We present to you the results of Biotope Aquarium Design Contest 2015. 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 3,000 Enjoy viewing!

Sponsor of the contest:



The final round of Biotope Aquarium Design Contest 2015 was held on November 19th-21st in St. Petersburg, Russia, during ZooSphere 2015 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

Backwater of a small forest tributary of Itenez River in Noel Kempff Mercado National Park in Bolivia, 180 L

russian_federation Russia. Svetlana Kirillova


2nd place

Rocky tributary of Tariku River. Papua province, Indonesia, 180 L

russian_federation Russia. Alexey Shabalin


3rd place

A portion of what was once the habitat of Ambystoma mexicanum, Lake Xochimilco, 180 L

mexico Mexico. Victor Manuel Ortiz Cruz


4th place

Sangha River, Loukela, Cuvette, Congo, 180 L

turkey Turkey. Timur Tekbaş


5th place

Shaded shallows of Khao Sok National Park. Thailand, 180 L

 Serbia. David Milosevic


During the qualifying round of Biotope Aquarium Design Contest 2015 the participants sent to us the photos of their aquaria with the descriptions. On October 1st, 2015 the members of the jury chose five participants, who went to the final round of the contest to St. Petersburg on November 19th-21st, 2015.


1st place - 534 points

Rio San Lucas, sub-basin of the Atoyac River in San Lorenzo Cacaotepec, Oaxaca, México, 200 L

