The Master School of Aquarium Design 2019: A Workshop With Six Experts

"Can I join in again next year?", "Will this event be offered again?" or "I didn't expect this! ".

These and many other parting comments were made by participants of this year’s Master School of Aquarium Design 2019 at the Tierwelt Magdeburg.

Not only did it exceed their expectations and ensure a great transfer of knowledge and new ideas, it was also a lot of fun. Before and after the event, the internal Whatsapp group was buzzing with ideas, questions and pictures. I only put my smartphone down for an hour in the evening, and suddenly over 200+ messages were waiting for me. This is where passion flourishes.

© Tobias Gawrisch / AquaOwner

The concept

The six masters of aquarium design (Sascha Hoyer, Florian Neumann, Bernd Terletzki, Tobias Gawrisch, Florian Junghans and Garvin Borschewski) were each assigned two of the selected apprentices (there were more than 150 applicants) by lot. The conditions for the masters were not easy, because every level of knowledge was represented, from the absolute beginner to the dedicated aquarist, and the workshop took place in the middle of the exhibition Tierwelt Magdeburg . A dream came true for the select twelve who got to learn first-hand from experts how to set up and maintain a nature aquarium/aquascape. Some of the experts were already well known to the students because of their strong online presence. Instead of just looking at beautiful photos of aquariums and wishing their aquariums looked like that, as they had done before this day, they learned the art of design and can now hone their skills at home.

The results

Before going into particulars about the day and the details, I’d like to show you the finished layouts. The following posts introduce each aquarium in detail, including their parts lists, maintenance instructions and ideas for layout design.

The procedure

At 09:00 the six teams started their layout discussions and got to know each other for the first time. In just 15 minutes they had positioned, sawed, screwed the hardscape and determined the perfect position for the stones and woods the masters had brought along following the principle of "trial and error". Then the JBL substrate, consisting of soil and sand (an overview of the products can be found under Substrat de sol ), was added. The aquarium, a Rio 180 from Juwel Aquarium , provided ample opportunities for creativity with the layout.

© Tobias Gawrisch / AquaOwner
© Tobias Gawrisch / AquaOwner

That's why the Master School of Aquarium Design is NOT a competition, but more a workshop where all participants emerge as winners with their successful “piece of work".

After 60 minutes some teams had finished the hardscape, the solid structure of the aquarium, and were already starting on the plants ordered from  Tropica Aquarium Plants planting them individually and carefully, according to their agreed plan. In the name of fairness, each team had goods of the same value to work with. Other teams made their hardscape their main focus and spent almost 2.5 hours on it.

© Tobias Gawrisch / AquaOwner

By 16:00 (after 7 hours of work), the layouts had to be created, the plants inserted, the water filled, and any cleaning work for the final photo had to be carried out. Not an easy task, but manageable with 6 hands per aquarium! Thus, 720 litres in 7 hours were lovingly set up by 36 hands and designed according to the standards of aquascaping.

The attraction for young and old

The sponsors Juwel Aquarium, Tropica Aquarium Plants and we at JBL provided advice and support to the participants, answering any questions that arose, providing assistance if there were problems and guiding the spectators to the event, who then followed the setup and the “tricks of the trade” with interest and excitement.

In addition, some participants from previous years met up at the event to support the process, e.g. by running a craft table for children and any interested aquarists, where they could attach or affix a plant to wood or coconut shells and take this small piece of "scape" home.

A special highlight for one of our teams was the moment when the world-famous aquascaper "Dave Chow" suddenly stood next to them and, unprompted, gave his feedback on their hardscape, immediately suggesting ideas for improvement as if he were part of the team. We had attached so much attention and pleasure to the discipline of aquarium keeping with this event that the respected expert couldn’t resist coming and seeing for himself. The participants felt honoured and tried to take his advice into account. Other aquascapers, who took part in the "The Art Of The Planted Aquarium" at the same time, came again and again for a relaxed conversation to the action area, which was establishing itself as a meeting place.

© Tobias Gawrisch / AquaOwner

My conclusion

As the organiser, I would like to tell you that this event was not only fun for the participants, but for me and our company too. The enthusiasm for aquatics was so great and it showed once again how such different results can be produced from the same basic starting conditions and how this hobby simply knows no bounds. In addition, it was a unique opportunity for participants and exhibition visitors to ask their questions, gain unforgettable insights and establish contacts with like-minded people, something that was not possible before. Even today, many weeks after the event, the internal Whatsapp group is still active.

We would like to thank all the participants for their commitment, great cooperation and interest. After all, the best concept can only work if the participants are behind it. Therefore, it is certain that we will also organise the Master School next year, on the occasion of the anniversary of this event, and that we will, of course, come up with something special for this.

Impressions of the day

Here you’ll find a picture compilation with further impressions of the day of the Master School of Aquarium Design 2019 at the Tierwelt Magdeburg. Simply swipe the pictures to the left and scroll through them.

Further links and videos/podcasts

Of course there are many more reports, pictures and impressions of this day. Our masters have been very active on their channels and some related portals have also taken up the topic. We have prepared some links and videos for you here:

© 10.05.2019
Matthias Wiesensee
Matthias Wiesensee
M.Sc. Wirtschaftsinformatik

Social Media, Online Marketing, Homepage, Kundenservice, Problemlöser, Fotografie, Blogger, Tauchen, Inlineskating, Aquaristik, Gartenteich, Reisen, Technik, Elektronische Musik

Ma personne: Seit Teenagerzeiten mit Aquarien in Kontakt. Klassische Fischaquarien, reine Pflanzenaquarien bis hin zum Aquascape. Aber auch ein Gartenteich und Riffaquarien begleiten mich privat im Hobby. Als Wirtschaftsinformatiker, M.Sc. bin ich als Online Marketing Manager bei JBL für die Bereiche Social Media, Webentwicklung und der Kommunikation mit dem Anwender der JBL Produkte zuständig und kenne die JBL Produkte im Detail.

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