As the name suggests, the java moss, or the taxiphyllum barbieri (formerly vesicularia dubyana), is an aquarium plant native to Southeast Asia, more specifically, the island of Java in Indonesia. It’s quite a commonly seen plant growing on rocks and along the rivers of tropical countries. The java moss is one of the more popular species of aquatic plants due to its low maintenance nature versatility for aquascaping.
There are a variety for benefits for adding the java moss plant to your aquarium, but before we talk about the advantages, let’s get to know the taxiphyllum barbieri a little better.
Minimum Tank Size:
59-86 °F (15-30 °C)
Front to middle or carpeting
Table of Contents
Java Moss Overview
The java moss is considered a hardy aquarium plant that is easy to transplant, introduce to a new tank and grow. The way it anchors itself in the tank is to attach rocks, driftwood and other decorations you have placed in the aquarium. The java moss has tiny stems, which can make it seem delicate but in reality, it’s much tougher than you would think. On each stem there are small leaves measuring at only about 2mm wide that cover the entire length.
Much like the java fern, the java moss also sports what we call rhizoids, which are almost tentacle-like feet that the java moss plant uses to anchor itself. Don’t mistake the rhizoids for roots however, because they do not provide the java moss with any nutrients as their main purpose is to have a secure foothold in the tank. These aquarium moss plants absorb nutrients through their stems and leaves.
The rhizoids are a great feature on the java moss because of their adaptability, you can place the java moss in any location in the aquarium and they’ll take to the decorations and flourish with minimal trouble.
To this day, scientists still aren’t sure what to call the java moss. It was formerly believed to be vesicularia dubyana, and was sold in fish stores under this name. However, because there is lack of proof that the java moss in the aquarium trade is the same species as what we find in the wild, they have now been under a different name – taxiphyllum barbieiri. Although we’re pretty sure in some aquarium shops you can still find them labeled as vesicularia dubyana.
This perplexing plant has caused many debates in the scientific community and its conundrum continues to confound us. There is also a chance that if you ask for the vesicularia dubyana in an aquarium store, you will end up with Christmas moss or Singapore moss rather than the common java moss.
How much does java moss cost? In a fish store, the Java moss rarely exceeds the $3 mark. Depending on how much you buy, from our experience buying more earns you more of a discount.
Java Moss Appearance
When you first introduce the java moss to your aquarium, it wil be a bright green color indicating that it’s a young and healthy plant. As the java moss ages, the green hue will darken to become a deeper green shade. Java moss can grow to be both underwater and above. If these aquatic plants do manage to make it out of your tank, you will find that the leaves grown above water tend to be larger in size.
Java Moss Uses
The java moss is a multifunctional and diverse plant to have in your aquarium. Other than the fact that they can create an underwater forest, it also makes a great breeding tank plant. Many fish species like to lay eggs on flat surfaces or on plants and the java moss is a highly coveted choice. After hatching, the java moss makes a great place for the fry to play hide and seek and it can even act as territorial barriers when setting up your tank for more aggressive species.
The moss can also be a source of food and nutrients for new-born fry. Small organisms known as infusioria, which is consumed by baby fish. Ornamental shrimp are also big fans of these moss plants. They see them as their own personal buffets as they sift through the growth to find deposits of algae and other scraps of plant debris for food.
For aquascaping, you can choose to carpet the tank with java moss, which will create a lush grassland at the bottom of your tank. After maturing, the java moss will literally look like a green carpet. If you want to line the walls of your tank that is possible as well if you attach the java moss to the sides instead of the bottom.
To create a miniature underwater forest, you would need java moss trees for added effect. To do this, find pieces of driftwood that resemble tree trunks with branches and have the java moss attach itself. As time goes by, the java moss will encircle the driftwood and become very tree-like.
Java Moss Tank Requirements
As said, the java moss is considered a hardier species of aquarium plants. We classify a plant as hardy and robust if they can take to water changes well and adapt to different environments. Although they can survive in different water conditions, it’s best to simulate their natural environment and keep temperatures at 21-24 degrees Celsius. Although they are considered a tropical moss plant, they thrive in slightly cooler temperatures.
In cooler water temperatures you will also notice a faster growth rate and a healthier-looking plant. As for water flow, the java moss prefers moderate currents with slightly more acidic water quality. One of the best things about java moss is they can take to any environment as long as it’s somewhat similar to that of Southeast Asia. Both high and low light are acceptable for the taxiphyllum barbieri, though you will notice a difference in aesthetics.
Java moss that grow in high lighting will display dense leaves and brighter color whereas a java plant that grows in darker lighting will emulate these conditions with darker coloring and sparse growth.
Adding CO2 isn’t a must but it sure does help with faster growth. If you are impatient for a lush green tank, CO2 and fertilization among other things can help. Speaking of fertilization, liquid form is the best since the java moss absorbs nutrients through its leaves.
Java Moss Care
Adding java moss to your tank is as easy as 1,2,3. All you need to do is place the plant near something it can latch on to and leave it alone. However, there are certain steps you can take to help ease the transition. It helps to bleach and dechlorinate the plants before introducing them to the tank.
How long does java moss take to attach? About 3-4 weeks. Once it’s fully attached and secure inside your tank, the java moss plant can pretty much be left alone for the remainder of the time with casual pruning sessions here and there. It is similar to hedges wherein you can choose to let it grow and flourish or trim different shapes. All you need is a pair of scissors to work your magic.
Issues with Java Moss
If you decide to line the walls of your aquarium with java moss, there is a good chance it could clog your filter if you have one. Another minor issue is if you let your java moss run wild, it could grow so thick that there is barely room for other plants and fish in the tank. For this reason, it’s still highly recommended to give it a good trim every now and then.
