Java Moss: The Ultimate Guide (How to Make it Grow, Design Ideas & More)

As the name suggests, the java moss, or the taxiphyllum barbieri (formerly vesicularia dubyana), is an aquarium plant native to Southeast Asia, more specifically, the island of Java in Indonesia. It’s quite a commonly seen plant growing on rocks and along the rivers of tropical countries. The java moss is one of the more popular species of aquatic plants due to its low maintenance nature versatility for aquascaping.

There are a variety for benefits for adding the java moss plant to your aquarium, but before we talk about the advantages, let’s get to know the taxiphyllum barbieri a little better.

Information Chart
Care Level:
Average Size:
3-10 inches
Minimum Tank Size:
5 gallons
59-86 °F (15-30 °C)
Water Conditions:
pH 5-8

Front to middle or carpeting

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  • LIVE AQUATIC PLANTS : JAVA MOSS from Greenpro come with a portion cup. Growing beautifully, spreading dense...
  • EASY AND READY TO GROW : Moss can be grown in any size of tank. Nano tank, shrimp tank, betta etc to large...

Java Moss Overview

The java moss is considered a hardy aquarium plant that is easy to transplant, introduce to a new tank and grow. The way it anchors itself in the tank is to attach rocks, driftwood and other decorations you have placed in the aquarium. The java moss has tiny stems, which can make it seem delicate but in reality, it’s much tougher than you would think. On each stem there are small leaves measuring at only about 2mm wide that cover the entire length.

Much like the java fern, the java moss also sports what we call rhizoids, which are almost tentacle-like feet that the java moss plant uses to anchor itself. Don’t mistake the rhizoids for roots however, because they do not provide the java moss with any nutrients as their main purpose is to have a secure foothold in the tank. These aquarium moss plants absorb nutrients through their stems and leaves.

The rhizoids are a great feature on the java moss because of their adaptability, you can place the java moss in any location in the aquarium and they’ll take to the decorations and flourish with minimal trouble.

To this day, scientists still aren’t sure what to call the java moss. It was formerly believed to be vesicularia dubyana, and was sold in fish stores under this name. However, because there is lack of proof that the java moss in the aquarium trade is the same species as what we find in the wild, they have now been under a different name – taxiphyllum barbieiri. Although we’re pretty sure in some aquarium shops you can still find them labeled as vesicularia dubyana.

This perplexing plant has caused many debates in the scientific community and its conundrum continues to confound us. There is also a chance that if you ask for the vesicularia dubyana in an aquarium store, you will end up with Christmas moss or Singapore moss rather than the common java moss.

How much does java moss cost? In a fish store, the Java moss rarely exceeds the $3 mark. Depending on how much you buy, from our experience buying more earns you more of a discount.

java moss
Credits to Mbalazs2

Java Moss Appearance

When you first introduce the java moss to your aquarium, it wil be a bright green color indicating that it’s a young and healthy plant. As the java moss ages, the green hue will darken to become a deeper green shade. Java moss can grow to be both underwater and above. If these aquatic plants do manage to make it out of your tank, you will find that the leaves grown above water tend to be larger in size.

Java Moss Uses

The java moss is a multifunctional and diverse plant to have in your aquarium. Other than the fact that they can create an underwater forest, it also makes a great breeding tank plant. Many fish species like to lay eggs on flat surfaces or on plants and the java moss is a highly coveted choice. After hatching, the java moss makes a great place for the fry to play hide and seek and it can even act as territorial barriers when setting up your tank for more aggressive species.

The moss can also be a source of food and nutrients for new-born fry. Small organisms known as infusioria, which is consumed by baby fish. Ornamental shrimp are also big fans of these moss plants. They see them as their own personal buffets as they sift through the growth to find deposits of algae and other scraps of plant debris for food.

For aquascaping, you can choose to carpet the tank with java moss, which will create a lush grassland at the bottom of your tank. After maturing, the java moss will literally look like a green carpet. If you want to line the walls of your tank that is possible as well if you attach the java moss to the sides instead of the bottom.

