United_Kingdom  germany  russian_federation  spain  china



When taking part in this unique project, you contribute to promoting biotope aquaria and help learning harmony, from nature. When doing your fascinating research on a biotope of freshwater aquatic organisms, you show the beauty of the underwater world and at the same time draw public attention to the problems that threaten the ecology of natural waterbodies.

Prize pool: € 3,000 + diplomas + certificates + magazine
Accepting entries: July 1st – 31st
Evaluating entries by organizers: August 1st – 20th
Evaluating entries by jury: August 20th – 31st
Results: October 1st

The detailed contest rules and conditions will be published in May. This year the prize winners of our contest will have an opportunity to set up biotope aquaria on the largest international pet show in Shanghai. Follow the contest updates on our pages on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram.



The prize pool of the contest was given by the French company Prodibio, specializing on the aquarium care products. The company invents, develops, produces and sells a product range for freshwater, marine aquarium an pond.




On November 20th – 23rd in Shanghai there will be the largest international pet show CIPS. The organizers of the pet show invited three prize winners of or contest to take part in setting up biotope aquaria. Accommodation and meals will be paid.




The organizing of the contest and the annual workshop “Nature Biotopes” is supported by the DECOTOP project. Under this brand there are only natural materials: gravel, stones, driftwood and organics for decoration of aquarium, paludarium and terrarium.




After the contest a commemorative catalogue will be issued with all the contest aquaria, as well as several informative articles devoted to biotope aquaristic. Your aquarium can be published there!
The catalogue will be presented to 10 top participants and the members of the jury.

You can get inspiration in the works of the previous contest, by purchasing the 2018 edition for only $12 including delivery by post. You can pay via PayPal.


Ivan Mikolji


When I was a kid, my father and I used to keep Siamese fighting fish, Mollies, Ram cichlids and Eel loaches all together, in the same tank. We filled the aquarium with coloured sand, bleached corals and plastic plants. Boy, it all looked so great back in the day! Back then the hobby was a very small circle consisting of my father (who paid), me and the pet store. Today things have gotten a lot more interesting. I am now part of a bigger circle, consisting of an uncountable number of hobbyists worldwide, like you. We still visit the store for gear but look for knowledge and answers elsewhere, online, in books, in nature, like scientists. Together we are creating a new path that is leading us back to the origin of where all of our plants and animals come from. Haven’t you all realized this? I am proud to see so many of you participate and honoured to go along with you all in this cool ride. This year we had a record of 105 biotope tanks registered. This inspires me; being a part of something that is like a plant or animal, alive and growing. I salute all the participants, judges and specially the organizers and sponsors of such an important event.

Michael Salter


Over the years, I’ve watched as the Biotope Aquarium Design Contest has grown and evolved. When it began there were fewer entries, and some could not really be called biotopes. Many had to be disqualified for having themes that were too broad, like “South American”. But as the winners set the bar, more and more people from more and more countries entered every year and we began to set ultra-realistic biotopes from Mexico, Russia, Taiwan, and many other locations, often based on local habitats from firsthand experience. Each year we were surprised with more outstanding and original biotopes. There were some disagreements along the way that sparked healthy debate on what the true meaning and requirements of a biotope should be. Is it cruel to have a resident prey population, or natural? How important should aesthetics be? How sustainable should the system be? These questions have reshaped the judgment criteria profoundly. This year was more difficult to judge than any other due to the high number of truly exceptional biotopes. There were number of never-before-attempted habitats represented, with unusual inhabitants like crayfish, pipefish, and amphibians. It’s exciting to see that this passion to craft true biotopes is spreading and progressing.

Mert Aykuta


The biotope aquarium is a really important part of this hobby, for me the most important. The basic aim of this hobby is to train and nurture living aquatic organisms. For this reason, we must provide perfect conditions for these organisms. To do this, we first need to know well the natural habitats of these organisms. Every year Biotope Aquarium Design Contest is supporting and motivating people which are interested in biotopes. Everyone around the world is learning new information of habitats they don't know every year with this contest. This is really important attempt to develop biotope aquaristic. This year I am very pleased with the participants. I just need to say, I saw aquascaping style in some biotopes. They seem amazing but a little bit far from naturalness. Please note that visual beauty and naturalness must be balanced! Every year the contest is becoming more difficult, and this is really exciting. I can’t wait for next year. I have some advices for participants for next year. If you really want to finish this contest with good rewards, you need to care about these advices. - First you should choose little specific habitat you want to create biotope aquarium about. - You should choose specific title for your biotope. This title should describe the real habitat completely. - You should collect most correct information about this habitat (fishes, invertebrates, plants, materials, water parameters etc.) - Please be careful not to use prey and predators together. Otherwise this will reduce your points. - You should give us detailed and correct information about habitat and your aquarium. - To provide harmony of aquarium, you should choose materials you will use and colours of living organisms in best way. You should use every part of aquarium to give occupancy rate (this can change according to the habitat you choose, if a habitat has poor bottom, you should not use much materials). To use every region in aquarium you should choose correct fishes. - Your aquarium should not be overpopulated. Your aquarium should be suitable for size of fishes you feed. - Naturalness and visual beauty should be in balance. You should create natural aquarium, but at the same time every part of this aquarium should look perfect and clear. - You should spend enough time for taking photos and videos. This is one of most important parts of this contest. Capability of showing us what you created is important that much what you created. If you prepare good videos, we want to watch them until the end. If you take photos of all parts of your aquarium, we can see every detail. It means more points for you. - Please share every information sources. Information sources you share with us will be really important for us to evaluate your work. This will bring you more points. *Please do not forget. The aquarium you make must look as impressive, at least as important a real biotope is. Good luck for everyone next year!

