We present to you the results of Biotope Aquarium Design Contest 2014.
Congratulations to all participants to excellent results, and thank you for your invaluable contribution to the development of the biotope aquaristic.
On pages of some aquaria you can find comments by the jury members. Just click on thumbnail of an aquarium and you will go to its page with its detailed description, photos and video.

Prize pool is EUR 2,400

Enjoy viewing!

Sponsor of the contest:



The final round of Biotope Aquarium Design Contest 2015 was held on November 26th-29th in St. Petersburg, Russia, during ZooSphere 2014 exhibition. The contestants had the aquaria, all the equipment, fishes and plants and had to set up their biotope aquaria during those three days.


1st place

Burster Creek, Jardine River wetlands, Cape York, Queensland, Australia, 180 L

croatia Croatia. Petra Bašić


2nd place

Slow flowing forest duct of the Nun River basin, in the north of Bayelsa State, Nigeria, 180 L

russian_federation Russia. Svetlana Kirillova


3rd place

Subbasin of Valle Nacional River, Oaxaca, Mexico, 180 L

mexico Mexico. Victor Manuel Ortiz Cruz


4th place

Tamnang River, Si Phang Nga national park, Province Phang Nga, Southern Thailand, 180 L

russian_federation Russia. Vyacheslav Veriga


5th place

Llullapichis River, province Huanuco, Peru, 180 L

croatia Croatia. Ivan Frank


During the qualifying round of Biotope Aquarium Design Contest 2014 the participants sent to us the photos of their aquaria with the descriptions. On September 25th, 2014 the members of the jury chose five participants, who went to the final round of the contest to St. Petersburg on November 26th-29th, 2014.


1st place - 548 points

Backwater in the rainforest in the lower Ogun River in NigeriaSouth American Blackwater Stream, 60 L

