Designing aquariums is serious art for folks who take part in international aquascaping contests like Russia’s International Planted Aquarium Design Contest and the International Aquascaping Contest hosted by the Houston-based Aquatic Gardeners Association (AGA). Aquascaping is the craft of designing underwater landscape for fish tanks that involve arranging aquatic plants, rocks, stones, cavework, or driftwood in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Competitive designs may invoke a number of distinct styles such as a miniature landscape of the Wild West with submerged cacti, or the taiga of Russia, the valleys of China, or even beaches. Some of these aquascapes can take months to prepare.
The International Aquatic Plant Layout Contest (IAPLC) is the largest aquascaping competition in the world where hobbyists from all over the globe enter. As many as 2,100 aquascapers from more than 60 countries competed with each other during the 2013 edition of the contest for the grand prize of 1 million Yen. Artists from Asian and Eastern European countries generally dominate the top slots where the craft is very popular, but thanks to the Internet, westerners are slowly catching up to the game.