Welcome to the 2004 AGA International Aquascaping Contest!

Can you beleive this is our fifth year? Back in 1999, a ragtag group of folks got together through e-mail and spent the better part of a year debating back and forth what eventually became this contest. We wanted a means for people to show off their aquariums, but also a place for people to be inspired by others' experience. Each year the contest has grown in sophistication, and we're in absolute suspense over what will show up this year...

...and this year we had the most participation ever! Thanks to the dedicated PR work of Carlos Sanchez, who posted on every aquatic forum and mailing list, the word got out, and we received 123 entries, almost double our previous years! The entries came from not just the US, but as far away countries as Germany, Poland, Israel and Vietnam.

Judging continues to be a challenge for such a high quality set of entries, and often the judges themselves can't agree. Our panel of Takashi Amano, Phil Edwards, Ricky Cain and Karen Randall, for the first time ever in our contest, tied an entry in one of the categories. I'd like to thank the four of them for their high-quality work, in one case having to break the language barrier.

Finally, I'd like to thank the sponsors of the convention and contest for their donations that went the first place winners, the Greater Seattle Aquarium Society members who I coerced into modelling for our logo this year, David Lass for sponsoring all the entrants from countries that can't use PayPal, and to the participants of the "AGA Contest" mailing list for helping to hammer out new details this year.

Thanks to all who voted for "Popular Choice" for the three weeks after the contest opened. Like all Internet polls, it's totally unscientific, completely rigged, and gives no reward other than a permanent mention on the site.

-- Erik Olson
5 November 2004

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