People love pets. All over the world, literally all kinds of people are taking care of all kinds of different animals – dogs, cats, parrots, hamsters, even snakes and spiders. The list goes on and on, but the most important thing is to make sure that your pet really feels at home and is well taken care of. Now some people don’t want to or don’t have the time to take care of a big animal like a cat or a dog, so they get themselves a fish (or a few). And while most of those people get them those little fishbowls and put the occasional fake plant alongside the bright and colorful gravel and maybe one of those tiny castles with the cheesy treasure chest inside of it, there are others that are the definition of going “all in”, just so they can make sure their fish feel like the kings and queens of the sea. They have basically transformed their aquariums into a very specific form of art. And there is the biggest level of this art in the form of the International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest (IAPLC) where those kind of people can attend and enter the competition to show off their gigantic tanks, which by the way can take years and years to plan and prepare. The main focus of the whole contest lays solely on the exceptional aesthetic presentation of those plants, but the catch is they have to use elements that are all natural.
This whole art of Aquascaping (as they, so appropriately, call it) did not just come out of the blue yesterday – it is an incredible endeavor that began all the way back in the early 90s and it was first introduced by the infamous Japanese wildlife photographer Takashi Amano. The IAPLC contest has gained a huge popularity over the years and it is in fact an annual event that drastically evolved. Don’t believe me? The 2015 edition had 2,545 contestants from 69 different countries in world. Seriously, people have gathered from all around the world, from places like Japan, France, China and even Brazil (who occupied the top spots). There were even, the unlucky number of 13 participants from the United States. The finalists were just announced in September.
The winners of course, are determined by the biggest score a certain aquarium gets. Each aquarium is judged by a very strict criteria that features six different components: the maximum realistic recreation of the natural habitat for a fish, the technical skills of the creator, the condition and maintenance of the habitat, originality and impression of the layout, presentation of the natural layout and finally – the balance of the overall composition and planting. And as always people who try to cheat and rig the game and break the system are getting a serious penalty – especially for redesigning their own previous stuff from earlier entries or stealing innovative ideas from other participants or using non-natural plants that would only last for a very short time in the environment.
The 2015 proud winner was the Japanese participant Takayuki Fukada with his amazing aquarium – Longing. If you are as hooked on the idea as I am right now, you can check some of the previous editions of the IAPLC competition here: http://en.iaplc.com/
All images are courtesy of the IAPLC and AquaA3