TAU Tokyo Aquascape Union

Takayuki Fukada won the Grand Prize this year with “Autumn” | click images to enlarge

You can think of them as “living, breathing landscape paintings.” That’s according to T.A.U., the Tokyo Aquascape Union, a group of “aquarium hobbyists” who use “aqua-plant layouts” to create majestic aquariums. The final creations often yield surreal images that resemble dense, lush forests. Sometimes the only way to tell them apart are the fish flying through the air.

TAU Tokyo Aquascape Union

Takayuki Fukada’s 2014 entry, also titled “Autumn” place 5th last year

Their founder, Takayuku Fukada, was ranked 5th in all the world by the IAPLC last year. But that ranking may change because Fukada has just won the Grand Prize in the 2015 layout contest.

The IAPLC began in 2000, and for the past 15 years has hosted the world’s largest aquarium layout contest. For the first 3 years the competition was dominated by Japan. But ever since 2004, countries like Korea, Taiwan, Russia, France and China have taken home the grand prize and 1 million yen (about $8300) in cash. But this year Fukada, representing his TAU, has won the top prize with his aquascape titled “Longing.” Here are all the 2015 winners.

TAU Tokyo Aquascape Union

a 2014 aquarium by T.A.U. member Shintaro Matsui

TAU Tokyo Aquascape Union

Takayuki Fukada’s “Pale Wind” placed second in the 2013 IAPLC

TAU Tokyo Aquascape Union

photo courtesy TAU Facebook page

Photographing your creation is an important part of the process. Here we see T.A.U. members in action photographing one of their aquariums.

Wish you were a fish so you could explore some of these fantastical aquarium? Last year T.A.U. created this commercial spot for a Japanese real estate company.

TAU Tokyo Aquascape Union

a 2014 aquarium by TAU member Toshifumi Watanabe

TAU Tokyo Aquascape Union

“Pilgrimage” by Shintarou Matsui placed 5th in the 2013 IAPLC

TAU Tokyo Aquascape Union

TAU Tokyo Aquascape Union

TAU Tokyo Aquascape Union

a 2013 aquarium created by Aya Aoki

TAU Tokyo Aquascape Union

a 2013 aquarium created by Tetsuro Sumiya