Editors of Aqua JournalEditors of Aqua Journal
Aquarium Size W1,200×D600×H450(mm)

Aquatic Plants
Riccardia chamedryfolia / Riccardia graeffei / Hemianthus callitrichoides ‘Cuba’ / Rotala mexicana ‘Goias’ / Eriocaulon setaceum / Glossostigma elatinoides / Micranthemum sp. / Eleocharis pusilla / Cryptocoryne parva / Littorella uniflora / Ranunculus inundatus / Hydrocotyle sibthorpioides / Hygrophila pinnatifida / Anubias barteri var. nana ‘Petite’ / Bucephalandra sp. ‘Mini’ / Hemianthus micranthemoides var. / Hottonia inflata / Rotala rotundifolia ‘Red’ / Rotala rotundifolia ‘Green’

Fish & Invertebrates
Paracheirodon axelrodi / Ancistrus sp. / Caridina multidentata

Gang Zhao
Country: People’s Republic of China
Age: 51 years old
Occupation: Freelance
Aquarium experience: 7 years
Hobbies besides aquarium: Calligraphy, Painting
Record of awards in the past IAPLC:
IAPLC2022 3rd

“Expressing my own inner world through aquascaping.” 

AJ   Tell us how you feel now that you won the Prize in the IAPLC 2023.
The long awaited results of the IAPLC 2023 were announced on August 26 at 7:00 pm (China time). My heart was pounding. Since the announcements were made from the top 100, my spirits were getting heavy as the works were introduced one after another. However, I felt the happiest moment when I found out that the 2nd place in the world ranking (Gold Prize) was me. I was so excited all at once that tears naturally welled up in my eyes. At that moment, I felt that all of my obsession with planted aquariums and the efforts I had put into them had been rewarded. The past few years have been very difficult at times, but I have kept on trying.

AJ   Tell us what you wanted to express with your layout work; layout theme, motif, ideas behind your winning work.
I started by sketching a canyon, then instilled into it the aquascape creation art form to give the whole composition an abstract and geometric beauty. In accordance with this vision, I endeavoured to give it a prominent vanishing point. This is another of it’s ideas.
Manifesting the rough sketch of the image in his head.
AJ    What was the most difficult aspect of creating and maintaining this layout work?
For the layout production, as regards my treatment of light and shade, I really had to do some figuring out for the lower part of the valley’s rock wall in the main scene. It wasn’t a simple one-time finish. In the stages that came after pouring the water and planting, I could not see in detail because the water was cloudy and yellow. After the water cleared up I could finally make observations. As the dark shadows were still too strong, there was not enough clarity in the depth going down or the latitudinal layers, so I made adjustments. But even then it still looked unnatural, lacking enough overall coherence, so I had to go over my adjustments to further strengthen the visual effects.
The importance of ease of maintenance.
AJ    What are the key points when you select aquatic plants and fish species?
Because the surface area of the whole piece is so wide, I mainly chose mini-size Riccardia chamedryfolia for the aquatic plants. For fish, I chose Paracheirodon axelrodi as I think they suit this piece.

AJ    What fascinate or attract you the most about the planted aquarium hobby?
The beauty of life and movement.

AJ    What are your favorite ADA product(s) and why?
I recommend Solar RGB lighting as it is so natural. With consistent quality that fans trust, ADA product development are always leading the market.

AJ     Do you have any tips for winning in the IAPLC?
I have no secret theory but I do think that in an aquascape, one’s inner world can be expressed through nature.

AJ    What kind of aquascape do you want to create in the future? Do you have any dreams relating to the aquarium hobby?
I would like to go pursue new ideas which combine aquascaping with aspects of the supernatural. As for my aquarium systems, I would like to fix the inadequacies in my current set-up, and also make maintenance simpler and more convenient. I would like more people to recognise the appeal of aquascaping.

AJ    If you belong to any aquarium circles or clubs, please tell us about their activities.
I am not currently in any aquarium club.

AJ    What do you think about the IAPLC?
It is known worldwide as the most vigorous annual competition, the ultimate hall of fame for all the world’s aquatic plant enthusiasts.