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It might help if you keep in mind that the "Dutch Aquascaping Contest" is *not* an aquascaping contest. It is an aquairum contest that concentrates on the makeup and health of the biological community and maintenance of the tank. The aesthetic value of the aquascape is a relatively small factor in their judging.

In the past I have found that the contest winners are often not the most aesthetically pleasing tanks --to me, anyway. A visit to the NBAT web site is worth it for the view of some of the other contestant's tanks and setups. It's unfortunate, but the photo presentations really aren't very good. The site is at

http://www.nbat.nl/home.html

On the left side of the window there is a list titled "Landelijke Huiskeuring 2004". Click on "Gezelschapsaquaria" to see the community tank entries. Other items on the list are for different categories in the contest; biotopes, marine tanks, vivariums and terrariums.

Roger Miller
 

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Carlos,

Aquascaping does play a role in the contest. As in any other contest, if you aren't on top of every detail then you will not win. The aquascape is one of those details. NBAT doesn't refer to it as an aquascaping contest, so I don't know why you would.

I'm not sure where you got the second quote in your last letter. I've read it before, but can't place it. The quote does not describe the entire process or judging criteria used. It only describes some of the aesthetic qualities judged. There is an old letter in the APD archives at

http://fins.actwin.com/aquatic-plants/month.9907/msg00190.html

in which Stephane Andre tries to translate some major points about the contest rules. "Aesthetics" comprises one of three major categories; under aesthetics there are several subcategories of which two (animal choice and decoration elements) don't apply to the aquascape, but to the animals and the setting.

I've spent quite a bit of time stuffing parts of the NBAT contest rules summary (all written in Dutch) through translators to figure out how the contest works. Where the rules discuss aquascaping they are excruciatingly detailed (as is reflected in the quotation you used), specifying how many plants are to be used and how they are to be used, among other things. The most important aspect of aquascaping in the Dutch contest is the ability of the entrant to satisfy all of the rules -- not the ability of the entrant to produce an original and/or attractive aquascape. That is why the most original and interesting aquascapes in the contest usually don't win.

It's a tough contest for which the winners deserve a great deal of respect for their knowledge and accomplishments. It is a misrepresentation to call it an "aquascaping contest" The NBAT contest requires the entrant to satisfy some very demanding criteria, of which an attractive aquascape is only one.

Roger Miller
 
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