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Aquascaping contests - what do competitions mean?

Aquascaping contests - what do competitions mean?

Aquascaping contests are now an essential part of the planted aquarium hobby. These events are organized every year, so no worry, you can still apply to the next one if you miss the deadline. But what exactly is an aquascaping contest? A photo contest where we send a photo with the parameters of the aquarium, which the judges score. Contest judges are experts in the hobby with different skills, and based on the contest rules; they rank these aquariums. The winners announced later based on these rankings.

IAPLC 2021 - Grand Prize - YOYO PRAYOGI
IAPLC 2021 World Ranking No.1 - YOYO PRAYOGI

As the scoring is based on a single photo, contestants put massive effort into getting the aquariums in the best shape by the entry deadline and capturing that moment for the contest.

There are other competitions, such as live competitions where you have to build an aquarium on site alone or as a team. Their size and popularity lag far behind photo competitions, but these live competitions are more entertaining as you can work with fellow aquascapers. There are typically 1-2 days available for scaping here. The finished aquarium still shows a fresh look, which in most cases lags behind the visual impact of a real photo competition. Compared to the photo contest, the location and the number of aquariums heavily limit the registration.

The oldest aquascaping competitions have been organized for more than two decades and are waiting for international hobbyists every year. The two most popular competitions are the Japanese IAPLC and the American AGA Contest.

IAPLC 2021 - Bronze Prize - Josh Sim
IAPLC 2021 World Ranking No. 6 - Josh Sim

Competitions give an extra value to the time spent in the hobby. Opportunity to show our creativity to a broader audience, to develop our technical skillset and aquarium plant knowledge to a higher level. It is also an excellent opportunity for networking and community life, which lead to many cross-border friendships.

If our intentions are serious, competitions also come with a sacrifice, which is more time-consuming than just having a nice aquarium in our home.

However, the goal is not the podium and the top rankings in most cases. We will not win for the first time but will gain knowledge. With the knowledge gained during the competitions, we can progress faster, learn how to keep our aquariums in better shape throughout the year, and learn a lot about plants' behavior and development. It may lead us to other hobbies as well, like photography. Photography can provide at least as exciting creative recreation as aquaristics.

IAPLC 2021 - World Ranking 10 - Javier Lecuna
IAPLC 2021 World Ranking No. 10 - Javier Lecuna

To build these competitive aquariums typically needs 3-5 months, which is worth considering if we already know the entry deadlines of the contest.

In our next post, we'll learn more about the creation and what to look out for during the building phase. In the meantime, read our previous post on inspiration and building layouts with rocks.

We've made several videos on our YouTube channel about contest aquariums and layout creation; if you haven't signed up yet, this is an excellent opportunity for it as we launch new videos every week!


Top international contests:

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