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Paul Krombholz wrote:
<< In museum dioramas they paint the background so as to appear to be a
continuation of the display. That might be worth trying with some aquarium
designs. Of course, as the plants grew the background might get out of
date. It might be interesting to try, anyway. >>
You know, it just might. I've been wondering what this could look like myself
for quite a while now.
This is the challenge we face when placing something permanent or static in a
dynamic environment such as a planted aquarium. Trying to anticipate or
predict, what will change, how fast, how much, in what way and then to plan
for all this is part of the fun, I guess. With not much else to go on
precedent wise -- taking note of how similar situations in other environments
have been handled is worth a look.
This painting technique for backgrounds has been applied to good effect at
that old civil war battle display in Atlanta (Cyclorama?) and at a few zoos
I've been to (Bronx?) and even at the Tennessee Aquarium if I remember
correctly. Sometime this works and sometimes not but it hinges largely on how
realistic the painting is. It's either extremely well done or the background
is better off merely suggested in most cases.
If well executed, this trick would certainly add depth to an aquarium, but as
you pointed out, only to the extent one could even see the wall at all
through the plants. I believe that having at least one area or slot in a tank
that is open all the way through to the rear wall is one of the "rules" for
Dutch aquaria. I've read that this "look through" combined with "streets"
adds tremendously to the illusion of depth. I do know that many of Amano's
tanks are open; either slightly off center, (valley) or at the sides
I just use solid black backing myself because it's simple and seems to set
off the plants and fish to good effect; but Amano's tanks with those solid,
midrange blue backgrounds seem to work also. They certainly look good in the
pictures anyway - with a hair dryer rippling the water's surface into the
likeness of high, cirrus clouds. I should think one of the problems with
using lighter colors would be that spot algae, dirt, etc., might become much
more obvious on the rear wall. Rear wall glass is always hard to keep clean
in a large tank with a hood anyway and the gradual accumulation of algae
could eventually spoil the effect completely.
I've considered the idea of using a spray gun to shade blue backgrounds from
black at the edges toward a lighter, but still quite dark center, or perhaps
just the opposite; a black center fading to lighter edges. This could add
depth as well.
Then there's the old trick of adding on to the back wall a dimly lit, window
box type affair containing driftwood, rocks and even various terrestrial
plants within. This is probably a very problematic approach with dust and
algae ruining the effect at every opportunity. Reject.
I also remember that the old "Advanced Aquarium" book I referred to when
discussing "self-leveling siphons" awhile back described a "Monaco" style
tank where the background was a concave, plastic, dome-like structure of the
appropriate color with a weak light source positioned behind the center area.
IOW, a giant, contact lens in reverse with a night light. This supposedly
creates a fairly realistic imitation of distance and open ocean.
Something like this might be worth trying in a plant tank if we could just
locate fairly priced, easy to bend, easy to color, easy to work with plastic
or some other translucent material of the correct size. Of all the background
ideas other than black, this one sounded like it held the most promise.
Just some food for thought...
West Palm Beach, FL