'5 Minutes With....'

Today, in another insightful and speedy edition of our '5 Minutes With....' interview series we talk to talented aquascaper and designer Matthew Israel Manes aka about his 2020 IAPLC entry and the journey that led him there. Read on to find out more!

Hi Matthew, thankyou for talking to us today! We can't wait to hear more about you, so lets begin...

Where did your aquascaping journey begin and how old were you when you first realised you had an interest in the hobby?

Hi Matthew, thankyou for having me! I first started fish keeping when I was quite young in grade school. One day while walking home after school I saw a pet shop and was amazed, a few days later I went again and bought some mollies. From then on I was hooked!

It sounds like it was a natural fascination for you! So now that you have all those years of experience, do you have a favourite fish and aquatic plant?

Yes it definitely was! My favourite fish are currently discus and my favourite plant is weeping moss.

Good choices, they are some of my favourites too! Your scapes are always so beautiful and intricate, what advice would you give to someone who is new to the hobby and eventually wants to create something similar?

Thank you for saying that! My advice to someone new in this hobby is before you buy always do your research and learn the basics. For me, the best advice that I have ever received from someone is don't stop learning and keep chasing your dreams what ever it takes.

That's some great advice! Talking of chasing your dreams, who or what has inspired you to pursue your ambitions?

My inspiration is my family and friends, who have always believed in me and what I can do.

How amazing that you have such supportive people around you! We have seen that you recently took part in the IAPLC competition and ranked 161st in the world! Could you tell us about your 'Ancient Stump' entry?

Yes of course, I started the process 1 year before the competition, designing and creating the idea. I then spent two weeks just on the hardscape, finding the materials that fit the idea was definitely the hardest part! The final element was planting which took me a total of three days. I then kept it set up for two and a half months before the competition deadline. I loved seeing my scape fully grown and my initial idea fully executed.

Thankyou for telling us about your process, it really was a remarkable scape! You also build custom dream aquariums for clients, is this a future global venture?

As of now I'm doing it just in my country, the Philippines, but I'm really looking forward to being successful and having branches in other countries. Watch this space!

We will and we hope you supply to the UK one day! Thank you so much Matthew for your time today and we wish you the best of luck in your business and future competition entries.

To see more of Matthew and his aquatic creations follow him on Instagram at and visit his YouTube Channel 'Aqua Infinity Design - AID'

Stay tuned for our next interview released every Monday!

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