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In terms of composition techniques, its spatial layout is cleverly done, and the narrow, diagonally arranged open space in the center contributes to a sense of depth, along with the simple "path of cosmetic sand" that leads deep into the aquascape. Moreover, although this type of composition tends to give a very dark and heavy impression, the brightly lit water surface, on which aquatic plants are reflected, avoids this problem in a tasteful manner. When it comes to planting, the first things that catches the eye are the dramatically arranged Micranthemum sp. and Hemianthus callitrichoides 'Cuba' planted in the foreground, but the use of both green and red stem plants, and the relatives of Anubias is also exquisite. The variety of aquatic plants appropriately planted in the ecological sense is highly evaluated.

The IAPLC 20th Anniversary world ranking No. 1 (Grand Prix) is "Eden" by Mr. Yeo Siak Wee from Malaysia. As 3 judges chose this work as their Best Aquarium, it has the strength to attract people who see the work. The work stood out from the rest as you can see from the total points. Please see the evaluation comments from the three judges as follows.

IAPLC 2020 Gallery - Look back history - World Ranking 0001 - Grand Prize


Author: Yeo Siak Wee / Malaysia

Aquarium Size/W120×D60×H50 (cm)

Aquatic Plants

Anubias barteri var. nana 'Petite'

Anubias minima

Fissidens fontanus

Riccardia chamedryfolia

Vesicularia montagnei 'Christmas Moss'

Micranthemum sp. 'Monte Carlo'

Hemianthus callitrichoides 'Cuba'

Rotala wallichii

Rotala sp. Hra

Limnophila sp. 'Vietnam'

Eleocharis acicularis

Eleocharis acicularis 'Mini'

Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Mini'

Fish & Invertebrates

Trigonostigma heteromorpha

Crossocheilus oblongus

Otocinclus sp.

Caridina multidentata

Caridina cf. babaulti var. 'Malaya'


World Ranking 0001 Grand Prize IAPLC 2020


This is a special year for the result announcement due to covid-19 pandemic. Previously we received the notification letter before the announcement of world rankings. This year, the result was announced through live streaming of ADA YouTube channel. On the announcement day, I prepared myself ready in front of TV and my laptops was connected with friends in our private video conference. I still remember my heart beep was getting faster and faster when the top ranking was announced accordingly. The feeling was getting complicated before top 7 announcement. At that point of time, I hoped I could be in 1 of the top 7 prize winners but my second feels, I hoped I could get even better ranking than ranked 7. It was a hard time for me to pass through every moment started from Top 7 result announcement until Gold prize was announced and pending for the Grand Prize announcement. All my friends from video conference told me the moment of my face was very funny and almost cramped. Finally, it was announced that I received the Grand Prize, I felt almost empty for few minutes and started to receive the wish and congratulation from friends through video conference, text message and call. My family members were jumping around for my result and my daughter shed tears down after she heard the result through live streaming. Because, she accompanied me time to time during my setup period and she understands how many hour and minute I spent to complete this work. I am finally fulfilled my dream which I have hoping it for 13 year since 2008 my first participation in IAPLC. I hope to share my happiness to all the participator around the world and appreciate this wonderful contest where accompanies us year by year

Comment of Mr. Sergei M. Kochetov (Russia)

As always, the choice of the best aquarium for the Grand Prix 2020 took place in two stages. However, this time, due to the large number of excellent works, I pre-selected a group of about 40 best among the 127 works, at first glance for further assessment. My attention was immediately drawn to the beautiful aquarium under the name of Eden. In itself, the picture immediately reminded me of a fragment of the picturesque canyon of the Psychako river that flows into the Black sea in the Caucasus. This perception was facilitated by plants hanging down from both the right and left sides of an asymmetrically created underwater scene inside a relatively wide aquarium 120cm long. The play of color, light and shadow, as well as the complete harmony of the aquarium biotope in the upper, middle and lower parts created a remarkable spatial impression of depth even the reflection in the side glasses of the aquarium played a positive role. Everything looked perfect. Fish shoal, which I love since my early childhood, beautifully complemented this underwater landscape, enhanced the overall calming impression of the nature of wildlife, and gave it the necessary dynamism. The whole picture seems neat and well-groomed. Plants are chosen correctly and enhance the impression of soft naturalness and breadth of space in the tank. As with the entire anniversary com- petition IAPLC 2020, everything here went the way of improving the details of the technique of creating compositions.

Comment of Mr. David Boruchowitz (U.S.A.) 

This layout does everything right, down to the minute level. Immediately recognizable is the placement of two foci in the Golden Ratio, but the overhang of the larger piece of wood over the smaller one unites the two parts, which often simply stand as two individual pieces. The gap between the overhang and the "root" of the other piece keeps them separate but affirms a continuity between them. The well-established use of small plants attached to various structures is enhanced by the combination of trailing plants with more upright ones. This hanging garden effect echoes the pieces of wood hanging from the massive chunks, tying together the living growth with the static structures. Instead of just moss tied to wood and stones, fuzzy plantings are combined with leaves of several other shapes and sizes as well, bringing an interesting freshness to a tried-and-true technique. The practice of using perspective to create an increased sense of depth is exceptionally well developed here, and the extreme shortness of the background plantings pulls the eye far into the depths of the layout. The judicious placement of just a few red sprigs makes sure they are not overlooked despite their small size. The use of a central "stream" ties the back and middle grounds into the foreground, but unlike many layouts which emphasize this feature and make it a major component, here we find a diminutive version that does not capture the eye at first glance but that is enough to confirm that the two large structures are indeed independent, just far enough apart to let this little trickle through. The beautiful school of Trigonostigma heteromorpha adds to the sense of color, space, and movement. (Although not part of the layout, nor of my ranking, an interesting footnote thanks to the fortutous position of the fish when the photo was snapped comes from the one outlier on the farthest right, who is headed in the opposite direction, reprising the underlying theme that novel touches can enhance the most venerable of traditions.)

Comment of Mr. Frantisek Kolin (Czech Republic)

In the evaluation for the IAPLC 2020, I decided to give my Best Aquarium to "Eden". In my opinion, this work best corresponds to the ideas of what Nature Aquarium should express - images from nature in aquariums. The creator has made this work in such a way that the fish have plenty of space to swim in the aquarium, many places to hide and other conditions that make them feel comfortable in the environ- ment. The design and realization of the overall picture is well done. Technically, the elements of this work have been mastered very well, so that the overall picture recreates a real nature. The originality is guaranteed, and the creator also deserves recognition for his idea. The natural spectacle is immediately visible, and viewers immediately feel as if they are in the middle of nature. The planting is well-chosen and made so that the size of the aquatic plants does not disturb the overall picture. Overall good job!

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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
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    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] Dream On - Josh Sim / Malaysia - IAPLC 2019

    This year's Grand prize goes to Mr. Josh Sim of Malaysia. What inspires us the most about this work is its novel and powerful approach to the composition brought out by fine planting details. This aquascape was created faithfully to the teachings of Takashi Amano, founder of Nature Aquarium and this contest; "Go bold with your composition, but careful with planting." Although the driftwood pieces used as the primary layout material of this aquascape are rectilinear and relatively large, their combination and arrangement are creating smart visual effects. The making of eccentric layouts in a deliberate manner seems to be one of the latest trends in contest submissions, but we believe that this layout is highly regarded because it achieves a strong impact while appearing less suggestive.
  • [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