How to Make Aquarium Background with Styrofoam: Step-by-Step Guide

Do you want to create a unique and stunning aquarium background without breaking the bank? One option is to use Styrofoam to create a custom background that is both affordable and visually appealing. Not only will it enhance the aesthetic of your aquarium, but it will also provide a more naturalistic environment for your aquatic pets. With just a little bit of creativity, you can create a backdrop that replicates a waterfall, underwater cave, or a lush jungle.

In this blog post, we will guide you through the process of creating a Styrofoam aquarium background, so you can give your fish tank a personalized touch that will leave your guests in awe!

Materials Needed

If you’re looking to add some depth and character to your aquarium, creating an aquarium background with styrofoam is a great idea! Here’s a list of materials you’ll need: – Styrofoam sheets – Aquarium-safe silicone adhesive – Acrylic paint – Spray foam – Knife or scissors – Sandpaper First, cut the styrofoam sheets to the desired shape and size. Then, glue the pieces together using the aquarium-safe silicone adhesive. Once the glue is dry, use spray foam to create a textured surface.

After the spray foam has hardened, use sandpaper to sand it down to the desired texture. Finally, add some color to your background with acrylic paint. With these materials and a little bit of creativity, you can create a beautiful and unique aquarium background that will impress all your friends and family!

Styrofoam Sheets

If you’re looking to work with Styrofoam sheets for your next project, there are a few materials you’ll need. First and foremost, you’ll need the sheets of Styrofoam themselves! You can purchase these from a craft store or online, and typically they come in various thicknesses and sizes. You’ll also need a cutting tool, whether that’s a craft knife or a hot wire foam cutter, to shape the Styrofoam to your desired shape and size.

It’s important to remember to work with Styrofoam in a well-ventilated area, as the material can release harmful fumes when it’s cut. Additionally, you might want to consider wearing a mask or respirator to protect yourself. Finally, if you’re planning on painting or decorating your Styrofoam project, you’ll need paint and any other embellishments you desire.

With these materials in hand, you’ll be ready to tackle your Styrofoam project with confidence!

how to make aquarium background with styrofoam

Aquarium Safe Adhesive

Aquarium safe adhesive is an essential item to have when setting up an aquarium. This adhesive is specially designed to be safe for aquatic animals and plants, which is important because other types of adhesives can release chemicals that harm the inhabitants of the aquarium. When searching for an aquarium safe adhesive, look for products that are specifically labeled for aquarium use.

Some examples include silicone sealant, epoxy, and cyanoacrylate glue. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying the adhesive, as improper application can result in leaks or damage to the aquarium. By using aquarium safe adhesive, you can ensure the health and safety of your aquatic pets and plants.

Acrylic Paints

Acrylic Paints If you’re planning on using acrylic paints for your next project, there are a few essential materials you’ll need. Firstly, you’ll need a canvas or surface to paint on. Canvas is a popular choice, but you can also use wood, metal or paper.

You’ll also need paintbrushes. There are several different types of brushes available, including flat, round, filbert and fan brushes. For beginners, a set of synthetic brushes is the best option.

In addition, you’ll need paints. When choosing acrylic paints, it’s important to consider the brand and color range. Some popular brands include Liquitex, Golden and Winsor & Newton.

Finally, you’ll need water and a palette to mix your paints. Don’t forget to protect your clothes and surfaces by using a drop cloth or newspaper. With these materials, you’ll be ready to start your acrylic painting project in no time!

Paint Brushes

If you want to become a painter, one of the first things you need to know is the materials needed to create impressive works of art. Paint brushes are one of the most important materials you will need to create beautiful paintings. Although there are different types of paint brushes available in the market, it is important to choose the right brushes that suit your needs and the type of painting you want to create.

Whether you need brushes for oil painting, watercolor, or acrylics, you will need to choose the right size, shape, and tip. The most commonly used brushes are the flat brushes, round brushes, fan brushes, and detail brushes. Flat brushes are ideal for creating broad strokes, while round brushes are great for creating detail and precision.

Fan brushes can be used for blending and creating texture, while detail brushes are perfect for creating small and intricate details. When selecting your brushes, consider the quality of the bristles, durability, and comfort of the handle. Make sure to choose a brush with high-quality bristles that do not shed easily.

