Our latest featured member is Kim Cadmus Owens. She is a member of the Dallas Ft Worth Aquatic Plant Club (DFWAPC)
and has a background in art and design, which is evident in her aquaria. TexGal has provided a great interview with her: Kim Cadmus Owens Kim, you have the privilege of being our first female aquascaper presented in this series. Please introduce yourself to us.
I am an artist and live in Dallas, Texas. I moved back to Dallas in 2006 to teach painting at the University of Dallas in Irving. I was born in Corpus Christi on the coast and while I grew up in Texas I spent most of my adult life other places going to school and working. My mother is a painter and my father is an engineer and I am a real mix of the two of them. I did a lot of gardening and landscaping as well as home decorating and design with my mother growing up. How did you come to be interested in aquariums?
I have always loved the water and have always lived in places with coastlines, rivers, and lakes close by. My younger brother and I were fascinated with insects, crustaceans, birds and being outside. We liked studying and drawing them so my father would help us figure out their habitat and needs. We had a lot of natural scientists in our family Ė geologists, biologists and the like.
L to R, Kim's brother and Kim in front of her tank.
My aunt gave us a pair of stainless steel 20g long tanks on a wrought iron stand in the 70s. One always housed fish and the other was usually some sort of terrarium. The terrariums changed a lot because my father would eventually return the turtle or horny toad to its natural habitat. Not only were the tanks fascinating to us but I found them very relaxing. I even wrote a paper in the eighth grade about the health benefits of fish aquariums. How many tanks do you have? What determines whether you set up a new tank or not?
I currently have four tanks setup, a 75g, a 45g, a 10g, and a 5g quarantine tank. I set up my first tank in quite a few years in December 2008. Iím trying to keep my MTS under control. (In the past I have had as many as 25 tanks when I had breeding tanks.) Setting up additional tanks comes down to whether I have the space, resources, and time for the undertaking. New tanks are usually inspired by an existing one and something I would like to try differently. When you scape your tanks are you trying to emulate a place youíve seen, create an environment for specific fauna, use the plop and drop method?
Iíve done all three. I got a book in the early 90s that was about biotopes called ďThe Natural Aquarium: How to imitate Nature in Your Home,Ē by Yoshino and Kobayashi. I have always been interested in spaces and environments as a whole, both in my artwork and my home, so I think this has naturally extended to my aquariums. I think about the whole composition but my eye for this really comes from visual art. I feel I still have a lot to learn about how all the elements, (plants, hardscape, fauna) especially since the composition can change so rapidly in with high-tech setups.
My 10g shrimp scape was inspired by travel in Asia and photographs taken by my friend Julia Moburg in Vietnam of Halong Bay. I wanted to capture the erupting character of the mountain-like rocks jutting out of the water but being softened and overtaken by vegetation. Whatís your favorite tank and why?
One of my favorites was created by my friend, Rob, and was the first lushly planted stem tank I had ever seen in real life back in 1995. It was filled with rotala and ludwigia and tetras. It had DIY CO2.
Out of my tanks, it is hard to say, as they are all very different and enjoyable to me. I see so many beautiful tanks at APC and yours just blows my mind. I love my 75g when I get home because it is the first I see. I look forward to that all day. It's in my living room which is decorated very simply. The room has a lot of clean horizontal and verticals in the architecture and furniture, while the art, pillows, and other decor offer a more organic and colorful contrast. I wanted the tank to have only 3-4 types of plants and to relate to the heavily treed landscape seen out of the large windows in the room. Then when I retire for the evening the shrimp, moss, and rasboras are very peaceful and calming. Thereís been a lot of talk about women in the hobby and the difficulty to juggle home life and the hobby demands. Do you find this to be a problem? How do you manage?
I will say that the hobby has to take a back seat when it comes to the needs of family, friends, and careers on top of it all. Though I have had aquariums since I was a kid there were times when it wasnít practical. I understand that you are a real DIYer? Tell us about that.
I was always building and fixing things with my engineer father. When I went away to college I fixed my own car, refurbished furniture found in dumpsters to decorate my apartment, had a small business landscaping and minor home renovation along with many other jobs that seemed to often involve tools and equipment. Studying art reinforced my desire and skill for creating and building. I think a lot of artists are very handy because we are often working within limited means Ė trying to create something out of nothing. Over time I often found myself in a position where what I wanted didnít exist, so I would make it. I do this daily in my art studio and classroom. I have rebuilt a few stainless steel framed aquariums. I made a DIY yeast CO2 reactor in the early 90s as well as wet/dry and fluidized bed filters. I built the stands for my tanks. The 75g stand is welded steel and frosted glass and I built it to complement the 1920s house I lived in at the time.
My most recent stand for the 45g rimless is inspired by 1950s modern design and utilizes laminate and exposed edge grain of the Birch plywood used to construct it. What interesting things should we know about you?
I love succulents and cacti, my dog and cat, being outside. I love solving problems and have a hard time letting go of things until I find a solution. I lived in Japan for a semester of school. When I flew there over the international dateline it was only the 2nd time I had been on a plane. Iím an NPR junkie. I think we should end with some pictures of your art and a link to your artist web site. Thanks for sharing with us. http://www.kimcadmusowens.com/ Lounge National
(editor's note: Many thanks to TexGal for conducting the interview and writing the article)