Welcome to the page of international Biotope Aquarium Design Contest 2019!

This year we received 135 aquaria from 34 countries of the world. Participants showed 352 species of aquatic animals. This makes our contest one of the most exciting events in the world of aquaristic.

From the 20th to 31st of August, the entries were evaluated by professional members of the jury, the organizers and the participants of the contest, who will choose winners in the special nominations for the best photo, video and so on.

The prize pool: 3000 euro + BADC magazine with the best aquaria 2019 + Commemorative honorary diplomas and certificates.

We proudly present to you the magazine entirely dedicated to biotope aquaria.

This magazine was printed in limited quantity and contains unique information about 50 biotope aquaria: beautiful illustrations, detailed descriptions of biotopes, as well as an informative article to find out main secrets of this fascinating field of the hobby. All the received funds will be spent for developing the BADC project.

Enjoy viewing aquaria!

Sponsor of the contest:


1st place

Meanders of a forest stream, a tributary of the Chodelka River near Bełżyce, Poland, 225 L

Poland. Bartłomiej Paśnik


2nd place

Fast flowing stream above waterfall, Lagu Lagu creek, Leyte island, Philippines, 180 L

China. Qi Yin


3rd place

Flooded area on the Krężniczanka river, near Bełżyce, Poland, 54 L

Poland. Bartłomiej Paśnik


4th place

Banks of the Zena stream in the Gessi Regional Park San Lazzaro di Savena, Italy, 600 L

Poland. Pawel Lukasz Kocik


5th place

Forest creek near Barcelos, Rio Negro tributaries in Brazil, 300 L

China. Wang Peng


6th place

Río Peyán, Guatemala, Jungle Area, Submerged Roots Habitat, 540 L

United Kingdom. Lee Nuttall


7th place

Shallow stream in Lotus Mountain, Guangzhou, China, 150 L

China. Qi Yin


8th place

Igarapé near Rio Daraá, tributary of Rio Negro, Amazonas, Brazil, 648 L

Netherlands. Malou Claire


9th place

Banks of Yangmei river in the dry season, Mount Zaomu, Foshan, China, 90 L

China. Nan Li


10th place

Habitat Ambystoma dumerilii, Pátzcuaro Lake riverside, Urandén, México, 324 L

Mexico. José Ramiro Linares Buenrostro


11th place

Potaro River shore shoal, Essequibo River tributary, Guyana, 288 L

China. Wang Peng


12th place

Small pond system, downstream of Mekong river delta, Hau Giang, Vietnam, 288 L

Vietnam. Luong Quoc Hung


13th place

Shallow stream in the dry season, S. Wosea, DS. Sawai, Weda Tengah, Halmahera, Maluku, Indonesia, 68 L

China. Nan Li


14th place

Lake Tanganyika, sandy sedimentary bottom area in Ndole Bay, Zambia, 60 L

China. Liu Xueying


14th place

Taiwan’s Hsiao Li Creek — a small tributary in the mountain forest, 135 L

Taiwan. Chen Li Fan


16th place

Early in the rainy season, forest creeks near Barcelus, tributaries of the Negro River, Brazil, 276 L

China. Wang Peng


17th place

Taizi River, shallow riverbank area of Benxi City, Liaoning province, China, 288 L

China. Wang Peng


18th place

Cape Kabogo, Tanganyika Lake, Tanzania, 135 L

Poland. Bartłomiej Paśnik


19th place

Lake Tanganyika Shores of Kipili In Wet Season, Vegetated Rocky Habitat, Tanzania, 536 L

Turkey. Fatih Özdemir


20th place

Shallow part of the marginal zone of the Abakan channel of the Yenisei River, Krasnoyarsk, Russia, 750 L

Russia. Sergey Lobanov


21th place

Lake Tanganyika, benthic waters of Kungwe Point, sedimented rocky habitat, Tanzania, 487 L

Turkey. Fatih Özdemir


22th place

Rushes bank of Kepayang stream, rain season, West Kalimantan, Indonesia, 189 L

Poland. Adrian Szczepańki


23th place

Peat swamp forest in Selangor, Malaysia, 375 L

Poland. Bartłomiej Paśnik


24th place

Colleges crossing tidal freshwater reaches, Brisbane River, Chuwar, Queensland, Australia, 576 L

