A Tayside duo have opened up Scotland’s first shop dedicated to a unique underwater art form.
Rowan Woods and James Richmond opened the doors of The Aquatic Gardens, which specialises in aquascaping, on Tayport’s Castle Street.
Mr Woods said he turned to the art form, which is essentially underwater gardening, as a means of coping with depression and seasonal affective disorder following the death of his original business partner and best friend, Connor Craig, in March 2016.
The Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD) student died aged 23.
Aquascaping is the craft of arranging aquatic plants, rocks, stones, cave work and driftwood in an aquarium – giving fish a natural environment, free of plastic ornaments, to thrive in.
The art form started in Japan and has become an increasingly popular hobby across the UK.
The Aquatic Gardens in Tayport is the first shop of its kind in Scotland and sells all the plants, tools and supplies needed for those involved, or looking to take up, the practice.
Mr Woods and Mr Richmond previously ran a pet supplies store in Dundee before deciding to purse their aquascaping venture.
>> Keep up to date with the latest news with The Courier newsletter
Mr Woods said: “Aquascaping started in Japan and became quite popular in the UK.
“I find it therapeutic. One of the things I suffer from is seasonal affective disorder, there has been a lot of documentation about the therapeutic effects of aquariums.
“When we started out as a pet supply shop, we got more and more interested in aquascaping. People are really tending to lean towards really natural looking aquariums, more natural environments.
“It is much more therapeutic to see an animal in its natural environment than a synthetic environment.
“We don’t use as many chemicals. It is all about a closed system using the natural world as an inspiration. We don’t have plastic plants, we are using real, natural environments.
“It is an art form, aquascaping. You create contained ecosystems where plants are happy and the fish are happy.
“You are not having to do as much as you would in a normal aquarium. You can go a month without a water change.
“Connor and I started the business right at the beginning. A picture of him will be up in the shop. He was my best friend.
“Aquascaping helps me to remove myself from the stresses of the modern world, it is an escape, a very good escape. My work is what keeps me sane.
“I get very nervous, anxious, I go to counselling, again I find the natural world (gives me) focus, gives me the space. We have been through a lot as a business.
“Connor used to always tell me to do what I enjoy.”
The store officially opened on Saturday, with members of the community invited along to view a 6ft aquascape exhibition depicting the Tentsmuir coastline specially-made to mark the occasion.
The details of the first ever Scottish Aquascaping Competition were revealed at the event, which also saw two workshops take place – including one led by “pro” John Cudworth.