The Aquarium Guide

Aquarium Moss 101

There are many different types of aquarium moss with a variety of different uses.

There are ten common types of moss that make beautiful aquatic scenery.

Below are the types and differences between them; decide which of these will be the most beneficial to your fish.

Java Moss

Java Moss, a Carpeting Plant for Freshwater Aquariums

Originating from Southeast Asia, Java Moss is one of the most common aquarium mosses. It loves moving water and if you do not attach it to rocks or wood, it will attach itself to the tubing, a detrimental mistake.

It is often used as an egg-laying site for many fish, including the killifish. Newly born livebearers can be protected and hide from their hungry parents and other small critters that live in the moss.

You may fertilize it for faster growth, but it is not required because it pulls fish waste out of the water, resulting in cleaner water and self-fertilization.

Java Moss can survive growing fast and green in water conditions that would kill or brown most aquatic plants. It reproduces by dividing and spreading.

Java Moss grows best in medium light and it is hard to get rid of once you have gotten it started.

Buy Now on Amazon

Christmas Moss

christmas moss

Vesicularia Montagnei, commonly known as Christmas Moss, grows at 65-77 degrees Fahrenheit in low lighting and the PH level needs to be between 5.0 and 7.5.

It is a slow growing plant, but good for beginners. When it is grown attached to a piece of driftwood or tree root, it takes on a triangular form similar in appearance to a Christmas tree, hence its name.

When it is grown unattached however, its form varies and looks more untamed like Java Moss.

The difference between Christmas Moss and Java Moss can be easily identified by the fluffier leaves of the Christmas Moss.

The most common use of the Christmas Moss is to create a wall. This can be done by placing the moss between two pieces of mesh in a sandwich-like method and then pressing it against the tank wall. (I will write a comprehensive post on creating moss wall soon.)

It will slowly grow through the mesh, making a wall. It can be used as flooring as well, but it is not recommended because it will be easier to become an algae magnet this way and would be hard to keep clean.

Buy Now on Amazon

Flame Moss

Flame Moss

Flame Moss is originally from Asia and gets its name from the form of its growth, which is vertical with a light green glow giving the impression of a flame.

It looks best when you bind the moss to tree roots or driftwood in small bunches. It has a slow growth rate and a height of 1-4 inches with low lighting and carbon dioxide demand.

Flame Moss is a beautiful touch to your aquatic scene.

Buy Now on Amazon

Willow Moss

Willow Moss

Fontinalis Antipyretica, commonly known as, is deep green in color and looks best as it grows larger and its vibrant light green tips begin to show. It gets its name from its resemblance to a weeping willow tree.

It does well in lower temperatures and is very easy to grow and care for. It is originally from Asia, it has a slow growth rate with a height of 2-4 inches with medium light and carbon dioxide demand.

Willow Moss is great for smaller tanks; it needs slightly brighter lighting, but may brown if the water becomes too warm. Willow Moss is great for most fish.

Buy Now on Amazon

Star Moss

Star Moss

The scientific name for Star Moss is Tortula Ruralis. It grows at 73-86 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH level of 6.0 to 7.5 in low lighting.

Star Moss has a slow, but easy, growth rate. Although it is not a true aquatic plant, it can survive beautifully for about three months when submerged in a tank and can survive for months without water.

When grown in water, it has an appealing star-like structure, but only for a short time.

It is best for a dry set up and loves places like the desert.

If you are looking to use moss such as this for a long-term aquatic décor, a good alternative would be Fissidens Fontanus.

Buy Now on Amazon

Peacock Moss

Peacock Moss

Taxiphyllum, or Peacock Moss is very different from most moss. It has leaf cells that are narrowly oblong. It grows in a peacock shape at 77-86 degrees Fahrenheit, but in any higher temperatures it will lose its peacock-shaped fronds.

Being from genus Taxiphyllum, it has more of a soft velvety texture than that of the Christmas Moss. It branches out very quickly from one single frond, spreading out as it grows like the fan of a peacock’s tail.

It grows up to six inches in diameter.

Buy Now on Amazon

Weeping Moss

Weeping Moss

Vesicularia Ferriei originates from China and grows up to one inch tall. Its shoots are bright green and resemble teardrops, giving it the appearance of weeping, thus its name.

It looks best when attached to driftwood or roots due to its drooping growth pattern. It grows quickly with low demands.

It will need to be trimmed frequently with scissors for a more attractive look.

Buy Now on Amazon

Taiwan Moss

Taiwan Moss

Taxiphyllum Alternans is commonly known as Taiwan Moss because it originates in Taiwan. This moss is more rare than most types of moss with beautiful foliage and thicker fronds.

It is easy to grow in cooler water under medium light and carbon dioxide injection speed growth. It is best when attached to driftwood or rocks.

Buy Now on Amazon

Pellia Moss

Pellia Moss

Pellia Moss is actually a liverwort, small, flowerless plants.  Pellia Moss is an attractive addition to the tank, but it does not serve the same purpose as moss. It is a floating plant, but it tends to sink naturally as it grows larger.

If you do not attach it to driftwood, you should contain it with fishing line to a stone, otherwise, it can become a pest when left floating.

It grows well under most water conditions and is easy to maintain with low lighting and added carbon dioxide. This plant reproduces through division.

The Pellia Moss is a popular hiding place for shrimp. Its appearance is similar to the Java, only much neater.

Buy Now on Amazon

Riccia Moss

Riccia Moss

Riccia Moss grows up to 2 inches tall. This is a floating moss that can be kept down by tying it down to a stone with fishing line allowing the shoots to grow toward the surface.

This moss grows best with added carbon dioxide and when grown in good conditions, small oxygen bubbles will begin to form on the leaf tips. It has low light demands and it offers great protection and hiding for baby fish.

Like the Pellia Moss, however this plant is not actually a moss, it is a liverwort.

Buy Now on Amazon

Before deciding on which moss you want to include in your aquarium, do some research on their appearance and how they will compliment your tank and fish or if you need to change your decision based on your aquarium’s needs.

5 thoughts on “Aquarium Moss 101

    1. Hi Cindi, aquarium moss is another type of aquatic plants. It is usually use to form a carpet effect in the aquarium. It could also be a source of food for shrimps. The fishy odor is usually cause by bacteria or waste in your filter medium.

    1. It would be ideal to have CO2 injections for all moss to assist in healthy speedy growth but not necessary. However without CO2, you might not get as good a result (green lush moss) as with CO2.

      Christmass and flame moss should be able to thrive without CO2. =)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *