Most people are content with offering their fish a nice (and hopefully clean) aquarium, for some, keeping an aquarium is an art form; some people have taken this art form to the next level – these are the winners of the International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest (IAPLC).

#1 (Grand Prize) Takayuki Fukada, Japan / Courtesy IAPLC & Aquabase

Wait, there’s an aquarium… competition?

You betcha! Except they don’t call it ‘aquarium competition’, they call it ‘aquatic plant layout’ – which let’s face it, sounds much better. These massive tanks include only natural elements, and setting one up is no easy feat.

#2 范博文, China / Courtesy IAPLC & Aquabase

The art of aquascaping began in the 1990s, and it became a competition thanks to Takashi Amano. The annual IAPLC competition has grown dramatically since, with the 2015 contest seeing 2,545 entries from 69 countries; only 13 entries were from the United States, and Japan, China, Brazil, and France dominated the results.

The scoring system is quite complex, taking into account six criteria: the recreation of natural habitat for fish; the creator’s technical skills; the long-term maintenance of the habitat; the originality and impression of the layout; presentation of natural layout; and the overall composition and planting ‘balance’. Of course, re-arranging your own previous aquariums or stealing ideas from others is not accepted under any form.

#4 Paulo Pacheco, Brazil / Courtesy IAPLC & Aquabase

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This year’s grand prize winner was Takayuki Fukada from Japan with his aquarium titled Longing. Obviously I’m no expert, and to me, all the finalists look fantastic. Here are some more of the best entries.

#5 叶毅, China / Courtesy IAPLC & Aquabase

#7 刘勇, China / Courtesy IAPLC & Aquabase

#8 タナカカツキ, Japan / Courtesy IAPLC & Aquabase

#10 Luis Carlos Galarraga, Brazil / Courtesy IAPLC & Aquabase

#12 Ana Paula Cinato, Brazil / Courtesy IAPLC & Aquabase

#16 张大东, China / Courtesy IAPLC & Aquabase

#19 薛海, Taiwan / Courtesy IAPLC & Aquabase


All images courtesy IAPLC and Aquabase.