The World Ranking surely gets lots of attention, but each judge’s Best Aquarium work is another highlight of the IAPLC. At the Contest, the World Ranking is decided based on the accumulated scores of 10 judges, while on the other hand the Best Aquarium is given to the layout work most highly evaluated by each individual judge. Consequently, layout works with striking expressions are selected for the Best Aquarium every year. Here are the Best Aquarium works from the IAPLC 2021.

Best Aquarium Selection by Mr. Shogo Yamaguchi

IAPLC2021 1位の作品
Grand Prize (World Ranking No.1)
Mr. YOYO PRAYOGI (Indonesia)
Ancient Tree

Comment from Mr. Shogo Yamaguchi (Japan)

The top 10 works in IAPLC are ranked based on the sum of the points scored in the six judging criteria. My Best Aquarium, “Ancient Tree”, can be categorized as the so-called forest style. However, it could also be seen as a submerged forest because the underwater feeling is expressed quite well. For that reason, I gave it a high score in one of the criteria, “Reproduction of natural habitat for fish”, which is worth 50 points out of the 100 total points. In addition, the following factors led to high scores in other criteria: the driftwood-based composition that leaves a very strong but not overwhelming impression was highly evaluated in the “Overall composition and planting balance”, the planting of moss that conveys a sense of the passage of time in the “Presentation of natural atmosphere” and the “Long-term maintenance”, and the decorative sand that gives a sense of tension to the layout where plants are densely planted in the “Originality and impression”. Looking back now on the judging process, I would like to remark that the most flawless work among the entries was selected as the Best Aquarium, and this made me realize once again the history of IAPLC and the high standard of its entries.

Best Aquarium Selection by Mr. Yusuke Homma

IAPLC2021 2位の作品
Gold Prize (World Ranking No. 2)
Mr. Minh Toan Nguyen (Vietnam)

Comment from Mr. Yusuke Homma (Japan)

I had such a hard time deciding until the very end, but I decided to give my Best Aquarium to “Storming”. The composition with depth and detail oriented planting are truly amazing. However, the deciding factor was that as the title “Storming” indicates, a scene where you can feel a story of how fish are swimming as if they are running away from the storm, is beautifully expressed as an aquascape. Although a lot of people who have devised a way to create ripples on the water surface, I was surprised by the technique for expressing a storm on the water surface. And nowadays, there are many works that don’t feel right because of bright shadowy areas in them. However, the use of shadows in this work is great, and the photograph looks sharp because there is a contrast in the composition.

Best Aquarium Selection by Mr. Albert Connelly Jr.

IAPLC2021 3位の作品
Silver Prize (World Ranking No. 3)
Mr. CHAN HEE BOON (Malaysia)

Comment from Mr. Albert Connelly Jr. (U.S.A.)

It was an incredibly difficult task choosing only one layout as my top choice, and I had to consult the Evaluation Criteria several times to remind myself to not be carried away by the overwhelming beauty of technique and effects—as per the judging guidelines, the layout should be a natural, healthy habitat for fish and aquatic plants first and foremost. In my top-choice layout ‘IMAGINE’, I was impressed by the use of chunky driftwood with a time-worn texture, the mosses and hanging plants expressing a sense of the passage of time along with a sublime expression of wabi sabi. At the same time, there is a vibrancy to the aquascape that is full of life and hope: the many grooves, nooks, and open areas for plants to take hold and flourish, and a multitude of overhangs and swim-throughs that create a wonderful, interactive atmosphere for fish to live secure and enriched lives. As we know in our own aquariums, when fish have many safe places to retreat to and hide, they become that much more social and willing to swim out in the open. There is an expression of awe-inspiring natural scenery here, evoking a grand-scale jungle landscape, with natural hanging plants, grasses, and bushes, perhaps a fallen tree long-since reclaimed by the wildness of nature. Or, seen another way, one can envision a craggy mountain off in the distance, the shrubs now stands of trees, and the dangling plants now wild tangles of vines spilling over massive, ancient cliffs full of wonder and secrets. Overall, this is a beautifully executed Nature Aquarium layout, a majestic vision of the natural world expertly and artistically rendered, and, at its heart, a really nice fish tank.

