Black Aquarium Background: Pros, Cons & Ideas

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Aquarium enthusiasts face a variety of choices when it comes to setting up their tanks. One of the most important decisions is whether to include a background. Aquarium backgrounds can provide several benefits as well as some drawbacks.

If you decide to go with fish tank backgrounds, a black aquarium background is the number #1 choice for aquarists. However, not all aquariums look aesthetic and realistic with a black background. Here are some things to consider before making your final decision.

That’s why we’ve gone ahead and put together this comprehensive guide on black aquarium backgrounds to help you make an informed decision.

Without further delay, let’s begin.

The Benefits of Black Aquarium Background

A solid black aquarium background can provide many benefits, both aesthetic and functional. Here are a few reasons you should use black as your fish tank background. 

Create a Stress-Free Environment

For fish native to the deep waters, a black aquarium background provides a sense of privacy for your fish and makes them feel more comfortable in an emulated natural environment. These fish are used to living in the dark. A bright, light background can be stressful for them.

Make Fish and Plants Pop up

It also helps to make the coloration of fish and plants stand out more, creating a stunning effect that is sure to impress your guests from a distance. The contrast of brightly colored fish and plants against a dark background is very striking and can be quite beautiful. This is especially true for these dazzling African Cichlids aquariums or thriving planted tanks.

Make Aquariums Look Slimmer and Cleaner

While this may not be the most important reason to choose a black background, it is worth noting that black background tends to make aquariums look more slim and sleek. You can hide the clutter easily behind the tank, such as cords and hoses, giving your setup a clean look.

Add Depth to Your Tank

In addition to making your tank clean, a black aquarium background makes your tank appear deeper than it actually is. This is due to the nature of visual light – a dark color will appear to advance where a light color tends to recede.

The Drawbacks of Black Aquarium Background

Now that we’ve looked at the benefits of black aquarium backgrounds let’s take a moment to consider some of the potential drawbacks.

Not for All Fish

Some black-colored fish do not do well against a black tank background, including:

These fish have a black body with brightly colored fins or scales, and some of them rely on their coloration to camouflage themselves from predators. In a tank with a black background, these fish will stand out like a sore thumb and may become stressed as a result.

May Require More Maintenance

Another potential drawback of black aquarium backgrounds is that they may require more maintenance than other colors. Black surfaces tend to show dust, dirt, and smudges more easily. As a result, you may find yourself cleaning your aquarium more often to keep it looking its best.

How to Put Black Background on Fish Tank?

Now that we’ve looked at the pros and cons of black aquarium backgrounds, you may be wondering how to make the black fish tank background. Here are many great ideas to get you started.

Black Fish Tank Background Poster

There are many different options for the black fish tank background. The most popular type is the static cling aquarium background poster, a simple, classic option that goes well with most aquariums.

Also, some hobbyists prefer a more natural look for their aquarium. In this case, a dark underwater scenery poster may be more appropriate. Be aware that sometimes, they don’t look realistic and natural.

SPORN Aquarium Background, Static Cling, Classic...
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  • EASY APPLICATION: The static cling design enables hassle-free application. Just remove it from the...
  • RESIDUE FREE REMOVAL: The cling adheres directly to the aquarium and does not damage the tank upon...
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Paint It in Black

The problem with the self-clinging vinyl aquarium background is that it’s not always easy to get a tight seal. As a result, air bubbles can form, and the background can start to peel away from the glass.

One way to avoid this problem is to simply paint your aquarium background black. It’s a more permanent solution, but it does require some effort. You will be surprised how good a black paint job can look if you take your time and do it right. 

Author notes: A fish tank with black background requires a very strong light to illuminate the tank and make the fish visible. 

Black Vs. Blue Vs. White Fish Tank Background

Whether you plan to set up an aquarium with a plain poster or you just prefer to paint it black, you need to decide what color you want your fish tank background to be. Black is the most popular choice, but it’s not the only one.

Blue and white are also two popular options.

Blue Fish Tank Backgrounds

Blue backgrounds tend to accentuate the color of fish in marine reef aquariums, which provides a stunning natural effect that evokes the deep ocean. Like the black background that is not suitable for black-colored fish, the blue aquarium background is not the best choice for blue-colored fish. The most well-known bluish fish are Cichlids from Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika in Africa.

White Backgrounds for Aquariums

White backgrounds can make your aquarium look brighter and more cheerful. They also help to reflect light, which can be beneficial for fish that require high levels of lighting. Compared with the black background on the fish tank, the white one will make the white residue on aquarium glass caused by calcium deposits or minerals in the water much more invisible.

If you have some experience raising Golden Arowana, you might hear about the White Tank Treatment(WTT). It means setting up an entirely white aquarium with daylight lighting for the younger Arowanas. The purpose is to enhance the coloration of their shiny scales.

Speaking of maintaining coloration, it is not recommended to use a black background in an aquarium for any “Platinum” species, such as Platinum Redtail Catfish, Platinum betta, etc. The term “Platinum” is generally used to describe a fish with partial pigmentation loss. Keeping these fish in a darker environment may lose their already pearl white coloration.


To sum up, the black background is the best choice if you don’t have any preference for the color of your fish or intend to set up a planted aquarium. The blue and white backgrounds are good choices for marine reef aquariums and freshwater tanks with colorful fish respectively.

If you decide to go with a black background, be sure to choose the right type of background for your aquarium and take care to clean it regularly to avoid any problems. Thanks for reading, and we hope this article was helpful!

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Jeff Colt

Jeff Colt

Hello, I'm Jeff- an aquarium enthusiast with over 25 years of experience caring for a wide array of tropical fish, including koi, goldfish bettas, cichlids and more! For me: Aquariums are like jello - there's always room for more!

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