Does it even make sense to have a Saltwater Aquascaping Contest?

http://www.marcorocks.com/

Does is make sense to have a Saltwater Aquascaping Competition?

  • Yes with a sponsor

    Votes: 20 39.2%
  • Yes without a sponsor

    Votes: 5 9.8%
  • It depends (please explain)

    Votes: 6 11.8%
  • No

    Votes: 20 39.2%

  • Total voters
    51

Ardeus

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I took some heat when a few days ago I expressed my opinion that most reef tanks are ugly, a lot of people felt offended.

The fact is that freshwater aquascapers really study and practice aquascaping as an art/science and we do not.

I would like to help to change that, so I thought about organizing a Saltwater Aquascaping Contest along the lines of the freshwater aquascaping contests.

I have 3 options:

- Put my own money for the prizes
- Get a sponsor and have bigger prizes
- Keep this idea as a "lets don't and say we did" project

I feel more comfortable with the 1st option because this contest would be very experimental and even if I could find a sponsor, I run the risk of not having many entries because I don't have the means to promote the contest and in the end let that sponsor down. If things went well, then get a sponsor for the next contest.

Grand Prize:1 Person
Prize:50 eur

Gold Prize:1 Person
Prize:25 eur

Silver Prize:2 People
Prize:10 eur

Bronze Prize:3 People
Prize:5 eur

Honor Prize:13 people
Prize: (bragging rights )

Given the much slower development of a saltwater tank, the contest would have to put much more value on the maturity of the system and on how healthy it looks and how well it provides a proper habitat for the animals inside.

Also, instead of just submitting 1 photo, the contestants would have to submit at least 3 photos, 1 short video and a list of the fish in the tank.

I am unware if a real saltwater aquascaper even exists, so I would have to bring a couple of freshwater aquascaping experts to judge the aesthetic component of the tanks and saltwater experts to judge the specific aspects of a saltwater tank.

What do you all think?
 

sp1187

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nope.
it's all in the eye of the beholder.
I don't care what artsy stuff they are doing with fresh h2o tanks.
my goal with my tanks is to recreate things I've seen while diving.
walls are not a bad thing.
minimalist is not a bad thing.
I have seen both and everything in between while diving.
frag racks, heaters, pumps, overflows, returns shouldn't be visible if you are doing a reef display.
just my opinion.
 
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F i s h y

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Aquascapes are very subjective. The same things you said about freshwater apply to saltwater and vice-versa. As with any art form all you can really do is classify it into a category.
To say that saltwater hobbyist don't put in the same amount of thought or effort is in my opinion not true.
My recently designed Aquascape takes into consideration my fish and their habits, the flow I want in the tank, the types of coral I keep, and the general look and flow from a visual perspective.

@Ardeus Can you provide some additional detail for this part. I'm curious what you perceive the difference is.

"The fact is that freshwater aquascapers really study and practice aquascaping as an art/science and we do not."
 
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Ardeus

Ardeus

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Aquascape evaluation is much more than just aesthetic considerations.

I would only follow the judging criteria of freshwater contests to a small extent, I would only apply them to the aesthetic evaluation.

There's a subjective component to the evaluation but there are also objective criteria.

The way to be more fair in the subjective components is to have multiple judges.

I would put much more value in the system maturity and apparent well being of the animals.

We often don't build an aquascape taking into account the fish species we have and vice-versa. This is a more objective evaluation.

If a tank has cave dwellers then it should have plenty of caves available. If there's tangs, then it should have adequate swimming place. A tank with clowns should have more points if it has their natural host.
 
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Ardeus

Ardeus

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Aquascapes are very subjective. The same things you said about freshwater apply to saltwater and vice-versa. As with any art form all you can really do is classify it into a category.
To say that saltwater hobbyist don't put in the same amount of thought or effort is in my opinion not true.
My recently designed Aquascape takes into consideration my fish and their habits, the flow I want in the tank, the types of coral I keep, and the general look and flow from a visual perspective.

@Ardeus Can you provide some additional detail for this part. I'm curious what you perceive the difference is.

"The fact is that freshwater aquascapers really study and practice aquascaping as an art/science and we do not."

Those guys study subjects and techniques common to all visual arts. Many of these principles were established many centuries ago.

How to achieve a sense of depth, harmony, balance, flow, color schemes, areas of light/shadow, etc.
 
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Dragonsreef

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There would need to be categories for sure. Something like rock wall, nsa, islands and maybe abstract. But there are definitely scapes that look better than others and in terms of artistry is no different than fresh water.
 
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Ardeus

Ardeus

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I thought about it, but I doubt there would have enough tanks to justify split them into categories (FOWLR, algae tanks, biotopes, SPS, mixed reefs, soft).

