So, you want to start your own aquarium. You’ve got an idea about what fish you would like to add and how large the tank should be, or maybe you already know a thing or two about creating the underwater world in your home. After carefully researching various items to add to your aquarium, it’s time to decorate it and complete your project by adding live plants.

 

Today, we are diving into everything there is to know about the best aquarium mosses. Different types, how to care for them, what to look for, and many other exciting things you would want to consider before buying them for yourself.

 

Many people don’t know there are actually many types of mosses out there. The most widespread type is Java moss, which you can usually find in any tank (among others). However, before discussing the various types and species of mosses, you should know a few things.

 

Benefits of using moss in your aquarium

 

Mosses are not just optically pleasing. Yes, they make a beautiful aquatic scenery, but they also provide safety for your fish and shrimps.

 

  • They provide the ideal shelter for fish, shrimps, and their offspring.
  • It’s a great place for fish spawning.
  • Mosses don’t have roots, so they are easily movable and removable.
  • Mosses can make your aquarium look like a real underwater marvel.
  • Most of them grow at a slow pace, so they are easy to keep.
  • They adapt to almost any tank conditions.
  • They are suitable for any tank size.
  • They can improve the quality of your water by absorbing nitrates.

 

How to care for your aquarium mosses

 

Before discussing individual types of mosses, there are some general rules and things to note. Most mosses are easy to care for and rather undemanding. However, just like your fish need clean and filtered water to thrive, mosses do require some attention when it comes to the conditions in your tank.

 

Attaching moss to the substrate

 

Mosses don’t have roots, so they can be easily attached to various surfaces and substrates. Gravel, multiple stones, decorations, coconut shells, and other elements in your aquarium are suitable for mosses.

 

You can move and remove them at some point, but you should be careful not to disturb them once you’ve positioned them in place, as they need some time to adapt to the environment. Sometimes it takes days, weeks, or even months, but always give them time to attach and get used to the environment.

 

However, while most mosses are self-attaching to any substrate, some need to be tied with a fishing line or a thin thread.

 

Water filtration

 

Needless to say, that you should always keep an eye on your filtration system when it comes to your fish. The same goes for mosses. Water filtration is crucial, as debris and other suspended matter in the environment can affect your moss’ growth and development.

 

Water hardness is also essential for your fish and mosses alike. Mosses thrive in low to medium hardness, so don’t forget to change your filter’s cartridges when the maintenance is due.

 

Water temperature

 

When propagating aquatic moss, you should also pay attention to the water temperature. Most mosses thrive into moderately cold-water temperatures, but as a rule of thumb, keep your heaters set somewhere between 69-77 degrees Fahrenheit at most. It’s true that most fish also need a similar temperature to remain healthy and happy. Still, when it comes to mosses, depending on the type you choose, you need to consider if it fits into your aquarium world based on temperature as well.

 

Lighting conditions

 

Just as any living thing, mosses need light to survive and grow. Although most mosses will adapt and thrive in various lighting conditions, some can be fast growing when exposed to a bright and powerful light source, thus, overshadowing others. We will touch on most moss types in this article, but always read the care specifications before purchasing your moss.

 

Pruning & Growing pace

 

Some species of mosses have a fast-growing pace, so they need regular trimming to avoid overshadowing others. In other words, when your moss grows to a certain level, it can stop light penetration to the bottom layers, so other aquatic plants can actually die from the lack of light. However, some mosses grow at a slower and steadier pace and they don’t need much attention. Nevertheless, pruning is essential from time to time, not just for the appearance, but for the wellbeing of the entire ecosystem.

 

Algae

 

Algae is the number one enemy of mosses. It is almost impossible to keep your aquarium completely algae-free. At some point, you will see the green stuff growing on the moss or on the bottom layers. That’s why it’s essential to run your moss under water to wash it thoroughly. If your moss is already in the tank, you don’t want to risk pulling the whole bunch out, so try to take it together with the gravel or the stone that it’s attached on.

Some species of shrimps help fight against algae. The Amano shrimp is the top choice if you are having green hair algae problems. You can also make sure that your tank is always clean and in good condition by regularly cleaning its bottom with a siphon.

 

Now that you know the basic rules and guidelines for caring for your mosses, let’s explore what is available and your best options for your aquarium.

 

These are the best aquarium mosses to decorate your aquarium with.

