It is commonly used for aquascaping or aquascaping because it provides beautiful results. It also provides many other benefits, such as protecting eggs and fry, improving aquarium health, and providing food for rearing fish.
Java Moss (Taxiphyllum Barieri) is a great plant to include in low-light aquariums containing a variety of small freshwater tropical fish.
It is one of the easiest aquarium plants to grow, tolerating a wide range of temperatures and growing well on almost any substrate or clinging to any surface. Nearly impossible to kill, java moss is a favorite of many tropical freshwater fish.
Due to its low requirements for water quality and lighting, it is perhaps the most common moss among freshwater aquarists and is widely available in both physical and online stores.
Before we take an in-depth look at it, let’s take a look at the Plant Overview tab. If it is your first foray with natural plants in the aquarium, in our guide to aquarium plants for beginners you can find good tips to help you maintain healthy and lush plants.
Java Moss Sheet
- Origin: Southeast Asia
- Scientific name: Taxiphyllum Barbieri (Synonym: Vesicularia dubyana)
- Size: It will stretch as far as it can
- Growth: Slow-Medium
- Placement: Middle and Foreground
- Light Needs: Moderate
- Temperature: 18 to 28ºC (21-24ºC optimal)
- Reproduction: Propagated from the division of the plant
- pH: 6 to 7.5
- gH: up to 20 dGH
- Difficulty: Very easy
Java moss belongs to the Hypnaceae family and is native to Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Japan, Java, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, and the islands of the East Indian archipelago.
It is very common in humid tropical climates, growing vigorously on rocks, tree trunks, and riverbanks.
It is the most common of the mosses used in the beginner planted aquarium and is widely sold throughout the world in both physical and online aquarium stores.
Originally identified as Vesicularia dubyana, Java moss has recently been reclassified as Taxiphyllum barbieri.
Many references continue to use the original classification, and debate about the accuracy of that change continues.
Java Moss Description
Java moss is soft and delicate, has small, irregularly branching stems that are covered in tiny, overlapping, 2mm long oval leaves.
The plant that grows underwater has elongated bright green leaves, much smaller than those that grow on land.
It uses rhizoids to attach to surfaces. However, unlike roots, their purpose is only to attach to a surface rather than to provide nutrients. Because it has no real roots, Java moss absorbs nutrients primarily through its stems and leaves.
Taxiphyllum Barbieri Vs. Vesicularia Dubyana
As we said at the beginning, within the world of aquariums there is still some confusion with the scientific name of Java moss. It was formally identified as Vesicularia Dubyana, but has recently been reclassified as Taxiphyllum Barbieri. There is still a debate surrounding the accuracy of the change.
Most of the name confusion is due to Latin names not matching correctly with common names. For example, Vesicularia montagnei (also known as Christmas moss) is extremely different from Taxiphyllum Barbieri (Java moss), although they still belong to the same genus Vesicularia.
Some claim that Vesicularia dubyana is a different species, known by the common name Singapore moss. However, that opinion is also hotly debated and many believe that these plants are, in fact, the same moss.
Try to always use the Latin name when buying aquarium plants to avoid any confusion.
Uses of Taxiphyllum barieri
Possibly the most popular use of java moss is aquascaping. Aquascaping is the art of combining aquatic plants, wood, stones and rocks in a harmonic way. It’s like gardening, but underwater. If you want to know more you can consult our step by step guide to aquascaping for beginners, where we tell you how to get started in the art of aquascaping.
Taxiphyllum barieri is very popular as a foreground groundcover for sandy or rocky substrates, but it will grow on just about any surface. It can be attached to rocks, wood and other aquarium decorations.
It can be used to smooth out harsh features in the aquarium. For example, to cover the side or the floor, or even to cover aquarium accessories such as the filter, disguising its presence in the tank.
Moss gives the aquarium a more natural feel. If you ever walk through a humid forest, it is very likely that you will find moss growing on most surfaces, especially if there is a stream or river nearby.
Because it grows in almost any type of lighting conditions, this plant is perfect for new tanks with few plants that use nutrients from the water column.
Java moss will take advantage of all the excess nutrients in the column and help prevent algae from colonizing your newly planted tank.
Easy to grow in all types of water and light, excellent for providing water quality and keeping excess nutrients out of the water column
It provides the ideal place for the eggs to attach and then the fry to hide from larger fish. If you want more information about the fish, visit our category dedicated to our aquatic friends.
Not only does it provide shelter for the fry, but the java moss also creates an ideal place to house the infusoria, which is the perfect first food for the fry. It’s also a great hiding place for shrimp, so it’s very common among shrimp tanks.
Java moss as a floating plant is ideal for providing a spawning site for fish. Fish that build bubble nests, such as bettas and gouramis, also appreciate floating tufts.
The mat of this moss is also a great option for spawning fish. The eggs fall on the plant and are protected from adult fish. And it is also a great cover for fry and juvenile fish.
