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Mr. Josh Sim's "Dream On" took the first place (Grand prize) in IAPLC World Rankings 2019. One of the top aquascapers, and the winner of IAPLC 2017, Mr. Sim scored high average again with his latest submis- sion, which is also ADA's Best Aquarium of the year. This layout was awarded with the Grand prize among many quality submissions because of its exceptional composition work and refined expression. ADA's comments on its Best Aquarium follows below

IAPLC 2019 Gallery - Look back history - World Ranking 0001 - Grand Prize

Dream On

Author: Josh Sim/ Malaysia

Aquarium Size/W120×D60×H50 (cm)

Aquatic Plants

Ammania gracilis

Bucephalandra sp. Catherine

Cryptocoryne Parva

Fissidens fontanus

Micranthemum sp. Monte Carlo

Eleocharis sp.

Hydrocotyle vulgaris

Hemianthus callitrichoides 'Cuba'

Ranunculus papulentus

Rotala rotundifolia

Fish & Invertebrates

 Paracheirodon Innesi

Crossocheilus oblongus

Otocinclus Affinis

Caridina multidentata

AWARDS

World Ranking 0001 Grand Prize IAPLC 2019

Comments

I was with my family when I saw the news that IAPLC result letters had been sent out from ADA HQ, so I told my 3 kids, I would open my letter with all of them this year, something that I have never done before. They probably would not understand how important the content of this "letter" to me, but they happily said OK. In the following week Wednesday, to my big surprise, my "letter" came in the form of EMS. I felt very happy that I am in the Top7 again!! The urge of opening the EMS immediately is very strong but I kept my promise to my family, I would like to open the letter only when everyone is around. As I will only see all my kids in another 3 days, I endured the most difficult 3 days of my life, while seeing friends around the world revealing their results on social media. On the day before my "open ceremony", 5 places of the Top7 were taken, the last 2 spots left, were Grand Prize and #7, so it means I will be either Champion or Number 7!! It is not a bad situation to be in.... but I believe you would understand how I felt! Finally on Friday... I let the kids opened the EMS and I want them to read my ranking to me while I was holding my wife's hand. They could not find the result page so it took them some time to search for it...and my heart almost jumped out from my mouth during that few sec- onds. Suddenly, I heard them screaming at the top of their lung "Number 1....Number 1.... Number 1....." We hugged each other and I feel grateful that I have my family around me to celebrate this amazing moment in my life! It is a wonderful feeling to be able to get the highest recognition in the most prestigious aquascaping contest in the world. I wish that Mr Amano could see my layout and I hope that I make him proud, Nature Aquarium has evolved, I am sure that he is happy to know something that he started, has given everybody a dream! Thank you Sensei. Thank you IAPLC.

Comment of ADA (Japan)

This layout is characterized by bold wood work composed of two large driftwood pieces that are exquisitely positioned to create a powerful impact and a sense of depth. There are nowadays many submissions of visually detailed aquascapes well-crafted with slender twigs, but for this layout it seems like that large, thick driftwood were used intentionally by the maker, who has a keen understanding of this contest, in order to express an atmosphere distinctive from the rest of contest submissions. In addition, he exhibits his talent throughout the work, including the use of two irregularly cut driftwood pieces creating a strong, wild impression, and his choice of Micranthemum sp. Montecarlo hanging from the driftwood, instead of ferns and moss. Adapting Nature Aquarium techniques, the maker has successfully developed his own ways of expression without being too exaggerating both visually and technically. This layout is undeniably illustrating a "success of orthodox method."

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  • [TheStoriesOfTop7] Whispering Shadows - Luis Carlos Galarraga / Brazil - IAPLC 2020

    The last Bronze prize goes to an aquascape that showcases a unique rock arrangement. Skillfully stacking rocks, the creator captured a scene where the uppermost layer of bedrock has protruded, caused by crustal movement. It represents the earth's dynamism that reminds us of orogenic activity. A wide variety of aquatic plants are cleverly planted behind the rocks and in the gaps between them to enhance the presence of the rock composition. Though the aquascape looks simple, it is an elaborate work. As the title implies, the shades under the rocks give a deeper impression as if they are whispering the history of the earth.
  • [TheStoriesOfTop7] Leaping through time - Jheng Yu Lyu / Chinese Taipei - IAPLC 2020

