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"Hidden Land" by Mr. Bowen Fan from China won the 2nd place. The layout is associated with gigantic old trees. The driftwood is impressively used, and the planting arrangement is meticulously performed. There is no wonder that the 4 judges chose this work as their Best Aquarium.

IAPLC 2015 Gallery - Look back history - World Ranking 0002

Hidden Land

Author: Bowen Fan / China 

Aquarium Size: W150×D55×H50 (cm)

Aquatic Plants

Lomariopsis lineata
Echinodorus tenellus
Micranthemum sp. "Montecarlo"
Riccia fluitans
Hygrophila pinnatifida
Bucephalandra sp.
Anubias barteri var. nana
Cryptocoryne parva
Eleocharis acicularis
Ludwigia arcuata
Didiplis diandra

Fish & Invertebrates

Paracheirodon simulans
Hyphessobrycon amandae


When I received EMS informing the contest result from Japan, I was very surprised to see my ranking. I double checked but it was not a mis- take - I was the second in the world ranking! I could hardly control my excitement and immedi- ately informed my father. My father was extremely happy about this news. I do not have much experience in planted aquarium yet, but I have been watching my father making planted aquariums and I loved to see the fish swimming freely in the tank. Since I was a small child, I always wanted to make my own planted aquarium one day, but my father did not agree to it because of my young age. When I became a high school student, I finally got permission from my father and started to create planted aquari- ums. The layout for this year's contest was com- pleted with kind advice from my father. I am filled with joy and happiness to receive such a wonderful result.

Comment of Mr. Hajime Ozaki (JAPAN)

This aquascape is reminiscent of "Kongo cedar tree, Dancing in the Wind", a representative photograph contained in Mr. Takashi Amano's photobook "SADO - To Pristine Forest from Bottom of Sea". The center of the composition is slightly off-center to the left and the large, dynamic driftwood stretching the branches across the aquarium overwhelms the entire layout. The presence of old drift- wood is particularly awesome with complicatedly tangled branches from the thick trunk with many nodes to the cane-like fine branch tips. Unlike other obviously-intentional driftwood arrangements, this driftwood has a remarkable shape for its old age. When looked closely, there are fine stem plants, Hair Grass (Eleocharis parvula) and small Cryptocoryne mixed in the carpet of soft foreground plants. This delicate planting provides a good contrast which is suitable for the habitat environment for fish. Only things not up to par are too new and nice moss-like plants attached to the branches and blank space in the background. This white blank space somewhat spoils the depth and powerfulness of this layout. It might be off the subject, but I seek strong wind or flow in this layout because of excessively strong impression of above mentioned Mr. Amano's photo which captured the swaying branches in the strong wind. Will the fine branches sway violently an instant later? At that time, how will the small fish around the branches escape and hide them- selves? This layout brings us the fun of imagination.

Comment of Mr. Seong Soo Han (SOUTH KOREA)

Among the layouts entered in IAPLC 2015, this layout stimulated my imagination the most, since it is not perfectly beautiful but it is created perfectly just by using limited materials available. The creator's excel- lent skills can be felt from the composition made of fine branches. Furthermore, it is a fantastic layout without any shortcomings in terms of planting of aquatic plants enjoyable for those who see it, as well as swimming fish and photography of aquascape. It is no surprise that the layouts created using fantastic layout materials will be ranked among the top layouts. I personally believe it is innovative and awe- some to create a layout by using the great ideas for the effective use of the materials having some restrictions. This year, I was excited and really enjoyed selecting my Best Aquarium after a long time.

Comment of Mr. Frantisek Kolin (CZECH REPUBLIC)

This layout I selected had succeeded in creating a natural aquascape based on the unique composition to effectively use the framework of the aquarium. The W150×D55×H50 (cm) tank used is a meaningful choice of size in which driftwood roots fill the open space and provide safe havens to fish. In addition, the roots stretch to the water surface and create shade for fish. With such an environ- ment in place, we can see fish swimming comfortably and gracefully.
in an aquarium. I also found it interesting to see the combination of foreground plants and the plants located at the top portion of the tank. Mild and light style of composition, which was realized despite the use of a large amount of driftwood roots, has an effect of allowing flexible movement of fish. One of its excellent points is making those who see it feel the impressive depth and width. Thriving aquatic plants add an enhanced natural feel to the layout as they grow.

Comment of Mr. Philippe Chevoleau (FRANCE)

Regarding the layout itself and the overall impression it gives, I was impressed by the large driftwood pieces that make the main attrac- tion. But to my opinion, it was quite risky: these driftwood can be seen as depicting large old trees in an imaginary forest or jungle. So it can give the sensation it is more an earth landscape than an underwater one. And sorry to say that, but I'm not very sensitive to the re-creation of an earth landscape in an aquarium. It's quite the opposite. I feel this kind of layout very artificial and I just can't see it as an aquarium layout. But the aquascaper did very well: thanks to the moss, its forest seems to be just a swamp forest where the base of the trunk is traditionally underwater. So we can see this layout as a earth imagery, but also as a – almost - usual underwater photograph where the fish can be seen "swimming from tree to tree” in some "igarape” (a small body of water in the Brazilian rainforest) in the Amazon region. The composition is perfect. Despite the fact the largest trunk is in front and in a central position, it's just a little on the left. There is a good balance between the occupied ground completely colonized by small plants and the large open spaces between the trunks. The branches are only at the highest level, on top, near and at the surface. There's a sensation of a roof protecting this little world of harmony. But also, by emerging through the surface, the branches invite us to discover the land world so close to us. It enhances the sensation of an open world, so the layout isn't just defined by the aquarium glass. The highest branches of the driftwood are colonized by moss. This is a good way to make us feel this layout has grown patiently for months. It also demonstrates the creator's skills, being able to keep and grow plants at the best. Congratulations to the aquascaper who did a very good job here and demonstrates that he can have a good sense of aes- thetic and be a talented aquarist at the same time.



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