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First, would like to congratulate Gomer for winning 3 awards.

Second, a piece of caution for you scapers.....Asian Powers are taking over the aquascaping world !!!!

Cheers
vincent
 

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All I have to say is that the results were surprising and awkward; some of the aquascapes that didn't receive a ribbon looked much better than the others that did! That's just my observation..

But I want to congratulate Gomer on his great success! :D
 

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I agree with Raul-7 -- I was left wondering about some of the choices, although I chalked it up to me not knowing the specific details/requirements of "aquascaping" as an art. There certainly were so many great tanks, though, and I almost wish I didn't enter....... :oops:


Congrats, Gomer - beautiful tanks you have and awards much deserved!
 

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Deborah,

I was super happy to see your entry and am glad you had the guts to do it. Ricky Cain said something really good that I can't quite remember, but it paraphrases out to "It takes a LOT of guts to enter a tank in something like this. Everyone in the hobby will probably see it at some point and will be comparing it to others. I just [had to] trust myself and let it go to be able to enter." This coming from a guy with some of the most popular aquascapes out there.

I wish more of the hobbyists out there would enter their tanks. As thrilled as I was to see the quality of the entries, I was even more thrilled to see the large percentage of what I would call "real tanks." I can't think of a nice way of saying this, but not everyone can be a Navarro, Senske, or Gomez. If only that small percentage of the hobby supported the AGA then we'd have a very small membership. It's everyone else who loves the hobby and grows plants for the fun of it that is what makes the AGA what it is, not the award winning aquascapers.

Regarding the results. I'll have a longer commentary on that, but for now, keep this in mind. The separation between 1-15 in any given category could be as little as 14 points. The competition was INCREDIBLY close this year and it came down to nit-picky details in many cases to break ties.

Best,
Phil
 

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Phil,
You make some great points. Just imagine, this is the tip of the iceberg. There are so many aquascapes out there that will never be seen by the general public for what ever reason. Without venues like this, the hobby does not grow and evolve, it does not pull more people in, and the bar is not raised.
Entering these contests is indeed intimidating. I for one felt this way and if it were not for people close to me urging me to do so, i would not have. (But I was still chicken sh_t enough to enter it under my dog's name! :oops: ) In the end, I am so very glad I did. This experience has made me more committed to this craft than ever before. Infact, I just scubbed down my neglected 125 and 120 and plan to set them up again... wait, maybe this isn't a good thing...

By the way, is it possible to get the actual scoring sheet for one's tank? I think that would be real interesting AND helpful to be able to see.
 

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I especially liked the judging comment:

"The foreground is ugly"

I laughed for about 30 minutes. I also felt the results were suspect.
 

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There has been some discussion running about in chat and via PM that the AGA contest is rigged. I cannot agree with that assertion and would like to think as a group the AGA is above that kind of thing. There is no money or substantial prizes involved, only the recognition of your peers, so why rig. Conspiracy theorists among us are waiting for Oliver Stone to release the AGA Contest movie to be vindicated.

However I do think that we do not know what we are being judged on when we enter. The entrants need to have some idea of the criteria a judge uses and does each judge weight each criteria the same.

When one presents a car for concours competition in certain venues the criteria are well known. It is quite detailed but it needs to be that way. If GM consistently over sprayed a certain part in 19XX on model Y than you lose points if you cleaned it up.

Lets hear from the judges past and present what how they go about the process and I'd go as far to ask why the judge feels they are judge material. What goes into making a quality aquascape judge?
 

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Thanks Phil for the kind words (again) and thoughts on the contest. :)



I did not 'question' the results per se, or even consider a "conspiracy," but more was surprised in terms of my choices versus the judges'. But, again, I'm going by what I feel is more attractive rather than prescribed aquascaping 'guidelines.' And, we all know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder :)
 

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I think y'all should take your surprise and disappointment one step further by taking even the merest of positive steps. A lot of folks seem to be willing to complain about the results but so far Norbert S. is the only one who has even said which 'scapes he thought were good.

People who want to disagree with the contest results should propose their own rankings; 1 through 5 in each category, complete with your justification for why they are the best in that category. Given the load that the contest site has been bearing recently it is probably best *not* to link to the site; either simply list the entries or copy a photo from the site and link to the copy. You can use your own criteria if you want. If you want to stay consistent with the AGA judging criteria, then you can find those attached below.

It might be interesting to see whether there is any consensus ranking that differs from the contest results. I would also be interested in seeing any proposed revisions for the guidelines below.


