mainly used for decorative finishing of buildings. There is also a special variety of orange color. It is almost neutral and is an excellent universal aquarium material.
Limestone. Sedimentary rock consisting mainly of calcium carbonate. Some limestones also contain magnesium salts. Limestones range from fine-grained and hard to coarse-grained and crumbling limestones. Usually grayish or whitish. May include fossils. Increases or buffers hardness and pH.
Sandstone for millstones. Very hard metamorphic rock, grayish in color, with spots. Practically neutral. Suitable for use in general aquarium.
Lime tuff. Very rough and brittle limestone. It is popular with aquarists who keep fish from alkaline water and pitfalls. It is porous and lightweight, and it can be used to build large structures that rest on the back glass of the aquarium and do not contain overload. As a substrate for spawning is absolutely useless, because it has too rough surface.
Tips for choosing natural stones:
Do not collect stones in an area where there are mines or quarries and metal or mineral ores are being mined. Avoid places where stones can be contaminated, such as with pesticides or radioactivity.
Do not take stones with metal veins or layers of rust or stones containing colored crystals. However, if you see white or transparent crystals or veins, it is most likely quartz, it is safe.
Do not use soft or crumbling stones (except for lime tuff in alkaline aquariums).
Look for stones that are evenly colored, evenly spaced and evenly structured.
Among the stones polished with water, choose those that have a uniform surface and no holes or cracks.
Remember that stones containing fossils are usually limestone.
Avoid brightly colored stones (if you’re not sure if they’re safe), as this may be the case with some unwanted minerals.
All natural stones should be washed thoroughly in water (without soap and detergents) to remove dirt, moss and lichen. Particular attention should be paid to cracks and openings where dirt, insects, etc. can be found. Stones collected in natural water bodies should be immersed in boiling water to destroy all aquatic life that may have settled on them. Instead of boiling, stones can be dried for one to two weeks.
Shells cannot be considered a suitable decoration for a communal aquarium, as they consist of calcium carbonate and can affect the hardness of water and pH. However, some fish species (mainly cichlids from Lake Tanganyika in the shells) certainly need spiral shells as shelters and spawning grounds.
Shells sold as interior decoration are also suitable, provided they are not painted or varnished. Sinks from the seaside need to be pre-sterilized by boiling and then cleaned of all available surfaces. Those washbasins that have been empty for some time are well polished with water and are preferable to those that may still contain dead shellfish.