Java Moss is one of the easiest to grow, and hardy, aquarium plants around. It belongs to the Hypnaceae family and is native to Southeast Asia. It is very common in moist tropical climates and grows on rocks, riverbanks, and tree trunks. Due to its low requirements regarding water quality and lighting, it is perhaps the most common moss amongst freshwater aquarists.
It is commonly used for aquascaping and can produce beautiful results. It also has many other benefits such as providing protection for eggs and fry, improving tank health, and providing food for breeding fish. Moss provides a natural, ageing look and can give life to a bare and plain tank.
Java Moss is relatively easy to install, grow and maintain and it’s almost impossible to kill it. It will attach itself to many different surfaces including gravel, driftwood, rocks, and commercial decorations. It’s a delicate moss that has irregular small branched stems. The stems are covered in tiny, 2 mm long oval-shaped leaves which overlap.
Java Moss that grows underwater has bright green leaves that are much smaller than the leaves that grow on land. It uses rhizoids to attach itself to surfaces, however, unlike roots, their purpose is only to attach them to an object rather than provide it with nutrients. Because it has no real roots, Java Moss mostly absorbs nutrients through its stems and leaves.
Various Uses of Java Moss
It can be used to soften harsh features in the aquarium. For example, cover the wall or floor, or even cover the filter to make it look attractive. Moss provides your tank with a more natural feel – if you ever walk through a damp forest you’re highly likely to find moss growing on most surfaces, especially if there is a stream or river nearby.
Possibly the most popular use of Java Moss is Aquascaping. Aquascaping is the craft of arranging aquatic plants, driftwood, stones, and rocks in a beautiful way. Much like gardening, but underwater.
Another popular place you’ll see Java Moss is in breeder tanks. Moss creates the ideal place for eggs to attach to, and for fry to hide in from larger fish.
Not only does it provide fry with shelter, but Java Moss also creates an ideal place to harbour infusorians, which is the perfect first food for fry. It also provides a great hiding place for shrimp and so is very common amongst shrimp tanks.
Care and Maintenance
Java Moss is a very hardy plant and will grow in most water types.
The ideal tank conditions include a good water current, soft acid water, and temperatures between 21-24°C. However, it will tolerate temperatures up to 30°C. The only thing to note here is that the growth rate will slow the warmer the water is. In cooler waters of around 24°C, you’ll get faster growth and a healthier-looking plant.
Light-wise, it will grow in both low and high light. You’ll notice a difference though depending on which lighting option you choose. Low light provides a darker and lankier plant, whereas high lighting produces a denser, compact plant. However, the higher the light level the more likely algae will grow.
You might want to add CO2 and fertilization to speed growth rates up, but this plant does not require them and will grow just fine without them.
Java Moss is compatible with almost all species of fish.
Maintenance is totally your choice. You can let your Java Moss grow wild, trimming only occasionally when it needs to be, or you can trim it regularly to very specific shapes. To trim your Java Moss, simply use a pair of scissors to keep it under control.
Other than trimming, Java Moss doesn’t have any other specific maintenance requirements.