To Make the International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest a Happy Occasion for All

To IAPLC Contestants

The International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest (IAPLC) was organized as the first-ever world-class aquatic plants layout contest. It has been held for 16 years since 2001, the dawn of the 21st century, with the aim of global spreading of planted aquarium. Since the very first IAPLC in 2001 which received a total of 557 entries from 19 countries, the IAPLC has been growing in terms of both entries and countries. Now it is the world’s largest contest of its kind and the 16th IAPLC in 2016 received a total of 2,336 entries (on a one-entry-per-person basis) from 68 countries and regions across the globe. In the course of this evolution, the IAPLC has produced world-class aquascapers annually, which is one of the great achievements of this event. In view of this circumstance, we believe that the IAPLC’s initial objective of ‘global promotion of planted aquarium layout’ has been accomplished by now.

Today, many aquatic plants layout contests are organized worldwide in various forms and planted aquarium has now become a popular hobby among many people compared with the time when the first IAPLC was held 15 years ago. One of the factors why aquatic plants layout contests are held all over the world nowadays may be due to the widespread and popularization of digital camera and internet. With this trend, aquascape photography has become a hobby that everyone can enjoy easily and this led many people to actively participate in overseas competitions. Entering competitions with ease is very good in terms of enjoying a hobby; however, some problems have also emerged along the way. Now we would like to make it clear what kind of problems we are facing because it is something critical for the future of IAPLC.

Since the very first IAPLC, we have been producing the IAPLC booklet every year to publish the layout works created by the contest participants. We recognize that each and every layout work is so precious and irreplaceable to every one of the participants. That is why one of the objectives of publishing this booklet is to show our respect for all the layout works. At the same time, we are engaged in copyright management for the layouts to isolate the contest from the commercial photographs for marketing/advertisement purposes in order to maintain the IAPLC’s basic stance to purely compete on aquatic plants layout skills and planted aquarium expressions irrespective of specific layout style or manufactures of equipment used.

Unfortunately, in recent years, we have received several reports and inquiries informing “the winning layout works contained in the IAPLC booklet also won another competition”. Every time we receive such a news, we make an investigation and find that in some cases, identical photographs were used while in some cases, layout was almost the same just with a slight difference in fish position or size of aquatic plants (which means that the same layout was photographed on a different day). There are a lot more cases, including the same aquascape but with partially changed aquatic plants or different background. For this issue, there are some criticisms and feedbacks, accusing “why these cases cannot be prevented” and we, as the organizer of the IAPLC, take it very seriously. As a countermeasure, we have set the contest rules and regulations stating that “Each entrant may submit only one piece of work” and “No duplicate application”. Yet, it is difficult for us to judge identical or similar photographs. Currently, there are a number of competitions held or organized by manufacturers, hobbyist groups and shops in various sizes and it is, as you can imagine easily, extremely hard to grasp all of them to make sure if there is any duplicate application or submission of similar layout.

Then, how should we do? The only thing the International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest Steering Committee can do is to keep everyone informed the contest rules and regulations and ultimately, to depend on the ethics of each person who enters the IAPLC. We think all of you, planted aquarium hobbyists, can understand this.

Furthermore, there are often cases recently where a breach of rule is revealed much later because the people from all over the world can access to the result of various contests/competitions via internet. Especially those who participate in competitions are usually trying seriously hard and in the course of their efforts to collect information online, they sometimes notice someone else’s breach of the IAPLC rules. The IAPLC is originally a contest where every participant can enjoy. If there is a breach of the rules and regulation, however, some of them or even non-participants will feel unpleasant about it and it is also absolutely undesirable for the IAPLC Steering Committee. We believe that a healthy contest can be organized only with shared awareness of contest rules and ethics among all the participants of the contest. Taking on this opportunity, we list the “problematic cases” that were observed in the IAPLC. We hope that you have a look through them so that you can purely enjoy the IAPLC.

Each country and region in the world has its own beautiful nature, unique culture and aesthetics. These elements will be reflected in aquatic plants layout works entered in the contest and this will lead to more diversified layout styles and judging/evaluation. It is our sincere hope that through the IAPLC, the planted aquarium can be an opportunity for someone to think about the connection between human and nature and this hobby will eventually be sublimated into a culture.

“Problematic Cases” in IAPLC other than duplicate application:

・Submitting an application under other person’s name
The names used are mainly the applicant’s family members, friends and acquaintances. We believe that winning the contest has a value only when the work is entered under the applicant’s name. Basic rule is one piece of work per entrant. Select your very best work!

・After duplicate application is revealed, the applicant decides which competition for him/her to withdraw from depending on the prize money
Is getting the prize money the sole purpose for entering the competition? This attitude is rude to other participants.

An applicant sends the data of more than one picture of similar layouts together with the message asking the Steering Committee to choose one and enter for him/her
Choosing the layout to enter in the contest is also a part of the ability and sense of the applicant. The Steering Committee is unable to select a layout for applicant.

・Submitting a composite photograph
In this digital era of photography, composite photographs are becoming increasingly sophisticated every year. Especially, the composite photography technique is used for fish positioning. Some applicants go for composite photograph because they want to achieve their ideal sight of swimming fish. But all that effort will go to waste if they breach the rule.

・Submitting a past work with a slight modification
This greatly depends on the ethics of each applicant. We hope all the applicants use their common sense to judge the appropriateness of the work to enter in the contest.

・Submitting an application without reading the contest rules and regulations
The IAPLC is a contest where a number of people from all over the world take part in. All the applicants are expected to have read and understood the contest rules and regulations before submitting their applications. Complaining about contest rules and regulations, saying you are dissatisfied, after submitting the application will only make yourself feel uncomfortable.

・Imperfect or incomplete information on the work
If the information on winning work is not complete, the Steering Committee sometimes faces difficulty in confirmation of the information. Your cooperation in providing accurate information during application is much appreciated.

・Demanding to allow an applicant to upload the creation process of his/her work (whether completed or not) on social media before the announcement of the IAPLC results
We understand how such an applicant feel. However, please refrain from doing so to avoid the possible risk of judge’s unintentional viewing of the work or a similar layout to be produced. The Steering Committee strives to ensure a fair and impartial judging with a respect for the originality of each work. We hope all the participants will enjoy the layout works together in Nature Aquarium Party or on IAPLC official website.

The International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest Steering Committee