Aquascape Beginnings: Taking the Big Leap

Hello everyone and welcome. I am super please to be sharing The Greener Side with you. If you haven’t yet read my About page, please do so you know what TGS is all about. 

So for my first entry I thought I'd give you some more in depth details about my life and how it lead me to sharing my aquascaping adventures with you. 

My nature encounters go hand in hand with growing up in the rural town of Ashland City, Tennessee. While most people see the woods as being scary, I’ve always felt comforted by the forest. I'm hugged by the branches of the trees and warmed by the light shining through their leaves. It’s enlightening once I step into the woods. All the tiny noises and movements in the brush keep my eyes darting back and forth, amazed how much there is to see and hear. 

My brother and I were always discovering something new. Every hot summer day meant we were romping through the woods continuously finding new places along the game trails. To melt the day away we'd trek the creek all the way to the swimming hole watching the minnows and crawdads scatter along the banks. From climbing to the tops of the trees to crawling into dark hollows, we combed those woods in search for anything exciting.

Feeling comfortable in the woods allowed me to see and experience everything it had to offer. I’ve been mesmerized in groves of twisted vines, meadows filled with wild grasses, and low canopies falling over the rocky creek bed. All of those experiences are what inspire me to create a variety of aquascapes.

Fish have always fascinated me simply because they lived in another world. They're separated from us by the thing that peaks my curiosity and constantly draws me in, water. My infatuation with water was probably brought about because I have always been surrounded by aquariums. The one that inspired me the most was my father's 800 gallon reef tank that was right outside my bedroom. I was literally living with a coral reef! 

Unfortunately, I was never able to work on his pride and joy. Rightfully so! I wouldn’t trust me either with such expensive live stock. But that didn’t stop me from making sure I admired every inch of that ecosystem. Taking an extra close look was my specialty. Making sure my nose was pressed firmly against the acrylic, I would watch the colorful corals and fan worms sway in the current collecting tiny bits of food that came their way. Tangs swimming in and out of the live rock grazing on algae. Gobbles would be sifting the sand creating cloud of dust. Eventually the mandarins would come out of hiding and flare at each other and me when they were spotted by my keen eyes. 

After my father dismantled his aquariums, he developed a fascination with trees. From him I learned the basics of ‘scaping’ from helping him landscape the family house. He taught me how to care for plants and everything else in between. This meant combing the grounds for pesky weeds, using our own strength to plant trees, and giving the plants everything they needed ensure they had a fighting chance.  And then, everything exploded in the spring and continued to flourish. As much as I hated lowering those trees into huge holes, pruning back the grasses, and watering in the middle of the night, it was totally worth it in the end because we created our own paradise. 

People always told me that nature photojournalism wasn't practical career. Of course being young and easily malleable I was driven off course. Nothing was lost though because biology also peeked my interest. After learning everything I could from my professors working in their labs less than $15 per hour as a lab tech just wasn't going to cut it. So I had to make choice. As a fine dining waiter I was going to be taking a major pay cut to work in a lab or go back to school earning a Phd. Start my own path is the best choice I made. That's when aquascaping, and eventually The Greener Side, came into the picture. It combined everything I loved in nature, aquariums, journalism, and photography. 

Now, have I succeeded in and aquascape? Truth be told, no. Have I gotten close? Yes. Dealing with the consequences of trying to balancing light, CO2, and nutrients can test the metal strength of anyone. But, that isn't enough and my failures havn’t stopped me from moving towards reaching my main goal; becoming a master aquascaper. Please join me in learning how to aquascape like the pros.