Now onto the more pressing issues. One mortal enemy the java moss faces is algae. Algae flourishes in poor water quality and strong lighting conditions. Once the algae intertwine itself into the java moss, they can be extremely stubborn to remove. Your best bet would be to remove all the contaminated java moss and start from scratch. If you have a planted aquarium, one way to save your tank is to add cleaner creatures such as shrimp to get in there and do the job.
Surprisingly, hydrogen peroxide is a substance that can be used to treat algae in java moss. It will kill the algae but leave the java moss unharmed. You can try this by draining the tank about 25-50%, inject the peroxide in the remaining water and let it soak. After a few minutes, you can refill the tank and hopefully, your problem will be solved. Going in manually with a soft-bristled toothbrush is another way to remove the algae in small amounts.
Remember that a little bit of algae is okay, but having them grow in abundance can be detrimental to your tank and the balance of the isolated ecosystem.
One other common issue that isn’t detrimental to their health is trimming the java plant. Since they can grow to be pretty dense, trimming can be a mess. If you leave your moss plant for too long, the trimmings can overtake the aquarium and even get stuck in your filters. Depending on your fish, having the plant debris floating around may not be the best for water conditions and can create a mess in your aquarium.
How to Grow and Plant Java Moss
How do you grow java moss? Let’s take a look at how. Java moss is not recommended to be left floating (although you can), so to add them to your tank you will need plenty of decorations. Look into rocks, driftwood, and plastic mesh for anchoring. Since attaching can take a long while (3-4 weeks), there are some steps you can take to speed up the process.
First up is the superglue method. It may seem counterintuitive to use something artificial for natural growth, but it works. Take the decoration you wish to secure the moss onto and dab a bit of superglue on the surface. Take the java moss and press it gently into the superglue and count to 5 seconds. Once it seems secure, you can place the decoration with the moss attached back into the tank.
If you aren’t so sure about superglue, we have another method that involves a fishing line. This is referred to as the tying method. It’s essentially the same as using superglue, your goal is to fasten the plant securely to the decoration with the fishing line. Once you have tied it tightly around the object, trim the excess fishing line and place the moss plant and rock back into the tank.
How do you line your tank with java moss? If you want to carpet or line your tank, then the steps are a bit different. First off, prepare sheets of plastic canvas and decide where you want the java moss to grow, then clean that part of the tank very well and make sure there is nothing between the moss and the tank glass.
Cut the 2 plastic sheets down to the right size. Puncture the plastic sheets with the tip of an exacto-knife for you to attach suction cups through. Place a thin layer of java moss onto the sheet with suction cups and the other one with exact dimensions over it to sandwich the moss.
Fasten the two plastic sheets together with string and secure the sheet with suction cups to the side of the tank. For carpeting, the same steps are taken except the sheet is placed on the bottom of the tank.
Java moss trees, as we mentioned, can be created by allowing the java moss to intertwine itself onto driftwood or other decorations in unique shapes. You would attach the moss to the object and place it in the tank. After a few weeks you will notice the moss plant starts to wrap itself around the item.
Java moss propagation is as easy as the java fern. All you need to do is cut off a piece (about 2 inches long) from the thriving moss plant and attach it the same way you did with the mother plant to other decorations. That’s all it takes to create more java moss.
Does java moss grow fast? In general, the java most isn’t a fast growing plant, although more light and suitable water conditions will speed up the process. To make sure you have a healthy and hardy java moss plant, you need to take good care of it and regularly check to the algae levels.
Java Moss Maintenance
Once you successfully grow java moss, you can pretty much just leave it alone. However, below are a few tips to help maintain your moss plants to make sure they are always in tip-top shape.
Java moss is a dense plant. As you can probably imagine, a plant with dense growth will trap debris and waste between its leaves, which can get pretty gross after a while. For this reason, cleaning may be required for the moss plants. Since your moss plants will most likely be attached to a decoration or plastic mesh, the easiest way to deal with trapped gunk is to remove the plant from the aquarium and give it a thorough rinse.
A dense plant can grow into a tangled mess. The moss can survive regardless of how it looks but the maintenance can be quite a headache if left untended. A good way around this is to trim it regularly. This will also solve the issue of having algae trapped in the leaves and making a big mess during trimming sessions.
- LIVE AQUATIC PLANTS : JAVA MOSS from Greenpro come with a portion cup. Growing beautifully, spreading dense...
- EASY AND READY TO GROW : Moss can be grown in any size of tank. Nano tank, shrimp tank, betta etc to large...
Is the java moss a good addition to your aquarium? Due to the hardy and low maintenance nature of the plant, the answer is most likely yes! It’s a moss plant that is suitable for most aquariums as it grows easily with minimal effort. Most fish will take to the moss, which also makes it a great choice for breeding tanks. The dense leaves make it a great surface for spawning and they can double as great hiding places for newly-hatched fry.
For territorial or aggressive fish, the java moss can act as a barrier or territorial lines to minimize predatory behavior. Whether you have an aquarium full of fish or just one with plants, the moss plant is great for beginner aquarists. They are also very affordable and are easy to propagate. As long as water conditions are optimal, java moss grows quite easily in any lighting.
One problem to keep in mind with the moss plant is its natural aversion to algae. It is a photosynthetic creature that grows in tanks and can get lodged in the overgrown leaves of the moss. Adding cleaner fish and crustaceans to the water can help minimize buildup. All in all, the java moss is a plant that goes with almost any species of fish and can really be quite beautiful in your underwater ecosystem.