3D... No, Let's Be Honest... 2.5D Aquarium Backgrounds
When you add an aquarium to your space, you're creating a little world inside your own. I don't know what fish think about all day. I wonder what goes through their little waterlogged minds when The Great Flake Food God sprinkles dehydrated shrimp manna into the top of their universe. Such contemplations are why I always had an aquarium going through high school and college. Fish were very relaxing, but I was often concerned with how bored they might be.
Fortunately the aquarium shop had all manner of decor to spice up their world - or least placate the owner. I've often joked that having fish is like having moving wallpaper. Cluttering up their environment with plastic bubbling treasure chests (with permanently attached skin diver) and wrecked pirate ships seems like an unfair foisting of kitsch on expressionless creatures that really can't show their disdain.
Just like in a miniature movie, not only could you add kitschy props to your aquarium, but there were also many backgrounds to chose from to cover the back of the tank. Weird greenish-blue metallics, photos of sharks and other much more exotic fish than what's in your tank (make your own fish green around the gills with envy!), and my personal favorite - these quasi-3D dioramas.
Made of stiff plastic, there is some dimensionality molded into this aquarium backdrop. Vacuforming has never looked lovelier. The printed-on scene of an underwater Greek (Roman? Atlantean?) ruin is augmented by some details popping out of the 2D plane of the picture. On top of it all there are immobile fish hiding among the printed greenery. Makes you wonder why you should go through the trouble of putting together a whole aquarium, when the printed-on variety are nearly as relaxing as the real thing.
There's no brand name here, but my guess is Penn-Plax. I found reference to a remarkably similar backdrop, except this time with an Oriental theme. What were the instructions given to the artists who created these? "Imagine ancient conquering civilization, finally bested by the ancient and eternal oceans... oh yeah - and put some giant fish in there."
Penn Plax no longer has these pseudo 3D backdrops (I still use mine to cover up ugly-looking equipment in my office), though they do have a massive selection of in-tank plastic plants and sculptures. Before you ask - yes they still have the plastic treasure chest with bobbing diver. Sounds like I need to set up the tank again.