russian_federation Russia. Svetlana Kirillova


2nd place - 540 points

Profundulus oaxacae habitat, 140 L

mexico Mexico. Víctor Manuel Ortiz Cruz


3rd place - 528 points

Waterhole near Douglas Creek, 140 L

croatia Croatia. Bašić Petra


4th place - 504 points

A mountain stream in southern Primorye, 100 L

russian_federation Russia. Vyacheslav Veriga


5th place - 495 points

Tributary of the river Mamberamo, 200 L

russian_federation Russia. Natalia Zakharova


6th place - 484 points

Flooded forest in the bend of Rio Tapajos, 180 L

russian_federation Russia. Svetlana Kirillova


7th place - 466 points

Lake Tanganyika, 400 L

turkey Turkey. Cevher Savranbasi


8th place - 460 points

New Guinea, 112 L

poland Poland. Jakub Kijak


9th place - 456 points

Rainforest creek of Warey River, Batanta Island, New Guinea, 240 L

greece Greece. Dimitris Ioannou


10th place - 437 points

Congo, 200 L

poland Poland. Jakub Kijak


11th place - 432 points

Rio Tapajos Biotope, 300 L

india India. Abrar Ahmed Khan


11th place - 432 points

Congo Rapids Near Brazzaville, 568 L

 USA. Marcus Beilman


11th place - 432 points

Green Dream of Tanganyika, 500 L

turkey Turkey. Mert Kinali


14th place - 429 points

Banks of Malebo Pool, Congo, 260 L

france France. Emmanuel Bultel


15th place - 422 points

Malawi Biotope: The rubble zone, 1400 L

germany Germany. Alexander Görz


16th place - 420 points

Río Guarumo – Panama, 130 L

United_Kingdom Great Britain. Tom Austin


17th place - 418 points

Rio Shanushi tributary near Yurimaguas, Peru, 182 L

croatia Croatia. Ivan Frank


18th place - 405 points

Rio Abacaxis, shore of the lake Lago Glemende, 300 L

United_Kingdom Great Britain. Pawel Nowotko


19th place - 400 points

Rio Shishita, Rain Forest, 180 L

portugal Portugal. Claire Moreira


20th place - 397 points

São Gabriel da Cachoeira do Rio Negro, 160 L

belgium Belgium. Philip Shaw


21st place - 387 points

Everglades National Park, Florida, 60 L

russian_federation Russia. Evgenia Moiseeva


22nd place - 378 points

Archipelago, 240 L

romania Romania. Adrian Calin


23th place - 376 points

Lake Malawi, Rocky Paradise, 400 L

bulgaria Bulgaria. Nickolay Nikolov


24th place - 370 points

Coastal zone of Musa river in the Safia valley, Papua – New Guinea, 40 L

belarus Belarus. Yriy Shamkalovich


25th place - 358 points

Underwater forest of Congo river – Yangambi population, 200 L

romania Romania. Visan Emil


26th place - 357 points

Rio Negro – Dark Forest, 160 L

poland Poland. Dominik Woroch


26th place - 357 points

Rio Paracon – Amazon, 300 L

United_Kingdom Great Britain. Tom Austin


26th place - 357 points

West Africa, 130 L

romania Romania.  Binder Marius


29th place - 351 points

At the bottom of the Amazon Basin, 200 L

russian_federation Russia. Kamil Habibullin


30th place - 350 points

Rio Nanay, Fallen Tree, 180 L

portugal Portugal. Nuno Matos


31st place - 343 points

The coastal zone of the African river, 250 L

russian_federation Russia. Evgeniy Lukyanchikov


32th place - 337 points

Stream near Lake Biwa, 90 L

russian_federation Russia. Tamara Davidova


33rd place - 335 points

Lake Xochimilco in Mexico City, 40 L

russian_federation Russia. Svetlana Kirillova


34th place - 324 points

Lagoon Ocotal, Blue lagoon, 450 L

poland Poland. Bartosz Motyka


35th place - 316 points

Lake Tanganyika shallowness, 450 L

turkey Turkey. Fatih Bolat


36th place - 315 points

Wild river in the forest, 160 L

poland Poland. Marek Michalak


37th place - 314 points

Everglade, 70 L

belarus Belarus. Yriy Shamkalovich


38th place - 312 points

Rio Hondo, 300 L

romania Romania. Cristian-Stefan Bontas


39th place - 311 points

Rio Guapore, 45 L

turkey Turkey. Tolga Eldurmaz


40th place - 302 points

Rio Negro Biotope, 700 L

russian_federation Russia. Mikhail Yakunin


41st place - 294 points

North Bengal Himalayan hill stream biotope, 284 L

india India. Sujoy Banerjee


42nd place - 287 points

Swamps of Louisiana, 56 L

poland Poland. Bartosz Strzała


43th place - 275 points

Guardians of Darkness. Lake Malawi, 283 L

india India. Sabyasachi Patra


44th place - 269 points

Magic Dream, 120 L

greece Greece. George Pantazopoulos


44th place - 269 points

Chao Phraya river, flooded forests, 64 L

United_Kingdom Great Britain. Pawel Nowotko


46th place - 266 points

River mouth in Lake Sentani, 170 L

russian_federation Russia. Arseniy Kukushkin


47th place - 259 points

Lake Tanganyika community, 350 L

turkey Turkey. Gökay Yagar


48th place - 243 points

Inle Lake, Burma, 60 L

belarus Belarus. Yriy Shamkalovich


49th place - 232 points

Lake Malawi, at the bottom, 337 L

ukraine Ukraine. Sergey Revuckiy


50th place - 199 points

Rio Negro, beauty of the dark, 110 L

 USA. Danett Williams


51st place - 180 points

Rio Negro, 180 L

russian_federation Russia. Tatiana Yakunina


52nd place - 170 points

Narmada – India, 35 L

russian_federation Russia. Elizaveta Fursenko


53rd place - 145 points

Sreng River, 280 L

 Austria. Oliver Hardt


54th place - 143 points

Part of the flooded Amazon forest during the high water, 780 L

ukraine Ukraine. Yriy Yancher


55th place - 134 points

Eurasia, 200 L

russian_federation Russia. Alexey Bondin


56th place - 128 points

