Unbounded Passions: AGA Aquascape Winners 2016

10 Feb, 2017

A slice of “The Trip”, 1st place winner of the Aquatic Garden, 200–320 L category. Yang Yufan, of Chingquing, China, created this masterpiece. See the full aquascape and learn more about it below.

A slice of “The Trip,” first place winner of the Aquatic Garden, 200–320 L category. Yang Yufan, of Chongqing, China, created this masterpiece. See the full aquascape below.

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
—JOHN MUIR

“Simply awesome,” said one veteran observer. “Even Takashi Amano himself would have been stopped in his tracks by this aquascape.”

With a strong sense that the boundaries of underwater gardening are continuing to expand, the Aquatic Gardeners Association International Aquascaping Contest wrapped up another successful year in late 2016. The contest showcased many beautiful works of living aquatic art from around the world. Contestants from more than 40 countries entered over 500 aquascapes; entries from Europe and Asia were especially competitive. The passion inspired by the late Takashi Amano is clearly alive and well, despite the master’s untimely passing in 2015.

There are nine categories in the AGA Aquascaping Contest. In each of the six main categories, which are based on size—from nano tanks to the largest aquascapes—the number of entries increased over the previous year, attesting to the growing popularity of planted tanks. Each year, new trends and styles are presented for the public to admire and emulate. In the three specialty categories—Paludarium, Biotope, and Dutch—there was excellent participation, as exemplified by the first place winners shown in these pages.

It's in the mail: cover of AMAZONAS Magazine, Volume 6, Number 2, ENDLER'S LIVEBEARERS! On the cover: “Red Scarlet” Endlers: Poecilia wingei x P. reticulata hybrids, by Hans-Georg Evers.

AMAZONAS Magazine, March/April 2017 with this article featuring Aquatic Gardening Association Winners in print or digital editions. See bottom of page for ordering link. Click for enlarged view.

“Dream”: Best of Show
The 2016 Best of Show winner (pictured above) was a 370-liter (98-gallon) aquascape called “Dream,” designed by Wang Chao of Beijing, China. All of the judges admired this stunning display comprised of wood and mosses. As Domenico Losciale of Anubias, Italy, said, “Excellent work on building an impressive aquascape. The driftwood, the aquatic moss, and the lighting are superb. The whole aquascape is very well balanced.”

Judges & Volunteers
This event would never be as successful as it is without the efforts of our esteemed judges: AGA’s own Karen Randall (Massachusetts, USA), André Longarço (Aquabase, Brazil), Balbi Vaquero (Fish Corner, Spain), and Domenico Losciale (Anubias, Italy). I would also like to acknowledge Marco Aukes of the Netherlands for providing his expertise and judging acumen for the Dutch Aquascape category. I also extend hearty thanks to our one-man technical crew, Erik Olson, who manages the entries and creates and maintains the website for a contest that has grown in size and competitiveness every year. For more information on the aquascapes, judges’ comments, and entries from previous years, visit http://showcase.aquatic-gardeners.org/.

—Bailin Shaw, AGA Contest Chair


AGA AMAZONAS GALLERY
All images Copyright © the AGA 2016 entrants. Click image for larger view.

AQUATIC GARDEN, smaller than 28L (7 US gallons) category

“Follow Me," 2016 Winner of the Smaller than 28-L category. Aquascape by Herry Rasio from Malang Jawa Timur, Indonesia

“Follow Me,” 2016 Winner of the Smaller than 28-L category. Aquascape by Herry Rasio from Malang Jawa Timur, Indonesia

Aquascape Details
Tank size: 30 x 18 x 24 cm (12 x 7.1 x 9.4 inches)
Volume: 13 L (3 gallons)
Lighting: ADA Aquasky Moon LED 301, Sunsun HW-602B
Plants: Bucephalandra, “Mini Christmas” Moss, Vesicularia ferriei (“Weeping Moss”), Riccardia sp., Anubias nana var. “Petite”
Fishes/animals: Paracheirodon axelrodi (Cardinal Tetras)
Decorative materials: Garang stone, Pemphis acidula wood

Judges’ Comments
Domenico Losciale: “There are some astoundingly beautiful aquascapes among these tiny tanks. However, they ARE tiny tanks, and I wish more people would take that into consideration before including fishes in their layouts. If fishes are used, they need to be very carefully chosen. Most fishes are just not suitable for this size tank.”
André Longarço: “Very strong and unusual. A little bit more work in the white sand would look better and more natural.”