To create a miniature underwater forest, you would need java moss trees for added effect. To do this, find pieces of driftwood that resemble tree trunks with branches and have the java moss attach itself. As time goes by, the java moss will encircle the driftwood and become very tree-like.

Java Moss Tank Requirements

As said, the java moss is considered a hardier species of aquarium plants. We classify a plant as hardy and robust if they can take to water changes well and adapt to different environments. Although they can survive in different water conditions, it’s best to simulate their natural environment and keep temperatures at 21-24 degrees Celsius. Although they are considered a tropical moss plant, they thrive in slightly cooler temperatures.

In cooler water temperatures you will also notice a faster growth rate and a healthier-looking plant. As for water flow, the java moss prefers moderate currents with slightly more acidic water quality. One of the best things about java moss is they can take to any environment as long as it’s somewhat similar to that of Southeast Asia. Both high and low light are acceptable for the taxiphyllum barbieri, though you will notice a difference in aesthetics.

Java moss that grow in high lighting will display dense leaves and brighter color whereas a java plant that grows in darker lighting will emulate these conditions with darker coloring and sparse growth.

Adding CO2 isn’t a must but it sure does help with faster growth. If you are impatient for a lush green tank, CO2 and fertilization among other things can help. Speaking of fertilization, liquid form is the best since the java moss absorbs nutrients through its leaves.

Java Moss Care

Adding java moss to your tank is as easy as 1,2,3. All you need to do is place the plant near something it can latch on to and leave it alone. However, there are certain steps you can take to help ease the transition. It helps to bleach and dechlorinate the plants before introducing them to the tank.

How long does java moss take to attach? About 3-4 weeks. Once it’s fully attached and secure inside your tank, the java moss plant can pretty much be left alone for the remainder of the time with casual pruning sessions here and there. It is similar to hedges wherein you can choose to let it grow and flourish or trim different shapes. All you need is a pair of scissors to work your magic.

Issues with Java Moss

If you decide to line the walls of your aquarium with java moss, there is a good chance it could clog your filter if you have one. Another minor issue is if you let your java moss run wild, it could grow so thick that there is barely room for other plants and fish in the tank. For this reason, it’s still highly recommended to give it a good trim every now and then.

Now onto the more pressing issues. One mortal enemy the java moss faces is algae. Algae flourishes in poor water quality and strong lighting conditions. Once the algae intertwine itself into the java moss, they can be extremely stubborn to remove. Your best bet would be to remove all the contaminated java moss and start from scratch. If you have a planted aquarium, one way to save your tank is to add cleaner creatures such as shrimp to get in there and do the job.

Surprisingly, hydrogen peroxide is a substance that can be used to treat algae in java moss. It will kill the algae but leave the java moss unharmed. You can try this by draining the tank about 25-50%, inject the peroxide in the remaining water and let it soak. After a few minutes, you can refill the tank and hopefully, your problem will be solved. Going in manually with a soft-bristled toothbrush is another way to remove the algae in small amounts.

Remember that a little bit of algae is okay, but having them grow in abundance can be detrimental to your tank and the balance of the isolated ecosystem.

One other common issue that isn’t detrimental to their health is trimming the java plant. Since they can grow to be pretty dense, trimming can be a mess. If you leave your moss plant for too long, the trimmings can overtake the aquarium and even get stuck in your filters. Depending on your fish, having the plant debris floating around may not be the best for water conditions and can create a mess in your aquarium.

Low Light Aquarium Plants - Java Moss

How to Grow and Plant Java Moss

How do you grow java moss? Let’s take a look at how. Java moss is not recommended to be left floating (although you can), so to add them to your tank you will need plenty of decorations. Look into rocks, driftwood, and plastic mesh for anchoring. Since attaching can take a long while (3-4 weeks), there are some steps you can take to speed up the process.

First up is the superglue method. It may seem counterintuitive to use something artificial for natural growth, but it works. Take the decoration you wish to secure the moss onto and dab a bit of superglue on the surface. Take the java moss and press it gently into the superglue and count to 5 seconds. Once it seems secure, you can place the decoration with the moss attached back into the tank.

