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Nature Aquarium Festival - 2019

21st, 22nd and 23rd February 2019 will be written remembered in the annals of Indian Aquascaping History. The first Nature Aquarium Festival was held on these dates at Bangalore by Still Water Aquatics.


I felt privileged when my good friend and MD of Still Water Aquatics (SWA), Adip invited me to this very special event.


Acknowledging a master Aquarium-maker

Adip and his team explained that they want to stress on the importance of a retailer or LFS as we call them in propagating aquascaping as a culture among aquarium hobbyist. On those lines they wanted to introduce MR. Swapan Nath or "Buro" as he is known more popularly among the aquarium hobbyists of Kolkata.


I was requested by SWA to give a short presentation on Buro and his contribution in the aquarium industry. Incidentally I know Buro very well, having known him for many years from the very first day about 15 years back when he was introduced to me by my brother as a good aquarium maker. Starting from then and then more so from 2010, I have got to know Buro better because of his association with ADA and Nature Cube. He has definitely helped me personally to spread the concept of planted aquarium or Nature Aquarium in Eastern India and by far is the best aquarium maker in Eastern India that I know of. So it was rather easy for me to present him and his achievements to the audience on 22nd February 2018.


Acknowledging the work and success of "Buro"

The Wizardry of Dave Chow

With the presentation behind me and having given Buro a standing ovation from the participants, I was looking forward to the event that everyone was waiting for to watch Dave Chow from Hong Kong to setup a live Nature Aquarium.


Dave incidentally is not only the champion of IAPLC (International Aquatic Plant Layout Competition) 2007 but is also the founding member of Creative Aquascaping Union of Hong Kong. So while I was settling down, I was approached by SWA team again to assist Dave.


Considering the fact that Dave’s English accent would be difficult for the audience to understand, I was to explain to audience what Dave was actually doing. This was no mean task to first understand what Dave was doing, ask questions and then to represent it to the audience. I tried my best though and in the process could learn some tricks after getting the opportunity to watch him from close quarters.


Dave, explaining his Aquascape

Iwagumi aquascape is always a very difficult one to perfect. I was amazed that within 3 hours Dave created an almost perfect Iwagumi aquascape in an ADA 120 P aquarium (120 cm by 45 cm by 45cm). But then it was equally amazing when I saw the sketch that Dave had made on the previous day to get this aquascape done perfectly. This is what I call quest for perfection and being extremely passionate about the job you do.


The actual sketch of the Aquascpe

... and the final Aquascape itself

Dinner with the Masters

The icing on the cake was when Adip invited me to have dinner with him, Dave Chow and another luminary of the show L C Chan from Malaysia.


LC as we popularly know him is a bundle of energy. Going by his well-maintained physique and boundless energy no one can guess that LC is now plus 50 year old. LC doesn’t advertise himself much but then he is a storehouse of knowledge about aquascaping and ADA product technical know-how.


The dinner thus gave me an opportunity to know both of them more closely. I came to know from Dave that after winning the IAPLC competition in 2007, he decided to quit is well paying advertising job and start his own aquascaping shop in Hong Kong. I wondered whether I would ever be in a position to walk in his footsteps. LC, I already knew had given up his construction engineering job long back and has taken up the mantle of promoting aquascaping.


I forgot, LC also gave a fantastic presentation on Sulawesi shrimp earlier in the day. Great photographs and lots of knowledge he shared for Sulawesi shrimp enthusiasts.


Award Day

23rd was the award day.


We all were waiting for the results of the The Great Indian Aquascaping Competition 2018. And once again another surprise for me. I was asked by Adip’s marketing head and the brain behind Nature Aquarium Festival, Gagan to be a part of panel discussion on aquascaping.


Frankly I never been a part of any panel till now in my life and hence understandably I was little nervous. But then years of experience in giving corporate presentations came to my rescue and I somehow managed to put across my views being a part of an august panel chaired by the likes of Dave Chow, L C Chan, Dr. Shivkumar and Mr. Manohar.


Finally, the prize distribution ceremony started. Like last time, First prize once again went to Mr. Gaurav Singh. His scape created using dragon stone simply took the breath out of me. So fantastic was the detailing.


The second and third prizes went to Mr. Pushpak Kar and Mr. Rajiv Saha respectively. I know both of them personally and hence could share their joy that much more.


Evening ended with a fantastic dinner.


I came back to Kolkata refreshed & rejuvenated after those fantastic three days in Bangalore.

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© 2019 Gautam Gupta

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