In this document, we first present some general information about entering the aquascaping contest, details on how the entries are judged, the specifics on what constitutes a Biotope Aquascape, how the Dutch category is judged, and finally some rules on photographs and planting plans. Please read these guidelines before entering the contest. You may also wish to read the Frequently-Asked Questions.
The AGA Aquascaping Contest generally is open for entries from June through mid-September, with the results and winners announced in early- to mid-November. Please check the contest entry page for the exact dates for this year.
This event is primarily a friendly way for hobbyists to share their aquascaping efforts with each other, and to learn better techniques through the display and evaluation of those efforts. The contest will also allow hobbyists to compete for awards. The event is open to all hobbyists, regardless of age, national origin or degree of experience in the hobby.
The focus of the event is on Aquascaping in freshwater aquaria, brackish water aquaria and paludariums. Brackish and Marine aquaria will be acceptable in the Biotope category only.
Aquascapes shall be sorted for judging into the following categories:
The Aquatic Garden and Dutch Aquascape categories require that you use live plants in your aquascape. The Biotope Aquascape category is reserved for aquariums that are attempting to recreate a particular natural environment, and as such will be judged accordingly. Biotopes may or may not include plants, but should be made of primarily natural materials. The Paludarium category is self-explanatory; it is reserved for an aquarium with above and below-water aquascaping.
Within each type, aquascapes may be split into to multiple size cateogries. The choice of splits is based on participation, and up to the discretion of the judges and organizers.
Each entrant will need to:
Further questions may be answered by the organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org
Judging will be conducted with each aquascape identified only by number; i.e. the judges will not know the identity of the entrant whose aquascape they are considering. Judges do not communicate with each other when scoring each aquascape.
Within each category, each judge's ranking (not raw score) for the aquascapes will be harmonically averaged to determine the overall placing of aquascapes within the category. Awards (1st, 2nd and 3rd place) will be given to the three highest placed aquascapes. Overall placings 4~10 be acknowledged as "top ten" (presented in tank volume order, not place order!). There is no physical award for top ten.
After the winners are tabulated, the judges will also choose, by
Best of Show Aquascape and a
Most Innovative Aquascape. They will communicate with
each other over this decision.
Judges are asked provide feedback on the qualities of each aquascape in the contest. These comments will be placed on the website associated with the appropriate aquascapes.
The decisions of the judges are final.
There are four basic criteria which we wish considered in the judging of the aquascapes entered in the contest. They are:
To assist the judges, and to clarify and expand upon the basic criteria, these are some of the things we ask each judge to consider when reviewing each aquascape:
A biotope is a habitat originating from a specific location. It has particular environmental characteristics specific to the area and a native population of plants and animals. A single stream or lake may include numerous biotopes. For instance, a stony riffle in a stream may be one biotope while a nearby silt-bottomed pool on the same stream may be a different biotope. On the other hand, the same biotope may occur in numerous streams in a region where all stony riffles or silt-bottomed pools support the same community of plants and animals.
In its purest form, the biotope aquascape is a microscopic representation of a naturally-occurring particular geographical area in the wild.
An entry that accurately represents a biotope through species selection and arrangement of hardscape and living elements will receive a higher score.
Rules for acceptable entries in the AGA’s Aquascaping Contest Biotope Category:
plant. Corals and other sessile inverts, if any, should be minimal.
An expert committee will screen submissions in the Biotope Category and accept as entries those that in its sole determination, follow these rules. The committee’s judgment will be final. If there are questions regarding the validity of the biotope aquascape, the committee may ask for justification.
Based on the criteria, to aid the screening process, we strongly suggest that entrants provide the following information:
If the committee rejects a submission because it does meet the Biotope guidelines, the AGA will automatically disqualify the aquascape.
After a Biotope entry has been approved by the screening committee, it will be judged by the AGA International Aquascaping Contest judging panel. Each judge will score the biotope based on the following criteria:
Results of the judging will be made public at the appropriate times as determined by the dates predetermined by the AGA International Aquascaping Contest.
Overall Impression - maximum 50 points
Composition: Balance, Use of Space, Use of Color - maximum 60 points
Selection & Use of Plants, Hardscape Materials, and Animals - maximum 50 points
Viability of Aquascape - maximum 40 points
The short version:
Entrants are requested to provide 1 ~ 5 images of their aquascape, ideally showing both overall views and close-ups of details they wish to highlight.
While the focus of this event is on the aquascape shown in the images, entrants are encouraged to try and provide the clearest, sharpest images possible. The better the images that are provided, the better they will reproduce and display.
Please send the highest resolution and quality possible. We can handle most formats, even camera raw.
You may alter an aquascape's image only for color correction, brightness, shadow/highlight, contrast and/or sharpness. While the organizers realize that in an event of this type it is entirely possible for an unethical person to manufacture a digital image of a non-existent tank, it is our hope that entrants will honor the spirit of sharing and friendly competition upon which this event is based. We are counting on the honesty and integrity of our participants to submit only images that are truly representative of their work as aquascape artists!
Many entrants feel the need to add large
frame borders around
their photographs; this detracts from the image, by making it scale
smaller than other entries. In all likelihood, we will just remove
the border. Please save us the work, and submit your images
Images submitted should not have the photographer's name or Copyright Notice
superimposed over the image. Images should not include the aquascaper in the picture (aka, a
Judging needs to be anonymous, and this information could
affect the impartial evaluation of aquascapes. We will add a copyright 'burn-in' in the final website.
When creating a planting plan, keep in mind that a blocky diagram works much better than something with thin lines, and high-resolution graphic is just as important as in the photographs. A simple sketch with a Sharpie pen on a piece of paper will look better on the final site than a tiny 320x240 pixel graphic done with a Paint program. Also make sure to list the plants in the caption rather than in the graphic itself. This will save us an incredible amount of retyping and graphic retouching time!
All entrants must agree to a Photo Release before their entries and photographs will be accepted into the contest.