ProductLightingRate of growth
Java Moss (Taxiphyllum Barbieri) Java Moss (Taxiphyllum Barbieri)low light to bright lightmoderate to fast
Flame Moss (Taxiphillum Sp) Flame Moss (Taxiphillum Sp)low to medium lightingslow to moderate
Christmas Moss (Vesicularia Montagnei) Christmas Moss (Vesicularia Montagnei)low to medium lightingslow to moderate
Crystalwort (Riccia Fluitans) Crystalwort (Riccia Fluitans)low to medium lightingfast
Weeping Moss (Vesicularia Ferriei) Weeping Moss (Vesicularia Ferriei)low to medium lightingmoderate to fast
Phoenix Moss (Fissidens Fontanus) Phoenix Moss (Fissidens Fontanus)low to medium lightingmoderate to fast
Pellia (Monosolenium Tenerum) Pellia (Monosolenium Tenerum)low to brightslow to moderate
Marimo Moss Ball (Aegsgropila Iinnaei) Marimo Moss Ball (Aegsgropila Iinnaei)low to brightslow
Star Moss (Tortula Ruralis) Star Moss (Tortula Ruralis)medium to brightslow
Taiwan Moss (Taxyphillum Alternans) Taiwan Moss (Taxyphillum Alternans)low to mediumslow




Water hardness: soft and hard water

Temperature: 57-86 degrees Fahrenheit

Lighting: low light to bright light

Rate of growth: moderate to fast

Anchoring needs: self-attaching, but you can use a cotton thread or a thin fishing line to attach them to the position you want.

PH range: 6.0-7.5

 

Java moss has an excellent reputation overall. It is the most widespread on the market. It also has the reputation of being the most versatile and undemanding when it comes to maintenance.

 

There are many reasons why Java moss is preferred amongst others, but the main reason is that it is hard to kill. Once attached, it’s almost impossible to degrade or die. That is because it will grow in nearly every water and light conditions.

 

When it comes to lighting conditions, it grows best in medium lighting, but low or high lighting is okay. It has a relatively moderate to fast growth rate, and that’s why it needs pruning from time to time.

 

Java moss is excellent for decorating, but it also provides a safe place for spawning and shelter for your fish or shrimps. It is self-attaching, and you can create lots of shapes with it. You can attach it to a cave entrance and let it hang, place it upright on driftwood, or create a moss wall, and even little bushes or a moss carpet. Its bright green color gives your environment a natural look. You could definitely decorate your whole tank with it, then trim it and shape it however you want.

 

This batch of Java moss comes in a cup that measures around 2.5 inches. Don’t be fooled – at first, it might not seem like much, but when you take it out of the cup, you soon realize that it’s plenty. This generous amount might be sufficient for your tank if you don’t plan on decorating all of it with only the Java moss.

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Water hardness: low

Temperature: 68-82 degrees Fahrenheit

Lighting: low to medium lighting

Rate of growth: slow to moderate

Anchoring needs: self-attaching, use any thread to attach it to any substrate. Attach it to hard surfaces like wood or stone.

PH range: 6.0-7.5

 

Flame moss has an attractive appearance, and that what sets it apart from other popular mosses. This one grows upwards, and its swirling shoots create a shape that resembles flames.

This type of moss doesn’t demand much attention. However, you should know a few things about it if you want to see it thriving.

 

Flame moss grows best when it’s fully submerged in water, so feel free to decorate your tank however you want. If it’s emersed, it will grow slower, so if you’re going to see its full potential, try to keep it fully submerged in water. Also, when it’s fully submerged, it can grow up to 3-4 inches long.

 

Just like Java moss, Flame moss doesn’t require special lighting conditions. It can grow in low to medium light just fine. Pay attention not to flood your tank with bright light, as too much can cause an algae bloom.

 

When it comes to temperature, between 68-82 degrees Fahrenheit is considered acceptable. It doesn’t require any special attention, like a heater, to stay alive and grow.

 

It can also grow on any hard surface, like wood or stone. Its dark green color and thick bunch formation can add interest to any aquarium.

 

Flame moss is self-attaching. It has a short adaptation period of maximum two weeks, so you shouldn’t encounter any problems when you place it underwater for the first time.

 

This ready to use Flame moss is excellent, as it comes already attached to a stainless-steel mesh. The pad size is 3″ X 3″, and you can use it as it is to create a live carpet/wall, or you can attach it to your various hard-surfaced decors using a fish line or even glue.

 

This dense bunch will eventually grow into even thicker bushes, giving your aquarium a beautiful foreground with lush green colors.

 

Be careful and don’t keep your algae-eating fish or moss eating shrimps in a flame moss decorated tank, as they consider it a treat.

