At first sight, it may seem surprising to talk of external decor. However, there
is nothing more unsightly than the sight of the wall behind the aquarium covered
with cables and pipes! The primary role of external decor therefore consists of
masking these elements, but it can also serve to highlight the plants and fish.
Posters with various designs, representing freshwater vegetation or seabeds,
can be found in aquarium stores, but many aquarists remain unimpressed by their
visual effect. They are attached to the outer face of the rear pane.
The rear pane in this tank has been replaced by a mirror,
to produce a striking effect.
An alternative to posters is sheets in a single color, such as blue, green, gray,
pale brown, or black. Black highlights fish and plants particularly effectively.
A few aquarists paint a color scale themselves, pale at the top of the aquarium
and darker at the bottom, to simulate the penetration of the light. Another option
is to paint directly onto the back of the rear pane.
FINISHING ARTIFICIAL DECOR: RESIN AND SAND
Resin and sand completely insulate the decor from the water and give it a natural
look. The sand used must be in keeping with the type of aquarium - freshwater or
marine - and match the sediment. If you use fine sand, you will need to apply several
• Polystyrene or terracotta decor
The resin and sand are added outside the aquarium. A coat of resin is applied
with a paintbrush and sand is then sprinkled on top. Leave to dry (24 hours for
the layer of resin) and repeat the operation
1-3 times, depending on the sand's grain size.
It is important to apply the resin carefully over all the decor, without neglecting
any small reliefs, crevices, or grottoes. Only resin, without any sand, should be
put on those parts of the decor that will be touching the glass panes of the aquarium.
Remove any leftover sand, firstly with a large paintbrush, and then with a vacuum
cleaner. The finished decor is stuck to the aquarium with silicone glue, 48 hours
• Polyurethane decor
Follow the same process with the polyurethane set in the aquarium, and do not
forget to apply resin and sand to the joins between the decor and the glass panes.
Any leftover sand is removed with a vacuum cleaner.
STIMULATING THE IMAGINATION
There are countless sources of inspiration if you want to
create a decor but find that your imagination has failed you.
The imagination is a capricious spirit that can sometimes desert you. You want
to create your own decor, you have been dreaming about it ... but your mind goes
blank! There are, however, several sources of inspiration:
- other aquariums, friends, clubs, public aquariums;
- books and specialist magazines;
- but also - and above all! - nature. Photos and sketches will help you to
translate your ideas into reality, particularly as to how reliefs can be harmonized.
Always placed behind the rear pane, these give the impression that the tank is
twice its initial size... but also that is has double the number of plants and fish!
A polystyrene sheet with a coat of resin and sand can be placed against the outside
of the rear pane.
Finally, you can consider putting natural decorative material, such as rocks,
branches, and roots, behind the aquarium, in front of a black cardboard backdrop.
These elements can be simply wedged together, glued, or held down with adhesive
clay. The overall effect is to increase the depth of field, for when an aquarium
is full it seems one third smaller, because of the refraction of light in the water.
This type of decor can easily be changed, needs no prior treatment and very little
maintenance, the only disadvantage being that it accumulates dust.