October 12-13, 2019 | Saturday 10 am - 6 pm | Sunday 10 am - 4 pm
Secaucus, NJ | Meadowlands Exposition Center

Aquascaping Live! Contest Sanctioned and Presented by:  The Aquatic Gardeners Association

Large Tank Category (AGA-Team Invitational):

8 Team entries with up to 4 team members per team will compete in the invitational chosen by the AGA Board of Directors.  Deadline to register is September 13, or once 8 team entries are accepted.  No refunds for all accepted entries.

Entry fee: $150 – This cost includes a pass to the show floor and Saturday-Sunday seminars per team member as well as over $800 worth of merchandise.  The Pass is for the contestant only – any additional persons must purchase a day pass or weekend pass online or show site.

Each team must submit a minimum of 4 and maximum of 6 digital images of separate aquascapes done by members of the team (i.e. not 4 shots of the same tank set up the same way).

Large Tank entrants at Aquatic Experience are provided the following items to use and keep (valued over $800.00)

  • One Fluval 36x18x20 Rimless Glass Aquarium (56 gal.) Custom stand to fit is NOT included in the package and remains property of Fluval two 36’ Fluval 3.0 Fresh and Plant LED Lights
  • One Fluval 306 Filter
  • One Fluval M 200W Heater
  • Fluval Tool Pack

Large Tank entrants will receive the following items to use at Aquatic Experience:

  • 2-Day Show Floor passes for advanced-registered team members (4 max)
  • Substrate: Eco-Complete Black (up to 6 20lb bags) or Pool filter sand (unlimited, but specify the number of lbs.), if desired, the amount must be included on the entry form
  • Set of Fluval Planting Tools
  • If needed, additional electrical outlets will be available on-site
  • Winner’s 1st-3rd place will receive cash prizes and ribbons


  • Teams assume all responsibility for travel expenses
  • If a Team member is a minor, a parent must sign the entry also
  • Aquascaping must be done within the hours listed below:
    • Friday, Oct. 11, from 11:00am – 6:00pm (exceptions to this time limit will be made for people who have not been able to finish filling tanks because of shared water source)
    • Saturday, Oct. 12, 10:00am – 1:00pm
  • Judging will take place on the show floor Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019 1:00pm-4:30pm
  • Teams will be responsible for supplying their own hardscape and plant materials. These materials may be grown out ahead of time in any way desired by the team, including in a similarly sized tank, and brought to the site, ready to re-assemble
  • Live animals may be used but are not required. It is the responsibility of the entrants to select animals appropriate for the size of the tank
  • Teams MUST use the tank, cabinet and light provided, but MAY use equipment other than or in addition to that listed with the exception of additional lighting
  • Teams are responsible for supplying any and all substitutions
  • NOTE: There will be no CO2 provided. If entrants want to use it, they must provide their own.  The equipment chosen may not alter the overall “look” of the display
  • The aquascape may not extend beyond the footprint of the tank due to space limitations
  • Tank background on these tanks is clear glass, teams may use any background they choose (or none)
  • Several micron filters may available for use as needed by all entrants to clear tanks after set-up. Use of these is not guaranteed as there are limited quantities available
  • Sponsorship of any kind (monetary or donation of material) is permitted but must be declared to the contest chairs (Karen Randall karenran@verizon.net) before the start of the competition. Failure to disclose sponsorship may be grounds for disqualification
  • No sponsorship or promotional materials (business cards, signs, flyers, etc.) may be displayed at any time in the aquascaping area. Any display of promotional materials even after judging is grounds for disqualification, confiscation of any prize money as well as all contest materials
  • Team t-shirt, polo shirts, hats, etc. are okay to wear, but must NOT display any sponsorships
  • Tanks that are not scaped or only “dry scaped” are not eligible for prizes, and are also not eligible to receive any of the equipment or other “perks” that go along with the entry fee
  • Teams or their members who willfully break rules, or who do not clean up their area in a reasonable way when leaving for the day may be disqualified and lose entry fee as well as rights to all other benefits of the competition


