Aquarium Plants


  • Scientific name:  Cladophora Aegagrophila
  • Common name:  Japanese moss, marimo moss, moss ball
  • Temperature:  Between 20ºC to 28ºC
  • pH: Between 6.5 and 8.5
  • Difficulty level: Low
  • Growth, height:  Creates spheres up to 30 centimeters in diameter


The Cladophora, Japanese Moss or Marimo, is a very popular aquarium plant in recent years in Aquascaping.

The reasons are diverse, but I would argue that they
are very, very easy to care for, you hardly have to pay attention to them, they are easily reproduced and have a great decorative impact.

The Moss Ball
is not actually an aquarium plant, it is a green algae. It does not need any type of substrate to grow, it does not take root, although it can be attached to logs and stones … you can leave it at the bottom of the aquarium, and it will simply «grow».

Due to its massive extraction, in some parts of the world it is protected, such as Japan and Iceland.
The idea is to prevent it from completely disappearing from nature.


The Cladophora is an alga that grows in groups and that normally when it comes into total contact with water forms a very dense spherical ball that can measure up to 30 centimeters in diameter. Surprising, no?

The interior of these original «green balls» is composed mainly of mud, and the remains of dead stems, as they do not receive the light they need to survive.
The largest ones tend to remain hollow, giving an original phenomenon through which they can float. 

We could say that the Cladophora grows on itself, that is why it forms these original balls.

Distribution and habitat

The Cladophora has a very wide distribution. In Europe it can be found in Iceland, Russia, England or Sweden.
Where it is really appreciated is in Japan , where they are a protected species. In Lake Akan they are quite a sight, since they emerge to the surface of the lake during the day, to submerge during the night.

The explanation is simple,
the Japanese Moss produces oxygen during the day, which makes them lighter (as the oxygen is stored inside) and they rise to the surface.

Its usual habitat is the bottoms of lakes, where it is
usually found in shallow areas, although it is known that they can live up to 25 meters deep, in very harsh conditions, since they endure temperatures between 5ºC and -28ºC and salt levels of 5% to 6%.

Aquarium Conditions

Cladophora balls or mats are very convenient for shrimp : shrimp love to perch on moss balls and feed on the particles that are retained in them.

Cladophora in a shrimp

It is one of the few aquarium algae that is not fought, what is more, as they are great consumers of nitrates, they are capable of keeping the rest of undesirable algae at bay.

It is a species capable of surviving without problems in the presence of acidic and basic salts thanks to its wide ranges of pH and gH.

The optimal conditions for its presence would be readings with:

  • slightly alkaline pH, between 6.5 and 8.5
  • Temperature between 20ºC and 28ºC.
  • gH between 9º and 30º

Cladophora care

The Cladophora does not require great care so that it is in perfect condition, it  will keep well in almost any situation in the aquarium.

As its growth is extremely slow,
we can add CO2 to the aquarium to accelerate it. They are great consumers of CO2, in return they also contribute a lot of oxygen to the aquarium.


Moss balls are plants that are perfectly adapted to aquariums with low lighting , however, if we want it to grow properly, medium lighting is enough, but if we already want it to grow quickly, we must provide intense lighting .

As it grows, its interior becomes hollow, because by not receiving light, the center dies.

If we add enough CO2 to the aquarium,
the Cladophora tends to produce a lot of oxygen and since it is hollow in the center, we can see how the moss balls float.

Substrate and Compost

The substrate and compost of the aquarium is indifferent, however, fine gravel is the most suitable for Cladophora.


The Marimo Moss reproduces in a simple way , only the ball must be divided to obtain new plants, however, in order for it to grow back naturally and in a spherical way it must be held inside the aquarium. Otherwise, it is necessary to move it daily so that all its sides get light.

You can also rub one of the pieces on a log.
Over time you will see green shoots appear, which little by little will turn into a new ball of moss.

Buy Marimo. Cladophora Balls


  • It is not planted, it is only placed in a visible place in the aquarium.
  • Provide adequate water for it to grow without any problem.
  • It does not matter how they are put, either by placing several balls in the substrate of the aquarium, such as a carpet at the bottom, dividing them or placing them on rocks, because in the same way the formation of a plant mat will be favored.
  • Increasing the CO2 concentration in the aquarium can be beneficial for plants to grow faster, in return it will provide a lot of oxygen.
  • Always monitor the aquarium to see that its growth is the most appropriate and it is not dying.
  • When they have reached a moderate size it is convenient to divide the Moss Ball, since the absence of light inside can cause death.

Images and photos of Cladophora

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