AQUATIC GARDEN, 28-60L (7-15 US gallons) category

“Flow,” 2016 Winner of the Aquatic Garden, 28–60 L category. Aquascape by Jirawong Laopiyasakul from Pattaya Chonburi, Thailand

“Flow,” 2016 Winner of the Aquatic Garden, 28–60 L category. Aquascape by Jirawong Laopiyasakul from Pattaya Chonburi, Thailand

Aquascape Details
Tank size: 45 x 30 x 30 cm (18 x 12 x 12 inches)
Volume: 41 L (11 gallons)
Lighting: Chihiros A-Series (A451) x 2 | 6 hours a day
Plants: Vesicularia ferriei, Hyophila involuta, Fontinalis antipyretica, Plagiomnium trichomanes, Taxiphyllum sp. “Flame,” Riccardia graeffei, Fissidens fontanus, F. nobilis, F. splachnobryoides, F. zippelianus, Taxiphyllum sp. “Spiky,” Crepidomanes auriculatum, Limnophila heterophylla, Rotala wallichii
Fishes/animals: Boraras urophthalmoides (Least Rasbora)
Decorative materials: Local driftwood and rocks, Black Earth Premium substrate

Judges’ Comments
Domenico Losciale: “Stunning! The very fine textures and extensive use of several aquatic mosses work brilliantly in this aquarium.”
André Longarço: “Great layout! Very powerful. Nice balance and naturality. Good perspective, but if the woods in the back were thinner, the sense of depth might be stronger.”


AQUATIC GARDEN, 60-120L (15-31 US gallons) category

“Nature Colors,” Winner of the Aquatic Garden, 60–120 L category. Aquascape by Carlos Souza from São Paulo, Brazil

“Nature Colors,” Winner of the Aquatic Garden, 60–120 L category. Aquascape by Carlos Souza from São Paulo, Brazil

Aquascape Details
Tank size: 60 x 40 x 25 cm (24 x 16 x 9.8 inches)
Volume: 60 L (16 gallons)
Lighting: T5 14W Phillips x 6 lamps
Filtration: 2 Eheim 2213
Plants: Anubias nana var. “Petite,” Callitriche sp., Eleocharis minima, Glossostigma elatinoides, Echinodorus tenellus “Blood,” Hemianthus callitrichoides “Cuba,” Hydrocotyle tripartita, Ludwigia sp. “Red,” Staurogyne sp., Nambei Moss, Fontinalis antipyretica “Willow Moss,” Riccardia chamedryfolia, Hygrophila pinnatifida, Microsorum sp. “Spoon,” Rotala rotundifolia, R. wallichii, Rotala sp. “Green,” Cabomba caroliniana, Myriophyllum mattogrossense, Limnophila sp. “Vietnam”
Fishes: Paracheirodon axelrodi (Cardinal Tetra), Corydoras hastatus (Pygmy Cory)
Decorative materials: Rocks and driftwood, Mbreda Nature Sand

Judges’ Comments
Karen Randall:
“Lovely trimming technique on a vibrant tank.”
André Longarço: “Very impressive job. Classical layout with good proportions and colors! Natural atmosphere. Maybe the trimming could be better, mostly in the stem plants, and some movement in the surface could be welcome, but anyway, awesome job.”


AQUATIC GARDEN, 120-200L (31-52 US gallons) category

“Harmonious,” Winner of the Aquatic Garden, 120–200 L category. Aquascape by Pan Yuecheng from Foshan City, China.

“Harmonious,” Winner of the Aquatic Garden, 120–200 L category. Aquascape by Pan Yuecheng from Foshan City, China.