1st Place                                              Trophy, Ribbon & $1,500.00

2nd Place                                            Trophy, Ribbon & $600.00

3rd Place                                             Trophy, Ribbon & $400.00

People’s Choice Award                    Ribbon & Bragging Rights


  • Winners and prize money will be announced and awarded on the show floor Saturday, Oct. 12, at 5:00pm
  • Ribbons will be displayed on the winning tanks through the end of the Show, Oct. 13th
  • Tanks must be up and operating during ALL show days and hours. You may NOT dismantle your tank at any time before closing of show at 4:00pm on Sunday
  • At the end of the Aquatic Experience, any equipment not specifically designated as belonging to contestants and provided by Aquatic Experience and Fluval are the property of Aquatic Experience
  • Teams may sell their tanks if they choose, in whole or in part, after the competition rather than taking them home and split the funds in any way they desire. There will be specific contact cards for all contestants to place on any tanks for sale after judging.  All negotiations and agreements are strictly between the contest team and the buyer.  Fluval, Aquatic Experience and The Aquatic Gardeners Association make no warranty regarding the sale.  The seller and/or buyer still remains responsible for the removal of the tank from the show floor as stated below
  • Teams are responsible for their own equipment and supplies while on the show site. Please label everything and keep an eye on your things!  WPA, Fluval and AGA take no responsibility for lost or stolen items
  • At close of show Sunday, October 13, starting at 4:00pm, all plants, animals, hardscape materials and equipment provided and belonging to the entrants may be taken down and removed by them. Any materials not claimed by 8:00pm will become the property of the Aquatic Experience
    • Tanks must be drained and water dumped OUTSIDE as directed by Aquatic Experience Staff
    • All substrate MUST be removed and put in dumpsters behind the convention hall or taken with you
    • PLEASE be respectful of the rules and help clean up the competition area. Anything not cleaned up by you and your team must be cleaned up by an AGA/NJAGC volunteer
  • Questions about substitutions or rules, please contact Karen Randall with the AGA at karenran@verizon.net  Please be aware that these rules were not put in place to trip you up.  They were put in place because of the problems we have had in the past.  Most seem common sense.  If you don’t understand something, please ask

Overall Impression – maximum 50 points

  • Does the aquarium as a whole; plants, animals (if used) and hardscape, create a positive visual impact?
  • Do all parts of the aquarium work together to present a harmonious and cohesive whole?
  • Do the plants and animals (if any) appear healthy?
  • Hardware should be as inconspicuous as possible and the whole area, including tank glass, should be clean. Tank should be filled as high as it is practical
  • If used, the background should add to the impression of the aquascape in a positive way without drawing the eye away from the scape itself
  • Water should be clear

Composition: Balance, Use of Space, Use of Color – maximum 60 points

  • Is the aquascape laid out well?
  • Does the aquarist make good use of differences in color, leaf size and shape, and height (growth habit or trimming) to maximize contrast between groups of plants?
  • Does the aquarist use the space effectively, balancing planted areas and negative space?
  • Do the species and planting enhance or detract from the sense of depth and scale?

Selection & Use of Plants, Hardscape Materials, and Animals – maximum 50 points

  • Has the aquarist selected plants appropriately?
  • Do the colors, shape and size of the fish or other animals, if used, harmonize with the plants? Are schooling fish, if used, present in sufficient numbers to make a suitable school?
  • Are hardscape materials well chosen for character, size and form? Is the hardscape well balanced and in proper scale for the aquascape?

Viability of Aquascape – maximum 40 points

  • With appropriate grooming and maintenance, would the plants selected be suitable for use in the aquarium if maintained as-is for a long period?
  • If visible, are the fish and other animals likely to grow too large for the aquarium, cause damage to the aquascape, or each other at adult size? Do they appear comfortable in their environment?

Please note – Due to the short-term nature of this competition, lack of animals in a tank will NOT be a deduction, although use of appropriate animals, could enhance an aquascape. It is up to the entrants to decide whether or not to use animals in the display, keeping in mind the nature of the competition. Deductions WILL be made for unhealthy animals

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