Remember, investing in high-quality brushes is worth it in the long run, as they will last longer and give you better results.

X-Acto Knife

If you’re into crafts or DIY projects, an X-Acto knife is an essential tool that you should have in your arsenal. This type of knife is known for its versatility and precision, making it ideal for a wide range of cutting tasks. To get started, all you need is the knife itself, replacement blades, and a cutting mat.

The knife is typically made of metal or plastic, and it has a replaceable blade that can be easily swapped out depending on the task at hand. Replacement blades come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so you can choose one that best suits your needs. Finally, a cutting mat is necessary to protect your work surface and prolong the life of your blades.

With these basic materials, you’ll be ready to tackle any cutting project that comes your way.

Preparing the Styrofoam Sheets

When it comes to creating an aquarium background with Styrofoam, it’s important to properly prepare the sheets before moving on to the next step. First, you’ll want to make sure your Styrofoam sheets are clean and free of any debris. Next, use a razor blade or hot wire to cut the sheets to the desired size and shape.

Be sure to wear protective gear as Styrofoam can release harmful particles when cut. Once the sheets are cut, you can use sandpaper or a wire brush to rough up the surface to allow the subsequent layers of cement to adhere properly. By following these steps, you’ll have perfectly prepared Styrofoam sheets that will form the base of your aquarium background masterpiece.

Cutting the Sheets to Fit Your Tank

Preparing the Styrofoam Sheets for cutting to fit your tank can seem daunting, but with a few simple steps, it can be a breeze. First, measure your tank’s dimensions carefully and transfer them onto your Styrofoam sheets using a marker or pencil. Using a long, straight edge such as a yardstick or level, draw your cut lines onto the foam.

For the best results, make shallow cuts with your knife, using a gentle sawing motion rather than trying to force your blade through the foam. You can always go back and make deeper cuts once you have a groove going. Be sure to use a sharp, clean blade to minimize ragged edges.

Once cut, try fitting the sheets into your tank and making any necessary adjustments. When you are satisfied that everything fits correctly, secure the sheets in place with aquarium-safe adhesive or silicone sealant. By following these simple steps, you’ll have perfectly fitted Styrofoam sheets for your tank, ensuring optimal insulation and stability for your aquatic ecosystem.

Carving Designs and Textures

When it comes to carving designs and textures into Styrofoam sheets, the first step is to properly prepare the sheets. Before getting started, ensure that the Styrofoam sheets are clean and free from any debris. Next, use a pencil or marker to sketch out the desired design or texture onto the sheet.

It’s also important to consider the size and depth of the carving, as this will affect the appearance and stability of the Styrofoam. Once the design is sketched out, use a sharp knife or other carving tool to carefully begin carving away at the Styrofoam. Remember to take breaks and rest your hands as this can be a tedious and time-consuming process.

With patience and precision, you can create beautiful and intricate designs that will make your Styrofoam creation truly stand out.

Sealing the Styrofoam

Before you start sealing your Styrofoam sheets, it’s important to properly prepare them. Begin by laying out your sheets on a flat surface, making sure they’re clean and free of any debris. Next, use a fine-grit sandpaper to lightly sand the surface of the Styrofoam.

This will help to create a slightly rough texture that will allow the sealing material to better adhere. Once sanding is complete, use a damp cloth to wipe away any dust or debris left on the Styrofoam. Now your sheets are clean and ready to be sealed! Keep in mind that it’s important to handle Styrofoam sheets with care, as they are delicate and can easily break or crumble.

By taking the time to properly prepare your Styrofoam sheets, you’ll ensure a smooth and successful sealing job.

Painting the Styrofoam

When it comes to creating a stunning aquarium background, styrofoam is an affordable and accessible option that can yield impressive results. After carving and texturing the styrofoam to create a realistic rock formation, it’s time to give it some color using acrylic paint. It’s important to use water-based paint, as oil-based paint can damage the styrofoam.

Begin with a base coat in a neutral color such as gray or tan, and gradually layer on colors to create depth and texture. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different shades and techniques, like dry brushing or stippling, to achieve the desired effect. By taking the time to paint the styrofoam, you can bring your aquarium to life and create an immersive underwater landscape that your fish will love to explore.

So go ahead and let your creativity run wild, the possibilities are endless!

