Although I am not a competitive aquascaper, I like to study the winning works to see what I can learn from them. This is all about art, not science. Science and husbandry will teach you to grow healthy plants. Art (no pun intended) is about using the healthy plants (and hardscape) to create something that truly speaks to you. As this is the IAPLC, the contest created by Takashi Amano, the creator of the "nature aquarium", I would assume each work should be trying to capture the idealized essence of nature.
With that in mind, what can we learn from this winning work?Right off the bat, I can see this photo is perfect. Everything from the ripples on the water surface to the line of fish that seem to be coming into the cave works together. Reflection is kept to a minimum and used wisely in the shadows of the left side.
Compositionally, the hole in the back is right on the golden ratio and the vanishing point is well defined. I can count 5 or 6 levels of depth making it seem VERY deep.
The plant choices are very good at working with the overall vibe to give you the ambiance that I think the aquascaper was going for. There are a couple of choices that go off script but overall they work very well.
Would you call this a nature aquarium, forest scape or diorama?
What lessons can you draw from this that you could apply to your tank?