If you aren’t so sure about superglue, we have another method that involves a fishing line. This is referred to as the tying method. It’s essentially the same as using superglue, your goal is to fasten the plant securely to the decoration with the fishing line. Once you have tied it tightly around the object, trim the excess fishing line and place the moss plant and rock back into the tank.

How do you line your tank with java moss? If you want to carpet or line your tank, then the steps are a bit different. First off, prepare sheets of plastic canvas and decide where you want the java moss to grow, then clean that part of the tank very well and make sure there is nothing between the moss and the tank glass.

Cut the 2 plastic sheets down to the right size. Puncture the plastic sheets with the tip of an exacto-knife for you to attach suction cups through. Place a thin layer of java moss onto the sheet with suction cups and the other one with exact dimensions over it to sandwich the moss.

Fasten the two plastic sheets together with string and secure the sheet with suction cups to the side of the tank. For carpeting, the same steps are taken except the sheet is placed on the bottom of the tank.

Java moss trees, as we mentioned, can be created by allowing the java moss to intertwine itself onto driftwood or other decorations in unique shapes. You would attach the moss to the object and place it in the tank. After a few weeks you will notice the moss plant starts to wrap itself around the item.

Java moss propagation is as easy as the java fern. All you need to do is cut off a piece (about 2 inches long) from the thriving moss plant and attach it the same way you did with the mother plant to other decorations. That’s all it takes to create more java moss.

Does java moss grow fast? In general, the java most isn’t a fast growing plant, although more light and suitable water conditions will speed up the process. To make sure you have a healthy and hardy java moss plant, you need to take good care of it and regularly check to the algae levels.

Java Moss Maintenance

Once you successfully grow java moss, you can pretty much just leave it alone. However, below are a few tips to help maintain your moss plants to make sure they are always in tip-top shape.

Java moss is a dense plant. As you can probably imagine, a plant with dense growth will trap debris and waste between its leaves, which can get pretty gross after a while. For this reason, cleaning may be required for the moss plants. Since your moss plants will most likely be attached to a decoration or plastic mesh, the easiest way to deal with trapped gunk is to remove the plant from the aquarium and give it a thorough rinse.

A dense plant can grow into a tangled mess. The moss can survive regardless of how it looks but the maintenance can be quite a headache if left untended. A good way around this is to trim it regularly. This will also solve the issue of having algae trapped in the leaves and making a big mess during trimming sessions.

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  • EASY AND READY TO GROW : Moss can be grown in any size of tank. Nano tank, shrimp tank, betta etc to large...

Final Verdict

Is the java moss a good addition to your aquarium? Due to the hardy and low maintenance nature of the plant, the answer is most likely yes! It’s a moss plant that is suitable for most aquariums as it grows easily with minimal effort. Most fish will take to the moss, which also makes it a great choice for breeding tanks. The dense leaves make it a great surface for spawning and they can double as great hiding places for newly-hatched fry.

For territorial or aggressive fish, the java moss can act as a barrier or territorial lines to minimize predatory behavior. Whether you have an aquarium full of fish or just one with plants, the moss plant is great for beginner aquarists. They are also very affordable and are easy to propagate. As long as water conditions are optimal, java moss grows quite easily in any lighting.

One problem to keep in mind with the moss plant is its natural aversion to algae. It is a photosynthetic creature that grows in tanks and can get lodged in the overgrown leaves of the moss. Adding cleaner fish and crustaceans to the water can help minimize buildup. All in all, the java moss is a plant that goes with almost any species of fish and can really be quite beautiful in your underwater ecosystem.

32 thoughts on “Java Moss: The Ultimate Guide (How to Make it Grow, Design Ideas & More)”

  1. What makes Java Moss turn a bit brown? Just got a piece of one from store and in a couple days, it has some brown mixed in. Aquarium is 2.5 gallons with Betta. Have Java Moss on bottom sticking a bit into gravel. Have a small LED light that stays on about 5 or 6 hours. I do not have a filter and don’t wish to get one for an aquarium that size with one Betta. Please help me figure out what is best to do in my case.

    • Hi Charlene, there could be a number of reasons for your java moss to turn brown. One could be it is acclimatizing to the new tank. Or perhaps your lighting is not adequate.