Aquascape Details
Tank size: 90 x 45 x 45 cm (35 x 18 x 18 inches)
Volume: 182 L (48 gallons)
Background: Aqua Soil – Africana
Lighting: Opnova EZ-600
Filtration: Eheim Classic 2213
Plants: Anubias nana var. “Petite,” Taxiphyllum sp. “Flame,” Crepidomanes auriculatum, Riccardia graeffei, Taxiphyllum sp. “Spiky,” Taxiphyllum sp., Fissidens splachnobryoides
Fish: Hyphessobrycon amandae (Ember Tetra)

Judges’ Comments
Balbi Vaquero: “Exceptional work! I love the endless depth. The effects of light and shadow give a lot of character in an aquarium full of details, inviting you to gaze at it for hours. Congratulations!”
André Longarço: “Amazing work! Very natural and strong layout. I like the mosses, but in my opinion you could take out 20 percent of the wood and it would still be wonderful.”
Long Tran Hoang: “Using a typical layout in a charming and clever way and positioning the fishes well, the owner has created a very fresh and attractive natural scene.”


AQUATIC GARDEN, 200-320L (52-84 US gallons) category

“The Trip,” Winner of the Aquatic Garden, 200–320 L category. Aquascape by Yang Yufan from Chingquing, China

“The Trip,” Winner of the Aquatic Garden, 200–320 L category. Aquascape by Yang Yufan from Chingquing, China

Aquascape Details
Tank size: 150 x 45 x 45 cm (59 x 18 x 18 inches)
Volume: 300 L (79 gallons)
Lighting: 150W metal halide lamps x 2
Filtration: EH600 x 2
Plants: Riccardia chamedryfolia “Coral Moss,” Vesicularia sp. “Small Triangle Moss,” “Tears Moss,” “Moss Mei Feng,” “Aoki Fern,” “Pepper Young, “Xiaorong”
Fish: Paracheirodon axelrodi (Cardinal Tetra, as furnished “Lotus Lantern”)
Decorative materials: Azalea roots, ADA black mud, Dragon Stone, driftwood, sand

Judges’ Comments
André Longarço: “Awesome! Great job, very strong. Good balance and flow. The gravel scaping could be more detailed and natural. One of my favorite layouts.”


AQUATIC GARDEN, Biotope Aquascape category

“Cryptoheros in Rio Lancetilla,” Winner of the Biotope Aquascape category. Aquascape by Tomislav Sobota from Zagreb, Croatia

“Cryptoheros in Rio Lancetilla,” Winner of the Biotope Aquascape category. Aquascape by Tomislav Sobota from Zagreb, Croatia

Aquascape Details
Tank size: 136 x 57 x 60 cm (54 x 22 x 24 inches)
Volume: 465 L (123 gallons)
Background: Black tape
Lighting: DIY lighting, two LED spotlights, cool + warm white
Filtration: Sump filter filled with ceramic rings, different aquarium filter sponge + refugium inside sump with aquatic plants, such as Anubias sp. and Microsorum sp.
Fishes: Cryptoheros cutteri (Cutter’s Blue-Eyed Cichlid) x 6
Decorative materials: The aquarium decoration comprises fine river sand mixed with river gravel for substrate, large round stones and pebbles collected on my local river banks, and some branches collected in the forest.
Additional Information: This aquarium represents the small part of Rio Lancetilla in Honduras. Lancetilla river is native Cutteri river. It flows in the Lancetilla botanical garden, which is the second largest garden in the world. It is a natural rocky river with roundish grey, white, and brown stones with rarely any plants, the water is hard, and the pH is around 7.5.

Judges’ Comments
Balbi Vaquero: “Rating this category certainly has been a big challenge for me. The entrants must have a lot of knowledge and talent to be able to create such faithful and realistic reproductions.”


AQUATIC GARDEN, Paludarium category

“Double Day,” Winner of the Palundarium category. Aquascape by Lang Zehua from Beijing, China

“Double Day,” Winner of the Palundarium category. Aquascape by Lang Zehua from Beijing, China

Aquascape Details
Tank size: 130 x 70 x 80 cm (51 x 28 x 31 inches)
Volume: 728 L (193 gallons)
Lighting: 59W, 6–8 hours a day
Filtration: AT1200
Plants: “Chiba Blue,” “Perak,” “Golden Years Grass,” “Mosaic Implement,” “Iris,” Pellaea rotundifolia “Button Fern, Fern “String Lines,” Round Watercress, Vesicularia sp. “Small Triangle Moss”
Fishes/animals: Thayeria boehlkei (Penguin Tetra), Neocaridina denticulata (Black Shell Shrimp)
Decorative Materials: Pumice, red jade soil, sand, Dragon Stone

Judges’ Comments
Karen Randall: “This year’s paludarium competition included some of the most beautiful, innovative paludariums I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, it also included too many ‘terrariums with a little water in the bottom.’ In a good paludarium, a significant amount of care and attention are put into the aquatic section as well as the terrestrial part.”
André Longarço: “Amazing work! The way the entrant resolved both underwater and terrestrial scenes is very interesting. I particularly love this category—it’s a different way to bring nature inside your house.”


