For me the UKAPS Aquascaping Experience 2016 has been the culmination of years of gradually building the UK aquascaping and planted tank scene to a point where UKAPS can justifiably host a free entry, world-class event.
UKAPS is well known for its active forum that enjoys a community of like-minded hobbyists with a wide range of experience levels. At the time of writing we are home to 12,000 international members, several experts and an array of highly-regarded sponsors.
Since we were founded in 2007 there has only been a handful of events where UKAPS has organised meetings with other UKAPS members. A few of us got talking and soon a committee was formed to plan and host the UKAPS Aquascaping Experience.
The primary mission of UKAPS is to promote the planted tank and aquascaping hobby. We knew the best way to do this was to organise an event where hobbyists could get together at a suitable location and experience a fully packed day of aquascaping activities.
The selected venue in Daventry, UK was ideal. The iCon Innovation Centre’s building consisted of lots of glass, wood and steel with a modern interior design. It complimented all of the aquarium kit and aquascapes on show perfectly. It also had free parking, an on-site café and good accessibility for disabled visitors.
The event was hosted in two main areas. The huge reception area was occupied by the 10 Hardscape Challenge tanks and 3 live mature planted aquascapes, all positioned strategically along either size of the space.
The second area was the auditorium that had seating for around 200 visitors. A huge projector, great AV facilities and live streaming meant that everyone could enjoy the various presentations.
The day was split into 5 main events.
- Hardscape Challenge – 10 entrants battle it out to compete for large value prizes.
- Live Aquascaping Demo by Dan Crawford and George Farmer
- Aquascaping Principles Presentation and Q&A Session with George Farmer.
- Aquarium Photography Seminar by Stu Worrall.
- Wabi-Kusa Demo by Jurijs mit JS.
Setting up on the Friday went relatively smoothly, starting at 8am and finishing at 3:30pm. The Hardscape looked great laid out between the 10 challenge tanks, all supplied by Crystal Aqua. With over 1,000kg of hardscaping materials, the contestants were spoilt for choice. Three live mature aquascapes also added extra interest to the event.
Open day on Sat, 5th March at 10am was exciting. By 10:15am the venue was buzzing and around 60 were seated ready for the first presentation with Dan and George. Dan aquascaped an 80cm ultra low iron tank supplied by Crystal Aqua with George providing running commentary. The main stone weighed around 45kg so a two man lift was required. Paulo Leal had successfully rigged up video cameras so the event could be both recorded and livestreamed on YouTube.
We broke off the live aquascaping at 10:50am so the start of the Hardscape Challenge could begin. The entrants were all briefed about judging guidelines and they were ready to go at 11am.
Presentations in the auditorium ran throughout the rest of the day whilst the Hardscape Challenge continued up until 4pm. Peak visitor attendance was around 120. Overall capacity of the venue was around 250 so the 120 felt comfortable.
Raffle tickets were sold throughout the day. All prizes were kindly donated by UKAPS Sponsors – Fluval, Tropica, Aqua Essentials, Aquarium Plant Food UK, Aquarium Gardens, The Nutrient Company, iQuatics, Destination Aquatics, Hugo Kamishi and Unipac.
The Hardscape Challenge
The Hardscape Challenge results were announced from 4th to 1st. I was hugely impressed by all of the layouts, as were all of the other judges. Here’s the first 10 best ranked tanks in the Hardscape challenge:
Rank #1 – Ivan Lugovic
Average points per judge: 90
Rank #2 – Stephen Rhodes
Average points per judge: 89
Rank #3 – Piotr Kwiatkowski
Average points per judge: 82
Rank #4 – Jurijs Jutjajevs
Average points per judge: 81
Rank #5 – Thang To
Average points per judge: 80
Rank #6 – Neil Whitley
Average points per judge: 77
Rank #7 – Roy Smith
Average points per judge: 76
Rank #8 – Jaime Howard
Average points per judge: 74
Rank #9 – Manuel Arias Ballesteros
Average points per judge: 68
Rank #10 – Aurimas Curlauskas
Average points per judge: 63
You can find more details on the Hardscape Challenge results here.
The event closed with the raffle that saw dozens of visitors walk away with thousands of pounds worth of aquascaping kit! In conclusion the event was a huge success. Thank you to all that visited and hope you see you next year. Many thanks to our Sponsors and to all the UKAPS Members for their support. Without you there would be no UKAPS.
- Crystal Aqua
- Tropica Aquarium Plants
- Aqua Essentials
- Aquarium Plant Food UK
- Aquarium Gardens
- CO2Art – The Art of CO2 in Planted Aquarium
- iQuatics Limited
- The Nutrient Company
- Hugo Kamashi
- Destination Aquatics
George and the UKAPS AE Committee.