I am frequently asked how to remove tank reflection in fish tank pictures, because fish photographers constantly encounter reflective surfaces. Whether using a flash, (not recommended) or shooting with available light, reflection in the aquarium glass is always something the fish photographer needs to consider.

There are a few techniques you can use that will reduce, if not completely remove tank reflection.

  1. Turn off the lights in the fish room. You want the aquarium to be the only illuminated object in the room. 
  2. Wear dark clothing, which will cut down on your reflection in the front glass of the tank.
  3. Use a “blind” to shoot your pictures. Cut out a circle in card board paper, then fit your camera into the circle. The blind should be large enough that your camera (and you) are not reflected in the glass.
  4. Use a rubber lens hood. These are flexible rubber hoods that fit over your lens. When pressed up against the aquarium, the lens hood completely eliminates all reflections from the glass. The rubber hood does not damage or mark the glass of the aquarium.
  5. Use a filter on your camera lens. If you don’t currently have a filter for your lens, then consider getting one of these to at least prevent dust and scratches from damaging the lens. Filters are available for UV, and light polarization – in addition to many others.

Remove Tank Reflection with a Rubber Hood

Luckily, reflection is easily prevented with the use of a soft rubber hood on your camera lens.

The soft rubber will not scratch your aquarium glass or acrylic, and the hood prevents reflections. It also ensures that your camera is held perpendicular to the glass surface, preventing refraction as well.

There are many soft rubber hoods for DSLR cameras, but the versatility of the Ultimate Lens Hood is hard to beat.

It fits all DSLR cameras and it is just as effective with my smartphone camera as it is with my Canon DSLR camera.

Ultimate Lens Hood

Remove Tank Reflection with a CPL Filter

CPL is an abbreviation for Circular Polarizing/Linear, or more commonly – just Circular Polarizing. 

CPL filters are rotatable, and they block different polarized light rays as you turn the filter. These polarized light rays cause unwanted glare and those reflections that are ruining your fish pics.

You use it by simply rotating the filter until you get the desired result. Sort of like sunglasses for your camera.

A polarizing filter reduces the amount of light entering the camera. A CPL filter can reduce up to 2 stops of light.

So, if you use it you may have to increase ISO by 2 stops, especially if you have already set the aperture and shutter values. Just something to be aware of, and adjust for.

UV Filter

The UV (Ultraviolet) filter is used primarily outdoors. It reduces haze on sunny days but has no effect on pictures taken indoors. If a camera lens is threaded to accommodate filters, a UV filter is often used mainly to protect the lens from scratches.

Ultraviolet light is an invisible band of radiation at the upper end of the visible light spectrum. The source of ultraviolet light is the sun.

The main reason I mention a UV filter here is because of their relatively inexpensive nature, they are perfect for protecting your expensive lenses. Think of them as lens insurance. You can easily remove them before a shoot if you need to, although that is not normally necessary.

Further Reading

In a previous article, I discussed the importance of Light Source Placement. Lighting is something to consider when trying to reduce tank reflection and glare.