Australia. Jason Sulda


24th place

Birch Hill island, Lake Winnipesaukee, USA, 375 L

Poland. Bartłomiej Paśnik


26th place

Small affluent to Rio Paragua, Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, Bolivia, 345 L

Poland. Kamil Hazy


27th place

Lake Tanganyika, shores of Ikola, shallow sediment free rocky habitat, Tanzania, 447 L

Turkey. Fatih Özdemir


28th place

Intermediate rocky habitat in Bulu Point, East coast of Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania, 180 L

Turkey. Uğur Ruşen Doğan


29th place

Lago Grande do Curuai, state of Para, Brazil, 840 L

Greece. Christos Nikolakoulis


30th place

River in the Yangkou area downstream of the Mount Lao, Qingdao, China, 300 L

China. Sun Kai


31th place

Gentle stream of Rio da Prata river, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, 32 L

China. Nan Li


32th place

West Coast of Lake Tseny, Mahajanga Province, Sofia Region in Northwest Madagascar, 450 L

Italy. Martin Kocik


33th place

Flooded Essequibo River Coast in Iwokrama Nature Reserve, Guyana, 480 L

Ukraine. Bogdan Oleynik


34th place

Downstream of Tamsui River basin, Tamsui district, New Taipei City, Taiwan, 189 L

Taiwan. Newt Jhuang


35th place

Rocky shores of Gome, Malawi, 1800 L

Denmark. Jesper Taustrup


36th place

Floodplains of Lake Kinkony in the Mahajanga Province, north west of Madagascar, 600 L

Poland. Pawel Lukasz Kocik


37th place

Intensive vegetation areas of Kırkgöz springs, Antalya, Turkey, 585 L

Turkey. Mert Yılmaz


38th place

Swamp of the Apalachicola River at Chattahoochee, Florida, USA, 250 L

China. Lu Xiaolong


39th place

Igarapé Cajari, a tributary of Rio Caurés, Amazonas, Brazil, 270 L

India. Achintya Shankar Adhikari


40th place

San Juan, Pacific coast of Nicaragua Lake, 270 L

Turkey. Yiğitcan Uslu


41th place

Shallow pond, Moriche palm oasis, Rio Morichal Largo, Venezuela, 200 L

Poland. Łukasz Kułakowski


42th place

Lower Atabapo River, shallow water forest base, Venezuela, 96 L

Turkey. Arif Hikmet Başeğmez


43th place

Lake ecosystem, Mekong River delta, Can Tho, Vietnam, 290 L

Vietnam. Tran Hoang Nghia


44th place

Fast current marginal area of the source of the Neva River, Leningrad Region, Russia, 540 L

Russia. Alexander Novikov


45th place

Small tributary of Rio Shanusi near Yurimaguas, Peru, 112 L

Czech Republic. Michal Klacek


46th place

Sabangau River in central Kalimantan province, Indonesia, 96 L

China. Zuo Chong


47th place

Shallow stream of Gorgulho da Rita in dry season, Rio Xingu, Para, Brazil, 100 L

China. Qi Yin


48th place

Fabulous world of Caño Sardiña, black water, Columbia, 160 L

Poland. Arkadiusz Skrzycki


49th place

Ameca River, shoal near the coast near San Antonio Matute, Jalisco, Mexico, 120 L

Russia. Oleg Blinov


50th place

Rahtawu Kudus River in the dry season of Central Java, Indonesia, 160 L

Indonesia. Nasrul Karim


51th place

Uaupés River at Trovao, flood plain about 20 kilometers from mouth of Uaupés, Brazil, 112 L

Poland. Magdalena Szubska


52th place

Igarapé do Daracua, the small forest stream of Rio Negro river, near Barcelos, Brazil, 100 L

China. Lu Xiaolong


53th place

Flooded forest at the confluence of the Agua Preta stream in the Unini River, Brazil, 145 L

Russia. Albert Vendel


54th place

Drying roadside drain, Vyakhtelevo village, Gatchina district, Leningrad region, Russia, 30 L

Russia. Yegor Tormosov


55th place

Shallow rocky habitat near Kambwimba, Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania, 1200 L

China. Han-Jun Cai


56th place

Marginal zone of Chilika Lake in the area of Puri, Odisha, India, 140 L

Russia. Anastasia Chistyakova


57th place

Sandy shallow part at the junction of the Kalchik and Kalmius rivers, Mariupol, Ukraine, 200 L

