Aquarium Moss 101 – 10 Different Mosses + Keeping it in Tank

There are many different types of aquarium moss with a variety of different uses.

There are ten common types of moss that make beautiful aquatic scenery.

Below are the types and differences between them; decide which of these will be the most beneficial to your fish.

10 Different Aquarium Mosses

1. Java Moss

Java Moss, a Carpeting Plant for Freshwater Aquariums

Originating from Southeast Asia, Java Moss is one of the most common aquarium mosses. It loves moving water and if you do not attach it to rocks or wood, it will attach itself to the tubing, a detrimental mistake.

It is often used as an egg-laying site for many fish, including the killifish. Newly born livebearers can be protected and hide from their hungry parents and other small critters that live in the moss.

You may fertilize it for faster growth, but it is not required because it pulls fish waste out of the water, resulting in cleaner water and self-fertilization.

Java Moss can survive growing fast and green in water conditions that would kill or brown most aquatic plants. It reproduces by dividing and spreading.

Java Moss grows best in medium light and it is hard to get rid of once you have gotten it started.

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2. Christmas Moss

christmas moss

Vesicularia Montagnei, commonly known as Christmas Moss, grows at 65-77 degrees Fahrenheit in low lighting and the PH level needs to be between 5.0 and 7.5.

It is a slow growing plant, but good for beginners. When it is grown attached to a piece of driftwood or tree root, it takes on a triangular form similar in appearance to a Christmas tree, hence its name.

When it is grown unattached however, its form varies and looks more untamed like Java Moss.

The difference between Christmas Moss and Java Moss can be easily identified by the fluffier leaves of the Christmas Moss.

The most common use of the Christmas Moss is to create a wall. This can be done by placing the moss between two pieces of mesh in a sandwich-like method and then pressing it against the tank wall. (I will write a comprehensive post on creating moss wall soon.)

It will slowly grow through the mesh, making a wall. It can be used as flooring as well, but it is not recommended because it will be easier to become an algae magnet this way and would be hard to keep clean.

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3. Flame Moss

Flame Moss

Flame Moss is originally from Asia and gets its name from the form of its growth, which is vertical with a light green glow giving the impression of a flame.

It looks best when you bind the moss to tree roots or driftwood in small bunches. It has a slow growth rate and a height of 1-4 inches with low lighting and carbon dioxide demand.

Flame Moss is a beautiful touch to your aquatic scene.

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4. Willow Moss

Willow Moss

Fontinalis Antipyretica, commonly known as, is deep green in color and looks best as it grows larger and its vibrant light green tips begin to show. It gets its name from its resemblance to a weeping willow tree.

It does well in lower temperatures and is very easy to grow and care for. It is originally from Asia, it has a slow growth rate with a height of 2-4 inches with medium light and carbon dioxide demand.

Willow Moss is great for smaller tanks; it needs slightly brighter lighting, but may brown if the water becomes too warm. Willow Moss is great for most fish.

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5. Star Moss

Star Moss

The scientific name for Star Moss is Tortula Ruralis. It grows at 73-86 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH level of 6.0 to 7.5 in low lighting.

Star Moss has a slow, but easy, growth rate. Although it is not a true aquatic plant, it can survive beautifully for about three months when submerged in a tank and can survive for months without water.

When grown in water, it has an appealing star-like structure, but only for a short time.

It is best for a dry set up and loves places like the desert.

If you are looking to use moss such as this for a long-term aquatic décor, a good alternative would be Fissidens Fontanus.

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6. Peacock Moss

Peacock Moss

Taxiphyllum, or Peacock Moss is very different from most moss. It has leaf cells that are narrowly oblong. It grows in a peacock shape at 77-86 degrees Fahrenheit, but in any higher temperatures it will lose its peacock-shaped fronds.

Being from genus Taxiphyllum, it has more of a soft velvety texture than that of the Christmas Moss. It branches out very quickly from one single frond, spreading out as it grows like the fan of a peacock’s tail.

It grows up to six inches in diameter.

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7. Weeping Moss

Weeping Moss

Vesicularia Ferriei originates from China and grows up to one inch tall. Its shoots are bright green and resemble teardrops, giving it the appearance of weeping, thus its name.

It looks best when attached to driftwood or roots due to its drooping growth pattern. It grows quickly with low demands.

It will need to be trimmed frequently with scissors for a more attractive look.

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8. Taiwan Moss

Taiwan Moss

Taxiphyllum Alternans is commonly known as Taiwan Moss because it originates in Taiwan. This moss is more rare than most types of moss with beautiful foliage and thicker fronds.

It is easy to grow in cooler water under medium light and carbon dioxide injection speed growth. It is best when attached to driftwood or rocks.

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9. Pellia Moss

Pellia Moss

Pellia Moss is actually a liverwort, small, flowerless plants.  Pellia Moss is an attractive addition to the tank, but it does not serve the same purpose as moss. It is a floating plant, but it tends to sink naturally as it grows larger.

If you do not attach it to driftwood, you should contain it with fishing line to a stone, otherwise, it can become a pest when left floating.

It grows well under most water conditions and is easy to maintain with low lighting and added carbon dioxide. This plant reproduces through division.

The Pellia Moss is a popular hiding place for shrimp. Its appearance is similar to the Java, only much neater.

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10. Riccia Moss

Riccia Moss

Riccia Moss grows up to 2 inches tall. This is a floating moss that can be kept down by tying it down to a stone with fishing line allowing the shoots to grow toward the surface.

This moss grows best with added carbon dioxide and when grown in good conditions, small oxygen bubbles will begin to form on the leaf tips. It has low light demands and it offers great protection and hiding for baby fish.

Like the Pellia Moss, however this plant is not actually a moss, it is a liverwort.