    The second Bronze prize goes to an aquascape that features an old fallen tree created with driftwood. There is a large tree on both sides, and the fallen tree in the center. The passage of time is expressed with vines creeping aver the fallen tree, and moss and ferns growing on it. There is a tunnel-like space under the fallen tree, and through that space a "path of cosmetic sand" leads far beyond the mountains. The sense of depth created in this aquascape is fantastic, being emphasized by the contrast between the fallen tree in the foreground and the mountains in the distant view, and a clearly defined open space. A natural feeling, which is expressed by the arrangement of plants, also enhances perspective
  • [TheStoriesOfTop7] Leading The New World - Roger Goh / Singapore - IAPLC 2020

    The first Bronze prize is awarded to a forest style aquascape, a popular theme of the contest. Thick driftwood pieces are used to create trunks, branches, and roots of the trees that form the hardscape of the composition, and thinner driftwood branches represent aerial roots and creeper plants. On top of the trees, thick canopies are created with Bolbitis, and at the base of the trees, the combination of moss and Bucephalandra depicts the vegetation of the forest floor. Such a powerful expression of forest is eye-catching. In addition, the open space that is clearly outlined in the center looks like an exit leading to a new world.
  • [TheStoriesOfTop7] Katsushika Hokusai - Albert Escrihuela Cáceres / Spain - IAPLC 2020

    This aquascape won the second Silver prize for its incredible visual presentation. As the title indicates, the dynamic composition, which looks as if swirling toward the central open pace, was inspired by Ukiyo-e (Japanese woodblock prints) of Katsushika Hokusai. This aquascape represents the dynamism of the earth with a sense of nature and an underwater feeling that are expressed in an extraordinary manner. In that sense, the green of the aquatic plants planted in strips along the rock arrangement and the bright red color of Puntius denisoni swimming in groups can be remarked as elements that contribute to the beautiful visual presentation.
  • [TheStoriesOfTop7] Pure - Josh Sim / Malaysia - IAPLC 2020

    The first Silver prize is awarded to a mysterious aquascape, mainly using shade-loving plants such as ferns and moss. The dynamic arrangement of large driftwood, which is the framework of the aquascape, looks matched to Pterophyllum altum while creating a powerful impression and an underwater feeling. In addition, Eleocharis acicularis and the relatives of Nymphaea in the background add perspective to the aquascape. However, the black background may give a deep and dark impression to viewers, although it matches the mysterious atmosphere of this aquascape. In that respect, this work received mixed reviews.
  • [TheStoriesOfTop7] Undying - Steven Chong / United States - IAPLC 2020

    The Gold prize winning work presents a remarkable driftwood composition. The depth that goes beyond the size of this aquarium is created by expanding the central open space towards the far right side, along with the drastically arranged driftwood. In addition, a mirror embedded in the substrate gives an interesting visual effect; it looks as if a river is running in the aquascape, or the driftwood is floating in the air, depending on the viewer's viewpoint. The visual impact is enhanced by the skinny branches placed behind the large driftwood that makes up the framework of the composition, and the subtle and low-key planting of epiphytes
  • [TheStoriesOfTop7] Eden - Siak Wee Yeo / Malaysia - IAPLC 2020

    This year's Grand prize goes to an energetic driftwood aquascape. When this type of composition is made, rocks are often glued together to form the framework, but in this work, large driftwood pieces are boldly used to build the aquascape's foundation. Driftwood is also used for the stalactite-like extensions that hang down from above. This gives a softer impression to the aquascape than making them with rocks, and helps match their texture with that of the driftwood framework.
  • [TheStoriesOfTop7] Creek in Forest - Qi Zhang / China - IAPLC 2019

    The third Bronze Award winning aquascape gives an interesting impression made by a nice blending of its diorama like aspects and underwater appearance. Among many entries showcasing forest landscapes, this layout rather represents a fairy tale scenery than depicting a realistic forest image. It leads us to enjoy this layout simply as an underwater scene where fish live. Great planting details; especially the presentation of red plants is exquisitely effective, which enriches the visual presentation and creates a fantasy like atmosphere
  • [TheStoriesOfTop7] Flood Season - Quang Minh Nguyen / VietNam - IAPLC 2019

