August 15th is India’s independence day and we at Still Water Aquatics thought there could not be a better day to host the award ceremony of “The Great Indian Aquascaping Contest 2015”, infact as it was a National holiday and we could get many hobbyists together we said lets make it a full day event. It was my long cherished dream to see a hall full of ADA tanks and smiling hobbyists like young excited kids playing with the world’s best planted aquarium tools. So we worked on a plan and gave it a name calling it “ADA master class”, this was the first time we were ever going to be taking on an event of this magnitude. My staff and me worked hard trying to understand the possible issues that could arise in an event that we have only dreamt but never organized and that too in a swanky hotel and not our gallery. We cannot make mistakes as there is very little time and if we delay matters hobbyists will get impatient I said.


Mr. Amano’s sudden demise came as a shocker to us on the 4th of August when we had just 11 days for the event, the whole team was sad and now we had to rethink what is to be done and how it is to be accomplished. Off course we have to make the event even better now and let the people see the dream that Mr. Amano envisioned and make a nature aquarium in their home.So working through the night 48 ADA cube gardens were put in place with the ADA tools and other necessary equipment for making a setup the next morning. We had customized some merchandise too for the event and had the special #weloveamano badge too for the participants.


When I looked at the setup myself in the morning I was happy that it was looking so fabulous but a bit worried as to how am I going to make sure every one of those cube gardens will be converted to beautiful nature aquariums in just a couple of hours. And how I am going to do justice to people who had travelled from many far away places to come and attend the masterclass.The plan and everything was in place but I heard from the registration counter that some people don’t even understand English but they love Nature Aquariums and wanted to be a part of the masterclass and that I need to speak in their language too to fulfill their dream. Now India has more than 50 languages and I know about 3-4 languages but what they were asking me were unknown and I just knew a few words in these languages.



Mr. Adip Sajjan Raj


Mr. Sajjan Raj is know also as the person who is leading Nature Aquarium in India and nearby countries


Nevertheless we started the event and started by singing the National Anthem of India after which I explained to the students briefly through a  presentation of  why , what and how Nature Aquariums began and then spoke a few words about the great man and how his life touched me. We observed a moment of silence and prayed for his soul and his family before starting the unveiling of the tanks to the participants. We had for the class 6 nos of 60P cube garden, 42 nos 45P cube gardens, and ADA pro tools which included a Pro scissor, Pro Pinsette and sand flatter. The Students were taught a few basic rules of Iwagumi and then asked to put in the substrate additives and power sand and Aquasoil Amazonia in the aquarium.



The Demonstaration of Layout making


The participants came from afar to learn Nature Aquarium


I set up a 60P cube garden on stage to demonstrate the stone placement, plant choice and planting location and also explained the use of various ADA tools. Each participant was given a 20kg box of stones and he was then asked to arrange the stones in the tank in a way, which is pleasing to him, I did make a quick dash to each and every table and to help and check on their dryscape creation. The tank was sprayed with water after powder soil was topped off in each tank and then the planting started with the ADA pinsette. The contestants were supplied with a plant package box which consisted of Foreground, midground and background plants. The planting did take a bit of time as some contestants weren’t used to using pinsette.Meanwhile I set up a 60P cube garden on stage and also helped the participants with their plant choice and planting location. As I made a second foray to look at the aquascapes and my initial worry of how they were going to make a beautiful planted tank was seeming to disappear as all the participants had made a beautiful planting. Indeed it was difficult to select the best one as they all looked good. While they had a quick lunch for their great effort we filled up all the tanks with water and installed Aquasky LED on all the tanks. It was truly a delight to see the amazing aquascapes created by so many people in less than 3 hours. This was the setting for the Award ceremony later in the evening.


I believe the good Amano Spirit guided all the contestants in making a good aquascape in the world’s first masterclass.


This year in the Great Indian Aquascaping contest we had 315 entries from India and 18 entries from Nepal and 75 entries from Bangladesh. This was the first year we were including India’s neighboring countries in the contest and I believe it paid of well.Mr. Amano judged the layouts and selected the top prizewinners.


1st Prize-  Sreeram T.

2nd prize- Abhirup Dasgupta

3rd prize- Gaurav Singh



It was a rather short event where we discussed many aspects of the top aquascapes and gave away the awards for the best aquariums from India, Nepal and Bangladesh.


The Great Indian Aquascaping Awards 2015


The winners of TGIA and all the participants of ‘ADA master Class’


Still Water Aquar Aquatics



(Aqua Journal #241)