Best Aquarium Selection by Mr. Adip Sajjan Raj

IAPLC2021 6位の作品
Bronze Prize (World Ranking No. 6)
Mr. Josh Sim (Malaysia)

Comments from Mr. Adip Sajjan Raj (India)

The aquascape titled ‘Embrace’ is a unique aquascape that I believe is embodying the art of true nature underwater. Its delicate balance in the choice of stem plants is not too bold but so gentle that it’s a wonderful transition from green to yellow to orange to red. The use of fissidens and mosses is also done very well which shows the character of the wood and the passage of time. There is a good sense of depth in this aquascape, and it surely builds a story of Embracing nature in all its glory. The fish used is tiny ember tetra (Hyphessobrycon amandae), and they also fit perfectly into this layout by not being too flashy and blend in between the driftwood color and that of the decorative sand used. The technique of layering used by the aquascaper is also excellent. Kudos to the aquascaper, this is an intricate work of art which follows the principles of Nature.

Best Aquarium Selection by Mr. Adam Paszczela

IAPLC2021 7位の作品
Bronze Prize (World Ranking No. 7)
Mr. Juan Puchades (Spain)
Origin. Dawn lights

Comments from Mr. Adam Paszczela (Poland)

In the evaluation for the IAPLC 2021, I decided to give my Best Aquarium to a work called “Origin. Dawn lights”. This was a hauntingly beautiful and peaceful aquascape for me. It seems like a view close to the unreal landscape even though it looks familiar to me, for example it’s from a region in Asia, etc. However, I also have a strong impression of traveling back in time to the Inca era in South America, probably due to the amazing warm colors used both in the category of decorative material as well as the selection of plants and use of top light. The composition looks like a burning flame, but at the same time, it brings relief and peace. This is what distinguishes this work from others. The composition is not a typical example of the Nature style, but the closeness of nature can be felt in this work at your fingertips. The work takes the viewer to a seemingly unreal world and yet such unreal nature surrounded by the lands in Jurassic times. And such a title referring to this prehistoric era could clearly direct the viewer to what the author wanted to present while the simple title referring to the play of light during the day allows any reception and interpretation of work. Such neutrality makes the work intriguing and original at the same time. The use of the inner space with a so-called bridge, a high hill and hanging details having a balance on the sides and ending with plants in warm colors, creates a very dynamic atmosphere and warms the blood of the viewer. Congratulations on the idea and attention to detail. The magical reference to the Manga World is also one of the advantages of this arrangement. I felt such a positive message from this work.

Best Aquarium Selection by Mr. Yu-Fa Huang

IAPLC2021 10位の作品
World Ranking No. 10
Mr. Javier Lecuna (Mexico)

Comments from Mr. Yu-Fa Huang (Chinese Taipei)

This aquascape is a Nature Aquarium style layout composed of rocks. It has a well-balanced composition and a stable appearance. The rock arrangement is skillfully balanced with an overall sense of elevation. Aquatic plants are planted sufficiently thick, and their various colors complement each other. The aquascape looks so lively and vibrant. I also like the way the creator used a lot of rocks to really create a sense of depth. In addition, the pebbles placed in the foreground enhance the natural feeling of the aquascape. The moment I saw this aquascape, I felt as if a real wilderness was right in front of me. This is my favorite layout work.

Best Aquarium Selection by Mr. Oliver Mengedoht

IAPLC2021 11位の作品
World Ranking No. 11
Ms. Vy Do Lam (Vietnam)

Comments from Mr. Oliver Mengedoht (Germany)

“Along the River” shows a spectacular, real river landscape that immediately caught my eye. Incredibly, this abundance of details and love for little things and the many ideas make all the components used into a whole. Roots and a few pebbles in the foreground, towards the back the roots form a real streambed, and the view gets lost in the horizon – all of these seems to give enough depth and hiding places for the fish or other invertebrate inhabitants as well. In this small landscape, you can let your eyes wander from here to there and front to back, discovering new nuances all the time. Realistic yet designed. Hats off to this design marvel of aquascape!

