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Issue: January 2009

The International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest 2009 (Full Article)

Author: Takashi Amano

Photographer: Nguyen Tien Dung
The results are in! Mr. Takashi Amano presents the world's top 12 Nature Aquarium style tanks.


Grand Prize
World Ranking #1
Nguyen Tien Dung
Title: Moment in Time
Dimensions: W120 x D45 x H40 cm (W48 x D18 x H16 inches)

Aquatic Plants: Echinodorus tenellus, Fissidens fontanus, Taxiphyllum sp., Ludwigia brevipes, Cryptocoryne wendtii, Microsorum pteropus, Microsorum pteropus “Windelov”

Fish: Trigonostigma heteromorpha

Evaluation: The Grand Prize winning layout was selected by three judges as the best aquarium layout, reaching the top of 1342 applications, the most in contest history. In addition to layout skills, originality is required for the top prize, but this layout was produced with a high level of techniques based on standard layout composition without any eccentric style of expression. The composition had a left-to-right weight balance at a 3:2 ratio, and the use of good-looking driftwood made it well balanced and stable. The stemmed plants in the background were neatly trimmed and showed splendid coloring in clusters. Among many unpredictable style applications, this is a good example of a planted aquarium composed using the basic layout principle.


Gold Prize
World Ranking #2
Chan Shih Hsien
Title: Magic Forest
Dimensions: W180 x D60 x H60 cm (W72 x D24 x H24 inches)

Aquatic Plants: Riccardia chamedryfolia, Vesicularia sp., Taxiphyllum barbieri, Vesicularia antipyretica, Microsorum pteropus “Windelov, Bolbitis heudelotii, Eleocharis acicularis, Echinodorus tenellus, Glossostigma elatinoides, Cryptocoryne parva, Eleocharis sp., Vallisneria nana, Anubias barteri var. “nana” (petite), “marimo balls,” Microsorum pteropus, Fissidens fontanus, Hemianthus callitrichoides (Micranthemum umbrosum), Bolbitis sp.

Fish & Invertebrates: Paracheirodon axelrodi, Paracheirodon simulans, Carinotetraodon travancoricus, Crossocheilus siamensis, Caridina japonica, Neocaridina denticulata, Trigonostigma heteromorpha

Evaluation: It is quite an interesting idea to tie moss under driftwood stretching upward, and ferns on the tips. The unique foliage shape of Microsorum pteropus “Windelov” made it an especially good selection. However, it is difficult to maintain the size of Microsorum. This year we have seen many layouts using various moss and ferns like this one.


Silver Prize
World Ranking #3
Yuji Yoshinaga
Title: Time of Eternity (Yaku Island)
Dimensions: W90 x D45 x H45 cm (W36 x D18 x H18 inches)

Aquatic Plants: Hydrocotyle martima “Honda,” Hemianthus callitrichoides (Micranthemum umbrosum), Eleocharis sp., Fontinalis antipyretica

Fish & Invertebrates: Megalamphodus (Hyphessobrycon) sweglesi, Neocaridina denticulata

Evaluation: This is a layout with mountain scenery, and steep bedrock was skillfully recreated. Even though many elements were expressed in a confined space, details were neatly produced with various sizes of rocks, and Hemianthus callitrichoides beautifully filled the space between them. The stones raise the water hardness level a bit, but this plant grows well under such a condition. The overall impression is not like an aquascape but an image of a terrestrial landscape, and evaluation of judges was divided on this point.
Silver Prize
World Ranking #4
Josh Sim KH
Title: Awakening
Dimensions: W90 x D45 x H45 cm (W36 x D18 x H18 inches)

Aquatic Plants: Rotala rotundifolia, Rotala macrandra, Rotala sp., Vesicularia dubyana, Fissidens fontanus, Bolbitis heudelotii, Microsorum pteropus, Microsorum sp.

