Java Moss – Care, Tips, Moss Carpets & Moss Trees

Java Moss Trees

Java Moss In the Aquarium

Java Moss is an aquatic plant that is commonly used in aquascaping and freshwater aquariums. Some tanks use Java Moss in obvious ways to form walls and trees. Other aquariums use the plant sparingly just on wood or rocks. It is very easy to grow, inexpensive and can improve your tanks health. Let’s learn more.

A carefully constructed Java Moss bonsai tree
A carefully constructed and densely grown Java Moss & Christmas Moss bonsai tree

If you’ve just purchased your first tank and  you’re still somewhat new to the aquarist game, there are a lot of useful things to know about Java moss. Aside from being a beautiful addition to any aquarium, this moss helps improve overall water quality, reduce algae growth, and provide protection and food for breeding fish.

Java Moss is useful for covering the substrate, rocks and driftwood

Java moss is very easy to grow and maintain, but before you get started, let’s cover a few basics and learn what exactly goes into caring for this plant.

Java Moss in the aquarium
Here ‘peacock moss’ covers the extent of this shrimp tank driftwood

What is Java Moss?

Java moss, or it’s scientific name Vesicularia dubyana, is a plant native to Southeast Asia and other tropical regions, It’s considered an invasive species of plant. It’s invasive because once it has set its roots it is very difficult to completely remove. This makes Java Moss a very useful plant for covering walls, driftwood and rocks in the aquarium. Once grown to the desired area, the moss can be maintained over time. In the wild it can get out of control quite quickly.

Java Moss carpeting the bottom of the aquarium
Java Moss carpeting the bottom of the aquarium

Java moss does well in water temperatures ranging from 18-30 °C (70-75 °F) and a 5 gallon tank is the minimum size needed to allow for appropriate growth. Smaller aquariums may restrict the movement of the fish.

Caring for your Plant

As previously mentioned, Java moss is extremely easy to grow and maintain. Although most pet stores sell nutrients and special lighting for these plants, they really aren’t necessary at all. This is a perfect beginner plant. This plant can even grow in dimly lit aquariums. Once introduced it will quickly grow on its own.

A beautiful multi-level use of Java Moss and Peacock Moss in the Aquarium

Something to note is that although Java moss might grow a bit quicker under bright lights, it will also collect algae much quicker. If left unattended, the algae may kill the plant over time. Be sure to remove the algae and keep watch over time.

Java moss also grows well in circulated, moving water. However, when it comes to small moss plants, it’s actually best to keep water circulation low since moss can easily break apart and clog up your filter. Try to keep the moss out of direct water flow and in the way of strong power heads.

As a final note in caring for your moss, make sure to do some weekly vacuuming on order to suck up any waste or food/plant particles. By keeping the moss clean, it will ensure quicker and less inhibited growth. Waste in the moss can contribute to algae growth and higher nitrates.

Growth and Propagation

Java Moss Wall in the back of the aquarium

 The amazing thing about Java moss is that by simply breaking off a piece and attaching it somewhere else you will get a new plant. The new moss will begin growing in a matter of days. Java moss is a rare type of plant in some parts of the world. Propagating through division can be beneficial if it is difficult to obtain. One plant can give life to several other Java Moss plants quickly and easily.

Java Moss Carpet

The most common form of Java moss is what is referred to as a carpet. In order to plant a carpet correctly, make sure to anchor it into a flat, non floating object. Many people pin the carpet down to the substrate using a mesh net and others simply sprinkle a light layer of substrate into the moss and let it grow right through. Either is effective and will allow the moss to grow roots onto the surface and hold itself down!

A combination of Java Moss, Peacock Moss, Flame Moss and Christmas Moss in this aquascape

Along with these two methods, you can also choose to anchor your Java moss with stones, drift wood, and even other plants. No matter what method you use, what’s important is having the moss weighed down and secure. Other options are rubber bands, zip ties and specialty plant super glues.

As previously mentioned, Java Moss does not require intense light to keep your moss growing, a medium level light should work well. What is important to monitor is your tank’s temperature and PH. Java moss grows well a PH level of 5-8 and temperatures ranging between 18-30 °C (70-75 °F). With this in mind, it would be a smart choice to purchase a tank heater, thermometer, and PH reader (or kit).

If you follow all these tips, your moss will grow very quickly and you will even need to trim your plants on a regular basis to keep them from taking over your entire tank.

Java Moss Walls

Java Moss Wall

Another popular way of growing moss is by making Java moss walls. These are usually made by using plastic mesh and suction cups to sustain the moss against the tank wall. A popular method of anchoring your moss involves folding the mesh net in half, sustaining the folded net with the suction cups, and then stuffing the moss inside each end.

Mesh is commonly used to grow java moss into a thick carpeted wall

Java moss walls usually grow faster than moss carpets, mostly due to the fact that they don’t have anything blocking their light source. This is also something to consider if you’re not entirely thrilled about trimming every couple of days.

Java Moss Trees

Java Moss Trees

Out of all the moss growing options, this one is the most challenging. I would not recommend this method unless you are very patient and willing to experiment over time. Growing Java moss trees usually involves using a piece of driftwood with several “branches”( preferably as close to the shape of a tree as possible), small natural sponges, and ethyl cyanoacrylate super glue gel. What you want to do here is glue the small sponges onto the gaps of the branches, then glue the moss onto the sponge. In the beginning the moss will stay in place quite well, but in order to get a proper tree look, you will have to trim the moss frequently and make sure it stays attached to the branches.

Java Moss Trees grown out

A great deal of maintenance goes into achieving the perfect look, so be prepared for dedication, patience, and time.

Things to Keep in Mind

Before planting your moss, there are a few things to consider such as:

  • Current and movement: If your tank does not have any current there’s a chance that not enough nutrients will be delivered to your plant. Your Java moss will most likely begin to wither away. Always ensure there is water movement and current in the tank.
  • Fertilizer: If you decide to use fertilizer, remember that a little goes a long way, so use it sparingly. Too much fertilizer can even damage the plant and cause what is known as “nutrient burn.”
  • Anchor correctly: As mentioned earlier, it’s always important to anchor your moss correctly. One of the best ways to do that is by using a mesh net. By using mesh the roots of the plant will be able to firmly grasp the bottom of the tank. They can also intertwine with the net and will not float away as easily.

Comments and Questions

Now that we’ve covered some tips about Java moss, I hope that you feel more informed and ready to begin growing some moss of your own.

For those of you who already have tanks with Java moss, how has the process been for you so far? Have you had success creating trees, walls or other interesting

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