DIY Planted Background wall
Have you been wanting to change up your aquarium background to something unique? Maybe it’s time for a planted wall. A wall of plants can be a great way for your tank to have extra foliage and shelter, and give it a unique and beautiful look.
When most people think of planted walls in aquariums, they think of moss walls. For those of you who have made successful moss walls for your aquariums, can you share your secrets? We haven’t had huge success with moss-only walls. We have found that the moss at the top tends to grow faster than the rest. The moss on top creates more shade and shades the bottom. The moss at the bottom begins to fade. Although moss is a beautiful plant, it can be difficult to attach to anything.
How can we create a better version of ourselves?
Background Materials and Plant Types
For one, we’re going to start with different plants than moss. You want to choose plants that do well in low lighting and that both love to attach to a solid surface and thrive being on that surface. Excellent plant choices include Anubias, Java Ferns, Hygrophila pinnatifida, and similar types. The petite version of Anubias are ideal because they stay small. Both Java Fern and Anubias take a while to grow.
The second thing we want to use is a suitable background material. A spongy filter-type material is an option, but it’s not strong enough to stretch all the side walls of larger tanks. It is only recommended for smaller quantities.
So, what is a better background material that is so highly recommended? We love Matala Mat. This filter pad material can be bought at any koi supplier like Drs. Foster and Smith. You can also find it on Amazon. You can get it in different colors such as blue, black or green. The green is best for aquarium backgrounds, and you want a thickness of around 1.5″. This tough plastic material is woven into mesh. This material won’t bend, fold or fold like a spongey material. It should have a smaller mesh and not as many holes. To cut it to the size of your background, you use a serrated blade. A thick sheet comes in at around 39.5″ x 24″ in size.
Our background requires a third supply: plain, green yarn. Yes, we’re not crazy! Yarn is better than fishing line, because fishing line can hurt your fingers and cut into the plants. Yarn can be used easily and is inexpensive. Buy one that is 100% acrylic for aquariums. That way, it won’t break down in aquariums. Avoid wool and cotton as these will rot. We picked green because it matched the mat, but you can have any color you like.
Fourth, you should purchase large plastic needles with large eyes that can thread acrylic yarn through. These needles will fit through the Matala Mat mesh easily so that you can ‘sew’ your plants to it!
Place Your Plants on the Mat
How you place your plants on the background mat is important, because you don’t want the ones on top to shade the lower ones. Anubias petite is our favorite because it has small leaves and won’t grow large. However, it takes a long time for the plant to mature. It may take up to one year and a quarter to completely cover the mat. Although Java Fern is more expensive than Anubias petites, it grows quicker and becomes leafier. Anything that roots in water and forms a ‘ground cover’ is good.
With all your plants, take them out of the pots and clean off the root wool to expose the roots. The roots won’t be very long. Cut the roots to a length of about one-half inch using scissors. That way, they will grow into the mat as they get longer.
Now roll your yarn to about a foot in length. Cut a small piece. The yarn should be threaded through your needle eye with a long tail. Click on these video captures to take you to the step.
Pick a place in the middle Matala Mat. Thread the needle up through the middle and pull the yarn through to the back. Move the needle to the back about one inch and then sew it to the front. You now have two longer lengths of yarn coming up on either side of a one-inch gap.
Attach the Anubias plant within that inch space. It is important to position it in the right direction for it to grow. Tie the yarn tightly around it. Cinch it down so it will stay, and double knot. Trim the yarn about half an inch from the ends.
So, that’s it! To attach additional plants, you can continue this process and’sew them on’.
Direction of Growth
With your plants, make sure to attach them in the direction you want them to grow. Some plants will grow diagonally while others will grow diagonally. Think about your orientation.
To have a stunning living Matala Mat background wall, you don’t need to plant many plants. For a large Matala Mat background, seven bunches would be great!