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My dream would be to bring back the Nature Aquarium as the main style in this aquarium hobby.

Josh Sim
Country: Malaysia
Age: 50 years old
Occupation: General Manager (Manufacturing)
Aquarium experience: 15 years
Hobbies besides aquarium: Reading, Hiking, Terrarium and Jungle Plants
Record of awards in the past IAPLC:
IAPLC 2009   4th
IAPLC 2011   21st
IAPLC 2013   4th
IAPLC 2015   6th
IAPLC 2016   25th
IAPLC 2017   1st
IAPLC 2018   20th
IAPLC 2019   1st
IAPLC 2020   3rd
IAPLC 2021   6th
IAPLC 2023   3rd

AJ - adana.co.jp - Tell us how you feel now that you won the Prize in the IAPLC 2023.
After so many years in IAPLC, to me, every participation is a joyous process that worth celebration by itself and a learning journey that to be treasured, winning prizes is icing on the cake. However, this year the award feels extra special because I have done it with an underwater Nature Aquarium concept and the spirit of Wabi-Sabi following Sensei Amano’s guidance. In the modern aquascaping contest era, it is not easy to achieve anything without complicated hardscape structure, that is where I feel it has drifted away from the true beauty of this hobby – which is the aquatic plant itself! Therefore, I am very happy that this year I have done it with a layout that emphasizing more on the aquatic plants and showcasing a good living habitat for the fish. I hope that I can influence hobbyist around the world to start enjoying the beauty of aquatic plants again and use them as the main attraction to create a beautiful layout. Last but not least, I would like to thank IAPLC organizing committee for carrying Sensei’s heritage and legacy all these years, as well as everybody involved in the screening and judging process – it is a tough and thankless job. Thank you and I am already looking forward to 2024 and what it shall bring!

AJ - adana.co.jp - Tell us what you wanted to express with your layout work; layout theme, motif, ideas behind your winning work.
I have studied quite many underwater sceneries in recent years, it makes me realized and appreciated even more what Sensei Amano had done in all his past works – the free growing aquatics plants which exhibit their wild and chaotic beauty in the flowing water. This is the main concept behind my layout this year – I would like to use the aquatic plants to showcase the underwater scenery and create a comfortable natural living habitat for the fish, without relying too much on the hardscape.

AJ - adana.co.jp - What was the most difficult aspect of creating and maintaining this layout work?
The creation process of this layout was pretty straightforward – the main structure was completed in less than 30minutes by 4 pieces of wood. The main challenges came during the maintenance of the plants. Firstly, I had Eleocharis Montedivensis growing among the stem plants, therefore it is a nightmare process during the time when I had to trim the stem plants, I literally need to trim them stem by stem in order not to accidentally cut the Montedivensis. Secondly, the Hydroctyle was growing wild and fast, so the trimming process is very time consuming and I had to decide which branches to cut or to keep.

Main structure was created with just 4 pieces of driftwood.

AJ - adana.co.jp - What are the key points when you select aquatic plants and fish species?
2 of the most important aquatic plants in my layout are Eleocharis Montedivensis and Hydrocotyle Verticillata, in my humble opinion, they made the layout a success. The use of E.Montedivensis is especially important as I planted them in the foreground, not a conventional way of using this tall plants but this is exactly the effect I wanted to achieve. The Hydrocotyle gives a wild and natural feeling which I think is very important for this underwater layout.
As for the fish, I had the idea of using Corydoras from the very beginning as I think they are really special and nobody ever used them before as the main fish in a contest. They turned out very well in the final photo and they are extremely easy to photograph as compare to the other fish! As for the Crossocheilus, they are just a beautiful coincident, I never planned it that way but they just happened to be at the right place and at the right time!

Corydoras is rare to be chosen as the main fish in the contest.

AJ - adana.co.jp - What kind of aquascape do you want to create in the future? Do you have any dreams relating to the aquarium hobby?
I have been creating a lot of aquascape using woods, so I would really like to challenge myself using rocks as the main material to create an underwater Nature Aquarium layout. My dream would be to bring back the Nature Aquarium as the main style in this aquarium hobby, as I feel that it has deviated away slightly from its origin. Although I enjoy the evolution of different techniques and styles but I hope to bring back the era where aquatic plant layout is better appreciated.

AJ - adana.co.jp - Do you have any tips for winning in the IAPLC?
I wish I do, but actually I don’t . In the past, I would say we need to create something impactful and extravagance, to WOW the audience and the judges. But today, I wished I was wrong because I hope that a true Nature Aquarium with the wabi-sabi spirit will win IAPLC awards in coming years.

Completion of the composition

After 6 weeks

After 10 weeks

aquajournal / adana.co.jp

Dimensions: 150 × 60 × 45 cm
Title : Eternal
Volume : 350L
Plants: Blyxa Japonica / Eleocharis Acicularis / Eleocharis Montevidensis / Eleocharis pusilla / Hygrophila sp. ‘Araguaya Red Sharp’ / Hydrocotyle Verticillata / Hemianthus callitrichoides ‘Cuba’ / Limnophila helferi / Myriophyllum mattogrossense / Rotala rotundifolia / Rotala sp. ‘Orange Juice’/ Rotala nanjean
Animals : Corydoras Pygmaeus / Corydoras Aeneus “Venezuela” / Otocinclus sp. / Crossocheilus oblongus / Caridina multidentata
Author: Josh Sim
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