How to aquascape with Java moss

Written by leon williams
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How to aquascape with Java moss
Java moss is a popular choice for aquascaping. (Getty Creative)

Java moss has become a very popular plant for aquascaping planted aquariums because it is cheap and easy to grow. Java moss thrives in a wide range of water parameters. But the speed and ease at which Java moss grows and spreads can create aquarium maintenance issues. The free-growing plant can clog filters, spread to unwanted areas of the aquarium and even has the potential to attach itself to the aquarium wall and spread up and over the side of your aquarium.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Pencil and paper
  • Small patch of Java moss (as little as 2.5 cm by 2.5 cm (1 inch by 1 inch) is fine)
  • Aquarium
  • Temporary holding tank(s) for fish
  • Driftwood, rock or other suitable aquarium piece(s)

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  1. 1

    Sketch your aquarium as it currently exists. Then sketch in where you would like to see Java moss. You'll want to pick a large piece of rock or driftwood to anchor the intial patch. Make several different sketches to explore your options and decide where the Java moss will look best. If you want multiple patches of Java moss, but only have one patch to start with, don't worry. You will be able to achieve this soon, because the plant spreads very rapidly and you can divide it into new patches at will.

  2. 2

    Obtain your Java moss from a live fish store or order it online. Auction sites like eBay often have good deals on small patches of Java moss. Don't worry about the plant dying during shipping---Java moss is very durable and any reputable retailer will offer a replacement in the unlikely event that your purchase is dead on arrival.

  3. 3

    Move your fish to temporary holding tanks. You will have your hands in and out of the water and will be removing and rearranging your aquarium decor in the next steps, so you risk scaring and stressing your fish if you leave them in the aquarium during aquascaping. Stress can manifest as serious---even fatal---health problems for many tropical fish.

  4. 4

    Remove your chosen "anchor" object from the aquarium. This can be a piece of driftwood, an aquarium-safe rock formation (see the resources section) or some other suitable object. Using a cave or decorative item is generally not a good idea because the moss will soon overrun the structure, making the cave unusable for fish or obscuring the decoration.

  5. 5

    Fasten your Java moss to the object with one or two pieces of fishing line. It doesn't need to be particularly tight---although Java moss is rootless, it will fasten itself to the object as it grows to some extent. Java moss is practically weightless in water, so the fishing line is just needed to make sure the plant doesn't float away while it grows and fastens itself to your anchor object.

  6. 6

    Put your mossy object back in the water.

  7. 7

    Return your fish to the aquarium.

  8. 8

    In the coming months, you will have to maintain your aquarium. An aquarium can literally get overrun with Java moss if left unattended. You can simply cut or tear unwanted expanses of Java Moss out of your aquarium. Pay particular attention to your filter intake and remove any moss that finds its way in there.

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