If you are looking for a natural carpet for your aquarium then the Java Moss is one of the very best.
This spectacular moss grows beautifully in low light and it is very easy to care for.
Whilst it is one of the most popular picks for carpeting a tropical freshwater tank, it can also be used in temperate waters.
Tropical nano tanks, tetra tanks, betta tanks and cichlid tanks are just a few of the habitats that benefit from this useful plant.
Are you interested in growing Java Moss?
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about caring for this popular plant…
Table of Contents
All About Java Moss
Java Moss, Taxiphyllum barbieri, is a very popular type of aquarium moss that belongs to the Hypnaceae family.
The plant is native to Southeast Asia and was first discovered in Vietnam.
Java Moss is commonly used for carpeting, aquascaping and as a supplementary food source for herbivores and omnivores. Micropredators also benefit from the microbial colonies that form in its leaves.
This plant looks at its very best when it is planted at the bottom foreground of your tank. You can also use it to accent the middle levels of your aquarium.
In a low light tank this is one of the best carpet plants out there.
Although they are very popular in the aquarium, not much is known about their natural habitat.
It is often confused with Christmas Moss and Singapore Moss – they are two very similar plants that grow in the same region. In fact, Java Moss and Singapore Moss were once believed to be the same species until they were identified as different plants and split into different taxonomies.
5 Reasons Why You Should Have Java Moss In Your Tank
- This plant tolerates shifting water conditions very well. You do not have to worry about it if your water parameters are temporarily thrown off base. It can even handle tank cycling so it can be one of the first plants that you add to your tank.
- Because this moss is so popular you should have no trouble finding it. This makes it very affordable and suitable for all aquarists.
- Bottom dwelling fish will appreciate the shelter that a dense mat of this moss can provide. Chili Rasbora and other fish that prefer low light environments will find it to be a comfortable place to hide. Cherry Shrimp and other bottom feeding herbivores can even use it as a food source.
- Moss also makes a safe and natural spawning ground – it can be used for sheltering eggs and hatchlings. The microbial colonies that form in its leaves will be the larvae’s first food source once they lose their yolk sacs.
- Java Moss has a beautiful appearance when it is clean and well-kept. Since it anchors so easily to just about any hard surface there are so many possibilities when it comes to aquascaping with it.
Java Moss Placement Ideas
Java Moss can be used as a carpet for a freshwater tank, serve as an accent for a paludarium, and even accent taller plants by growing along their bases.
Lots of fish need carpeting in their tanks for shelter and security.
Java Moss is one of the very best options for carpeting your substrate. It grows in thick, dense mats and can grow very long in a low light environment.
The plant both shelters and provides a food source for your shrimp, crabs and snails. Apple Snails and Cherry Shrimp in particular love to munch on this moss.
You can also plant it alongside the walls of your tank as well. Just make sure it has a surface to grow on. It can grow along almost anything but will not climb your aquarium glass. You can even grow Java Moss alongside driftwood stumps and stalks to create beautiful Java Moss trees – these trees look beautiful in 100 gallon fish tanks.
In a nursery tank this moss makes a safe place for fish to lay their eggs – it is easy to see the little white eggs up against this dark green plant.
When the larvae lose their yolk sacs they will need something to eat immediately. Most fish larvae eat microscopic foods, which this plant is packed with.
Java Moss Care Guide
Caring for this robust aquatic plant is much easier than it might seem.
First of all we will look at tank requirements.
While this plant can grow in any temperature (60-82°F), they will be at their best in a water temperature of 71-75°F. When the water is too hot or too cold this moss will look much duller and also grow slower.
You should keep your hardness between 6 and 20 dGH and also remember that they do not like saltwater environments. Keep a pH range between 5.5-8.0 and make sure the water flow is moderate. A fast water flow can disrupt the rhizoids that anchor the plant.
While this moss can grow in any light intensity, it grows fastest in low light. Low light will also help to keep it looking its best and greenest.
If you want this plant to grow quicker then you can add CO2 and fertilizer to your water. However this is not necessary as the plant should grow just fine on its own.
How To Plant Java Moss
This plant is easy to grow and easy to propagate.
You also have several different ways to plant it.
For basic planting you can simply place your moss on your substrate (or a hard surface) and wait for the rhizoids to take hold. This is the easiest and most natural way to plant your moss. You can grow the moss on any substrate, from fine grains to large rocks. It grows best on hard surfaces when the rhizoids can firmly attach.
However, you may find that your plant is reluctant to anchor. If this happens you can use either superglue or fishing wire:
- You can try the superglue method if you want to plant your moss on rocks and logs. Remove your surface from the tank and add a drop or two of superglue where you would like to anchor your moss. Now you can add your moss to the rock and place them back in your tank once it is firmly anchored.
