Aquarium plants Articles

Growing aquarium moss

February 28, 2016
aquarium moss

If you’re looking for a versatile, attractive and fast growing aquarium plant that’s suitable for beginners, chances are you may end up buying some moss. While the terrestrial version of this plant may not be regarded as very exciting, aquarium moss has many uses and looks great as part of almost any type of aquascape. Keep reading for more information about growing aquarium moss!

Uses of aquarium moss

One of the reasons moss is such a popular aquarium plant is that is can be used for may different purposes. If you use it to liven up an aquascape, it can be left free floating, attached to the back wall of the tank or tied to driftwood. The realistic looking “aquarium trees” that are occasionally used in aquascapes are actually made by tying moss on top of a piece of driftwood and letting it grow.

Apart from just looking pretty, aquarium mosses will also prove useful when breeding some species of fish and (dwarf) shrimp. Egg-laying fish will often deposit their eggs in the fine leaves, which allows you to easily pick them up and move them to a separate tank if there is a risk of the parents eating them. It provides a safe place for the fry to grow up in and because many micro-organisms also find a safe haven in the moss, the fry will be provided with food until they’re big enough to eat regular fish foods.

Growing aquarium moss

Kevin & Gregg's Fishtank 2036

Cherry shrimp on Java moss. Kevin & Gregg’s Fishtank 2036 by pkmousie.

Fortunately, almost all species of aquatic moss are quite easy to grow. Root tabs obviously aren’t necessary and added Co2 or extra lighting is almost never required for good growth! In fact, hardy mosses such as Java moss can grow in ambient lighting and temperature. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind if you want your moss to stay lush and green looking.

  • There are many fish species that will regard aquarium moss as a tasty snack instead of a tank decoration. Keeping it with goldfish, and other herbivorous or omnivorous fish may not always end well.
  • Regular trimming is very important if you want to keep your moss alive and healthy. Whether your moss is attached to a surface or left free floating, it’s very important for it to constantly be supplied with fresh, flowing water. Once the moss grows too dense, the middle part may become brown and will eventually die off!
  • Another important factor in moss growth is the temperature of your aquarium water. While it can survive very high temperatures, moss usually won’t grow very well above 75 °F/24 °C. If you keep fish that require high water temperatures, such as bettas, you may find it growing a bit slower than when it’s kept in cooler water! Most aquarium moss is best suited for aquariums with a temperature between 70-75 °F/21-24 °C.

Attaching aquarium moss

As mentioned before, aquarium moss can be attached to a surface or left free floating (although it will grow a bit better when it has something to attach to). Getting the moss to stay on the desired surface can be a bit of a challenge; I usually use fishing line to secure it as this is almost completely invisible. If you want to use your moss as a carpeting plant, you can also use a piece of aquarium safe mesh. For more detailed instructions on tying aquarium plants (including moss) to wood or rock, check out this handy guide.

Kevin & Gregg's Fishtank 2120

Moss can be attached to most surfaces. Kevin & Gregg’s Fishtank 2120 by pkmousie.


Aquarium moss is a great plant for beginning and experienced fishkeepers alike. It’s on the list of 8 easy aquarium plants for a reason! It can add depth and a great natural look to your aquascape when attached to driftwood and rock or as a rock mat. When left free floating, it provides a great hiding and foraging place for (baby) fish and shrimp. I’ve used it in many different types of aquarium setups and I’ve never been disappointed.

For a list of five easy types of aquarium moss, have a look at Houseplant Central here.


If you have any more questions about aquarium moss or if you have additional info to share, feel free to leave a comment below. Happy fishkeeping!

Cover image: tank 12L by roman-holba.


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4 Comments

  • Reply Nate August 2, 2016 at 5:51 am

    I am not new to the aquarium hobby but I have not tried growing moss yet in any of my aquariums so I have a few questions. is moss better planted on the bottom of the sand (on the gravel) or in middle of tank or up top nearest to the light? and do CO2 boosters actually hurt it if It doesn’t help it much? thanks in advance for whoever answers 🙂

    • Reply Mari August 2, 2016 at 12:01 pm

      The moss is best plants on a surface like wood or rock (or the bottom/sides of your tank) using mesh to keep it in place. The location doesn’t matter too much, though if your lighting is really weak you may want to place it nearer to the top. And extra Co2 is always appreciated, it will not harm the moss. 🙂

      • Reply Nate August 2, 2016 at 7:02 pm

        alright, thanks for the help =)

  • Reply Gregg Martin February 28, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    That’s a great synopsis on moss. I will say it collect diatoms as well and turn brown, though in my tanks that disappeared eventually. The trimming is a good idea .

    Gregg

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