Demonic Eurasia, 180 L

russian_federation Russia. Alexander Michailovskiy


57th place - 123 points

Indus River – a large river in South Asia, 150 L

russian_federation Russia. Sergey Antonov


58th place - 105 points

South America, 400 L

russian_federation Russia. Alexey Bondin


58th place - 105 points

Eurasia, 450 L

russian_federation Russia. Denis Gavrilov


60th place - 99 points

Backwater of Congo river, 20 L

russian_federation Russia. Elizaveta Fursenko


61st place - 92 points

Stony-sandy biotope of Lake Malawi, 830 L

russian_federation Russia. Ivan Viktorov


62nd place - 85 points

African biotope, 60 L

russian_federation Russia. Alexey Bondin


63rd place - 77 points

Rio Subin – shallow river in the center of Guatemala, 60 L

russian_federation Russia. Kirill Volkov


64th place - 68 points

Colosus, 225 L

Czech_Republic Czech Republic. Rudolf Kuchar


65th place - 45 points

Rio Chico, 60 L

russian_federation Russia. Natalia Berbich


66th place - 35 points

Rio Churun ​​- the lost river, 450 L

ukraine Ukraine. Valeriy Sabadyr

I still love biotope aquariums, because they can combine aquarium keeping with the natural beauty of the biotopes of this world. But unfortunately most biotope keepers just copy a natural biotope without trying to combine this with the art of scaping! Many biotopes do not really look beautiful: just leaves in the bottom, muddy water, no plants and some driftwood. But as a good biotoper you need to find a way to make this natural biotope look impressive and breathtaking. Another tip for the biotope description: it might be nice, if you explain lots of information about the geographical situation of the biotope but it would be much more important, if you tell us about the water parameters and the water temperature! This is missing quite often!

Heiko Blessin (Germany)

I’m honored that for the third year in a row I’m part of this amazing contest. I want to congratulate the contestants and organizers for their hard work. Contest like this truly promote aquaristics in healthy way, pushing people to focus more on ecology, exploration and creativity. Few biotopes have some mistakes, so instead commenting top three in each category, I optioned to comment those and maybe help for future contests. Quality of biotopes is increasing each year and I belive this time really small details will decide who will be winner.

Petra Bašić (Croatia)

I’m thrilled to have been asked once again to judge this contest in 2015. With so many aquascaping contests around the world it is refreshing to see one dedicated to biotopes. Biotopes are after all the best way to keep any aquarium fish. By making them feel at home, we will hopefully see the fish behave more naturally, display better colours and be more likely to breed.

Jeremy Gay (Great Britain)

The entries submitted to this contest differ from the past years by more serious approach of participants. The entries with fish and plants from all over the world in the same aquarium are almost gone. There are no entries with indefinite titles like Orinoco River, without specifying a particular place. Despite the fact that almost all entries are well decorated (it is understood that the authors did their best), there were a lot of mistakes in them. I shall mention the most common ones. 1. In some entries there are too many organic matter in form of leaves, driftwood and branches. Of course, in the nature there are such parts of water bodies, but we have a biotope contest here and besides simulating specific biotope, it should function for a long time. When an author recreates a part of a water body with organic matter, it is possible to show it in aquarium by putting on the bottom a small amount of leaves and twigs. And they should be put beautifully and not in a mess. With this approach such elements of the scape like cans and car tires will be used soon. Such biotopes do exist in nature. And if the author still decided to use pile of leaves and twigs, then do not put oak leaves and alder branches with cones into the aquarium representing South America. Pick something similar. 2. Above water part of biotope is used too much. This year, the jury was instructed to evaluate only underwater part. It is strange that many participants ignore it. Aquaterrarium will always look better than aquarium, and it’s not fair. Underwater part is more difficult to set up. 3. Aquatic organisms. In some aquaria there are fishes that are never found together in nature. This is especially true concerning Lake Tanganyika. It is not because of the fact that some species live on the rocks, and others on the sand (although it is because of it, too), but because of the geographical area where fish species live in the lake. 4. Quality of the photo and the inability to see declared fish on the submitted photos. They are simply not there. Photos of poor quality and the lack of fish mentioned in description on the photos cause significantly lower points (I gave less). How can I evaluate a biotope aquarium, if I can not see who lives in it? One of the most important criteria is the fish and other inhabitants of a biotope. I think I cannot. However, this year’s entries were of much higher quality. Thanks to Unitex Company Group – the organizer of the contest, and to all participants.

