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Aquariums need a variety of equipment to keep fish and plants alive and happy. But most aquarium equipment is built with utility as the first thought and aesthetics as the last. You have several different options for hiding your various filters, heaters and skimmers.
Saltwater tanks feature sump filters, also known as trickle filters, more often than their freshwater counterparts. However, sump filters work fine in both types of aquariums. A sump consists of a second fish tank or similar container plumbed back to the main aquarium through an aquarium pump and and a drain. As a bonus, you can hide the sump in the aquarium stand, and attach all your filters, heaters and other equipment to the sump instead of the aquarium. This means you only have to look at the drain and the return plumbing. The biggest downside is that sump filters can be complicated to assemble.
You can also use aquarium backgrounds to hide cords and hang-on filters. This approach is much simpler than setting up a sump filter, but does not hide any equipment in the tank itself. Pet shops sell pre-made backgrounds with various images. You can also use plain black poster board, cut to fit the back of the tank. If you feel creative you can print your own image or cut a poster to size to cover up equipment behind the aquarium.
You can create a DIY moss wall to cover the back of the aquarium. Simply sandwich a layer of Java moss between two layers of plastic mesh from a garden store. Then sew the layers together with fishing line and place the whole thing over the back wall of the aquarium. Under normal aquarium lighting the moss will rapidly grow through the mesh, creating a leafy green wall. You can use this to hide aquarium equipment along the back wall of the tank.
You can use rockwork to hide filter inlets and heaters. Aquarium hobbyists who keep large, aggressive cichlids will often use this technique to protect equipment from their fish. Some large cichlids are so territorial they will attack the blinking light of an aquarium heater. When using this method, make sure the rocks do not block aquarium inlets and do not crush delicate equipment like heaters.
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