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Fish depend on a dizzying array of filters, heaters and reactors to survive. This equipment can clutter the back wall of an aquarium, and finding ways to conceal this gear can greatly improve the aesthetics of an aquarium. You have a number of methods of hiding aquarium equipment available at your disposal.
Hiding in the Sump
Many saltwater aquariums employ a piece of equipment called a sump filter, also called a trickle, drip or wet/dry filter. However, there's no reason you can't use one of these filters on a freshwater aquarium. These filters consist of a separate water container plumbed back to the main aquarium with gravity drains and water pumps. One of the fringe benefits of the sump is that you can hide all of your equipment in the sump, usually concealed with the aquarium stand. You only have to worry about hiding the drain and the return valve, substantially decluttering your aquarium.
You can also cover the back of the aquarium with either a photo background from the pet shop or even a solid-colored piece of poster board. Matte-black poster board offers a benefit. Many types of aquarium pumps and filters have black housings, so a black background can help camouflage them. Additionally, any type of backing on the back of the aquarium can hide any filters or wires behind the aquarium.
Using Heater Guards
Heater guards can help conceal equipment like filter tubes and -- brace yourself -- aquarium heaters. Heater guards were originally designed to protect heaters from large fish like cichlids. Certain species of large cichlids seem to see the blinking light on heaters as some kind of challenge and proceed to break them against the glass. However, these guards are usually made of dark-colored plastic, which can help you camouflage aquarium equipment. This can work particularly well against a dark background.
Hiding in the Bushes
You can even use regular aquarium decorations to hide gear. Just make absolutely certain that you don't completely cut off equipment from the aquarium water; most aquarium equipment needs some water flow to work. Some cichlid enthusiasts will carefully bury heaters in rockwork -- often protected within a heater guard or PVC pipe. Additionally, many types of aquarium fish feel safe in dense thickets of aquarium plants. Most fishes' preferred decorations can double as a way of hiding aquarium equipment.
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