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? Moss-only walls have not been a huge success. We have found that the moss at the top tends to grow faster than the rest. It creates more shade, so it shades out the moss on 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?
Plant Types and Background Materials
We’re going with plants other than moss. It is important to select plants that can tolerate low lighting, love solid surfaces and thrive on them. Excellent plant choices include Anubias, Java Ferns, Hygrophila pinnatifida, and similar types. Anubias in smaller sizes are best because they don’t grow very large. Java Fern and Anubias both take time to grow.
We want to use a background material that is suitable for the environment. 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.
Is there a better background material than Matala Mat? We love Matala Mat. This filter pad material can be bought at any koi supplier like Drs. Foster and Smith. It can also be found 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 strong plastic material is weaved into a mesh. This material won’t bend, fold or fold like a spongey material. A smaller mesh is better than one with too many holes. To cut it to the size of your background, you use a serrated blade. A thick sheet measures around 39.5″x24″ in size.
For our background, we need plain, uncolored 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. Avoid wool and cotton as these will rot. It was green to match the mat. However, you can have any color.
The fourth thing to purchase are large plastic needles that have large eyes to thread the acrylic yarn through. These needles can be used to’sew’ your plants with Matala Mat mesh.
Placing 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. It can take quite a while to grow. It might take up to a year and a half to fully cover the mat. Java Fern is less expensive than Anubias petite, but it does get leafier and grows faster. Anything that can root and form an aquatic ‘groundcover’ will work.
Take all your plants out of their pots. Clean off any root wool. The roots won’t be very long. Cut the roots to a length of about one-half inch using scissors. They will eventually grow into the mat by doing this.
Now roll your yarn to about a foot in length. Cut a small piece. Thread the yarn through your needle eye, with a nice long tail. By the way if you click on these video captures it will take you to that step in the video.
Pick a spot in the middle of the Matala Mat. Pull the yarn through the back of the needle by threading the needle through the middle. 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.
You can attach the Anubias plants within this inch space. Place the plant in the desired direction. Wrap the yarn around it carefully and tie a simple knot. You can also double knot it to keep it in place. Cut the yarn ends about half an inch.
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. Take some time to think about the orientation.
A beautiful Matala Mat background wall can be created with just a few plants. A large Matala Mat background would look great with seven bunches each of Anubias or Java Fern.