Alexey Malyshev (Russia)

I have to congratulate everybody in the 2015 Biotope Aquarium Design Contest. This is my third year judging this event and it never seems to stop amazing me. Year after year the contestants bring in fresh new concepts and ideas into the aquarium hobby. The organizers make a great job organizing and coordinating the event. This is the way to go. Growing as a community is the most important part of a hobby. This is what you all do by participating and contributing to this event. I salute you all. As a River Explorer/Aquarist, I know how difficult it is to create a natural looking biotope aquarium. In the contest there are some very complex tanks and some that are extremely minimal. They all have their charm and sometimes the simplest one is the best. My belief is that even though you are recreating a specific habitat in an aquarium, at the end, it will always be an aquarium. What I mean by this is that it does have to conserve some sort of aesthetic charm to it. In nature there are some habitats which look like someone dumped a bucket of leaves and sticks in them. Dumping a bucket of leaves and sticks in your aquarium will recreate the biotope but will not be aesthetically pleasing. I believe there has to be a balance between creating and recreating. Another important aspect to be aware of in biotope aquariums is that in the wild things are not “clean”. I have spent years swimming in all sorts of rivers and let me tell you, there is always algae growth, periphyton covers everything including live plants and even live animals like on turtle shells. Silt and other debris cover the river bottom, etc. When you see a biotope aquarium that seems like everything has been boiled, brushed and polished, it does not look natural. The same happens when you say you are recreating a white water river and then your aquarium has clear water. Again, I do not expect the water to look like a cappuccino coffee but I do expect to see some amount of dissolved particles in the water. For example, if you recreate the Guaviare River in Colombia which is a white water river I do not expect to see clean silica sand in the bottom. Silty Rivers usually have a bit of silt in the bottom, right? Scientific names are super important to me. If you take the time and have the passion to recreate a habitat, you should put some time into having the scientific names up to date or at least spelled correctly. If you are not sure of the scientific name, write the common name, but please check your spelling. Last but not least is “locating” your biotope aquarium correctly. The concept of a biotope aquarium is to recreate a specific habitat of a specific geographical location. Naming your biotope aquarium “South American River” and adding Killifish from Argentina, Apistogramma from Peru, and brackish water guppies from Venezuela in my opinion does not create a biotope aquarium it creates a continent aquarium. Be specific! If your goal is a Nile River biotope aquarium then add silt in it and make it a bit “muddy”. If you want it to have clear water, be specific and say “Mutuku Creek, Sudan, which is a clear water creek that drains directly into the Nile River in Southern Sudan near the town of Juba”, but then, be sure the place really exists.

Ivan Mikolji (Venezuela)

I have really enjoyed reviewing this years entries and have been very impressed with several of them. Some people are beginning to take this seriously as the blend of art and science that it is, and produce scenes that are virtually indistinguishable from underwater camerawork in nature. The concept of what a Biotope is seems to have been much better understood in general this year as well, and there were very few that missed the mark. I must confess I was slightly disappointed that there were not more West African Biotopes though, perhaps next year I will need to disqualify myself as a judge and enter one myself!

Michael Salter (Canada)

I am very happy with the results of the competition! Great job everyone!

Paul Talbot (Australia)