Petra Bašić


Everything that I have said last year needs to be repeated and emphasized throughout the years to come. This time I would like to thank the organizers of the contest for reaching new standards in promoting this wonderful niche in aquaristic hobby. With this contest and the beautiful work from the contestants hopefully it will grow up to be not a niche, but a fully recognized part of aquarium hobby in the world. Now, more than ever it is important to catch a glance of the natural habitats, intact habitats, as they are disappearing at enormous rate. The contestants, applying for the BADC, for sure have learnt some new things about the organisms that they wanted to present to us and also about their habitats, and that should be a lesson for all of us. Knowledge is the power, and the only thing that sticks to us for the rest of our lives. Unfortunately, some of the habitats at some point in time will exist only as pictures in this contest. Then, the knowledge and ecology will have to work together to make those habitats as they are supposed to be. I feel proud and honoured to be the one of the judges and as my friend would say: “Keep biotoping”!

Alexey Malyshev


There are many areas in aquaristic. Biotope aquarium occupies a special place. Recreating natural waterbodies includes copying not only natural biotopes with similar natural decorations, water parameters and live fish and plants that live in a certain biotope together, but also best conditions for keeping and breeding fish. In the last few decades on the aquarium market, there is a huge variety of rare fish caught in nature, and they can not be called home fish. Savages can not adapt in a non-standard environment and live in constant stress. It is therefore recommended to create conditions in aquaria, similar to the waterbodies where fishes were caught (neighbors, decorations, plants). It is proved that wild-caught fish placed in a biotope aquarium start quickly feel at home, begin eating just 1-3 hours later and quickly feel better after a long quarantine and transportation. There were cases when fish spawned directly at the exhibition within a few hours after beibg put into an aquarium. In addition, biotope aquarium can be very beautiful. It is known that Nature is the best designer. Undoubtedly, the biotope aquarium competition contribute to the development of biotope aquaristic, and therefore, the conservation of many rare fish through acclimatization and breeding. Biotope Aquarium Design Contest is one of the most popular and largest, it has been held for several years.

Víctor Ortiz


Why are biotope aquaria so important? The aquaristic can be a very important step in understanding and conservation of aquatic species, because to get people interested in learning and protecting habitats and species, they must known first, what are they going to take care of. Biotope aquaria allow people to research those species of interest (fish, crustaceans, amphibians, etc.), without disturbing the habitat, so it became an important part of environmental education and environmental awareness. The same was in the case of Profundulus oaxacae, an endemic fish of the Valley of Oaxaca in Mexico, which was unknown to people, even forgotten for science. Scientists did not known many aspects of their basic biology. In a biotope aquarium their habitat was recreated as real as possible, so that people could see it, get interested and promote protection. Also when recreating their habitat we learned about their life and generated strategies for captive breeding and release into habitat, and to promote their protection. Today 2 years after recreation of their habitat in a biotope aquarium, P. oaxacae, commonly known as Oaxacan Killi, from unknown fish became world famous. Now we know many aspects of its life cycle, and it can be bred in captivity for conservation and - why not? - also to be introduced in the world of aquaristic. And now the work with new species is being started, those that have been neglected for a long time as live food, because to highlight their beauty and importance, they must be known, and that is where biotope aquaria play a very important role.

Jeremy Gay

Great Britain

I'm so glad that this competition goes ahead, and that it's reach spreads further through the hobby every year. For these are the real Nature Aquariums, the real aquascapes, the aquariums which are designed to replicate and mirror the natural underwater world, and ones which are designed to make our captive fish feel at home. For in biotope aquaria fish can live and behave as they do in the wild, the wild they have adapted and evolved over millennia to survive in, where every unique species of flora and fauna is niche, yet interconnected. Due to the internet and digital photography there has never been a better time to set up biotope aquaria. The great living explorers or native peoples can be contacted at the push of a button, and can instantly provide pictures and data for each habitat and its inhabitants. This data can be vital to helping us understand not only how to keep, feed and breed fish in captivity, but also why and how to protect their habitats in the wild. In order to create an accurate biotope aquarium it’s the detail that counts. Proper research will reveal not only the substrate and aquatic plant types, but also the terrestrial plants, which may also directly play their part by providing cover with their submerged roots but also indirectly, via fallen seeds, leaves and nuts. It’s the detail that will provide the answers as to why certain fish look or behave a certain way, or are prevented by reproducing in captivity as they do routinely in the wild. The detail matters when creating the perfect biotope. Water temperatures, chemistry, colour and decor can differ even between stretches of the same river, and each will be preferred and inhabited by its own intricately adapted, biotope correct species.