Ukraine. Artem Bereznev


58th place

Costal area in Itenez, Bolivian Guapore, 330 L

Romania. Emil Visan


59th place

Morichal Largo River, Orinoco River basin, Venezuela, 84 L

Turkey. Oğuzhan Çepni

clone tag: 8078476142576185501

60th place

Lake Bung Khong Long, Bueng Kan province, Thailand, 54 L

Czech Republic. Petra Hůlová


61th place

Sedimented and vegetation areas of Filyos River, Zonguldak, Turkey, 135 L

Turkey. Yiğitcan Uslu


62th place

Forest stream of the Mamore river, near the mouth of the Rio Guapore, Bolivia, 270 L

Poland. Mateusz Trela


63th place

Peat swamp forest, Johor, Malaysia, 32 L

Japan. Rafael Takai Silveira


64th place

El Coyote River, ecologic park Charco Azul, Nuevo León, Mexico, 366 L

Mexico. Marco Arroyo


65th place

Unnamed spring close to lake Inle, Myanmar, 96 L

France. Alexandre Lomaev


66th place

Bulu Point rock deposit, Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania, 288 L

China. Wang Peng


67th place

Wetland of the Pindapoy Creek near the Paraná River, Misiones Province, Argentina, 240 L

Argentina. Philip Cortesi


68th place

Outskirts of the river Progo in the dry season, Central Java, Indonesia, 160 L

Indonesia. Ahmad Nasrul


68th place

Likoma Island’s rocky habitat, Southeast of Lake Malawi, Mozambique waters, 140 L

China. Lu Xiaolong


70th place

Small lake near the village of Chudinovo, Leningrad Region, Russia, 100 L

Russia. Grigory Fyodorov


71th place

Along the banks of the Pamba river, Kerala, India, 75 L

Belgium. Xavier Bourdet


72th place

Rocky areas of the Metapa river in Escuintla, Guatemala, 96 L

Guatemala. Valerio Osorio


72th place

Jungle waterway of Lago Penera on the Rio Uaupes, Brazil, 153 L

China. Hu Yuhao


74th place

Roadside channel in the forest near the southern border of the Kedrovaya Pad reserve, Primorye, Russia, 25 L

Russia. Maria Saichik


75th place

Oka River, stony margin in the Kolomna, Moscow region, Russia, 50 L

Russia. Dmitriy Veles


76th place

Masek Lake, margin near the village of Sinoni, Tanzania, Africa, 120 L

Russia. Matvey Sokolov


77th place

Laonong River, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, 85 L

Taiwan. Tzu-Yu Chen


78th place

Small creek in Rio Negro system, Amazonas state, Brazil, 112 L

Poland. Arkadiusz Skrzycki


79th place

Shore of the Nahualate River in winter, Escuintla, Guatemala, 300 L

Guatemala. Luis E. Pérez


80th place

Marginal zone of the Glukharka River, Lake Lakhta in the Primorsky district, St. Petersburg, Russia, 80 L

Russia. Alexandra Ivanova


81th place

Tributary of Huong river, Thua Thien-Hue province, Vietnam, 180 L

Czech Republic. Michal Klacek


82th place

Lake Tanganyika, Congo, rocky bottom with open space, Africa, 1680 L

Poland. Paweł Jaremko


83th place

Small stream in Tamil Nadu state, Western Ghats, India, 310 L

France. Enzo Angevin


84th place

Margins of the tributary, Mopán River, Petén, Guatemala, 280 L

Guatemala. Ronald Ramón


85th place

Flooded forest of Lago Grande do Rio Manacapuru, Amazonas, Brazil, 768 L

Italy. Cristian Ghia


86th place

Mountain stream in the south of Guangdong province, China, 64 L

Ukraine. Artem Bereznev


87th place

One of small brook inflow to Igarape Yavuari, Brazil, 20 L

Taiwan. Yu-Te Lin


88th place

Marginal zone of the Chukhonka River near Park Bridge, Krestovsky Island, St. Petersburg, Russia, 230 L

Russia. Vasily Stolyarov


88th place

Lamprologus speciosus, south of Kalemie, Tanganyika, Zair, 54 L

Poland. Arkadiusz Skrzycki


90th place

Floodplains, near the mouth of the Rio Manacacias River, Colombia, 63 L

Poland. Krzysztof Szulczyk


91th place

Under palm tree on the shore of the Tapajós river, Brazil, 96 L

China. Zhao Wentao


92th place

Tributaries of the Nakdong River, Busan, South Korea, 62 L

Korea. Kim Tea Hyun


93th place

Oryza rufipogon, Tram Chim National Park of Dong Thap Muoi, Mien Tay, Vietnam, 175 L