Best Aquarium Selection by Mr. André Longarço

IAPLC2021 13位の作品
World Ranking No. 13
Mr. Jaesun Cho (Republic of Korea)

Comments from Mr. André Longarço (Brazil)

This aquarium took my breath away. For a moment I was in a mental vacuum, just observing the details of this beautiful work. With little variety and quantity of plants and the exquisite use of shadows and contrasts, this work brought me to grand and very imposing scenery. The hardscape was meticulously crafted, dressed and covered with plants and shadows. The volume created with this technique brought a sense of depth and perspective to the work. The unusual shape of the big rock on the right, projects our eyes to both sides of the aquarium equally, but without transforming the experience of monotonous observation. The very well-developed central path, brings organicity and humanity to the scene, as if the search for this humanity was successful at the end of this path, at the top, near the white sand. I liked that the four corners of the work were not neglected and worked naturally, as well as the lateral reflections, which even though they were not super elaborated, did not compromise the harmony of the set. The fishes were very well-chosen and unusual, and they composed the scenery very well, without appearing too much. The only point of attention in this work would be the split in the path when approaching the foreground. They divide attention and cause disinterest, as they take priority away from both, making them equal. Other than that, healthy plants, very well-applied and exquisite hardscape, impressive set and lots of personality. To my judgment, all the ingredients make it an excellent Grand Prize. Congratulations.

Best Aquarium Selection by Mr. Jiangang Diao

World Ranking No. 17
Mr. katsuki tanaka (Japan)
Quiet stream

Comments from Mr. Jiangang Diao (People’s Republic of China)

The moment I saw this aquascape my eyes were completely captivated, because it is packed full of highlights. I was fascinated by its unforgettable view. The layout looks so beautiful with the skillful layout composition, sufficient depth, and careful attention to details, giving it a mystical atmosphere. The photograph is static by nature, but there I could feel the infinite strength of the Iwagumi arrangement, the vitality of aquatic plants, and the dynamic creativity of nature. The strength of rocks, yet with a quiet atmosphere, makes viewers feel delighted between the interplay of stillness and movement. When I took a closer look at it, I was completely mesmerized by how all the details blended together perfectly, and no matter how many times I look at it, I never cease to enjoy watching even the subtle parts of it. It’s as if I were standing by a real quiet mountain stream. This aquascape is at the highest level of technical skills, composition, and beauty. I was enthralled, and at the same time, my heart was filled with respect for the aquascape and its creator and with a love for nature.

Best Aquarium Selection by Mr. Gireg Allain

World Ranking No. 34
Ms. Yimmay Feng (People’s Republic of China)
The Phantom Castle

Comments from Mr. Gireg Allain (France)

It was really difficult to choose the best aquarium. In the first 10-20 selections, the realisations were all very close, and each had very good qualities, often in very different styles. But this one caught my eye at first glance. Then, as selections and notations went on, it was always there… my eye just couldn’t leave this aquarium. And then I realised, it was the movement of this composition that attracted me. The whole revolved perfectly. It reminded me of the Hokusai wave… taking the eye around the whole ensemble, and this movement of ideal proportions totally captivated me. Of course, although it’s very important, this was only general impression, and it was still important to look at the detail of the composition. At first glance, you see an imaginary, fantastic landscape, but when you look closely, everything is actually very natural. The “wave” seems as if it is levitating and this is where you see the technical mastery. The use of the Dragon Stones is really perfect. The right side itself seems to reproduce the rebound of the “wave” and its spray whilst still remaining totally credible. The natural impression is realised by the meticulous placing and use of rocks, but also by the excellent planting. The Hemianthus covers the whole landscape most harmoniously and in a very natural way. We can see that the aquarium was not made recently, and therefore all works well. Finally, the few Paracheirodon innesi animate the decor beautifully without being too present.