Choosing Colors and Painting Techniques

When it comes to painting Styrofoam, there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, it’s important to choose paint that is suitable for Styrofoam, such as acrylic or spray paint. It’s always a good idea to test the paint on a small section of the foam first to ensure that it doesn’t melt or dissolve the material.

Once you’ve selected your paint, you can start thinking about colors and painting techniques. You can use a brush, roller, or spray gun to apply the paint depending on the effect you want to achieve. If you’re new to painting Styrofoam, it’s best to start with a solid color and build up to more complex techniques like blending or layering.

Just remember that Styrofoam can easily be damaged, so take care when handling and painting it. With a little bit of practice and patience, you can create a stunning piece of art that will last for years to come.

Layering Paints and Adding Details

When painting Styrofoam, it’s important to layer your paints to achieve the desired color and texture. Start with a base coat of paint and allow it to dry completely before adding additional layers. Adding details to your Styrofoam creation can also make it stand out.

Utilize small brushes to carefully add intricate lines and designs, or use a stencil for precision. Don’t be afraid to experiment with mixing colors to achieve a unique look. Remember, Styrofoam can be fragile, so handle it carefully when painting and adding details.

With a little patience and creativity, you can transform a plain piece of foam into a work of art.

Installing the Styrofoam Background

If you’re looking to make a custom aquarium background with styrofoam, you’ve come to the right place! Installing the styrofoam background is the next step in creating your personalized aquarium oasis. First, you’ll need to cut the styrofoam to the desired size and shape using a sharp cutting tool. Then, use silicone sealant to adhere the background to the back of your aquarium.

Apply a generous amount of sealant to the back of the styrofoam, making sure to press it firmly against the glass. Hold it in place for a few minutes until the sealant sets. Keep in mind that it may take several hours for the sealant to cure completely.

Once it’s dry, you can add rocks, plants, and other decorations to create a natural-looking habitat for your aquatic pets. With a bit of creativity and patience, you’ll have a stunning aquarium backdrop that’s sure to impress!

Cleaning the Tank

After cleaning the tank, it’s time to install the Styrofoam background. This process is crucial in creating an appealing and natural environment for your aquatic pets. The Styrofoam background will add depth to your aquarium, allowing your fish to hide and swim through nooks and crannies.

Before installing the background, make sure it is the correct size and shape for your tank. Once you have confirmed the size, you can proceed to stick it to the back of your aquarium. The adhesive you should use will depend on the type of background you have chosen.

Some backgrounds come with specifically tailored adhesive, whereas others may require a generic silicone sealant. Remember to measure twice before sticking once as mistakes can be costly. The Styrofoam background will create the perfect backdrop in which your fish will thrive while providing you with an aesthetically pleasing view of your aquarium.

Applying the Adhesive

When installing a Styrofoam background for your aquarium, applying the adhesive is a crucial step. To begin, clean the area thoroughly with rubbing alcohol and let it dry completely. Then, apply the adhesive to the back of the Styrofoam background in a zigzag pattern, ensuring that it’s evenly distributed.

Use a putty knife to spread the adhesive evenly across the surface, and press the Styrofoam background firmly against the tank’s back wall. Once the background is in place, use a level to ensure that it’s straight, and make any final adjustments. Let the adhesive dry completely before adding water to the tank.

It’s essential to choose an adhesive that’s aquarium safe, as some adhesives can leach toxic chemicals into the water, harming your aquatic pets. By applying the adhesive with care and attention to detail, you can create a beautiful and secure background for your aquarium inhabitants to thrive in.

Placing the Background into the Tank

After finalizing the design of your aquarium, it’s time to install the styrofoam background to the tank. This will provide a natural look to the aquarium and also provides a comfortable living space for the fish. The styrofoam background is easy to install and durable.

Measure the size of the background and cut it according to the size of your aquarium. Then, position it in the tank and check whether it fits appropriately. Placing the styrofoam background is essential because it helps in securing the sides of the tank and providing a comfortable nesting space for your fish.

The styrofoam material has a natural texture that makes it ideal for fish to play and roam around. With the styrofoam background installed in your tank, you can now design the rest of the aquarium by adding plants, stones, and other decors that complement the beauty of the background. By doing this, you can create a natural aquatic habitat that will make the fish feel calm, serene and happy.