Vietnam. Pham Duc Manh


94th place

El Pujal, fast current part of Tampaon River, Panuco River Basin, Mexico, 80 L

Russia. Marina Kolodan


95th place

Kahang Stream at Johor district, Peninsula Malaysia, 34 L

Malaysia. Mohamad Zul Aizad


96th place

Stream near Rio Demini, Amazonas, Brazil, 194 L

China. Zhenhua Sun


97th place

Rio Momon close to Iquitos, Peru, 180 L

Vietnam. Pham Duc Manh


98th place

Small Stream in the Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve, Loreto, Peru, 350 L

Peru. Luis Alejandro Silva Paima


99th place

Shallow Peat swamp near Tanjung Malim, Perak, Malaysia, 126 L

Malaysia. Amir Hazwan Saad


100th place

Black water stream Sungai Nibong, Sibu District, Sarawak, Malaysia, 59 L

Russia. Stanislav Labay


101th place

Orinoco Riverside, Bolivar State, Venezuela, 130 L

Turkey. Ahmet Başar


102th place

Swampy channel in the Yangtze River basin, southern Hubei province, Eastern China, 84 L

Russia. Daria Kondakova


103th place

Mini waterfall pond, Ribeira da Mata near Sintra, Portugal, 50 L

Portugal. João Sol


104th place

Tunico River in the summer, Izabal, Guatemala, 192 L

Guatemala. Adolfo Hernandez


105th place

Lake Mai-Ndombe, shallow black water near the village of Ipeke, Democratic Republic of Congo, 60 L

Belgium. Ibaa Novitch


106th place

Bottom of Inle lake, south of Shan State, Myanmar, 54 L

France. Erwan Le Peillet


107th place

Crystal spring pool in distant Amazon tributary, Brazil, 1200 L

China. Han-Jun Cai


108th place

Igarapé do Daracua, shallow blackwater habitat, Rio Negro river, Brazil, 330 L

Romania. Alexandru Vultur


109th place

Waters of Likoma Island, Lake Malawi, Mozambique, 200 L

Turkey. Eyüp Işıkdemir


110th place

Silent ponds in Guangxi, China, 250 L

China. Su Yu Qing


111th place

Streams in Western Chengdu, Sichuan, China, 192 L

China. Huang Feihong


112th place

Blue Creek, slow moving part through forest in Toledo, Belize, 465 L

Croatia. Tomislav Sobota


113th place

Intermediate habitat near Kapampa, Tanganyika Lake, D.R.Congo, 63 L

Ukraine. Ivan Ivasiv


114th place

Small forested tributary to the Orinoco River, 110 L

USA. Vinny Anderson


115th place

Mouth of the Khotomlyanka river at the confluence with the Seversky Donets, Pecheneg reservoir, Ukraine, 110 L

Ukraine. Konstantin Radoutskiy


116th place

Rio Negro in Barcelos region, Brazil, 360 L

Brazil. Jose Antonio dos Reis


117th place

Rio Nanay, shallow area near roots of the fallen tree, Peru, 160 L

United Kingdom. Radek Cichno


118th place

Mekong River, Nakhon Phanom province, Thailand, 100 L

Georgia. Giorgi Khizanishvili


119th place

Lake Malebo, coastal area, Congo River, Democratic Republic of Congo, 240 L

Russia. Tatiana Belyanina


120th place

Mbé River, a quiet backwater in northwestern Gabon, 40 L

Russia. Ruslan Kharkov


121th place

Sandbank of Seversky Donets near Izium, Ukraine, 144 L

Ukraine. Konstantin Radoutskiy


122th place

Rocky litoral at the south-eastern part of Likoma Island on Lake Malawi in Africa, 450 L

Poland. Michał Lewandowski


123th place

Osered River, shallow water near Pavlovsk, Voronezh Region, Russia, 45 L

Russia. Ivan Ufimtsev


124th place

Rio Caurés, Igarapé Cajarí, tributary of Rio Negro, Barcelos, Amazonas, Brazil, 128 L

