I haven’t posted in a long time, largely because I’ve been incredibly busy preparing for Aquafest 2009 in Laurel, MD. As president of GWAPA, one of the three clubs hosting the convention, there was plenty to do, but after a blur of a weekend, I think the convention was a success. Thanks to all of the sponsors, attendees, and volunteers who helped us pull it off! The main event that I was responsible for was the aquascaping challenge between Jason Baliban, our speaker, and Jeff Ucciardo, GWAPA’s vice president.
We spent the hour prior to the event sorting a mass of materials into two equal piles so that Jeff and Jason would start on a completely level playing field. Above is some of the manzanita wood that we got from Manzanita.com to use in the scapes. Jason got off to a quick start, putting in the white pool filter sand, developing a hardscape, and topping it off with some Aquasoil.
Jeff took a little bit of time to plan his scape, but was right behind Jason once he got his hardscape placed. Jason chose to extend the white sand all the way from front to back, while Jeff kept the sand confined to the foreground. Both competitors divided the tank into two mounds, one larger than the other.
In the end, both Jason and Jeff finished before the hour was up, which is quite impressive given the amount of time I usually spend working on an aquascape. Below is Jason’s finished scape from the side. The judges liked the rockwork in his scape, as well as the use of manzanita to provide flow to the layout.
However, the judges thought he could have filled in the scape with more plants than he did, but recognized that it should fill in nicely once it grows in. The tanks themselves are very nice, being a first look at Aquarium Design Group’s own line of rimless aquariums. They are 24″x16″x16″ and Catalina Aquarium donated a pair of HO-T5 lights to go with them.
Jeff’s finished aquascape is below, and as you can see, he did a very nice job filling in the scape with plants from the get-go. The judges took off points for his hardscape saying that it got lost in the plants.
They also wondered why he didn’t extend the white sand front to back between the two mounds. Ultimately, we ended up being able to exhibit two very nice scapes, especially considering that they were completed in an hours’ time frame. The judges gave a slight nod to Jason’s scape, but explained to the audience what they liked and disliked about each.
Also, during the whole hour, I gave a mini presentation about Aquascaping in general. We wanted to avoid folks from getting bored while the planting was going on, so I fielded a number of questions keeping the competitors from having to. Our A/V team also did a great job projecting the two tanks live onto two large screens so that everyone could see what was going on. Overall, the event was a success!