A Statement from the Organizing Committee

Hello fellow aquascapers.

As we write, we are just over a week away from announcing the results of the 20th Anniversary Aquatic Gardeners Association International Aquascaping Contest. As you will see on January 17, this was an outstanding year with over 700 aquascapes entered in the contest, and we had many new aquascapers participate this year. The AGA is very excited to see this development and we are hoping to continue the positive momentum into next year’s contest. In addition to the changes that have already been made for this year, we are looking into making some additional improvements that will make our contest even more accessible to expert and novice aquascapers alike. So, stay tuned throughout the coming year for additional announcements.

Something people will notice this year as they view the aquascapes are a number of disqualifications by the contest committee and judges. The rules for our competition are clearly stated and published for all to read at the contest website https://showcase.aquatic-gardeners.org/guidelines.html . Unfortunately, a number of contestants broke some key rules, which the judges and contest committee severely frown upon. Our technical expert and a couple of external experts identified aquascapes from this year’s contest that had altered images in clear violation of the rules of our competition. Such methods include “cloning” of fish, hardscape and plants. In addition, upon reexamining several previous years' entries, similar violations of the rules were identified and those entries were retroactively disqualified.

These infractions are incredibly disappointing not only to the judges and the contest committee, but also to the vast majority of aquascapers worldwide who followed the rules of the contest and submitted their entries honestly. Those who cheat in order to improve their chances of winning an award in this and past contests have damaged the integrity of the competition and disrespected their fellow aquascapers and the hobby. The AGA and our fellow judges have taken a hard stance to enforce the rules and will be doing so in future contests as well. We will be even more diligent in the future and will be implementing some new guidelines and actions to prevent the violations from reoccurring.

We will also continue our on-going practice of a 1-month “protest period” after winners are announced when anyone who has any serious concern about an aquascape can bring those concerns to our attention and we will investigate. Stay tuned on the AGA Facebook page, Instagram account, Twitter feed, and website for news about the opening of our contest showcase on January 17th. We are incredibly excited about our contest this year and am looking forward to having everyone see the amazing aquascapes that were created during this very difficult year dealing with the global COVID pandemic. What could be a better than to start out 2021 with inspiration from aquascapers from around the world?

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