mexico Mexico. Victor Manuel Ortiz Cruz


2nd place - 468 points

Mixteco River, Camotlan, Huajuapan de Leon Oaxaca, Mexico, 220 L

mexico Mexico. Bernardo Salas Perez


3rd place - 467 points

River Grza, Upper wellspring, Serbia, 400 L

 Serbia. David Milosevic


4th place - 466 points

Sundarbans Biotope: Matla Mudflats, 200 L

india India. Bappaditya Mukhopadhyay


5th place - 455 points

Axelrodi’s Cradle, 240 L

brazil Brazil. Flavio Henard Jorge de Freitas


6th place - 454 points

Backwater of Urunga creek, 45 L

russian_federation Russia. Alexey Shabalin


7th place - 453 points

Barito river basin, Borneo , 70 L

india India. Hamza Syed


8th place - 448 points

Thandwe creek – Rakhine, Myanmar, 390 L

greece Greece. Christos Nikolakoulis


9th place - 445 points

Duct in the middle of the São Francisco River, Brazil, 60 L

russian_federation Russia. Svetlana Kirillova


10th place - 438 points

Igarapé Preto, tributary of Caurés River. Amazonia. Brazil, 1500 L

russian_federation Russia. Kirill Shaklein


11th place - 435 points

Lake Matano of South Sulawesi, Indonesia, 60 L

 Singapore. Simon Wong


12th place - 430 points

Small pond in the Leningrad region, Ozereshno village, Russia, 60 L

russian_federation Russia. Varvara Kozmenko


13th place - 429 points

Deep Green Lake Tanganyika Biotope, 430 L

turkey Turkey. Ömer Eliaçık


14th place - 427 points

Small river in Jambi province, Sumatra, 70 L

belarus Belarus. Jury Shamkalovich


15th place - 424 points

Yofu Bay, Likoma Island, 190 L

turkey Turkey. Timur Tekbaş


16th place - 422 points

Natural Lake Tanganyika Biotope, 320 L

turkey Turkey. Ugur Rusen Dogan


17th place - 421 points

Water’s Edge – Lake Barombi Mbo, Cameroon, 151 L

  USA. Marcus Beilman


18th place - 413 points

Lake Tanganyika. Divided Rocky Areas, 450 L

turkey Turkey. Fatih Bolat


19th place - 411 points

Rio Amazonas, 700 L

netherlands Netherlands. Gert Blank


20th place - 384 points

Calm bay of small tributary of Mamberamo River, 112 L

poland Poland. Jakub Kijak


21th place - 380 points

Forest stream near Popondetta. Papua New Guinea, 20 L

russian_federation Russia. Elena Mazurek


22th place - 379 points

They lived in Rio Teuchitlan. River Teuchitlan, Jalisco, western Mexico, 180 L

russian_federation Russia. Tatiana Timirbulatova


23th place - 377 points

Red stream in Khao Yai National Park, Thailand, 175 L

poland Poland. Jakub Kijak


24th place - 371 points

Upper Amazon River basin, Departamento Loreto, Peru, 55 L

netherlands Netherlands. Ruben Rensink


25th place - 366 points

Rio Tahuayo, Peru, 450 L

poland Poland. Piotr Stolc


26th place - 349 points

Sumatra swamp, 120 L

russian_federation Russia. Elena Mazurek


27th place - 349 points

Lava River in a canyon of the Leningrad region, Russia, 60 L

russian_federation Russia. Oleg Valersky


28th place - 345 points

Stream which flows into Lake Sentani, 350 L

russian_federation Russia. Aleksandr Polimonov


29th place - 340 points

Africa Lake Tanganyika, Congo, Former Zaire, 480 L

turkey Turkey. Fatih Çetinkaya


30th place - 333 points

Upper Nile. Swamps near Sedd region in southern Sudan, 300 L

russian_federation Russia. Svetlana Kirillova


31th place - 331 points

Small tributary to Rio Guapore, 54 L

poland Poland. Kamil Hazy


32th place - 318 points

Flooded margin of the Tietê River. South-eastern part of Brazil, 65 L

russian_federation Russia. Maxim Chernyshov


33th place - 313 points

River Itaim, Paraíba do Sul River basin in southeast Brazil, 96 L

brazil Brazil. Bruno Garcia dos Santos


34th place - 300 points

Bank of the Komoé River, Cote d’Ivoire, 20 L

russian_federation Russia. Evgenia Moiseeva


35th place - 299 points

Heart of Borneo swamp, 31 L

poland Poland. Dominik Woroch

36th place - 297 points

Mekong Basin of Laos, 125 L

greece Greece. Vasilis Athanasopoulos-Feredinos


37th place - 285 points

Java ferns and Oryzias javanicus, 45 L

 Romania. Emil Visan


38th place - 283 points

Unnamed Stream, in Utikini Baru, Timika. West Papua, Indonesia, 100 L

 Spain. Álvaro Gutiérrez Manjón


39th place - 279 points

Rio Oyapock in French Guiana, 250 L

india India. Hamza Poonawalla


40th place - 274 points

Kelani River, Sri Lanka, 25 L

russian_federation Russia. Alexei Sadomov


41th place - 273 points

Marginal zone of slow flowing river in South India, 230 L

russian_federation Russia. Vyacheslav Smirnov


42th place - 272 points

Rio Orinoco dry season riverbank, 468 L

 Romania. Radu-Mihai Andreika


43th place - 271 points

Caño Yarina creek, Rio Pacaya, Peru, 180 L

greece Greece. Vasilis Athanasopoulos-Feredinos


44th place - 265 points

White Cloud Mountain, Kwangtung, China, 80 L

greece Greece. George Pantazopoulos


45th place - 257 points

Lake Tanganyika. Sandy biotope of the Kungwe bay, 500 meters from the shore, 250 L

russian_federation Russia. Vera Gladyshenko


46th place - 253 points

Forest stream in the south-western part of Sri Lanka, 160 L

russian_federation Russia. Maxim Chernyshov


47th place - 249 points

Lake Tanganyika, 300 L

russian_federation Russia. Alexandra Kreps


48th place - 247 points

My “Peruan Stones”, 200 L

 Romania. Emil Visan


49th place - 238 points

South American Blackwater Stream, 96 L

 Argentina. Ivan Sergio Martinez


50th place - 232 points

Rio Orinoco, Shallow clear waters, Venezuela, 110 L

USA. Danett Williams


51th place - 212 points

Lake Malawi, 350 L

russian_federation Russia. Aleksandr Polimonov


52th place - 208 points

Eastern Peninsular Malaysian peat swamp, 45 L

netherlands Netherlands. Tijn Sullot


53th place - 204 points

Lake Tanganyika. Central Africa. The border between Zambia and Congo near the village Kipimbi, 94 L

russian_federation Russia. Kirill Shaklein


54th place - 203 points

Marginal part of the South American river, 350 L

russian_federation Russia. Aleksandr Polimonov


55th place - 191 points

Paraná River, flooded forests, 160 L

poland Poland. Dominik Woroch


56th place - 182 points

Rio Pedernales. A north-eastern afluent to Lago Izabal. Guatemala, 120 L

 Romania. Adrian Calin


57th place - 176 points

Marginal zone of Lake Nyasa, 600 L

belarus Belarus. Alexey Kirgizov


58th place - 176 points

Flooded forest of Sangha River, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 30 L

 Spain. Álvaro Gutiérrez Manjón


59th place - 175 points

Lake Malawi. Shallow waters in Pombo rocks, 400 L

greece Greece. Evgenios Kalomoiris


60th place - 147 points

Lake Malawi. Rocky part of the east coast, 320 L

russian_federation Russia. Alexander Kozhukhov


61th place - 147 points

Backwater of Lago Jaeteua, 180 L

russian_federation Russia. Mikhail Yakunin


62th place - 92 points

Mi Oya river, Sri Lanka, 60 L

russian_federation Russia. Dmitry Rumyantsev


63th place - 90 points

Mississippi Delta, 400 L

 Ukraine. Valery Sabadyr


64th place - 73 points

Asian Colours , 180 L

russian_federation Russia. Alexander Mikhailovsky


65th place - 66 points

Tanganyika – a paradise for princesses, 200 L

russian_federation Russia. Denis Artemyev


66th place - 51 points

Lake Malawi, 300 L

poland Poland. Szymon Strzelczyk

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)