Here's an example of the rules and guidelines

 

elysics

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I think the problem is that setting up a tank for a contest, stocking it to final capacity and waiting a month or two for everything to grow in and look healthy, is cheap,relatively easy to do, and easy to recycle for the next contest by ripping everything out and reconfiguring, for freshwater. And that's a big part of the appeal.

Doing that with corals would be expensive, hard to do, take much longer, and be very risky with rtn and coral warfare when cramming adult colonies into nanos. What you'd probably get is people submitting their normal reef tanks, and people trying to do interesting shapes with bare rocks and some frags and GSP on it
 
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Ardeus

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I don't really like the high rotation of the freshwater water tanks for contestsmand recently they began introducing judging criteria to encourage mature tanks.

I would attribute significant extra points to a mature reef.
 

Stigigemla

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I don't like the idea because I have seen so many tanks that are not good especially for the fishes. In the nature the fishes can live on the reef because they have hiding places from predators there. They have still have that instinct even if they are grown a few generations in aquariums. And of some reasons the sparse japanese garden imitations are very common. Every fish needs one or several hiding places that are so narrow that they are safe from predators there.
 

Mono

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I don't really like the high rotation of the freshwater water tanks for contestsmand recently they began introducing judging criteria to encourage mature tanks.

I would attribute significant extra points to a mature reef.
Wow, I've thought about this idea often too.

Of course, it matters very much what kind of contest, how it's organized, the tone that is set, the criteria established, etc

I generally like the idea of focusing people's time and attention on the aesthetic elements of the hobby. And of course we all know there is no "right answer" (or better put the right answer is the tank I like best!)

Lord knows there's enough attention to reef chemistry (Thank you Randy!)

All of that being said, I generally don't like the idea of tanks being built just for a contest. It sort of undermines the idea of building a healthy, sustainable ecosystem. And I think the practice is much less suitable to saltwater tanks. I keep both fresh and salt and I would say a marine tank is much more sensitive to any changes. I can rearrange the driftwood in my discus tank all day and it doesn't bother them too much. I move a few rocks around in my marine tank and I can set off a new territorial war to the death.

So, obvious categories are size: nano, normal and monster.

I'm not sure about biotope...

But I would also suggest considering TIME.

I don't know how that could be organized but perhaps people enter in January and build a portfolio over the year and the TANK OF THE YEAR (or in other words, my tank) is chosen in December. Often time aquascapers are working a year planning their tank anyway. Tanks can earn points in monthly voting with a grand contest event in December. There can be weighted general audience points and points given by selected judges.

Just some thoughts....
 

Paul B

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Aquascaping is much more important in freshwater because you will see all the rocks, stumps, or anything else you put in there as there is little to hide it. In a matured salt tank you won't see any rocks or aquascape because the corals will hide it. Almost any salt tank up even a few years will have almost no spaces where you will see any rock and it will just show corals. Most of us have to trim corals as they grow to close to the front glass and that will constantly change the "aquascape".

We all also have different ideas. Some of us like a sea of "sticks" some like all soft corals or a minimalist with just a few select pieces. You would have to make some sort of criteria or a few different criteria's for different style tanks.

Freshwater are classed as Lake Tanganyika, river basins, streams, ponds, etc.
 

58e970b2-3f88-4897-87ba-5

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While the idea sounds fun, I think it doesn’t work as well for a reef tank because of how long coral takes to grow and fill in the rock work.

I think the year long “setup and grow out” style competitions are better suited to reef tanks, it hard to get people to commit to.
Basically a competition for a mix of initial aquascaping, husbandry, and vision for how the tank will fill in.

I wonder if something like a small tank competition with rules around frag size would work better.
If you could plumb a small tank into an existing one, people around here might be more interested due to lower maintenance and equipment costs.
Frag size limits could be useful for levelling the playing field a bit.
 

Mono

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While the idea sounds fun, I think it doesn’t work as well for a reef tank because of how long coral takes to grow and fill in the rock work.

I think the year long “setup and grow out” style competitions are better suited to reef tanks, it hard to get people to commit to.
Basically a competition for a mix of initial aquascaping, husbandry, and vision for how the tank will fill in.

I wonder if something like a small tank competition with rules around frag size would work better.
If you could plumb a small tank into an existing one, people around here might be more interested due to lower maintenance and equipment costs.
Frag size limits could be useful for levelling the playing field a bit.
You totally stole my user name!
 