Roger Miller
*******************

Criteria

There are four basic criteria which we wish considered in the judging of the aquascapes entered in the contest. They are:

* Overall Impression (between 1 - 35 points)
* Composition, Balance, Use of Space, Use of Color (between 1 - 30 points)
* Selection & Use of Materials (between 1 - 20 points)
* Viability of Aquascape (between 1 - 15 points)

To assist the judges, and to clarify and expand upon the basic criteria, these are some of the things we ask each judge to consider when reviewing each entry:

* Overall Impression - maximum 35 points
o Does the aquascape make a significant positive visual impression upon the viewer?
o Do all parts of the aquascape work together to present a harmonious whole?
* Composition, Balance, Use of Space, Use of Color - maximum 30 points
o Is the aquascape laid out well?
o 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?
o Are the colors of the various elements of the aquascape complementary and do they work well together?
* Selection & Use of Materials - maximum 20 points
o Are the materials selected for use within the aquascape appropriate for use in an aquarium?
o Are the various materials harmonious with one another? i.e. if several rocks and/or pieces of driftwood are used, do they compliment one another or do they produce a discordant effect?
* Viability of Aquascape - maximum 15 points
o Is the aquascape set up in a manner which, with proper maintenance, is likely to lead to long term success of the aquarium?
o If used, are the plants selected for the aquascape appropriate for long term use in an aquarium?
o If visible, are the animals selected as inhabitants of the tank likely to cause damage to one another or to the aquascape itself?
 

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I don't know if there will ever be a contest where everyone agrees on the results. My favorite was Gomer's algae tank however my criteria for judging that certainly didn't cover all those points Roger just listed, I just liked it and thought it was unique. One thing that did surprise me however was the importance given to maintenance, for example one tank lost points because it used a tiger lotus as this plant would eventually send out a couple floating leaves which would have ruined the look. I'm not sure I agreed with that personally, I liked the look of the lotus there and having them myself I don't feel cutting a couple leaves every month or two is that much of a problem. I guess one needs to know the criteria for judging and be careful not to include elements that would bring the rating down, regardless if you agree with them or not.

But I really would have liked to hear what Amano wanted to say regarding Gomer's tank, but I guess time was an issue as we marched ahead pretty quickly at that point.

Giancarlo
 

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I agree that the judge's coments sometimes seemed to over-emphasize maintenance requirements. It's impossible for me to say how much that consideration might have effected the scoring. "Viability" -- the judging criteria where I think maintenance requirments might be considered -- is the lowest points category. The repeated comments on maintenance requirements may have been made more because they were easy comments to make than because they reflected the judge's scoring.

Incidentally, the criteria I listed earlier are from the AGA site. They are not something I made up.


Roger Miller
 

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Thanks for that, in reading the comments from the judges I see for example how Oliver's tank was obviously one that fell in this high maintenance group but still won first prize. Perhaps as you pointed out it was just a matter of repeating the same "defect" during the presentations that made it seem like this was a major issue and one that played a greater role in scoring than it actually did.

A lot of great tanks though, hard to pick amongst them all!

Giancarlo
 

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I know that for me personally the overall impression carried the most weight. I could give a hoot about viability and maintenance. Those are choices an individual makes when planning out and setting up an aquascape. I don't know how much time a person has to devote to their tank so I tried not to think about that even though I had to use the AGA criteria in judging.

Just because maintenance is difficult or your bait eats the other bait in the tank is not an aquascaping critque issue for me. We have long since passed the time where everyone wants to setup up a tank and have it look the same for years on end or at least I hope we have.

Let me say this, it is much, much easier to enter the contest than it is to judge it. I'm going to try and stay on the entry side of the fence from now on.

Ricky
 

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Someone please explain how this qualifies as a creative aquascape and worthy of 1st place? Bare white sand and two groups of plants? Everyone here knows who Jeff Senske is. According to the WEB site he won first place in the same catagory as Oliver. Was it a tie or should it say second place?

Every single year there has been discussion like this after each contest and I think even one of this years judges has been critical in the past of the judging. I agree with Roger in that everyone has their own opinions and views, but each year there have been some aspects of the judging that just do not seem to make sense.

Phil told me he was trying very hard to be impartial which is why he gave up being moderator at my forum, but can anyone except Mr. Amano be at all impartial when the majority of the pictures in the contest were displayed and talked about in this forum, my forum, Planted tank, Aquatic Quotient, Age of Aquariums and other forums months before the contest?
 

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Phil told me he was trying very hard to be impartial which is why he gave up being moderator at my forum, but can anyone except Mr. Amano be at all impartial when the majority of the pictures in the contest were displayed and talked about in this forum, my forum, Planted tank, Aquatic Quotient, Age of Aquariums and other forums months before the contest?
What do you suggest then Robert? That anyone ever considering a contest entry should never post a picture publicly till the judging is over? And giving the first, that the tank can never be entered in another contest in the same year since it has most likely been made public with contest results? Or do you suggest that all contests should just not exist?
 
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