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Water hardness: low to medium

Temperature: 68-77 degrees Fahrenheit

Lighting: low to medium lighting

Rate of growth: slow to moderate

Anchoring needs: can be left free-floating, or attached to various surfaces

PH range: 6.0-7.5

 

This moss is also relatively widespread and accessible, so you shouldn’t have much trouble finding it. What is really special about this moss type is its appearance. Its leaves are growing in a pattern that resembles evergreen trees. Hence, its name “Christmas moss”.

 

This moss is great to have, as it doesn’t need much attention and care. It has a low to moderate growth rate, even with the help of fertilizer. It grows best when it’s fully submerged in water.

 

When it comes to lighting conditions, it prefers low to moderate light. Continuous bright light might cause algae formation, and that’s something you don’t want to see in your aquarium.

 

The temperature should be kept between 68-77 degrees if you want to see your Christmas moss thrive.

 

Its bushy and dark green appearance is mostly used as a carpet or a wall. It looks great in any aquarium, it’s easy to care for, and it creates beautiful scenery in any setting.

 

This quantity proves larger than expected, especially for being squeezed into a cup. The Christmas moss arrives in a cup and takes about a full palm size when you take it out of the packaging. That is more than enough for decorating your aquarium.

 

You can let it free-floating, or you can tie it to rocks or wood decorations. It should adapt pretty fast as well. If you have any trouble the first three days, you can send it back and receive a brand new one or a full refund, as it has a three-day guarantee.

 

When it comes to aquarium plants, the Christmas moss is one of the best you can get. It is easy to care for. It doesn’t require any special conditions; it’s visually pleasing and easy to find.

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Water hardness: low to medium

Temperature: 59-86 degrees Fahrenheit

Lighting: low to medium lighting

Rate of growth: fast

Anchoring needs: Free-floating, has no roots, it can be attached using wire

PH range: 6.0-8.0

 

This fascinating aquatic plant is both intriguing and beautiful, mainly because it’s not precisely a moss. It’s actually a livewort, and it has a stunningly vivid green color that can brighten up any tank décor.

 

It has grown approximately one inch tall, and it’s mainly used as a ground-covering carpet. It also has a relatively fast growth pace, so it needs regular trimming.

 

Crystalworth is naturally found floating in ponds and slow-moving streams. So, it’s a plant that likes to float. If you want to attach it to stones or wood, just know that it doesn’t grow roots. Considering its fast growth rate, it can detach itself and float around in your tank once it reaches enough growth. That’s why it’s regarded as a high-maintenance plant. You could attach it to a mesh and use it as a carpet, wall, or you can place it all over your aquarium in bunches.

 

With this deal, you get three packs of 4×6 cm, which might seem like a small bunch, but you can propagate them in water, as they tend to grow fast. Tie them wherever you feel they look good, put them in a mesh base, or let them float freely, and make sure you offer them enough light to thrive.

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Water hardness: low

Temperature: best between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit, but it can stand higher temperatures

Lighting: low to medium lighting

Rate of growth: moderate to fast

Anchoring needs: it needs anchoring to gravel, rocks, driftwood

PH range: 5.0-6.0

 

This is a beautiful overhanging pant that adds diversity to your tank’s décor. The name comes from its resemblance to a real-life willow. It needs anchoring to grow, but it’s versatile. You can attach it on top of caves and watch its branches hang over them; you can put it on driftwood and even on gravel.

 

Its bright green hanging shoots need regular trimming. It prefers a more acidic environment, so keep your water’s Ph between 5.0 and 6.0.

 

It is a tricky aquatic plant, as it can quickly develop algae, so be careful with bright lighting. It thrives in low to medium lighting. It also requires a few days to adapt to its environment, so be patient.

 

It also needs more CO2 than other mosses in order to grow.

 

You can buy it in a cup, which is more than enough to get started. Make sure you anchor it properly and wash it thoroughly before placing it in your tank.

 

It also comes with a three-day guarantee, so if anything happens to it, or you see browner then green, you can easily request another one.

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 Water hardness: low (soft)

Temperature: best between 59-77 degrees Fahrenheit

Lighting: low to medium lighting

Rate of growth: moderate to fast

Anchoring needs: it easily attaches to most substrates

PH range: 6.0-8.0

 

This is another beautiful-looking moss. With its bright green leaves when it’s growing, turning into olive-green when it reaches the plateau, this is one of the best aquarium mosses that you can decorate with.

 

Its leaves form specific and precise patterns. It can reach up to 5 inches, and it can create dome shapes that look beautiful.

 

In terms of water hardness, it prefers soft water. Be careful with temperature, as it cannot stand too high temperatures. Keep it between 59-77 degrees, or else it can start browning and eventually die.

