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Is the title of a layout important for contest purpose? Honestly i am not 100% sure. Before we go into deeper discussion, let's take a look at the layout titles of last 10 IAPLC Grand Champions:

2014 - Passage
2015 - Longing
2016 - Mighty Cave
2017 - Congo
2018 - Yururi (Relaxing)
2019 - DreamOn
2020 - Eden
2021 - Ancient Tree
2022 - Ascend
2023 - 源@域 (Origin)

Now let's also take a look at the IIAC Grand Champion's title:
2015 - Samsara
2016 - 爱远方 (Love from Afar)
2017 - Congo
2018 - Fate
2019 - Fallowness
2020 - Eternal
2022 - Abyss
2023 - Radiance

How about KIAC?
2022 - Enchanted Forest
2023 - Fallen

Now, what do we see in common in those Grand Champions' titles?
* Powerful (mostly)
* Classy
* Short 1 to 2 words and catchy
* Most of them do not give a direct description of the tank, they either give a subtle hint or have some deeper hidden meanings.

So, how should we name our competition tank?

The honest answer would be: name it whatever you want, who cares 

Just kidding.

First of all, i want to say that if our work is "not good enough", we can name it heaven and earth, it won't change a thing. Fact. But, if our work has a chance of competing for the prizes, competing for the top few rankings, sometime, the tank title can make a different. We need to know that in most contest, the judges do get to see the tank title (along with the tank size). So having a good and appropriate name can sometime "impressed" the judges or even help them understand the meaning of our work.

With this knowledge in mind, let's discuss how should we name our layout. There are basically 2 approaches:

1) We want the title to tell the judges what the tank is about or give some hint on our theme.

Example of these titles: Passage, Mighty Cave, Congo, Ancient Tree, Ascend, Fallen.

As mentioned earlier, although these titles do not give a clear description of the tank, but they give a subtle hint to the judges on what their themes are. I said it many times, if people do not understand what we are doing, it will be harder for them to appreciate. So in these cases, the title can sometime help the audiences (judges) relate better to our thought processes and that can make a different.

Here i would like to quote a message by Mr Yusuke Homma, one of the IAPLC judges, on his best aquarium selection in the 2021 Gold Prize work by the talented Nguyen Minh Toan from Vietnam for his work "Storming":

"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 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".

This, if it is not a clear indication of how a title can influence the result, i do not know what is!!! So, it is definitely helpful to select a title that allows people relate to what we want to express.

Having said that, i feel that we should not name an aquascape with a title like how our grandmas tell the story. For example:

"A forest with many trees and a river running through it", or "A giant waterfall with a fallen tree trunk and moss growing on it", or "many fish are running away from the storm that is coming".

These are of course just for laugh but you know what i meant. Find a classy word or two, that descript our work in a subtle way, leaving something for imagination.

2) A title that may have an underlining meaning but it is not directly/indirectly related to the theme of an aquascape.

Example: Longing, DreamOn, Eden, Samsara, Fate, Radiance.

These titles, we cannot connect them directly to the aquascapes they represent, the authors may have their reasons for naming them this way but we will never know if they dont tell.

This way of naming our contest aquascape will also mean that we forego the opportunity to tell the judges what we do - it is ok as long as our layout can speak for itself. If we are going to use this approach, i would say sky is the limit!! Basically we can use any word or words that is catchy, classy, powerful and at the same time maybe mean something to us, something only for us to know and for others to find out or to ponder!

So here are the summary of title naming guides for contest aquascape:

1. Short title - it will sound more classy, powerful, catchy and easy to remember.
2. Dont use the title to tell grandma's story, dont be too superficial.
3. If it is necessary, find a title that can give a subtle hint to your aquascape, tell people what is your theme, directly or indirectly.
4. If you are doing #3, use easy or common words, dont use words that people has to look into dictionary to find out the meaning (dont act like a smart-xss). If you want to use the title to let us know what you do, please use words that we can understand.

I am also judging some local aquascaping contests and i have to admit that i enjoyed some witty and cringe-worthy tank titles over the years, it just brought a big smile on my face knowing that the creator has a great sense of humor.

One last remark:

A shxtty title will not ruin a great aquascape.
A great title will elevate a good aquascape.
A world class title will only make a bad aquascape look even funnier. 

So, just focus on improving your aquascaping work and maybe worry about the title when you get there.

Author: Josh Sim / Malaysia

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