If you’re looking for an attractive, sturdy, and easy-to-grow aquatic plant to add to your setup, java moss might be a good species to start with.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about growing and caring for Java moss so you can get the most out of this versatile, beautiful species.
What is Java Moss?
Java moss is a member of the Hypnaceae family of plants native to Southeast Asia, where it grows on tree trunks, rocks and river banks. The plant also grows underwater, which is why it is so popular in the aquarium hobby.
Java moss is probably the most popular and abundant freshwater aquarium moss, largely because it isn’t fussy about water quality and lighting. Because of this, you can buy this plant from most good fish stores and online.
There is some confusion about the scientific name of Java moss. Originally the plant was known as Vesicularia Dubyana; However, it was reclassified to Taxiphyllum Barbieri. The confusion surrounding the plant name is due to the fact that the Latin names incorrectly match the common names of the plant.
For example, Vesicularia Dubyana, also called Singapore moss or Christmas moss, is completely different from Taxiphyllum Barbieri or Java moss. However, both species are assigned to the same genus; Taxiphyllum.
We therefore recommend always asking for their Latin names when purchasing plants to avoid confusion, especially when buying online.
Benefits of growing java moss
The plant is extremely useful for aquascaping because of its versatility and the natural, aged atmosphere it offers in a tank. Java moss is very easy to grow and incredibly tough. This delicate plant clings to rocks, driftwood, and man-made aquarium decorations, and can also be grown at the bottom of the tank for a carpet effect. You can also grow java moss on the walls of the tank to soften the overall look of the setup, or use it to disguise your filter.
The moss also provides shelter for shy fish and fries, and provides a place for eggs to cling to in a breeding tank. Some species of fish also like to feed on the plant, and the leaves are an excellent place for infusorians to grow and provide ample food for newly hatched fry.
If you want to keep a few shrimp in your aquarium to keep the algae under control, small invertebrates like to hide in the fragile fronds of java moss.
When grown underwater, java moss has bright green leaves with much smaller leaves than the variety of plant that grows on land.
The plant adheres to surfaces with rhizoids. Rhizoids are only used to hold the plant securely in place, and unlike roots, they do not provide nutrients to the plant. Java moss derives what it needs mainly from the water column and light. Because of this, these plants appreciate fairly bright lighting.
Java moss care guide
As mentioned earlier, Java moss is extremely easy to care for and almost impossible to kill! Because of this, this type is the perfect choice for beginners.
In this part of our guide you will learn how to create the optimal conditions for Java moss to thrive in your home aquarium.
Java moss can handle pretty much every type of water. However, the ideal conditions for this plant are moderately flowing, soft, acidic water.
The water should be kept at a tropical temperature between 69o and 75o Fahrenheit, although this species of moss is happy in temperatures as high as 86o Fahrenheit. It should be noted, however, that the plant’s growth rate will be slower in warmer water. If your tank has cooler water, this aquarium plant will grow faster and you will enjoy brighter, healthier looking plants.
Java moss grows from low to high in all lighting conditions. However, you will notice a difference in the plant depending on the aquarium lighting you have.
For example, if you have little light in your tank, the plant will be darker and more stray than under strong lighting, creating a more compact and dense plant. Keep in mind, however, that the brighter the light, the more likely it is that algae will grow in your tank, potentially choking the java moss and other plants.
If your tank is low on light, it may be a good idea to add fertilizers and CO2 to your aquarium to increase the growth rate of these aquatic plants.
Trimming and maintenance
How you allow your Java moss plants to grow depends entirely on your personal preferences. If you want, you can use aquascaping scissors to trim the plants to create specific shapes and looks for your tank. If you prefer, let the plants grow wild and remove dead leaves regularly as needed.
Be careful when using aqua moss to cover your filters. Aquarium moss can clog your filters if it is allowed to get too thick. So remember to regularly thin the growth. Plus, it’s so easy to grow java moss that it’ll make a takeover bid for the entire aquarium if you’re not careful! If the plant becomes very dense and thick, the center of the plant will not receive enough nutrients because the flow of water cannot reach it. In this case, the leaves will begin to turn brown and the moss will peel away from its point of attachment.
The only real potential problem encountered with growing moss in aquariums is algae. Algae grow very quickly when given enough light, especially when the water conditions are poor. Once algae grow in moss, it is incredibly persistent and difficult to get rid of. If the problem is particularly bad, the only solution is to get rid of the moss and start over with fresh plants.
Sometimes you can save your java moss by gently removing the algae with a very soft toothbrush. Alternatively, you can use a chemical algicide product recommended for use in the aquarium.
However, prevention is always better than cure when dealing with algae. So, reduce the amount of light your tank receives by limiting the hours of lighting you have. If you don’t want to turn off the lights manually, invest in a simple timing device to do the job for you. By limiting the lighting in your tank to eight hours a day, you can effectively retard algae growth. Also make sure the water quality in the tank is excellent by performing weekly water changes and properly maintaining your filtration system.
How to Grow Java Moss
Aquarium java moss can be grown in a number of different ways, depending on how you plan to use it in your aquarium.
The easiest way to grow the plant is to let it float as a surface plant. All you have to do is put the plant in your tank and leave it to its own devices.
Tied to something
The most popular way to grow java moss is to attach it to something in the tank to keep the plants in place. To attach the moss to a piece of driftwood, stone, or any other type of decoration, place the plant in a thin layer over the object you want to attach it to and secure it there with a piece of very thin dark thread or Fishing line. It takes about a month for the plant to be securely attached. At this point, you can carefully remove the thread.
Carpet or tank wall cladding
Many aquarists like to grow Java moss as a carpet plant or as a cover for the tank walls. This effect gives your aquarium a nice natural look that is a breeze too.
To make a java moss carpet, take two pieces non-toxic Mesh and some fishing line. Cover the mesh with a light layer of Java moss. You can use ingredients from your plant to do this to make sure they lie flat. Once the net is covered, place the second piece of net on top with a fishing line to join the two layers of net together.
Place the Java Moss Mesh Sandwich in the tank. The plants gradually begin to grow through the net and form a beautiful moss bed that you can use to make a wall or floor covering. Alternatively, you can put some pieces of moss on the bottom of the tank and sprinkle a small amount of gravel over it to hold it in place until it starts to grow and attach to the substrate.
You can also create java moss trees. To do this, take a piece of driftwood that you can stand upright and that is already a basic tree shape with a few branches and a trunk. Using aquascaping glue, take small pieces of java moss and glue them to the branches to create foliage. Trim away any excess messy parts to give the decoration a distinctive tree shape.
Place the finished Java moss tree in your aquarium. The moss begins to grow quickly, as if the tree was in bloom.
Spreading Java moss couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is cut a piece off the plant and place it where you want it to grow. The plant just keeps growing.
Availability and price
Java moss grows very easily in aquariums and is one of the easiest aquatic plants to care for. For this reason you can buy Taxiphyllum Barbieri in almost every fish shop and also online. Thanks to its ease of propagation, the price of this aquarium moss is usually quite low at just a few dollars for a few.
You can grow java moss in pretty much any aquarium. The plant is very tolerant of most water conditions and has many uses, from giving your tank a beautiful, natural look to protecting shy species of fish and newborns.
Java moss is extremely easy to grow and is therefore ideal for beginners in the hobby as well as for experienced aquarists. The main problem with growing this plant is that it can become clogged with algae. However, if you limit your tank’s light hours and keep the water in good condition, you shouldn’t have too many problems with algae outbreaks.