 

Keep your bright light away, too, as it doesn’t need it. It can grow in low to medium lighting conditions. Bright light can rapidly start the browning process.

 

So, it’s a bit sensitive to temperature and light, but other than that, it’s suitable even for beginner hobbyists. You can create a carpet or attach it higher on rocks to create the dome effect.

 

Here you can get it in pads. It comes already attached to a stainless-steel mesh, so all you have to do is wash it with dechlorinated water and place it at the bottom of your tank to create a carpet or wherever you think it’s suitable.

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Water hardness: soft to hard

Temperature: 40-80 degrees Fahrenheit, but it can withstand higher temperatures

Lighting: low to bright

Rate of growth: slow to moderate

Anchoring needs: it can float or be anchored to various substrates

PH range: 5.0-8.0

 

If you are looking for something both beautiful and easy to keep healthy, this livewort is what you need. This undemanding aquatic plant can withstand harsh conditions and doesn’t require much attention.

 

Being a livewort, it doesn’t have leaves – they are called thallus. Each one divides into fork branches, creating a cushion shape. It’s versatile and carefree, so feel free to anchor it or let it float freely in your tank.

 

Its dark green color is great to use as an accent in your aquarium. It can grow in smaller clumps or even longer ribbons, and it anchors to most substrates.

 

This portion is 1.6″ x 2.4,” and it’s perfect to start decorating with it. Keep in mind that Pellia tends to be brittle, so pieces can break off if you are not handling it with care. Place it in your tank and attach it to stones.

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Water hardness: soft to hard

Temperature: 43-75 degrees Fahrenheit

Lighting: low to bright

Rate of growth: slow

Anchoring needs: it doesn’t need substrate

PH range: 7.0-8.0

 

If you want the easiest plant to keep alive, this is it. No-fuss, no anchoring, trimming, and no paying attention to temperature, lighting, and water PH. This is literally a ball of moss that you can immediately place in your tank.

 

It adds so much interest to any tank environment, and it’s such a low-maintenance plant that anyone can take care of it.

 

Do you want to know the best part? If you’re going to propagate it, all you have to do is split it and re-roll the pieces. That’s the easiest and fastest propagation that we’ve ever seen.

 

The bright green and very fluffy appearance make it look like a fuzzball. Needless to say, that is the number one reason why it is so popular.

 

In this pack, you get three giant balls (1.75″ – 2.25″), two medium-sized (1.5″), and two small ones (1″). The pack comes at a great price point. The various sizes will allow you to professionally decorate any aquarium, regardless of its size. These dense balls will make your aquarium look like it was decorated by a designer.

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Water hardness: soft to medium

Temperature: 73-86 degrees Fahrenheit

Lighting: medium to bright

Rate of growth: slow

Anchoring needs: it can be anchored above the water

PH range: 5.0-7.5

 

This mainly star-shaped moss is definitely not for everyone, but it’s gorgeous and unique. It is not natively waterborne, so if you decide to fully submerge it in water, unfortunately, it will not live a long life. This aquatic plant needs a shallow water tank or some kind of terrain, rock, or wood that extends above the water.

 

Its appearance varies depending on its water accessibility. When it’s fully dry, the leaves gather around the stem, and they change their colors from green to brownish-red.

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Water hardness: soft

Temperature: 53-86 degrees Fahrenheit

Lighting: low to medium

Rate of growth: slow

Anchoring needs: anchor it on driftwood

PH range: 5.0-8.0

 

 

This bright green moss can grow into thick clusters, and the best news is that it doesn’t need to be fully submerged to thrive. As long as it has access to water, it will survive and grow.

 

It grows horizontally rather than vertically in a triangle-shape. It’s perfect for carpeting, and it can withstand harsh temperatures. It doesn’t need special conditions to grow. In fact, it’s fairly easy to maintain.

 

It has a slow growth pace, and it only needs moderate lighting, but it can survive with minimal lighting. The number one reason why it’s popular among hobbyists is that it helps reduce algae growth. This moss is perfect to pair with other types that quickly develop algae, as they can thrive together.

 

This one comes with a stainless-steel mesh that measures 3” x 3”. It can be propagated, and immediately placed into the tank. Use it for carpeting, or anchor it on driftwood and watch it grow.

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Conclusion

 

Take your time and research your mosses, know them, and choose them wisely. There is no right or wrong way to decorate your aquarium, and you will certainly learn your lessons as you go. However, as always, pay attention to the reviews and specifications before buying anything, and make sure you always check your mosses for snails and algae.

 

Happy decorating!