Cell

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So it doesn't turn into more or less a contest of tank maturity/hot corals of the year, perhaps just a rockscape contest would make some sense?
 

nanonøkk

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i think in order for this to work it has to be a rock scape contest and not a mature tank because the different ways corals grow into the rock work and cover it is different than in a fresh water aqua scape.

some of the reasons why fresh water tanks look so good is because of the different types of rocks and stones and wood used to create a natural aqua scape.

they also have a wide access to different types of plants that they can glue to the rocks and trim to perfection or plant and let grow out.

so if you were to do this i think you should do only the rock work and sand (if the person has a sand bed or not) and not go with corals because as they grow and change the scape they could touch and boom warfare.

unlike where fresh water aqua scapes where you can put plants right next to each other from day one which you can do but buying full colony’s from day one could have problems like them touching and what not and also many people couldn’t afford that.

there’s also the fact of rock detail and other things like over hangs shadows and balancing the scape and also the detail of the rocks.

rocks have different details and you can have a 10 gallon tank with a rock or two but you probably can’t make that a lot interesting unless you break up the rocks and epoxy them together to get the most details and holes and arches from the rock.

and i think it should also be done in tank sizes a small tank has little room to get the work of the rocks because there is limited space but if someone had a cool arches and stuff in that tank and made it look like a really big tank then that’s impressive and i think that’s how you should be judging it.

you should judge on the rocks details and how everything looks from day one the more intricate and impressive looking the aqua scape the more points they get.

anyways enough of my rant but that’s why i think about this it should just be the rock work.
 

elysics

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Is it a good idea to highlight and reward stylized rock scapes that would ultimately not be great if the reef grew in?

When building rock scapes for reefs, the dogma is always "think of how it will look covered in corals, not how it looks now", rewarding the opposite of that might be counterproductive for the hobby.

Maybe as someone else said, allow tie ins into already running circuits, where over a year or two years, the scapes that allowed for the nicest coral scape, growth and health while also hiding pumps and being aesthethically pleasing overall, win.

Crowning a year old reef with a couple small frags on a barely cycled tank as the pinnacle of beauty in reefing just seems odd to me

Or maybe just another tank of the month format for people's regular reefs but with focus on anesthetics
 
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Ardeus

Ardeus

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I don't see this as a process where people would setup a tank on purpose for the contest. Given the speed of growth of the corals it doesn't make sense.

I also don't see this as a contest that would even interest the large majority of reefers. Most of us don't prioritize the overall beauty of the tank over having a large diversity of corals or the fish we want.

But there's a few of us who would want to replicate as closely as possible a piece of a reef by basically sculpting and painting with corals. This normally excludes a huge diversity of corals and fish, especially larger fish.

I have been dosing Vibrant and it completely killed or damaged some corals. I hate to say it, but my tank looks better.

If I wanted to enter the contest I may do slight changes to my tank to make it look its best. I would clean the sand and glass, prune the corals or even change their position if needed and also do my best to get a few good photos and a video.

I do think we could benefit from the look of master freshwater aquascapers on our reefs and I would try to bring a couple of them as judges and a couple of good reefers. Each would only judge within their area of expertise.

These guidelines from AGA seem like a good starting point for the evaluation of the tanks


Overall Impression - maximum 50 points

• Does the aquascape make a significant positive visual impression upon the viewer?

• Do all parts of the aquascape work together to present a harmonious whole?


Composition, Balance, Use of Space, Use of Color - maximum 50 points

• Is the aquascape layed out well?

• Does balance exist between the various components of the aquascape? Is space within the aquarium used effectively? Do open areas exist and balance and complement more enclosed spaces?

• Are the colors of the various elements of the aquascape (including animals) complementary and do they work well together?


Selection and Use of Materials - maximum 50 points

• Are the materials selected for use within the aquascape appropriate for use in an aquarium?

• Are the various materials harmonious with one another? I.e. if several rocks types are used, do they compliment one another or do they produce a discordant effect?

• Do the animals compliment or detract from the selection and arrangement of hardscape and corals?


Viability of Aquascape - maximum 50 points

• Is the aquascape set up in a manner which, with proper maintenance, is likely to lead to long term success of the aquarium?

• If used, are the corals selected for the aquascape appropriate for long term use in an aquarium?

• Are the animals selected as inhabitants of the tank likely to cause damage to one another or to the aquascape itself? Are the animals appropriate to the size of the tank that houses them?
 

WolfDaddysReef

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Even if this idea does not take off. Reefers will benefit from thinking more deeply about layout and aquascaping. Reefers have this tendency to maximize gear, costs, diversity and blue lights over aesthetics. Coming from the freshwater world of aquascaping judgement of quality is not as subjective as you might think, as people have already quoted, there is a well thought out rubric.
 
http://www.marcorocks.com/

What percentage of blue versus white lighting do you think makes the best coral growth combo?

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