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Tanaka began aquascaping in 2011, and he quickly gained recognition for his unique and artistic style. His aquascapes are often inspired by nature, and he uses a variety of hardscape materials and plants to create stunning and realistic underwater landscapes. Tanaka is also a master of composition and lighting, and his aquascapes are always visually appealing.

In 2016, Tanaka won the silver prize at the International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest (IAPLC), which is one of the most prestigious aquascaping competitions in the world. He has also won numerous awards at other international competitions, including the AGA International Aquascaping Contest and the Aquascape Design Contest.

In addition to his work as an aquascaper, Tanaka is also a popular author and lecturer. He has written several books on aquascaping, and he regularly gives lectures and workshops on the subject. Tanaka's work has helped to popularize aquascaping around the world, and he is considered to be one of the leading aquascapers of his generation.

Tanaka's aquascapes are characterized by their natural beauty and attention to detail. He often uses driftwood and rocks to create hardscapes that resemble mountains, cliffs, and other natural features. Tanaka also carefully selects and arranges his plants to create a sense of depth and perspective. His aquascapes are truly works of art, and they are a testament to his skill and creativity as an aquascaper.

Paint a living picture in water - Katsuki Tanaka/Japan


Age/ 56 years old

Country/ Japan

Occupation/ Manga artist

Aquarium experience/ 12 years

Past Awards/

IAPLC 2011 - 105th place

IAPLC 2012 - 22th place

IAPLC 2013 - 16th place

IAPLC 2014 - 13th place

IAPLC 2015 - 8th place

IAPLC 2016 - 4th place

IAPLC 2017 - 14th place

IAPLC 2018 - 129th place

IAPLC 2019 - 73th place

IAPLC 2020 - 19th place

IAPLC 2021 - 17th place

IAPLC 2022 - 21th place

IAPLC 2023 - 30th place

this is a interview from IAPLC Creator 

Q What made you get into the planted aquarium hobby?
I was doing some research on the Internet when I came across the beautiful Nature Aquarium images by Mr. Takashi Amano. I was struck by them.

Q What do you find attractive about planted aquariums?
There are many appeals, but I find the greatest appeal in the use of natural materials and how I can paint a living picture in water.

Q Where do you get themes, motifs, and ideas for your layouts?
Currently, I am creating a work for the contest. So, I’m deciding on themes based on the trends of the year to see what kind of works will be highly evaluated.

Q Do you have any special items that you use when creating layouts?
I believe that the most important tools in production are good scissors and good tweezers. 

Q In the process of creating your work, are there any difficulties or points you had to devise?
Creating a layout takes a lot of time. It is difficult to find the time to do it. I get through it by getting into a routine of standing in front of the aquarium at the same time every day.

Q Please tell us about the key points in selecting aquatic plants and fish?
I usually choose aquatic plants and fish that do well with the water quality in my local area.

Q Is there anything that you always keep in mind while creating layouts?
I create layouts with the desire to “surprise people by creating something they have never seen before!”.

Q Why did you enter the IAPLC and what do you think is the best part of the contest?
I think it is a wonderful contest where we can compete with people around the world beyond countries and regions and share our sensitivities.

Q Do you have any secrets for winning awards in the contest?
I think there are secrets. Your work must wait for plants to grow. I think the characteristic of these living paintings is that they can never be created overnight by the creator. First of all, it is important to start work as early as possible and to do the “preliminary preparations”, including the gathering of materials, without delay. In addition, I believe that by “creating an environment in which we can exchange opinions” with our peers, we will be able to improve our ranking.

Q If you belong to an aquarium club, please tell us about its activities.
I am a member of Creative Aquascape Japan (CAJ). We frequently show each other our works, critique them, and discuss the best ways to improve it.

Q If you are posting information about IAPLC on social media platforms, please tell us what you post.
Although it is not a social media platform, I have a blog called “Planted Aquarium Blog of Kyoto Seika University Aquarium Department” for more than 10 years, where I post aquarium topics, daily activities, layout techniques, and so on.

Q Please give a message to all planted aquarium enthusiasts around the world.
I hope we can meet again someday in Niigata, the home of ADA. And I would like to discuss the charm of planted aquariums with you all as much as I can.

Best scapes by Katsuki Tanaka

Evening Garden

The International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest - 2011

After the rain in mountain

The International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest - 2012

Grand View

The International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest - 2013

Great waves of wilderness

The International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest - 2014

Trace the Headwaters

The International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest - 2015


The International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest - 2016


The International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest - 2017

Eternal Flow

The International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest - 2020

Saiun Flowing

The International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest - 2018

Seisei Seisei

The International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest - 2019

Quite stream

The International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest - 2021

Green Valley

The International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest - 2022

Against the flow

The International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest - 2023