Last month I had the fortune of being able to attend an aquarium event Tokyo, Japan. This event focused on the different aspects of the aquarium hobby from fauna, equipment to aquatic plants. I went to the event with the staff and other customers of Aqua Forest Shinjuku, a fantastic ADA distributor in the busiest station in Tokyo (and the mid-point between my home and school here in Japan).
One of the primary showcases was the massive goldfish contests. Breeders from around the world featured some of the most beautiful goldfish I have ever seen. Rare Ryukin breeds (noted by a hump right after the head and special colorations) were showcased among the various Oranda, Fantail, Moor, and Telescope breed goldfish types.
There was an impressive aquascaping gallery featuring planted aquariums from talented Japanese aquascapers and local aquarium stores. They competed in a small aquascaping contest in which my collegues from Aqua Forest Shinjuku entered four tanks into. They won best of show awards for two of them which is very good considering the high quality aquascapes entered in from the other competitors. There were about twenty different planted aquariums ranging from a tiny shrimp tank with twigs to larger aquariums around 90cm or larger.
There was also quite a showing in complexly designed vivariums. I was especially shocked by a tall display with beautiful moss that featured two baby gars and one baby arowana in the approximately five gallon water area at the bottom. All I can say is Yappari Ajia tte chau wa (As expected, Asia is just different).
The aquarium that impressed me the most was a very stereotypical ADA type of design with cardinals and red torpedo barbs. Strictly designed to mimic the Nature Aquarium Style, it contained the beautiful soft texture of densely positioned plants and harmonious balance in layout that would make Takashi Amano proud.
However, the aquarium that stole the show is something far from the Nature Aquarium Style. It was a massive aquarium with a 70cm x 50cm front wall featuring a large Bolbitis heudelotti tree. I cannot help but think that Portugals own Filipe Oliveiras little tank, Syrah, has made a creative impacted here in Asia.
The tree was certainly unique, as was the technique of using scattered stems of Rotala macranda as flowers amongst a field of Hemianthus callitrichoides. However for me, it was simply not my taste. The whole aquascape simply left a taste of over-done to me, from the forceful tree technique, to the R.macrandra flowers, down to the show-off livestock (in my opinion, red candy shrimp are just unnecessary in this type of large aquascape).
The tree also had the negative effect of being overly dark. This made the types of plants that could grow grow around the tree unbalanced with the rest of the scape. It created a large black blob that dominated too much of the display. Ultimately, the eye ended up going to brighter areas of the tank and staying there, resulting in a misuse of space. In addition, the shadow it casted required additional lighting to be added that made the whole design less attractive. Bottom line is that building a tree can work; but it can also not work when it is overly designed..
Certainly creative though, and it was apparent that the judges thought so too. Do not get me wrong, it was an excellent scape with a lot to learn fromI am simply critiquing to find the line between good and great.
I had an enjoyable time at the event. There is no other place that Ive been to in the United States where one could see these spectacular aquascapes, extraordinary fish species. It was a truly fun and stunning sight to see. I hope you will take pleasure from the photos, and perhaps one day have a chance to attend one of these Tokyo aquarium events in the future yourself.