Frequently Asked Questions

Is this a Photo Contest?

No. The winners of the Contest portion of this event will be the best aquascapes, not necessarily the best photographs. It is important, though, that photos be sharp and clear so that the judges (and the viewers) can see the aquascape as well as possible.

Are amateur and beginner submissons judged right along with those from advanced and professional aquascapers?

Yes, we don't try to decide who is advanced, novice, etc. Each submission is judged on it's own merits. One year a beginner even won best of show.

That Biotope tank doesn't have any plants in it! Why didn't you disqualify it?

There is no requirement that the Biotope Aquascape contain plants. If the aquascaper is attempting to emulate a biotope with little or no plants, such as the rocky floor of Lake Malawi, then this is perfectly acceptable. But take not that in this case, the choice and placement of rocks will matter quite a bit to the judges! For more details on biotope aquariums, please see our guidelines page for more information.

Why are marine tanks not eligible to be entered?

This event was organized by a group of aquatic gardeners, whose main interest (and expertise) is planted freshwater aquaria. The inclusion of general saltwater tanks will require an immense amount of extra work, and goes beyond our areas of expertise, so we have chosen not to include marine aquaria.

We have, however, widened the eligibility rules of the Biotope category to include multiple types of freshwater, brackish and some marine environments.

What's the Difference Between Wabi Kusa, Paludarium and Riparium? I'm So Confused!

You and me both! But we have a document summarizing the differences, just for you!

What are the Awards?

Cash and a paper certificate for first, second, and third place in each category, plus best of show and most innovative. Cash awards will be made via PayPal, to the e-mail address registered for the aquascaper.

Top Ten and Top Five are bragging rights award only, and do not include a physical or cash award.

It is completely free to enter the AGA Aquascaping Contest! But to help pay for the awards, we are asking for donations.

What happened to the Ribbons?

Worldwide postage has gone up astronomically over the past few years, while delivery reliability has plummeted. Between these two factors, it has ended up costing too much money and time to mail and re-mail ribbons, many of which have gotten lost or returned by customs.

Why won't you tell me my overall ranking?

Because the judges' job is to pick the top three placers, they often do not rank much further down than their top 10 or so. This gives a fairly good result for the top three, but beyond this, the rankings are essentially meaningless. Non-placing aquascapes are ordered by tank size.

Are the aquascapes shown in rank order?

The top three aquascapes in each category are displayed in rank order. After that, the 4th through 10th ranked aquascapes are grouped together, and shown in volume order, smallest to largest. After that, the non-placing aquascapes are shown, again in volume order, smallest to largest. Finally, any disqualified aquascapes are shown, also in volume order. So only the top three are shown in rank order.

Why is that aquascape disqualified?

Our guidelines have stated, even as far back as the year 2000, that photographs may only be altered for sharpness, level and color corrections. Yet a select few aquascapers have chosen to break these rules by further altering the images. Disqualifying techniques include (but are not limited to) compositing multiple images to enlarge or improve the appearance of a school of fish, cloning background elements to cover imperfections in the aquascape, and addition of elements from a completely different image. Further details on the 2020 disqualification sweep are addressed in this letter from the organizing committee.

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