Brad McLane received his Master’s degree in Marine Biology from Florida State University and returned to the small family business of Florida Aquatic Nurseries in 1977. He soon took over the helm and worked on creating a reliable year around source of aquarium plants by adding greenhouses and heating systems. With his science background, Brad’s dream was creating a professional business in this field of aquatic plants. Keeping this in mind, he worked closely with state botanists and local university scientists to make sure all aquarium plants were accurately named and that new procedures were put in place to increase production. Brad added many new varieties of aquarium plants to the trade by traveling to other countries to collect plants and visited aquatic plant nurseries around the world. The business thrived.
As he continued to grow the aquarium plant business, he started a new section for water garden plants. The water garden industry was a growing industry in the 1990’s and Florida Aquatic Nurseries was growing right along with it. Brad’s dream was to obtain all known varieties of tropical lilies in existence at that time. A dream he never realized. However, an extensive list of tropical waterlilies was acquired, put in production, and added to the sales list. Brad and his brother Bruce actively talked to and visited botanic gardens and hybridizers to secure these correctly named hybrids. Like in the aquarium plant business, one of the keys to success for Brad was to ensure the variety of lilies he sold were correctly named. This allowed Florida Aquatic Nurseries to separate themselves from the crowd.
Brad started a tradition of hybridizing waterlilies at Florida Aquatic Nurseries and began specializing in tropical waterlilies. Brad, his brother Bruce and now his son Brandon were all prolific hybridizers. As a team, Florida Aquatic Nurseries has hybridized and released over 40 hybrids and over a quarter of those hybrids have received awards in the IWGS New Waterlily Contest. At the time of this writing Florida Aquatic Nurseries has won the Best New Tropical Waterlily 9 out of the past 10 years.!
Brad was especially proud of several waterlily hybrids released by Florida Aquatic Nurseries. William McLane was so special that he and his brother decided to name it after their father. This was the second hybrid that FAN released and it won best new tropical water Lily and the Banksian Award given by the Royal Horticultural Society in 1997. Brad also targeted and accomplished hybridizing the 1st viviparous yellow tropical water, N. ‘Carla’s Sonshine’. The naming rights for this plant were auctioned off and all proceeds were donated to the IWGS. Brad also created the 1st tropical waterlily with spotted petals which he named N. ‘Islamorada’ after his favorite weekend getaway in the Florida Keys.
In addition to his time at Florida Aquatic Nurseries, Brad believed in giving back to the industry that had been good to him. He took the time to serve on numerous industry boards throughout his career. He served on the Florida Tropical Fish Farmers Association board and was president from 2000-2002. He also served on the IWGS board which he was president from 2001-2003 and he served on the Florida Aquaculture Association Board for many years. He was appointed to the Aquaculture Review Council by the Florida Agriculture Commissioner and served for 20 years.