Brazil. Thiago Douglas Nobre


125th place

Achiguate River, Escuintla, somewhere in Guatemala, 275 L

Guatemala. Alejandro Hernández


126th place

Forest pond, Cameroon, West Africa, 60 L

Russia. Alexey Tsyganov


127th place

Corydoras in Los Tres Gigantes, Rio Negro National Park, Paraguay, 160 L

Austria. Uwe Zufelde


128th place

Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae, Pilcomayo, Paraguay, 96 L

United Kingdom. Piotr Sliwka


129th place

Igarapé Xinane, Acre, Brazil, 37 L

Portugal. Tiago Rocha


130th place

Rio Negro biotope, Brazil, 315 L

Turkey. Nurullah Börü


131th place

Shallow waters near the bay area in Taal lake, Batangas, Philippines, 187 L

Philippines. Vincent James Cabuang


132th place

Pantanal flooded forest, Mato Grosso, Brasil, 27 L

Turkey. Kerem Okuroğlu


133th place

Congo River basin, Ituri forest in the northeastern region of the Democratic Republic ​of Congo, 187 L

Philippines. Vincent James Cabuang


134th place

Rio Negro сlear water, Brazil, 468 L

Ireland. Martin Schubert


Disqualified for not having a video

Springs at the North side of Mount Tai of China, 243 L

China. Zhang Li Xian

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.

I’ve been interested in fish and aquariums since I was a little. I’m even interested in everything about water. After feeding different species for years, I realized that something was missing in the hobby for me. I was no longer satisfied with feeding new species or having a larger aquarium. Years later, it was easier to reach the information; I started to gather information about the natural habitats of the living things we fed, using internet and watching videos about the regions. As a result of the information I gathered and the experience I have acquired, I have established my first biotope aquarium. The result was tremendous for me; the hobby was more enjoyable than before for me. The feeding habits of the species I have never seen so far, the social relationship between them could now be followed in my home. In addition, the image in the aquarium I look at is very similar to the natural habitat of the creatures I fed and visual aesthetically pleasing me. Since I have met the concept of biotope aquarium, my favourite area of the hobby is biotopes. I would like to thank the organizers for organizing such a competition. It is very important to reach enough information for the development and reproduction of biotope aquariums. This contest aims to provide more information to the next year with the support of the participants. The most important point here is that the competitors need us and the organizers as well as we need them. This year we reached 134 record participants. This means more information about more habitats for the next year. You will find a lot of information and steps you need to take to make the most accurate and most interesting biotopes available in this competition. If your level is lower than you expect, it should not disappoint to you of the year you participated in the contest. You can prepare yourself better next year, find a better place for yourself and contribute to our library with a well studied biotope. I wish next year that there will be more rigorous and attentive participations and an increase in the number of participants.

Mert Aykuta

I would like to thank organizers for inviting me to judge BADC. This has become the number one biotope contest in the world. The biotope scene is rising, this year we have a record number of contests and contestants. That is a sign we are doing something good. Ecology awareness is becoming more and more important today, and it is “cool” to be eco-friendly. Aquarists have a part in that, by preserving endangered and extinct species in aquariums, exploring the behaviour, diet, and habitats; and also telling us about habitat destruction around the world. Soon some of these creeks and rivers will be no more. And the only thing that will remain is biotope aquariums. This contest is educational; beginners can learn much from it. That is good for the scene, it becomes more mature. Take a look in the last 10 years. How many goldfish bowls can you see? Certain fish species have certain needs, and biotope way is the perfect way to fulfil the needs of fishes kept in captivity (our aquariums). Make them feel like home. You owe them that.

Petra Bašić

I was thrilled to have another opportunity to be part of the judging panel again for the BADC 2018. Over the years I have been judging the contest I have seen the quality of entries advance massively, with much more research going in to most of the entries, and so many more entries becoming more area specific, like an actual point on a specific river system in South America, versus just a generic Amazon River biotope or a South American catch-all. The use of materials has become more advanced, with some hobbyists collecting decorative materials from the actual biotope they were replicating. This is great, and doesn’t come more authentic than that. My personal favourites were those that looked exactly as if I were snorkelling in the habitat, which again shows skill and understanding of true underwater biotopes by the entrants, and how they actually look when viewed underwater, in nature. Representing fish species which live together in nature is key to every biotope, but making sure the aquarium is appropriately sized for long term care should also be one of the most important considerations with any biotope tank. Several entries lost valuable points this year by representing fish species which live together in the wild, but which could not possibly be housed together in their chosen aquarium long term due to eventual size, and other reasons such as territoriality or predatory tendencies towards tank mates.

