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.

What are the Awards?

Ribbons and cash 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 is a bragging rights award only, and does not include a physical ribbon.

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

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. Our goal is to provide freshwater aquascapers with a forum to display their efforts, and compare approaches used in different parts of the world. We have widened the eligibility rules of the event to include all types of freshwater, brackish water and paludarium set-ups. This means that a hobbyist who is interested in African Rift Lake Cichlids or one who is interested in Mudskippers or other brackish tank inhabitants, or even someone who uses plastic plants in their tanks can also become involved.

However, the inclusion of 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.

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.

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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