Fish & Invertebrates: Trigonostigma heteromorpha, Otocinclus sp., Caridina japonica

Evaluation: The use of straight driftwood is interesting. Judging from the overall impression, its creator probably paid more emphasis on perspective and on the natural feeling. Therefore, he intentionally used slim-size driftwood in the central part and emphasized the perspective. A passage leading to the back was produced by cosmetic sand in the middle, which also emphasized the effect. This layout has a problem in the selection of driftwood, as well as differences between the left and right side of the scenery, but its original layout composition seems to have led to a high appraisal from judges.
Bronze Prize
World Ranking #5
Wang Chao
Title: Looking for Mystery
Dimensions: W120 x D55 x H50 cm (W42 x D22 x H20 inches)

Aquatic Plants: Eleocharis acicularis, Vesicularia montagne, Bolbitis heudelotii, Microsorum pteropus, Hemianthus callitrichoides

Fish: Hemigrammus ocellifer, Ancistrus sp., Crossocheilus siamensis

Evaluation: When producing an aquarium layout using stones and driftwood, it is normal to mainly use one material or the other to compose the layout. But in this case, the layout was composed using both stones and driftwood at the same strength and volume. This was the main reason for the originality of this work, and its strong and audacious composition attracted viewers. Fully grown Eleocharis acicularis in the background is holding together two different layout materials well.
Bronze Prize
World Ranking #6
Chow Wai Sun
Title: Towering Peaks
Dimensions: W152 x D45 x H55 cm (W60 x D18 x H22 inches)

Aquatic Plants: Glossostigma elatinoides, Hydrocotyle martima, Limnophila sp. “Vietnam,” Rotala verticillaris, Fissidens fontanus, Fontinalis hypnoides

Fish & Invertebrates: Paracheirodon simulans, Otocinclus sp., Crossocheilus siamensis, Neocaridina sp.

Evaluation: From the texture and shape of the rocks, we see the creator’s high level of rock arrangement skills. By using several aquatic plants in combination, it produced slight variances and broke the monotony common to this type of layout. Many layouts with a mountain scene were found in this year’s contest, but this was the best and provided an excellent sense of layout.
Bronze Prize
World Ranking #7
Lin Tin Chuan
Title: Forest-Breath
Dimensions: W127 x D60 x H50 cm (W50 x D24 x H20 inches)

Aquatic Plants: Riccardia chamedryfolia, Hygrophila polysperma, Fontinalis antipyretica, Vesicularia antipyretica, Bolbitis heudelotii, Microsorum pteropus “Windelov,” Eleocharis sp., Hydrocotyle sibthorpioides, Anubias barteri var. “nana,” Sagittaria subulata, Hemianthus callitrichoides, Myriophyllum mattogrossense, Microsorum sp., Nymphoides coreana, Pellia endiviifolia

Fish & Invertebrates: Hemigrammus bleheri, Trigonostigma espei, Carinotetraodon travancoricus, Ancistrus sp., Caridina japonica, Neocaridina denticulata

Evaluation: When looking at only the driftwood arrangement, there is a high center of gravity, but stability is still found in this layout. That is the biggest attraction of this work. The use of Microsorum sp. with long roots is interesting and produced a natural feeling. It seems that the natural feeling of a dense forest is the theme of this layout, judging from the overall impression and title. If so, the use of hybrid plants like Hygrophila polysperma should have been avoided.
World Ranking #8
Nguyenthi Xuanthuy
Title: Ups and Downs
Dimensions: W120 x D45 x H40 cm (W48 x D18 x H16 inches)

Evaluation: The selection and arrangement of driftwood is excellent, and the creator recognizes the importance of composition. The balance of the whole layout is also excellent, and we can see the experienced aquascaper’s techniques.

World Ranking #9
Ngo Truong Thinh
Title: Peaceful
Dimensions: W100 x D40 x H40 cm (W40 x D16 x H16 inches)

Evaluation: We see the creator’s high techniques in his rock arrangement and plant trimming. The layout could be better by replacing the cosmetic sand space with plants.

World Ranking #10
AJ Judy Prajitno Putra
Title: Fearless: Spirit of the Rainforest
Dimensions: W300 x D80 x H75 cm (W120 x D32 x H30 inches)

Evaluation: The arrangement of driftwood is interesting, and this is an ambitious layout with the power of a large-size aquarium. But it is regrettable to see the roughness in the foreground substrate.

World Ranking #11
Hsu Yung Lin
Title: Rain Forest
Dimensions: W127 x D60 x H60 cm (W50 x D24 x H24 inches)

Evaluation: We see dynamic power in the excellent use of driftwood, which is frequently found in layouts from Taiwan. But the image of stones does not match the driftwood, and it brings discomfort to the overall impression.

World Ranking #12
Yee Kin Cheong
Title: Forest Path
Dimensions: W90 x D45 x H45 cm (W36 x D18 x H18 inches)
Evaluation: The way the driftwood points to the top is interesting, and it is like seeing a scene of a different world. The vertical lines produced by driftwood and plants are the keys in this layout.

See the full article on TFH Digital

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