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Before deciding on which moss you want to include in your aquarium, do some research on their appearance and how they will compliment your tank and fish or if you need to change your decision based on your aquarium’s needs.

Keeping Aquarium Moss in a Tank

Growing moss in a large aquarium or even a fish tank is not rocket science. You need to look out for some important factors, and then there are a few other easy methods to go around. Ideally, mosses are a lot different than your staple aquatic plants, so you need to be careful when growing them.

One of the biggest factors to look out for is algae growth when growing them in a tank. That is the last thing you want in the tank. Mosses, otherwise, have very few requirements for their growth. They can grow in low light conditions, less CO2, and many other factors.

Let us discuss a bit more about the same:

Aquarium Moss Care

Aquatic mosses stand out in the fish tanks. They are vibrant and have dense foliage, which ensures optimal water quality. These plants also keep the high nitrite levels in the aquarium water control, which is another benefit.

Keeping Aquarium Moss in a Tank

However, taking care of them require being mindful of a few important factors and parameters. A few water parameters and decorative pieces in the tank are worth considering.

Water temperature

The biggest factor you need to look out for when it comes to moss care is the water temperature. They prefer moderately cool water temperatures, ranging between 21-24 degrees Celsius.

The moss won’t grow or thrive in warmer temperatures, so you need to be mindful. Many types of aquatic mosses can adapt to changing water temperatures. However, they are very rarely found. So, make sure that you maintain the water temperature without any fail.

Self-attaching and growth

Another important factor in the care of aquarium moss is its attaching behavior and growth. You want the moss to attach itself to a rough surface. Once you support that, it becomes easier for the moss to propagate and attach to the adjoining surfaces.

The best way to support their attaching is by using a black thread or a fishing line and attaching them to the surfaces you want them to grow in. Cotton threads aren’t advisable, especially because they dissolve over time.

However, you can’t just prioritize the growth of your moss and forget about the fish in your tank. So, make sure you keep the threads or accessory attachments fish-friendly too. This will ensure that the fish won’t injure themselves with the threads in the tank.

Friends Of Aquarium Mosses

Aquarium mosses can live in almost any tank that exhibits cooler water temperatures. Ideally, 21-25 degrees Celsius is considered optimal. However, if there are issues with the tank, you must follow along with the growing requirements for the mosses.

Blue Shrimp on Moss

Aquarium mosses do well with different small fish species and other aquatic plants.

They are also great for regulating the nitrite levels in the tank, in case you have fish species that generate a lot of biochemical waste. They can thrive in low-light aquarium tanks too. So, ideally, their requirements aren’t that demanding, provided that you follow the basic requirements.

Shrimps are your best bet if you want a list of ideal tankmates for aquarium mosses. They are voracious algae eaters and keep the tank free of algae.

Enemies of Aquarium Mosses

If there’s one enemy of aquarium mosses worth considering, it has to be the algae growth. The algae growth destroys and damages the leaves and the foliage of the mosses.

Besides the algae, it is also ideal if you keep large fish species out. The larger omnivorous fish will nibble on the moss when hungry, so make sure you keep them out of the tank.

However, a few small fish variants do well in the tank. Try to include algae eaters in the tank to prevent further growth in the aquarium.

Decorations for Aquarium Mosses

Aquarium mosses are available in abundance in the market. You have the more expensive variants, and then you have the slightly cheaper variants too. These variants also differ in their size and shapes.

Since the moss is quite lightweight, you need stable support (like a stick) to anchor it to the base of the aquarium. Failing to tie them down to the bottom of the tank will lead to them free-floating on the tank’s surface.

The ideal way to secure them into the ground is by tying the bottom to the ground. Also, make sure you cover the rock properly to stay rooted into the ground.

Alsodriftwoods work pretty well for tying purposes and ensure that they don’t inflict unnecessary damage to the fish. Another amazing factor about mosses is that they self-attach to themselves if you keep two mosses in close vicinity.


Which moss is the best for an aquarium?

If you want the easiest and the most beautiful aquatic moss for your tank, Java Moss is the best pick. They are very adaptable and will thrive in any kind of community tank that you put them in.

How many types of aquatic mosses are there?

There are easily 10+ different types of aquatic mosses available for aquascaping purposes. However, not all of them are available in every part of the world. So, you need to find the ones that are popular locally.

What’s the difference between Christmas moss and Java Moss?

The most prominent difference between these two types of mosses is the size, area of growth and the care they require. The Christmas moss takes up a lot of space in the tank, propagates quickly, and needs frequent pruning and trimming. Java Moss, on the other hand, Java Moss is easy to grow and is often used to fill in empty spaces in the tanks.

Which Aquarium Moss Grows Fastest?

Amidst all the types of aquarium mosses available, the Christmas moss is the fastest-growing variant. The foliage is quite dense and grows alarmingly faster than all the other variants. So, it isn’t surprising that they require very vigilant care throughout their growing phase.

8 thoughts on “Aquarium Moss 101 – 10 Different Mosses + Keeping it in Tank”

    • Hi Cindi, aquarium moss is another type of aquatic plants. It is usually use to form a carpet effect in the aquarium. It could also be a source of food for shrimps. The fishy odor is usually cause by bacteria or waste in your filter medium.

    • It’s just another plant that grows dense if taken care of
      Most Moss provide perfect place for young ones to hide

    • It would be ideal to have CO2 injections for all moss to assist in healthy speedy growth but not necessary. However without CO2, you might not get as good a result (green lush moss) as with CO2.

      Christmass and flame moss should be able to thrive without CO2. =)

  1. Why not just get a straw or another device to blow into the tank. Our bodies produce carbon dioxide. When you feed them, just blow through the straw several times. Don’t pass out.


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