- If you are uncertain about using superglue then you can use fishing wire to hold your moss down. You can tie your moss down with fishing wire and once it has grown you can cut the wire away.
Sometimes people want to make java moss carpet.
To create a dense carpet along your substrate you can use the mesh or canvas method.
Get two layers of thin mesh and anchor your moss in-between them using fishing wire. The moss will grow to the shape of your mesh. This allows you to create any kind of carpet you would like.
The good news is that Java Moss is very good at maintaining itself.
However it will still need to be cleaned and trimmed every so often.
Old moss will turn brown and die off to make room for the new leaves that grow in. Detritus and dead plant material can foul up your tank so make sure that you remove any dead or decaying moss as soon as possible.
In low light tanks with moderate water temperatures your moss will grow very quickly and will need trimming every 3 to 4 weeks. Slow growing moss can be trimmed once every 6 to 8 weeks.
How often you prune your moss is your choice.
If you prefer your plant to look long and lanky then you will not need to trim it very much at all. However you will still need to clean and rinse your moss to remove any fouling or algal buildup. You can do this every time you clean your tank.
Growing and Propagation
Propagating Java Moss is very simple.
You just need to pick off a bit from one of your mats and anchor it to a new surface. You can use any one of the planting methods described above to successfully grow your new crop of moss.
It will take around 3-4 weeks to mature in good water conditions. If you want your plants to grow as quickly as possible then keep the light low and keep the water temperature between 71-75°F.
You can add a few drops of fertilizer for more rapid growth but do not add too much of it. Too much fertilizer will also make the algae in your tank grow rapidly.
If you want to grow your Java Moss slower you can increase the light intensity to moderate levels and either raise the temperature above 75°F or drop the temperature below 70°F.
To create well defined carpets or walls then you will need a surface for your moss to grow on. Use mesh or plastic for carpets and wooden or rocky surfaces to grow walls. If you are having difficulty getting the moss to attach then you can use fishing wire or superglue.
5 Common Problems With Java Moss (And How To Fix It)
Java Moss Turning Brown
This is the most common problem with this plant.
If your moss is turning brown it means that it is too dry. Eventually it will die off and detach from the surface it is planted on. Water cannot reach your moss if it is too thick or it is being shaded out by the other plants in your aquarium.
To prevent this you should prune your moss regularly and make sure it is not overcrowded by your other plants.
Over time your moss can be fouled up by dirt, algae and dead plant material. It must be cleaned along with the rest of your tank. Remove and rinse your moss every time you clean your tank and dispose of any dead plants as soon as possible.
Whilst Java Moss is a slow grower compared to other plants, it can still get out of control if you do not maintain it carefully.
Because it is so dense and thick it can become a nuisance if allowed to overgrow.
You should prune it regularly and keep your water temperatures between 71 and 75°F to prevent overgrowth.
Poor Water Conditions
Although this is a hardy plant it is still susceptible to poor health in a poorly maintained tank.
It suffers if the temperature is too high or too low, if water parameters are too far out of its range, if there is too much or too little light and if your water column has too much nitrogen.
A high nitrogen content in particular can create deadly algal blooms.
Your water parameters should be monitored regularly and anything that falls out of range should be corrected as soon as you can.
Too much CO2 and nitrogen in your tank can cause the algae in the tank to grow out of control.
This creates a lot of shade and causes your plants to die.
In severe algal buildup cases you may even need to remove the Java Moss.
Monitor your nitrogen content carefully and make sure there is never too much or too little of anything. If your plants are suffering from a buildup of algae you can try to trim it away or remove it by using a safe algaecide.
FAQs About Java Moss
How fast does java moss grow?
The growth rate of your Java Moss depends on its environment.
This plant will grow faster in low light and in water temperatures between 71-75°F. In higher light, or lower temperatures, it can take up to 8 weeks to grow.
What eats java moss?
Any fish that enjoys a nibble on aquarium plants will also munch on your Java Moss.
However this moss is adored by your small bottom dwellers. Cherry Shrimp, Amano Shrimp and Grass Shrimp just love to eat it. If you keep Apple or Nerite Snails then they will eat it too.
Should You Keep Java Moss In Your Aquarium?
There are so many things that you can do with Java Moss in your aquarium.
This attractive green moss can make your tank look like a real tropical river basin in no time at all!
Plenty of fish and other animals appreciate this leafy moss for food, shelter and breeding grounds. It might even be the first thing that your new fish will see after they hatch.
Fishkeepers of any skill level should have an easy time keeping their Java Moss healthy.
There are many benefits to keeping this beautiful moss in your tank. No wonder it is the most popular aquarium moss around.
Why do you like this moss? Let us know in the comments section below…