There are numerous instances of people trying to create their own 3D aquarium backgrounds, notably for use in cichlid tanks and there are various ways of achieving this: some people opt for the very messy method of carving out a share using large blocks of polystyrene before covering it in a mix of concrete and pigment; others try dabbling in the resin casing method which is not only potentially hazardous, but a very difficult technique to master.
Some of the DIY backgrounds found on the internet are outstanding examples of craftsmanship and are well worth the effort and investment if done well, but polystyrene and concrete are far from ideal materials. Not only does polystyrene float, but it is a fairly weak material and can easily flake off. Concrete isn’t ideal either and has a significant impact on water hardness.
Various 3D aquarium backgrounds have come onto the market in recent times, with varying levels of quality, but one that stands out is the range by Aqua Maniac. they produce a variety of resin backgrounds in a variety of styles including rock, suitable for cichlid tanks, but also Amazon and ‘rock and root’ style backgrounds. Equally available are thin backgrounds that take up less space in the tank, typically less than one inch thick.
In addition to the 3D aquarium backgrounds, Aqua Maniac also sell filter covers and rock and roots ornaments that match their backgrounds.
To gauge the quality of their backgrounds, I bought one myself, in particular a 50cm by 27cm thin rock background. I was highly impressed with the efficiency with which it was dispatched and with me two days later. it was well packaged and arrived in perfect condition, as you would expect with all mail order companies. As for the background, I was immensely impressed with how much detail went into the design and just how realistic the crack in-between the rocks appeared.
Considerably more aesthetically pleasing than a plain black foil over the back of a tank, these backgrounds really do give the impression that they tank is a more nature-inspired setup rather than a glass box of fish.
Custom sizes are available as well as backgrounds for specific aquariums. Alternatively, these backgrounds can be cut to size using a hack saw.
More information can be found on the Aqua Maniac website