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Texex 05-03-2013 03:55 AM

New rules for Biotope category for this year's AGA Aquascaping Contest
Hello Fellow Aquascapers,

In years past, there have been discussions on how best to improve the criterias for the biotope category for the Aquatic Gardener Association's annual aquascaping contest. Certain aquascapes have been questioned with regards to their validity as a true "biotope" by both the judges and entrants. In order to address these issues, the AGA has revised the rules and criteria for this year's contest. Below are the new rules outlining what constitutes an acceptable biotope for the contest category. Please review the new information and if there are questions, we will do our best to address them in a timely fashion.

Bailin Shaw
AGA Contest Chair

New rules of the biotope category for the AGA Aquascaping contest:
A biotope is a habitat originating from a specific location. It has particular environmental conditions and a native population of plants and animals. A single stream or lake may include numerous biotopes. For instance, a stony riffle in a stream may be one biotope while a nearby silt-bottomed pool on the same stream may be a different biotope. On the other hand, the same biotope may occur in numerous streams in a region where all stony riffles or silt-bottomed pools support the same community of plants and animals.
In its purest form, the biotope aquascape is a microscopic representation of a naturally-occurring particular geographical area in the wild.
An AGA Aquascaping contest entry that accurately represents a biotope through species selection and arrangement of hardscape and living elements will receive a higher score.

Rules for acceptable entries in the AGA’s Aquascaping Contest Biotope Category:

• Material used including wood, rocks, and other hardscaping material should, as closely as possible, represent the appearance of natural materials found in the specific location.

Example: Mopani driftwood would not be used in an Asian rainforest biotope aquascape. However, manzanita wood could be used effectively to represent branches and roots in an Amazon biotope.

• Plants and animals should be indigenous to the specific location.

Example: Guppies should not be used in a Lake Malawi biotope aquascape. However, a few non-native fish or shrimp included for algae control will be overlooked.

• Choice and placement of plant and animal species should also represent the specific location.

Example: Although both plants grow in Asian streams, it would be unlikely to find Cryptocoryne cordata, which likes shaded areas, mixed with C. crispatula, which is found in sunny areas.

• Exotic, non-native, or invasive species of plants and fish should not be used in a biotope aquascape. All flora and fauna should be native species originally indigenous to the biotope being described.

• Aquascaping methods used for Aquatic Garden aquariums are not applicable to biotope aquascaping. Design should be directed toward creating an authentic replication of a natural habitat. Arrangement of hardscape materials, and placement and grouping of plants, should mimic that found in nature rather than an abstracted image of a natural scene often used in Aquatic Garden aquascaping.

An expert committee will screen submissions in the Biotope Category and accept as entries those that it in its sole determination, follow these rules. The committee’s judgment will be final. If there are questions regarding the validity of the biotope aquascape, the committee may ask for justification.

Based on the criteria, to aid the screening process, we strongly suggest that entrants provide the following information:

1. A description of the biotope represented by the entry.

2. A description of the materials used in the entry, including plants, fish, and hardscape materials. Include why certain choices were made.

3. References to substantiate the appropriateness of the materials used. Books, articles, photos, and web links are all acceptable references.

If the committee rejects a submission, the entrant may resubmit the entry in another category. However, the AGA will not automatically move rejected submissions to another category; this must be done by the entrant.

After a biotope entry has been approved by the screening committee, it will be judged by the AGA Aquascaping Contest judging panel. Each judge will score the biotope based on the following criteria:

50 General impressions/ faithful reproduction of biotope
30 Accuracy of hardscape
50 Accuracy of plant materials
50 Appropriate use of fish
20 Condition

Results of the judging will be made public at the appropriate times as determined by the dates predetermined by the aquascaping contest.

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