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 is a great way to add extra foliage and shelter for your tank while giving your tank an incredible and unique 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. The moss on top grows much faster in the past. Because it creates shade, it shades out the bottom moss. The moss at the bottom begins to fade. Although moss is a beautiful plant, it can be difficult to attach to anything.
What can we do to make it better?
Background Materials and Plant Types
For one, we’re going to start with different plants than moss. Plants that thrive in low light conditions and love solid surfaces are best. Excellent plant choices include Anubias, Java Ferns, Hygrophila pinnatifida, and similar types. Because they are small, the petite Anubias are great. Java Fern and Anubias both take time to grow.
The second thing we want to use is a suitable background material. While a spongy filter type of material can be used, it’s not sturdy enough to stretch the entire side wall of a larger tank. It’s not ideal for small quantities.
Is there a better background material than Matala Mat? We love Matala Mat. This is a filter pad material that It can be purchased at a koi pond supplier, like Drs. Foster and Smith. You can also buy it on Amazon. It comes in different colors, like blue, black, or green. The green is best for aquarium backgrounds, and you want a thickness of around 1.5″. This sturdy plastic material is woven into a mesh. It will not bend or fold over like a spongy product. You want one that has a smaller mesh without as many large holes. To cut it to the size of your background, you use a serrated blade. The size of a thick sheet is approximately 39.5″ x 24,”.
Our background requires a third supply: plain, green yarn. We’re not crazy. Yarn is better than fishing line, because fishing line can hurt your fingers and cut into the plants. Yarn is simple to use and affordable. Buy one that is 100% acrylic for aquariums. That way, it won’t break down in aquariums. No wool or cotton, since those will rot. It was green to match the mat. However, you can have any color.
You should also purchase large plastic needles to thread the acrylic yarn. These needles will fit through the Matala Mat mesh easily so that you can ‘sew’ your plants to it!
Placing Your Plants on the Mat
The placement of your plants on the background is crucial. You don’t want them to shade the ones below. Anubias petite is our favorite because it has small leaves and won’t grow large. However, it does take a very long time to grow. It can take up to a year to cover the entire 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. You won’t need very long roots. Cut the roots to a length of about one-half inch using scissors. They will eventually grow into the mat by doing this.
So, unroll your yarn out to about one foot in length, and cut off a piece. Thread the yarn through your needle eye, with a nice long tail. You can click on the video captures to go to the next step.
Pick a place in the middle Matala Mat. Thread the needle up through the middle and pull the yarn through to the back. On the back, move the needle about an inch to the side and sew it up through to the front again. Now you have two longer yarn lengths on each side of the gap of one inch.
Within that inch space, it’s time to attach the Anubias plant. Orientate it in the direction that you want it to grow. Tie the yarn tightly around it. Double knot the yarn to ensure it stays down. Trim the yarn about half an inch from the ends.
So, that’s it! This process can be repeated to attach additional plants or’sew’ them together.
Attach your plants in the desired direction. While the ones to one side might grow down diagonally, those on the other will grow up diagonally. Spend some time thinking about the orientation.
You don’t need many plants to eventually have a beautiful living Matala Mat background wall. For a large Matala Mat background, seven bunches would be great!