      In any case, as long as the moss is not totally brown, it could still turn out fine. =)

      • Adam, thank you for some feedback. I don’t wish to leave light on too long for my Betta, therefore, 6 hours. Also, someone told me if light is on too long, Java Moss can get algae along with the aquarium glass. Do you think it is better off floating on top so nearer to little light or grounded in the bottom in gravel? Also, if the Moss adheres to everything, how does one clean the aquarium such as what it has adhered itself too? I only replace 40% of the water once a week.

        • 6 hours is perfectly fine with the right kind of lighting. And it’s true about algae forming with too much light. Personally, i would prefer my java moss to be at the bottom as it does not look as good as a floating plant.

          As for cleaning, 20% weekly water change is good enough so as not to disrupt the water condition.

          • Adam, I do clean once a week or 10 days.
            My question was, “If Java Moss is attached to a rock or whatever, do you take the Java and the rock out to clean it, or how does that work? What happens down the road when the Java has grown large and is attached to more than one item?
            Seems like a big job, hopefully I am wrong. You are kind to respond to help me and I do appreciate it. So far Java is staying the very dark green and I guess this is normal.
            Look forward to your reply then promise not to bother you. Char

          • Taking the java moss out to clean is a no no. You do not want to disrupt the settled moss. I don’t normally clean java moss manually. I ’employed’ workers to do it such as Amano shrimp, Otocinclus and Siamese algae eaters to clean the moss.

            If the moss grows wild, you have to trim it regularly.

            No worries as I love to help in any way I can. =)

          • Hi, Are any of your algae workers able to go into my little 2.5 gallon aquarium with one Betta able to survive being eaten by the aggressive Betta?
            Glad I asked about taking the Java moss out to clean whatever it is attached to or I would have done so. You are very knowledgeable I can see.
            Look forward to a reply.

          • Any of those 3 can survive provided you have enough covers for them to hide from your betta. Probably you would like to email me some pictures of your tank so that I have a clearer picture of your situation. =)

          • Hi Adam, I can get my son to put a couple pics of my little aquarium onto my computer. Where do I email the pics to??
            You asked for a pic so you could help me with deciding on best algae eaters, etc…

    • Actually betta fish are most healthy with a filter. They can get very sick if their tank is not cleaned regularly. Also yes, Java Moss does sometimes have a brown hint to it. That is enough lighting but make sure to turn it off at night for your plant and fishes best interest.

    • The Java Moss you bought was most likely grown out of water. So it will melt back then grow back as it becomes fully accustomed to being fully submerged.

  2. I have been growing Java Moss in my 5g tank for 9 months.. N still it’s not growing… I got a handful of it in last September.. In its still that handful.. Proper lighting, fully cycled tank, all parameters r right.. But still.. I don’t know what am I don’t wrong

    • Coming from a fish keeper with 30+ years of experience…. Have patience. Give it time, lots of time. A lot of people claim that their Java Moss grows like a weed, inches weekly, and it probably does. Hearing that pisses me off. Their water parameters, lighting and fertilization must be PERFECT, as I have tried moss many, many times only to watch it melt away and die. Until, the very last time I tried I noticed a piece settle on my substrate in the front right corner of my 75 gallon HEAVILY planted tank. I just let it be.

      2 years have past. Yeah, 2 freaking years. It SLOWLY grew into an awesome carpet about 2-3″ thick, creeping across my subatrate, swallowing a patch of Dwarf Sag along it’s way to covering half my tank floor. I let it go as long as I could until it ruined my layout and my aquascape. It pulled up in a thick mat. I moved it into a 10 gallon and it basically filled it up. I have a colony of Endler Livebearers going in that tank with Red Cherry shrimp. The moss is so thick that I hardly ever see the shrimp!

      I will note, in my 75 I ran DYI CO2 (yeast, sugar, water) and LED lighting from Finnex. I run my lights on a timer 8 hrs a day. I also dosed Seachem Excel when I had cash to buy it. I dosed Seachem iron and flourish very hap haphazardly as well. Long story short…. Keep trying and have patients. Hope this helped anyone looking for Java Moss info. PS, this works for Java Fern as well. Just let it go.