Dimitris Ioannou


Biotope aquaria are an apex of aquarium hobby. It is so easy, but so complicated to create a biotope aquarium, a picture, a little piece of nature in your home enclosed in a glass box. I like biotope aquarium because with the way we set up such an aquarium we offer to our fishes the most comfortable conditions and we try to create a real home for them, a home that they probably have not ever seen before as they were born in captivity. And when we put them in a proper one, they will immediately recognize that it is their home. Only then fishes will show us the most beautiful colours and their actual nature. But in order to succeed in this, we have to study a lot, to look, to ask. For all these reasons Biotope Aquarium Design Contest is a great opportunity to see many beautiful biotope aquaria together, and meet habitats that we did not know before.

Piotr Kierzkowski


Biotope aquarium is a tank which imitates natural conditions in which our aquarium fishes live in the wild. Most natural underwater habitats do not look like brightly illuminated, densely planted aquascapes, supplied with CO2. In the wild there is a lot of mud and dead plant matter on the bottom (like leaves and twigs fallen from trees growing over the water), and light is often subdued, so plants can grow only close to water surface. Such environment may seem to be “dirty”, but this is not true. When skilfully arranged, biotope aquarium can be very beautiful. What is more important, however, is the fact that it also provides optimal conditions for the fishes, allowing them to fully express their natural, innate behavior. It's not only about water parameters, but also about careful selection of decorations, adjusted to the needs of a particular species (or set of species) of fishes. Doing a careful research before selecting a particular species of fish is important – to know where it comes from, and what exactly are its requirements. Fine sand, brown water and lots of debris on the bottom for black-water tetras and dwarf cichlids, stones and fast current for fishes living in streams, lots of shells for shell-dwellers from lake Tanganyika – all this makes our fishes feel truly at home. The master class of biotope aquariums is Biotope Aquarium Design Contest, organized every year. Aquarium designers from all over the world send photos of their tanks, along with detailed description of the natural biotope which they recreated in their aquarium. This allows to spread the knowledge about biotope aquariums, and to learn more about true conditions to which our aquarium fishes are adapted. Don't hesitate – apply for the contest, and give yourself a chance to win!

Heiko Blessin


Dear aquarium and biotope aquarium keepers, We are happy that biotope aquarium keeping is increasing all around the world! Many aquascaper switched to biotope scaping because it is much more challenging. You don’t just design a beautiful layout, but you have to combine beauty with natural facts and elements from the natural prototype! Biotope scaping starts already with your choice of a natural biotope: You need to google information and pictures. You have to find out, what fish, inverts and plants are living together – and this already is pretty difficult. For me, biotope scaping is the ultimate challenge in aquarium keeping – and it’s more fun than anything else! There is another important effect: I am involved in political discussions with animal right activists and the german government. The activists have no realistic knowlegement about aquarium fishes and inverts but they claim that aquarium are not suitable for fishes and inverts. With biotope aquariums you can stop them, because there is absolute NOTHING, what they can say against it! It is the most natural animal keeping in this world, sometimes even better than in the natural biotopes! Therefore JBL company supports the biotope aquarium contest! We want to support our aquarium keeping. Aquariums are defintily one way to enthusiast kids and people to protect our worldwide nature. Is there anything more important than this on this planet?

Yuriy Yancher


In my opinion, biotope aquarium is the root, fundamental type of aquarium. The first aquaria appeared in England and gradually spread throughout Europe. In fact, they were all biotope. In them there were fishes and plants exclusively from local water bodies. Aquarists of those times sought to create a home model of a natural body of water, to repeat what they had seen somewhere outside the city. Frankly speaking, they had no choice. Import of exotic fish did not exist yet, as well as special equipment. This encouraged hobbyists to study the characteristics of ecosystem of their regions deeply. Today popularization of biotope aquarium is very important. It broadens mind, makes to google, to analyze, to compare received information. The study of habitats is the key to keeping and breeding of problem species. Many incorrect stereotypes associated with keeping fishes are in the past now. For example, for a long time it was thought that most killifishes need old water with a few water changes and a slow flow. Thousands of aquarists had fails, following these rules. The study of the habitat of these fishes indicated that the period of active growth and maturation of these fishes is during the rainy season. So, there should be frequent water changes. Unfortunately, aquarium owners often do not pay attention to fishes and plants of their area. They may seem to them not so colourful or too common. But those aquarists who took chance to go with a hand net to a local pond and catch a fish, choose plants, rocks, sand, they begin to learn fishes of their region more carefully, to take care of native nature, to protect it.