    Here is the second Bronze Prize winning layout characterized by its gentle wood work. The maker mainly used moss for the layout, but he has avoided a monotonous manner by planting lighter green plants in spots. The white decorative sand laid under driftwood branches helps prevent the aquascape from becoming too gloomy, and it also successfully enhances the underwater appearance. This layout is highly acclaimed for making a moderate amount of open space and the well-balanced composition. What makes it unique is the sense of serenity found in the expression of natural feel.
  • [TheStoriesOfTop7] Fallowness - Siak Wee Yeo / Malaysia - IAPLC 2019

    Interestingly, the first Bronze Award winning aquascape uses straight driftwood pieces similar to the ones in the Grand prize work. Making the most of the characteristics of driftwood, the layout forms a unique composition by emphasizing the horizontal lines. The layout showcases a wonderful underwater presentation with its perfect positioning of fish and a pleasant sense of water flow given by the driftwoods and supporting rocks oriented in the same direction. The maker intentionally photographed the aquascape in the way, making the water surface look like an open space, and this worked favorably for the evaluation.
  • [TheStoriesOfTop7] Guardians - Martial Hervy / France - IAPLC 2019

    An authentic concave aquascape won the second Silver Award. Its radially-arranged wood work is reminiscent of Takashi Amano's Nature Aquarium layouts while planting details and the color tone are nicely done in European style. The nice blending of these characteristics is, indeed, the originality of this aquascape. The execution of the layout is outstanding in terms of the composition balance and plants' conditions. However, the maker could improve the presentation of fish habitat by putting more emphasis on the fish's presence.
  • [TheStoriesOfTop7] Summer Solstice - Fuhong Guan / China - IAPLC 2019

    The first Silver Award is given to a magnificent layout work presenting a circular opening in the center of the tank. The entries with eccentric compositions usually polarize the judges' opinions, but this aquascape received favorable responses from the majority of them. We can assume that this is because of its balanced composition work, finely adjusted on both sides, and beautiful color combination. Although the aquascapes that mainly consist of moss often give a gloomy impression, the maker avoids it by effectively presenting the red colors of plants and fish in this layout. The blue gradation background is also visually effective.
  • [TheStoriesOfTop7] Tankei - Takayuki Fukada / Japan - IAPLC 2019

    Mr. Takayuki Fukuda (Japan) won the Gold prize with his aquascape layout. What is most striking about his work is its representation of the cliffs protruding from both the left and right sides of the composition. Using massive rocks projecting strong shadows alone could impart an oppressive impression, but he prevented it by tactfully making an open space in the center through the upper section. The stem plants shown in the opening under the cliffs also soften the image. These are adept strategies of a creator who is an expert of layouts of this sort
  • [TheStoriesOfTop7] Home - Jin Liang / China - IAPLC 2018

    This layout is highly regarded with its dynamic composition, giving a strong sense of perspective. We can find it in the shadows on the central pillar and at the right corner of the scene, the series of arches that run from the front left section to the right back corner, and the wall-like structure behind the arches, that is built along the left front and the right rear side. Every aspect of the composition is intricately calculated to create depth in the layout, but regretfully, this also makes the layout almost look artificial
  • [TheStoriesOfTop7] TURO DE L'HOME - Bernat Hosta Rovira / ANDORRA - IAPLC 2018

    The layout is finely crafted with small tree branches and rocks, and is in many ways more like a painting. Although this work seems antithetical to this year's Grand Prix layout, it should be highly regarded as a wonderful planted layout with the precisely calculated composition and the meticulous arrangement using a variety of aquatic plants. There is a pleasing depth of field ratio between the foreground and background. Moreover, the layout's lively style gives a positive impression. A refreshing aquascape that makes you feel like you enjoy a view of a nearby pond from a bright green forest in early summer.
  • [TheStoriesOfTop7] Butterfly Hideaway - Steven Chong / United States - IAPLC 2018

    The composition creates an image as if you were looking up at a land erosion from a cave. Making hanging vines and spreading roots with fine branches is a commonly practiced technique nowadays, but it is tastefully done in this layout. The creator tactfully emphasizes perspective by attracting your eye to the space overlapping between the V-shaped open space located at the top of the aquascape and the smaller open space on the right side. On the other hand, the presentation of plant arrangement, that is mostly composed of mosses and ferns, looks flat and unappealing