Sunday, July 01, 2007

Growing Beautiful Aquatic Mosses

Aquatic mosses can be some of the most beautiful aquatic plants if grown correctly and given the right environment. Wispy fronds of all shapes and configurations can add texture and detail to any aquascape. However, one unique aspect of most aquatic mosses is that their appearance is highly dependent on their environment. This can make the difference between a lush, full wall of Christmas moss and a stringy tangled mess. Here are some tips to get the most out of your aquatic moss, whether it be simple Java Moss or Peacock Moss:

Mosses love light. Although they will survive in minimal light (especially the ever hardy Java Moss) they will grow scraggly and stringy and grow very slowly. The more light you give your moss, the faster and fuller it will grow.

Mosses grow best attached to something. This is their epiphytic nature. They can attach to almost anything using strong anchor fibers, but the best options are rocks or driftwood. Simply tie the moss down onto an object and within a week or two it will be safe to remove the string. If you let your moss drift around, it will grow stringy and be much less attractive.

- Mosses grow much better with CO2. Although not needed, growth is dramatically affected by CO2. When I first added CO2, my Christmas moss took off and grew very rapidly. Combined with higher light and being attached to something, it also makes the moss more dense and healthy looking.

- Avoid moss eating fish and bugs. Siamese algae eaters top out the list here as the worst offenders, but there are also reports of small bug-like animals that can also devour whole stands of moss in days. If you see stripped fronds or notice your moss looking more stringy than usual and you have an offender in your tank, you are best off moving them or trying to feed them enough so they don't take to snacking on your moss.

Periodically clean out your moss. Moss works as an excellent filter, trapping all sorts of debris. The trouble is, this also encourages nasty types of algae to grow, including Blue Green Algae. When you change your water, run your fingers through the moss and shake out any loose debris, making sure to remove as much of it as possible from the tank.

Avoid algae at all costs. It is next to impossible to clean any type of algae out of moss. Often, if your moss becomes infested with algae, you'll have to rip it out the affected areas completely. The fronds are just too small and delicate. Instead, maintain adequate CO2 levels and fertilize regularly to fend off algae.

- Mosses love being trimmed. As much as a pain in the butt it can be to try to trim moss and clean up all the cuttings, it will grow back thicker and fuller. There really is no strategy, just trim it back with scissors and try desperately to catch all the small pieces (otherwise you'll have moss sprouting up all over your tank!)


  1. Another great post!!

    Your blog is a great help, thanks for the always very good posts.

    What are your prefered kinds of moss?

  2. Wow, what great timing! I'm about to embark on adding moss to my tank and here is a clear, concise explaination of the "DOs and DON'Ts". The only problem I run into is finding a local store stocking moss - does everyone else buy online?

  3. The best way I found to trim mosses is using the Snip & Suck method. Use a primed siphon and close it with your thumb/finger. With your other hand snip the moss and release the siphon to remove the floating pieces as soon as you can. Moss in unwanted areas of your tank is a real PITAto remove!

  4. Nice blog, and like george b said...Nice Timing! I just received about 32oz. of Java Moss from an aquabid auction, and this is just what I needed.

  5. "What are your prefered kinds of moss?"

    I enjoy Christmas moss, but I have yet to get my hands on some more exotic kinds, like Flame moss or Fissidens.

    "The only problem I run into is finding a local store stocking moss - does everyone else buy online?"

    I bought some at a local store and some online. Most exotic types will only be found online. The only thing to watch out for is mis-identified moss. Try to get actual pictures of the moss you are buying and compare them to others online.

    "The best way I found to trim mosses is using the Snip & Suck method."

    Excellent idea!

  6. Another point I find to be important is temperature. Mosses like it cool and won't do well if the temp is too high.

  7. when you trim your mosses just turn off your filter and you won´t have problem to trap the little filaments and use a net with fine mesh

  8. I always find my java moss growing in quite nicely yet some of the tiny filaments look brownish just as if it is rotten. Any idas?

  9. Hi,
    The tips of my moss are turning brown. Is it because the temperature of the water is not low enough?
    Is there a need to trim away the brown tips or will the moss recover on its own?


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