Maintaining the Styrofoam Background

After creating an aquarium background with styrofoam, you need to maintain it for long-term use. The key to a durable and long-lasting styrofoam background is to ensure that it is waterproofed properly. You can use a waterproof sealant to coat the surface and prevent moisture from seeping in.

Another crucial aspect of maintaining the styrofoam background is to keep it clean using non-toxic cleaners. Harsh chemicals can damage the surface of the styrofoam and leave it vulnerable to deterioration. It is also essential to keep an eye out for any signs of cracking or chipping and repair them immediately to prevent further damage.

Regular maintenance and upkeep of the styrofoam background will ensure that it stays in good condition and enhances the visual appeal of your aquarium.

Cleaning and Dusting the Background

Maintaining the Styrofoam background of your aquarium is crucial for the health and wellbeing of your aquatic pets. One of the easiest ways to do this is by regularly cleaning and dusting the background. Over time, your background can accumulate dust and debris, which can negatively impact the water quality and clarity of your aquarium.

To clean the background, you should use a soft-bristled brush or sponge to gently scrub away any buildup. Be careful not to apply too much pressure as this can damage the material or adhesive holding the background in place. Additionally, you should regularly check for signs of mold or mildew which can form in damp environments, such as aquariums.

If you notice any signs of mold, use a mold and mildew cleaner to sanitize the area thoroughly. It’s essential to maintain the cleanliness of your aquarium consistently, not only for the health and happiness of your pets but for your enjoyment too!

Touching Up Paint and Re-Sealing as Needed

Maintaining the Styrofoam background of your aquarium is essential to keep the aesthetic appeal of your aquatic environment. One way to do this is by touching up the paint and re-sealing as needed. Over time, the paint may chip or fade, and the seals can become loose, which can cause water to seep through and damage the Styrofoam.

Therefore, you should inspect the Styrofoam background regularly and address any issues as soon as possible. To touch up the paint, you will need to clean the surface thoroughly and apply a primer before painting with a suitable aquarium-safe paint. Make sure to select the same color that was used originally to maintain uniformity.

Re-sealing is another essential aspect of maintaining a Styrofoam background. You can use aquarium-safe silicone to re-seal the edges and corners of the background to prevent water from seeping through. In conclusion, maintaining the Styrofoam background should be an integral part of aquarium maintenance.

Touching up paint and re-sealing as needed are simple and effective ways to keep your Styrofoam background in good condition for several years to come. By doing so, you will not only enhance the beauty of your aquarium, but you will also ensure the safety of your aquatic inhabitants.


Congratulations, you have crafted the perfect aquatic haven with your very own DIY aquarium background made from Styrofoam! Not only have you saved some cash by creating your own design, but you also have a unique and custom-made piece that will make all your fishy friends green with envy. Who knew that shaping and painting Styrofoam could lead to such a stunning and seamless underwater paradise? Time to sit back, relax and enjoy the calming beauty of your new underwater wonderland!”


What are the benefits of using styrofoam for an aquarium background?
Styrofoam is lightweight, easy to shape, and doesn’t break down in water. It can be easily painted to create a customized and realistic look for your aquarium background.

How do I prepare the styrofoam for use in my aquarium?
Begin by cleaning the styrofoam of any dirt or debris. Cut the styrofoam to the desired size and shape, and then sand it down to create a smooth surface. This will allow the paint to adhere better.

What type of paint is safe to use on styrofoam for an aquarium background?
Acrylic paints are typically safe to use on styrofoam for an aquarium background. However, be sure to check the label before using any type of paint, and always let the paint dry completely before placing the styrofoam in the aquarium.

Can I create different textures on my styrofoam aquarium background?
Yes, you can create different textures by using different tools to carve and shape the styrofoam. You can also use different types of paint and sealants to create a more realistic look.

How do I attach the styrofoam background to the aquarium?
Apply silicone sealant to the back of the styrofoam and then press it firmly against the back of the aquarium. Let it dry completely before filling the tank with water.

Can I add plants and other decorations to my aquarium background?
Yes, you can add plants and other decorations to your aquarium background by using silicone sealant to attach them in place.

How do I maintain my styrofoam aquarium background?
Regularly clean the background with a soft-bristled brush to remove any algae or debris that may accumulate. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or tools that could damage the styrofoam.