Jeremy Gay

This year the level of the biotope aquariums entered into the contest was very high, and it was very difficult for me to differentiate which one is better and which one is worse. There were some entries with no fish visible in the tank, even though the description said there were some. One of the biggest problems in this edition was that in many tanks fishes were breathing too fast (global warming effect, maybe?). I think one of the conditions for the future editions of the contest should be the demand to show fishes in the video, long enough to allow for evaluation if they are healthy and feel good. Fast breathing is definitely not something which should take place in a healthy aquarium. Another problem: some tanks were much, much too small for the size and amount of fishes. In my opinion, such entries should be not allowed into the contest, of course with clear explanation for the designer about what is wrong with his tank. All aquariums in the contest should be able to thrive in a long term; so, plenty of space for animals is an absolute prerequisite. Anyways, I congratulate all the participants, and cannot stress enough the amount of work they put into gathering all information about the habitats. I hope this was at least so much educating for them, as it was for me. Good job, and see you next year!

Piotr Kierzkowski

It has been a big pleasure and honour for me to act for the contest. And much more, I have been deeply impressed by the high quality of the tanks I have seen. My biggest compliments and thanks to all the participants, which have shown that the hobby is to only alive or a beautiful hobby. They also have shown the great sensibility of people to recognize and understand how nature is, has to look like and is functioning. This was much more than just designing a tank. No matter if you got a high rank or a lower one within the contest, you did a great thing. Keep on going like this!

Anton Lamboj

The Biotope Aquarium Design Contest this year has broken all records in terms of the number of participants. There were many biotopes in it. Some of them were presented for the first time (countries). Despite the high level of many entries, there were mistakes in them, and quite significant for this competition. I will not point to 2-3 aquaria with selectively bred angelfishes and swordtails (apparently they appeared in the contest occasionally), but I would like to analize the most common ones. The first mistake is the condition of the soil, fine sand. In some entries it is very noticeable that it was well washed, put in an aquarium, and covered with a few leaves and decorations. There cannot be fine sand of only one grain size in nature. In stagnant waters it should be abundantly covered with detritus, and in the current it will be washed and mixed with larger sand and small pebbles. The second drawback is entries imitating Lake Tanganyika. You can’t mix fish from different ecological zones, even if they live together in a bay: Cyprichromis, cichlids of open water and rocky areas, placed with Julidochromis, fishes of the surf zone and shell Lamprologus that live in deeper areas or different Tropheus races that never occur together in nature. Then, in addition to the design that is beautiful and biotope correct, you also need to use knowledge. For example, in an entry its author presents Puntigrus tetrazona, and in fact he has a different species – P. anchisporus, an inhabitant of the island of Borneo, which can never be found in Sumatra. In general, almost all entries were performed at a high level, especially biotopes that authors studied themselves (near the house, for example), and not from video and photos. Some of them turned out just perfect. P. S. Probably not only me, but other judges also noticed that the most realistic biotopes were setup by authors, who took decorations and aquatic organisms from their native habitats.

Alexey Malyshev

We are all living important times in the aquarium hobby today. Things are shifting and changing from what seemed like a “linear, nothing changes hobby” to a more modern up to date one. I’m not talking about a change of new tanks, filters and lights; I am talking about the way of thinking, the objective and philosophy in our hobby. This change and shift in philosophy is a result from the biotope aquarium movement worldwide. Biotope aquariums are not just about nature, they are about the connection that we once lost or never had between us, the aquarium and nature. There is a whole array of philosophies behind them. Some people seem to think they are better for the fish wellbeing, other people think that they are great educational tools to learn about nature and some even think they could help save endangered biotopes from destruction by awareness. If you ask me, well, they are all of the above and much more. Most of my friends on Facebook and Instagram are fish people, so on my feed I get 10% normal updates and 90% aquarium related stuff. This year I noticed that a high percentage of videos and images that were posted or shared were of people videoing biotopes outside and underwater in many countries around the globe. I have seen biotopes from Brazil, Russia, and Thailand, just to name a few. The same is happening with the look of aquariums. If I go back in time on my feed the aquariums start looking like, well, like 4 years ago. Nowadays the natural aquarium look is more natural, not just a clean, immaculate aquarium stuffed with an excessive amount of aquatic plants. All this change is just a product of knowledge, a knowledge that comes from the biotope aquarium movement. Before, we had to rely on books or what a few people would tell us or advise us to do. Today, if you are in this contest, you have a great possibility of becoming that advisor all due to seeking knowledge in nature. Look at the super incredible public aquariums Petra Bašić is creating or the impact Víctor Ortiz is having in his country on preservation of freshwater species. They both were BADC contestants a few years ago. The BADC contest is an extremely important platform. This is where the new proposals for our hobby are being shown. As you scroll down the 135 entries we had this year you start to wonder… why weren’t the aquariums done like this before? Now it makes sense because we are starting to really open our eyes and our minds. We are starting to think beyond the aquarium!

