Java moss is one of the most famous and used mosses in the aquarium hobby. They are probably the hardiest live greenery you can get for your aquarium. Because of their flexible “mossy” nature, it is super easy to work with them to create beautiful scenes in a tank.
You can have java moss as carpet plants or attach them to driftwoods to make mini trees or create a green living background for your tank. This is one of the most versatile plants that you can have in your tank.
However, they can easily create a mess in your tank if you do not properly maintain them. In this guide, we will walk you through all the information you need to properly care for, propagate, and maintain java moss in your tank.
There are two main types of Java mosses sold in pet stores. The Taxiphyllum barbieri and the Vesicularia dubyana are the most common types sold as Java moss. They both are very similar and it’s hard to distinguish the two from each other.
Both types of java mosses are coming from the same regions in South Asia. This plant can natively grow in Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, and islands in the region.
Large populations of Java moss can be found on Java Island in Indonesia. This is why this plant is famous as “Java” moss.
Java moss is a semi-aquatic moss plant that can grow above or below water. In their natural habitat, they live near bodies of water that can flood and submerge the moss for days if not weeks. When they are out of the water they need to be in a very moist environment to be able to survive.
Java moss does not bloom any flowers or leaves. They, like most mosses, creep out new stems. The stems are dark green in color and as they age they tend to get even darker. However, the lighting of the tank has a huge impact on the coloration of java moss. More on this in the Lighting section.
Depending on the living conditions of this moss in the pet stores, you might see them in various shades of green. They can be very dense or loose if they have been kept in a strong lighting environment.
Java moss lacks any root structure and absorbs nutrients from the water column. They attach themselves to objects by growing tiny microscopic rhizoids. The rhizoids help them stay strongly in place on driftwoods and rocks.
Size & Growth Rate
Java Moss is a slow-growing plant. On average, they grow 1 – 1.5 inches per month when they receive all the nutrition and light they need.
When you first buy them they might not thrive and you might even lose some. This is normal as the moss needs time to adjust to the new environment. Once they get settled, they will start to grow at their normal rate.
Java Moss will grow to about 2 – 4 inches before it breaks and become a new plant. If water remains still and nothing moves the plant, the stems might grow even longer.
Java moss Care
Java Moss care is very easy and simple. This makes them a great beginner-friendly plant that new fish keepers can own. They can survive in low light levels with no special care.
Java moss doesn’t need substrate and lacks any root structure. They absorb nutrition directly from the water which makes them super easy to care for.
Java moss is a small plant and can live in a tank as small as 5 gallons. While they can be in even smaller tanks, we recommend having a 5-gallon or larger aquarium for this plant. Most aquarists keep java moss in their small shrimp tanks to create more surface and remove shrimp waste.
When they outgrow a tank they can be easily pruned to maintain them in smaller aquariums. This makes them an ideal choice of plant for nano and small tanks. Many plants will grow long and tall and can’t go in a small tank so java moss can be a great alternative.
Java mosses are hardy plants and can tolerate a wide range of water parameters. As long as they receive nutrition and light they will adapt to your tank without any issues.
A good aquarium filter that can filter fish waste and make the waste ready for java moss to absorb is necessary. Your filter must not have a super strong current that moves the plant around or a strong suction that pulls the moss in.
Below are the ideal parameters to give you java moss the best living environment:
- Temperature: 72 – 82 Degrees Fahrenheit
- PH: 5.5 – 8.0
- TDS: 30 – 250 PPM
Java Moss does not need CO2. The amount of CO2 produced by fish and other inhabitants in the tank is enough for java moss to grow.
However, they grow faster and become more bright green when you add CO2 to your tank. So using CO2 is safe and helps java moss grow faster but it’s not necessary.
Java moss can live in low to high lighting. Under low light, they grow vertically and become darker in color. But when light is strong they grow horizontally as they don’t find the need to get closer to the light source.
So if you want to have a carpet of java moss in your tank you will have to attach them to objects and keep your light high. Java moss needs 6 – 12 hours of light depending on the strength of the light and the amount of nutrition in your tank.
Planting & Placement
This plant is super flexible when it comes to its placement in your tank. You can attach them to any decorations or objects in the tank and they will grow.
Because they don’t have a root system they can not hold on to sand or fine types of substrates. You should avoid placing them in the substrate as the plant will die.
It is also recommended to keep them away from filtrations and sides of the glass as they will creep and attach themselves to these objects. They can even block the intake of a filter if left to grow without pruning.
Java Moss Propagation
Propagating Java Moss is super easy. Most of the time you do not have to do anything to grow new mosses. As the plant grows, it becomes fragile and breaks down. The broken stems will continue to grow and create new plants.
If you want to propagate your Java moss simply follow the below step to create a new colony of them:
- Trim 2 – 3 inch stems of the mother plant with sharp scissors.
- Choose an appropriate surface and attach the new cuttings. You can use a fishing line or “Super Glue Gel” to attach the moss.
- After some time the new cutting will start to grow large and strong and create a new bush in your tank.
It’s that simple!
Maintenance & Fertilization
Once established, the Java moss will grow fast so you need to regularly trim them to keep their population in control. The new cuttings are heavy and will sink at the bottom so you need to make sure you remove them all if you don’t want new growth in your tank.
If your tank doesn’t have a balance between the amount of fertilization and the light you might experience algae growth on your moss. Removing algae from moss can be very difficult. At the same, the algae will absorb the nutrients that your moss needs and might cause the moss to die.
That being said, in most cases, the amount of waste your fish or shrimps produce is enough for the java moss to thrive. If your tank has other plants that heavily extract nutrients from the water you may need to use liquid fertilizers.
The Java moss is the most versatile plant when it comes to its tank mates. Almost all fish and plants that can tolerate the same water parameters can live in harmony with java moss.
Some species are known to be less friendly with plants so avoid adding java moss in their tank.
Here are our top pics of ideal tank mates for Java mosses:
- Bristlenose plecos
- Most types of plecos
- Siamese algae eaters
- Cherry shrimp
- Amano shrimp
- Nerite snails
- Betta fish
- Other types of aquarium plants
Benefits of Java Moss in Aquariums
Java moss is the easiest way to add greenery to your aquarium. You can create beautiful scenes in your tank very easily. Because this moss grows densely it will provide your fish a place to lay their eggs and a natural hiding place for fry.
At the same time, they will help your tank to have cleaner and better quality by removing the waste constantly being produced by other inhabitants. This helps you do fewer water changes and your fish live a better life.
Is Java Moss Suitable for your Aquarium?
Java moss is a hardy plant that will grow under most conditions in an aquarium environment. This makes them a great plant to remove toxins and waste produced by fish or other tank inhabitants.
If you have a shrimp tank or a tank that other plants can’t survive in, then we recommend adding java moss.
At the same time, if you have less experience with aquatic plants, this moss can be a good starting point.
Java Moss is a beautiful aquarium plant that gained popularity for its hardy nature and ease of growth. Nowadays you can find them in most pet stores or online at an affordable price. Their price and ease of care are the main reasons new aquarists start with this plant. They will grow moderately which means they will keep your aquarium clean by removing fish waste from the water.
We hope this guide answers all your questions. If you have any questions unanswered you can send us an email and we will happily update this guide.