AQUATIC GARDEN, Dutch Aquascape category

“Fall is Coming,” Winner of the Dutch Aquascape category. Aquascape by Gabor Vereb from Debrecen, Hungary

“Fall is Coming,” Winner of the Dutch Aquascape category. Aquascape by Gabor Vereb from Debrecen, Hungary

Aquascape Details
Tank size: 120 x 45 x 45 cm (47 x 18 x 18 inches)
Volume: 243 L (64 gallons)
Lighting: T5 39W x 6
Filtration: Hydor Professional 600
Plants: Heteranthera zosterifolia, Alternanthera reineckii “Mini,” Penthorum sedoides, Glossostigma elatinoides, Lobelia cardinalis, Monosolenium tenerum, Pogostemon helferi, P. erectus, Ludwigia palustris, L. repens “Rubin,” Hygrophila pinnatifida, Myriophyllum mattogrossense, Blyxa japonica, Limnophila hippuridoides, Proserpinaca palustris “Cuba,” Microsorum pteropus “Trident”
Fishes: Trigonostigma hengeli (Glowlight Rasbora) x 20, Pehtia padamya (Odessa Barb) x 4
Decorative materials: Cypress driftwood, rocks, and substrate from the river where these fishes live
Substrate: Tropica Soil Powder

Judges’ Comments
Marco Aukes:
“A standard trick when looking at Dutch-Style Aquascaping is to squint. If you can still see strong contrasts between the different plant groups, it means you have done a great job. This tank, while the best this year, still has too many groups of plants that lack that contrast. In addition, the strong red plant that draws all the focus is placed right in the center of the tank.”


AQUATIC GARDEN, 320L or larger (84 US gallons and larger) category
BEST of SHOW Winner

“Dream,” Winner of the Aquatic Garden, 320L or larger category, and Best In Show. Aquascape by Wang Chao from Beijing, China

“Dream,” Winner of the Aquatic Garden, 320L or larger category, and Best In Show. Aquascape by Wang Chao from Beijing, China

Aquascape Details
Tank size:
150 x 55 x 45 cm (59 x 22 x 18 inches)
Volume: 370 L (98 gallons)
Lighting: ADA 150W x 2 metal halide
Filters: 600 x 2 Dry Iraq
Plants: Riccardia chamedryfolia “Coral Moss,” Vesicularia sp. “Small Triangle Moss,” “Tears Moss”
Fishes: Paracheirodon axelrodi (Cardinal Tetra), Trichonostigman heteromorpha (Harlequin Rasbora)
Decorative materials: ADA mud, driftwood, Azalea root

Judges’ Comments
André Longarço: “Stunning composition! Layout is meticulously assembled. I would take a little more care with the thickness of the horizontal pieces of wood. The section with white sand could be designed with more little rocks, gravel, and plants; the way it is, the layout will not look natural to most people. But it is absolutely gorgeous.”
Domenico Losciale: “Excellent work building an impressive aquascape. The driftwood, the aquatic mosses, and the lighting are superb, and the whole aquascape is very well balanced. Congratulations!”


CREDITS
AMAZONAS Magazine
March/April 2017 (English Edition)
Order this Issue (Print Edition)
Subscribe to AMAZONAS

Related Posts

About the author

Reef To Rainforest
Reef To Rainforest

Reef to Rainforest Media, LLC is the publisher of award-winning magazines and books in the fields of aquarium keeping, aquatics, and marine science. It is the English-language publisher of CORAL and AMAZONAS Magazines and is based in Shelburne, Vermont, USA.

Leave a reply

Receive FREE e-Newsletters from the editors of AMAZONAS Magazine.

Sign up to get interesting news and updates delivered to your inbox.

Thank you! You have successfully subscribed to the AMAZONAS Magazine email newsletter.