Ivan Mikolji

Each year the level of the contest rises which is fantastic, but what makes it even more interesting is the fact that each edition shows more and more local biotopes of the places of the participants origin, which becomes a true “delight” for the knowledge of the world biotopes, where in addition to showing global biodiversity you can learn more about the local processes of each nature biotope. This can undoubtedly help generating more and more strategies for local knowledge of the world water bodies, their global promotion and thereby attracting attention to those nature biotopes or endemic species that require help. So it should be understood that the biotope aquarium is a strategy of environmental education, promotion of ecological awareness, distributing information about ecosystems and their species, as well as the promotion of the revaluation of these natural resources and, of course, their conservation.

Víctor Ortiz

Friends, as a general comment I would like to give some tips that will help you to take a high place in the competition. The first and most important is to explore nature more often. Look around, get inspired. A river, a lake, a stream is the world’s best idea bank for a biotope aquarium. The second tip is design. Do not try to put your entire “deep” inner world into one aquarium. Simplify. The aquarium is the same architectural form as any object around us, and obeys the same rules. The third. Do not use traditional “biotope” elements too much. More flooded leaves and roots are not always better. Chaos must be controlled. In the first place a concept should be, not design elements. The fourth piece of advice is as follows: over the years of the competition, a certain stereotype has developed what a typical biotope aquarium should look like. But the averaged image is the path to the average aquarium. Personally, I, as a member of the jury, always appreciate new ideas. If you want a high place, be original; create something not like the others. In this case, remember the second tip! In competitions of recent years, it is such aquaria that occupy high positions. Interest in biotope aquaria grows, and this makes me very happy. It is noticeable what love the authors put into their aquaria. Each year, the competition opens up new talents. I enjoyed studying the biotopes. Thanks to all participants, the competition turned out to be very interesting and diverse. I wish you all good luck, and we look forward to new entries next year! Participate and win!

Yuriy Yancher

I admired nature from the very first breath I took, I think. As a baby, when I cried too much, my parents gave me time-out. The only thing that calmed me down was the flowers on the tiles of the bathroom. As a young child I helped my father with our first aquarium. Helped is a big word. I enjoyed it and got fascinated in these beautiful creatures. But I stealed with my eyes how my father did things and started this journey. In the first ten years I learned a lot – sadly enough – by doing things wrong. Too much fishes in too small volume with non compatible behaviour and no real plants. A perfect recepy for disaster. After that I stopped the hobby for a few years and became fulltime student. But I learned fast. I began reading and stopped “collecting” fishes. I met a very inspiring person in the city where I lived. He had a small shop, a lot of knowledge and some special fishes. He was the first to me to talk about biotoping. I was convinced and wanted a brand new start in this hobby: I would make my own automated biotope tank room. Luckily my wife supported me. Thinking about the different biotopes for 8 tanks and designing the room was quite a task. But I got great help of friends to make my dream room. And I got inspiring conversations about biotoping with many people. My true inspiration is Janne Aho, administrator of Biotope Aquaristics Facebook group. He keeps me thinking further and further in this discipline and learned me a LOT. I am not an explorer, but I am interested in reading as many relevant articles, videos and pictures as possible. It gives me – at least – the chance to try showing how a possible biotope could look like. It takes some efforts, but the reward of your own stable biotope tank is excellent. The more you read and view, the more you realise how vulnerable these biotopes are. Sadly enough human impact is enormous. We as biotope aquarists have to teach and learn from each other as much as possible. Good luck to contestants and other members of the jury! Keep biotoping!

Jeroen Vanhooren