Can Land Moss Grow in Aquarium?

You may be new to aquariums, or you have had one for a while and think the tank appears a little barren. While there is all manner of castles and ornament s you can buy, these are not often befitting a classy aquarium.

Your tank may lack color, and you begin to wonder what you can use in your tank to make it appear more like your fish’s natural habitat. You may notice around wet areas, that moss grows.

Is this a possibility, and “can land moss grow in aquariums?” Yes, land moss can grow underwater. However, not every type can live for extended periods. Java moss and Flame Moss are the most widely used, and depending on where you purchase them, there may be some preparation before you can use them. Your moss may require a little maintenance, but it will provide several benefits that make it a worthy consideration.

Benefits of Land Moss in a Tank

Moss supports the tank ecosystem in several essential ways.

  • Moss helps convert heavy metals and toxins in your tank water to safe levels
  • The moss helps to promote an oxygen-rich water source
  • The leaves and branches serve as hiding places for small fish, crabs, or shrimp
  • Moss adds oxygen fish rely on
  • Fish are more relaxed as they feel they are in their natural habitat

Steps for Adding Moss to a Tank?

To begin, you need a water container to serve as your moss nursery.  This can be anything from a big jar or a small glass tank.  You can use sizeable clear soda bottles. These need cutting in half horizontally will work.  Be sure the container isn’t so large that it cannot be placed on a window sill or other light source.

Any water you use needs to be unchlorinated, so faucet water is of little use. You can use this and add Campden tablets to remove this and any chloramine. RO or distilled water can be better options.

  1. The moss has to be washed thoroughly. Soil, dirt, and any other foreign matter has to be removed as much as possible. Use caution not to pluck roots when you wash your moss.
  2. Place the washed moss into the container and add enough water to cover the moss. 
  3. Keep the container open and put it in the light, avoid direct sunlight as this can warm the water too much.  If too much water evaporates, add more to keep the moss covered.
  4. Wait a few days to make sure a film of mold doesn’t appear on the water.  If so, then you will need to clean your moss again.
  5. Repeat steps 2 and 3 and wait a few more days. Then check for the mold again.
  6. Once the water remains clear, it is time to add the moss to your tank.

Tank Requirements for Moss Growth

These two mosses are hardy and can thrive in most types of water. The ideal conditions are with soft acidic waters with a pH of at least 7.5. Water temperatures need to be in the range of 20-28 degrees centigrade, and the ideal being around 24. This leads to proper growth and healthier moss plants.

The light requirement is not too severe and they can grow in low and high light conditions. Both of these are very different as Java moss acts as a carpet, while Fire Moss grows upward and resembles flames. Using these in combination is ideal for creating a unique aquascape.

Land Moss Maintenance in Aquariums

The main advantages of these two land mosses are they can be slow growers and don’t need too much maintenance. Flame Moss doesn’t spread width ways and grows upward. This means it won’t need trimming for a long time.

Java Moss, you can leave to grow wild, or it is possible to trim it into specific shapes. All you need to tend to this is a pair of scissors, or you can purchase a dedicated aquascaping tool set for the purpose. These tools allow you to do the following:

  • Curved scissors that will enable for straight cuts
  • Curved and straight tongs for picking up debris
  • A small sand spatula for gently moving plants and sand

To be sure this moss grows as fast as possible, once it is in place, resist the temptation to move it to another area of your aquarium.

Problems With Aquarium Moss

The major problem with any moss in aquariums comes when pieces break off. Some mosses are used to cover water pumps. However, even the smallest parts can buildup and finally clog your pump and filter.

One of the problems which are more associated with Java Moss is that it can grow dense if not trimmed often enough. Once this happens, the water is unable to reach the middle sections. If this happens, it will begin to turn brown and lose the foothold that it is growing on.

However, the most significant problem with this moss is algae growth. If this begins, it can be easier to remove the moss and start again. Maintaining good light and water conditions are the best steps in preventing this from occurring.

Keeping Land Moss in Place

While some moss can be left as floating plants, this means they lose their impact because, in many tanks, they won’t be seen. Both Fire Moss and Java Moss look better when they are underwater as part of the aquascape.

The problem here is how you fix them in place. This can be easier than it appears because, after a while, the moss will latch itself onto stones or any other substrate you are using. Fire Moss can be held down via a thin plastic net. The net is then fastened around the substrates using a fishing line or cotton thread.

Java Moss can be easier to situate as you don’t need to use the plastic netting. Lay it on the stone or substrate you wish to use and then secure it with the fishing line.

Doing this, it will take around a month before the moss will naturally start fixing itself to the substrate. At this point, you can remove the thread or fishing line.

One common way Java Moss is used is to create a carpet that fills all the tank. This is very easy to do and requires two pieces of a mesh of the same size. Once you have these, lay down one piece of mesh and cover it with your moss, then you lay the second piece on top to sandwich the moss between the two mesh sheets.

The moss grows through the top mesh, and after a while, you won’t be able to see it.

Can I Use Moss I Find?

As long as you clean it properly and it survives the nursery, you should be able to use it.  The one exception would be moss that you know has been sprayed with chemicals.  But if you find a healthy growth of moss on a tree root or large rocks, it should be fine. 

Removing chunks of it is quickly done with a small pocket knife, all you need to do is carefully scrape the moss until you have a piece large enough for your needs.

You do need to be sure of the type of moss you are picking, yet if you select one that is in damp conditions, then this should be suitable.

Once you have this kind of moss, you do need to make sure all the dirt is from the roots. Some tank owners also use a bleach dip before placing moss in thanks, but this can kill the plants as any algae or bacteria. To do this, use one part bleach to 19 parts of water to wash the plant in.

They should be rinsed in de-chlorinated water before adding to your aquarium.

How Can I Prevent Algae Growth?

Preventing Algae growth is vital to tank maintenance for the fishes’ health as well as the appearance of the tank. Tanks will always have a certain degree, yet following a good tank cleaning regimen is one of the best things you can do.

However, for a little boost to algae-eating on your moss, you can add Amano Shrimp, otherwise known as Caridina Japonica.  These scavengers are known for eating soft algae as well as decaying plant matter. This means they can take care of cleaning up around your moss, which will be half the battle.


Moss can be a great addition to any aquarium. They are easy to maintain and can be found in ready supply. If you find the land moss down by the river does well, then you can replace this as often as you see fit.

If you need to purchase, you have a source of moss that is proven to be suitable underwater and will make your tank look beautiful and homely for your fish.

All that is required is if you wish to put in the small amount of effort to prepare your local land moss or not.