Aquatics is a hobby full of emotions, creativity and fun. Numerous competitions to set up aquariums in all kinds of styles have sprung up during the last few years. Whether locally or in the internet – competitions are a ten a penny.
So maybe it’s time to set new standards in this field. Maybe it’s time to leave the competitions behind and turn towards a workshop format, in order to offer something new and exciting to the participants and even attract some newcomers. Winning first place is great, but the remaining entrants can be left feeling disappointed. And the main thing is to have fun: without the tension and divisions of a competition. No more thinking: Will I be finished on time? Will it be good enough to win first prize?
3-day workshop with 30 people
This is why we have set out on a different path with our likeminded partner companies Tropica en Fluval . We have decided to facilitate a large gathering of skills. We want to provide 30 people with three days of fun in which they can work together to create some stunning aquarium landscapes for others to copy.
The Supreme Heimtiermesse in Hannover took place at the beginning of February with masters and apprentices taking part in the “Aquarium Design Meisterschule (Master School) “. It turned out to be a real draw. The live workshop/show not only attracted insiders but also people without pets and was lively enough to hold everyone’s interest.
Some of the audience were encouraged to join in and they were gripped by the magic of aquarium design. Over three days ten masters (experts in their field) worked on their aquarium with two apprentices each (both beginners and dedicated aquarium fans). In order to give the teams’ imagination free rein, the only rule was that they had to use the hardware specified by us, which the masters were able to order free of charge in advance. The objective was to create a dream landscape which could also be recreated by any aquarist at home following instructions, and which would keep long-term.
What happened on-site
Over three days the more than 30 people in the group got to know each other and began to pool their skills. The masters passed on to the apprentices their knowledge of how to set up and run underwater landscapes in harmony. Lots were drawn to randomly match up the apprentices with masters. Any spectators willing to also had a chance to take part in the activities. The name of the game was collaboration.
The “dry setting-up“ was carried out on Friday using nothing but stones, wood and substrates. The so-called hardscape had to be completed by the end of the day. A perfect composition of the basic layout is the most important step and it involves a lot of modifying and consideration, and so the masters and apprentices allowed plenty of time for this.
On Saturday the layouts were equipped with the water plants the masters had previously selected and the final finish was carried out. At 4 pm the layouts were filled with water, and any final touches were made. The sight of the completed aquarium layouts, each one more beautiful than the next, was breath-taking. Ten dream landscapes, each completely different from the other, had been created within a very short time. All the materials used can be bought in your local well-stocked specialist retailer so that you can try out these or similar ideas yourself.
On Sunday the teams had time to extend their knowledge, to exchange impressions and to talk to the audience. None of the aquariums remained behind at the trade fair, they all found new owners. At the end of the event each team received feedback on the following aspect of their aquarium:
- Overall impression: Do the organisers like the aquarium layout and what associations does it evoke for them?
- Ease of reproduction: How easily can beginners and experienced aquarists reproduce the layout at home without specialist knowledge?
- Durability: How long can the aquarium layout be successfully maintained and kept at home?
- Teamwork: How well did each master co-operate with their two apprentices? Was it a team result, with all team members contributing their share?
- Choice of plants: Was the plant choice suitable to the hardware and the technical equipment used?
Anyone still thinking in terms of winners and losers has not yet understood the concept completely. Everyone was in the winning team. We all cooked together and afterwards we all ate together - “tasty” is simply a matter of taste.
We would like to take this opportunity once again to thank all the participants, visitors and masters for their excellent cooperation. We are pleased that this new concept has been so well received. All the participants had a new experience, a lot of memories and a few products to take home having all been a part of the activity. Instead of frustration and envy about the placements they forged friendships which still exist. Most of the apprentices have installed a new aquarium at home since then or have re-designed their existing one, such was the burst of enthusiasm they experienced that weekend. We are already looking forward to next year...