  3. I have had my java moss tied to my driftwood for about two weeks now and I have two questions:

    1.How do I know when I can untie the moss? I think I am seeing black root type structures that weren’t there before (or maybe it something else)

    2.I am seeing these bright green dots at the end of some of the moss. Is that new growth? Something else?

      • Cut a pice of Lufa..(scrub thing for in the shower) buy some small pvc tubing attach your moss cover with the lufa ,,,it will hold it in place ..I put my java everywhere in my 100 gallon iPad it’s grown into a nice thick bed for hiding babies of all my tank creatures ..

  4. Im after the best methods to fix moss to a) wood in the form of a tree b) a custom hard feature. Im in the process of carrying out a dry start (7 days in) everything is doing fine bar the moss attached to the wood (java) does java survive dry start?

  5. I got a floating java moss ball from petco a few months ago and it has grown like crazy. How can I contain it again as a big ball of moss instead of it almost taking over my tank. I like having it in my tank but it’s beginning to croud out my fish that swim near the surface. I just want to get it under control but don’t know how. Any suggestions welcome.

    • I could be wrong and I’m kinda wondering the same question,
      I believe take some scissors and trim it some, And could use it to grow new things?, That’s my guess anyways,

      I have had a 20 gallon tank for some time now, when I first started all my fish were dieing and water was fine, and had water tested by pet stores and they said it was fine and no idea what happen,

      Decided to start over,

      Been about 4months with the same 3 diamond Tetris”just added 4redTetris” added driftwood, plants have real rocks and sand, and 2snails, The one plant is starting to die off I started parting it out and replanting it and seem to be growing good, So far so good never really had a fish tank like this and I’m getting in to it,

      My question is should I add a shrimp? And what kind?, What do they help with?, what can they hurt etc, I have some lavamoss In the driftwood with the trees but it’s not doing vary good probably because of light, Another thing is, its really expensive at my fish stores dear me, like $10 dollars for a little cup, Could I grow my own in a little tank?,

      Seen this forum and mine as well ask.


  6. I have a question, I had beautiful moss covering a driftwood branch but as it grew the underneath turned brown, and as it broke down, ph was at 6. Process of elimination makes the brown decaying moss the culprit of the acidic water (even with many water changes) After a time something happened and all the moss just died. I scrubbed it all off and ph is fine now. I just want to avoid this from happening again. I lost all my shrimp 🙁 My reef tank was easier than freshwater pants! SO how do you keep the moss maintained so the bottom parts dont die, what’s the technique to prune it? THanks for any advice!

  7. very interested in Java moss am about to start a new aquarium, have a plastic (proper aquarium ornament) bonsai tree and wish to fix Java moss to give it a more realistic look – would this work will the moss float away – also will have other real plants that just grow in gravel and have used the bases from plastic plants / and ceramic rings used with in the aquarium I have stuck my gravel around the edge to hold them down -as I don’t want to have deep gravel so have used special aquarium silicone to stick the gravel on with is this ok ?

  8. I’ve had huge success with Java Moss. I have it generally just as a floating compacted bunch tucked behind some ornaments. Also some attached to some driftwood. It has just kept growing where it would easily take up 1/4 of my 5ft tank. Would it be worth while removing half of it? Does having this quantity possibly lead to poor water quality? I have heaps of the stuff!

  9. I have a question. I have a lot of java moss and last month I gathered it all up to one side of my tank. It’s a thick jungle on one side. Since i did that i haven’t seen any of my shrimp I’ve even dug around in the tank and nothing. Can java cause a harmful zone in the tank that would kill the shrimp? I have also had a couple fish and snails die after i did this but they were very old. All my water tests are normal.

  10. Hi,
    I have just bought Java Moss covered on a coconut shell, the quantity of Java Moss is not much. I introduced it in my 30 Ltrs Tank. My tank has a filter and this is the only plant in my aquarium. Since the time I have introduced it in my tank, my Common Pleco is on it. It just love munching the surface of the shell. I am worried if it will destroy my Java moss. Please advise.


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