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The most popular types of moss for the aquarium
September 23, 2022
Which ones are the most popular mosses aquarists and aquascapers keep in their planted aquariums? Generally, mosses bring a very natural touch to the aquarium with their delicate structures and lush green tones. They can help to create a distinctly natural environment for the livestock, possibly more than any other aquatic plant species. Another trait of most moss species is that they are easy to keep and can adapt to many various tank conditions. By the way, this article will not be the last one diving into the world of aquatic mosses.
Most common aquarium mosses originate in Asia, but some outliers are native to South or North America, Europe, or Africa. All the mosses listed below formed in freshwater streams, creeks, lakes, or ponds. Submerged, they settle on stones, branches, tree stumps, or some types simply floating around. Some of the mosses grow close to the waterline on the edges of their water source. Many of these mosses can grow emersed, too. For a lush emersed growth, they require high humidity, which is available in most origin regions.
Plant without roots
Compared to other plants, mosses have no root system because they belong to the type of non-vascular plants. Aquarium mosses have fine-feathered rhizoids, which function as a "gripping tool" fixing the plant to a surface. Especially this characteristic makes mosses so versatile for the aquarium hobby. They easily attach to almost every textured surface! Mosses can be easily shortened with scissors. For propagation, use cuttings, as each piece of moss will be its plant, even the tiniest scrap.
Java moss - Taxiphyllum barbieri
This aquatic moss from southeast Asia has been the most popular in the trade since the late 1970s. Java moss forms thin shoots (3 - 10+) with twiggy branches and tiny leaves. It will show a bright light green color under intense lighting. Because of its easy care, it is also a favorite of fish and shrimp breeders. Java Moss is medium in growth and a hardy plant that makes few demands on water or lightning.
Flame moss – Taxiphyllum' Flame'
Also, a southeast Asian native, and as we can suggest, its name relies on the form of growth. The bright dark green shoots (3 - 10+ cm) of this aquarium moss aren't particularly branched as they form upward striving clumps. Light undulating shoots and tight, vertical growing give the impression of a submerged, deep green campfire. Like most mosses, Flame Moss is a slow grower and doesn't require special needs.
Spiky moss – Taxiphyllum 'Spiky'
Taxiphyllum' Spiky' is a slightly larger growing aquarium moss from Asia, with a beautiful intense green coloration. Spiky moss is relatively undemanding and can reach growth heights of about 3 to 10 cm. Under powerful lighting, the growth will be more compact and with a distinct side shoot growth. Aquascapers like to use Spiky Moss on vertical surfaces where the branched shoots appear well.
Taiwan moss - Taxiphyllum alternans 'Taiwan'
Taxiphyllum alternans 'Taiwan' is a rich green and nicely branched aquarium moss. It isn't sure that it originates from Taiwan, but it comes from Asia and is exceptionally robust and undemanding moss. This moss also forms compact cushions (3 - 10+), some of which can hang down and resemble fir branches, similar to the Christmas moss.
Weeping moss - Vesicularia ferriei
Originating from Korea, Japan, and China, this moss has a crisp dark green color and is characterized by its overhanging growth, which is unique. Regular trimming is advisable to keep the overhanging cushions in good shape. Weeping Moss is relatively uncomplicated but does not grow firmly on surfaces. Therefore, it should be well fixed with a thread or glue to hardscape in any case. Vesicularia ferriei' Weeping' grows very compact and not high (1 – 3 cm).
Christmas moss – Vesicularia montagnei
Vesicularia montagnei' Christmas' is a moss from South America. Its densely branched and delicate side shoots (1 – 3 cm tall) are somewhat reminiscent of the appearance of a Christmas tree. The side branch structure looks like fir tree branches. Christmas Moss is also quite robust and frugal when it comes to the water values in the aquarium. This moss should get more lighting if we aim for reasonable and compact growth.
Riccardia chamedryfolia, also called coral moss, is a fine Asian liverwort. It is a dark green and quite firm moss with tiny shoots (somewhat fragile and breaks off more quickly than other mosses). It grows creeping-like, stays low (1 – 3 cm), and adheres firmly to all kinds of hardscapes. Riccardia is quite hardy and frugal, but for moss, it is a bit more demanding regarding nutrition. We recommend a sufficient CO2 supply and lighting.
Monosolenium tenerum from Asia is a unique dark green in colored liverwort with thick, brittle leaves. In appearance (3 - 5 cm in height) and texture, it reminds a bit of a more extensive form of Riccardia chamedrifolia. Generally, Monosolenium tenerum gets tied to wood, stones, or other decorative materials. It also does well as a solitary cushion in the foreground. This liverwort is positively robust and undemanding.
Riccia fluitans is rather a fine feathery light-green floating plant than what we would call a moss. Originating from Europe, America, and Asia, it's somehow multicultural. That Riccia also lists in the category of mosses, it owes to the Japanese Takashi Amano. He was said to be the first to keep liverwort submerged. Riccia fluitans has relatively rigid and firm shoots but very filigree and nicely branched. It produces visible oxygen bubbles that often remain nicely at its shoots for a considerable time if given a rich nutrition supply. Then Riccia can also be a fast-growing plant.
Helpful tools to fix moss to surfaces
Most mosses can be well fixed in tighter gaps of hardscape without using additional materials. It becomes a different story if we want to attach moss to wood or stone surface. As we might remember, mosses have fine-feathered rhizoids which can fixture it to a surface. The fixation won't happen within a minute; this process will take a few days or weeks. Therefore, we need to tie or glue the moss to its predetermined place in the Aquarium. Like to tie moss to a piece of spider wood? A standard cotton thread (preferably in green or brown color) or products like DOOA Terra Line or GreenWorks moss thread would be good choices. We advise planting moss on larger stone surfaces using plant glue. It is best to apply only as much adhesive as necessary.
Do you have further questions or need help?
Our customer service would be delighted to help you if you have further questions about aquarium mosses. Indeed, we will help you with other questions regarding aquariums and the beautiful world of aquascaping, too!