Therefore, keeping java moss floating as well as in the substrate will provide many places for fish to hide.
The easiest way is to leave it as a floating plant. If you choose this option, you can literally drop the plant in the tank and you’re done. But most aquarists prefer the plant to be fixed on something so that it stays in one place.
To attach Java moss to surfaces, simply place some on a rock, wood, or decoration in the desired location, and then tie it off with a bit of fishing line or cotton.
Once the moss has naturally attached itself, after a month or so, the thread can be removed.
Stunning mats made from Java Moss are easily created by attaching it to plastic mesh, which can be placed over the substrate or against the side of the aquarium to create a living wall. Another place where moss mesh is often placed is over fixtures, allowing you to cover up unsightly aquarium equipment.
To create these hangings, moss is placed between two pieces of mesh and tied together with thread. Over time, moss grows through the holes, creating a dense mat that can be used in a variety of ways.
More creative aquarists have fashioned mesh cones, balls, and other shapes in which to grow Taxiphyllum barieri.
Java Moss Care
Ideal tank conditions include a good flow of water, soft acidic water, and temperatures between 21-24ºC.
However, it will tolerate temperatures up to 30ºC. The only thing to keep in mind here is that the rate of growth will decrease the warmer the water. In cooler water, around 24ºC, you will get faster growth, and a healthier looking plant.
Light wise, it will grow in both low light and high light. However, you will notice a difference depending on the aquarium lighting option you choose.
Low light provides a darker, longer plant, while high light produces a denser, more compact plant. However, the higher the light level, the more likely algae will appear.
Lastly, Java moss is compatible with almost all species of fish.
Maintaining good water quality is the best care that can be given to Java Moss. Periodic additions of a liquid fertilizer will promote growth and keep the plant healthy.
Maintenance depends on what you want. It can be allowed to grow wild, pruning occasionally when necessary. Or you can regularly prune it in specific ways.
Pruning Java moss simply requires a pair of scissors to keep it under control. Apart from pruning, it does not have any other specific maintenance requirements.
To ensure that the moss grows quickly, it is best to put it in place and leave it. Do not touch or move it, just prune it when necessary.
However, when Java moss is at the bottom of the tank it is prone to collecting debris, which can be unsightly and even harmful to the plant if it accumulates in excess.
In this case, to clean the moss, you just have to take it out of the tank and rinse it well with water. Do not worry, it may stop growing for a few days, but it will not be damaged because it is quite resistant.
Common Java Moss Problems
We have mentioned before that it can be used to cover and disguise filters. This should be done with caution as the aquarium filter can become clogged if not cleaned regularly enough.
Likewise, it can take over the entire tank if you don’t prune it regularly.
On the other hand, if the moss grows too dense, and the water can’t reach the midsections, the moss can start to turn brown and peel off where it’s attached.
Algal blooms are usually caused by four main factors: light, CO 2, plant nutrients (macro, micro and trace elements) and poor water conditions.
Algae grow rapidly under excessive light and poor water conditions. Therefore, the best way to prevent algae growth is to avoid excessive light and keep the water clean.
Nitrates and phosphates tend to build up when you don’t do regular water changes, and that encourages algae growth.
If you want to try to rescue your moss, you can use a soft brush like a toothbrush to gently brush away the algae. But be careful not to kick up the moss.
Some aquarists recommend different chemicals to combat algae problems, such as Seachem ‘s Flourish Excel. This will inevitably solve the problem temporarily, but in the long run… you have to tackle the source of the algae problem.
It is also important to remember that a small amount of algae in the tank is perfectly good and even healthy for the ecosystem as a whole.
How to grow Java Moss
Taxiphyllum Barieri is a medium to slow growing aquarium plant, but increased lighting and application of liquid fertilizer will encourage faster growth.
With good water, good light, and a little compost, it will grow fast enough that you’ll probably get tired of pruning it.
However, high water temperatures tend to slow their growth.
As it grows, the plant spreads both horizontally and vertically in rows, forming dense mats of intense growth. As it grows, if it is pruned, in addition to maintaining some shape, further growth is encouraged.
And the remains that result from pruning can be used to start new plants.
As we said before, the reproduction of Java moss is really simple, it propagates by division. That is, when a part of the plant is cut, it will continue to grow.
To get new plants, you simply have to cut some part of the main plant and place it in another place. The division adheres to any surface by using the root-like rhizoids.
However, these rhizoids do not absorb nutrients like roots do; the only purpose they have is to fix the plant to a place. Nutrients are absorbed through the stems and leaves of the plant.
Ground Java Moss
One of the most popular ways to grow Taxiphyllum Barieri is as a ground cover plant. This provides the tank with a floor or wall covered by the plant, which is aesthetically pleasing and easy to maintain.
Aquarians use a multitude of different things to fix this plant: Stones, rocks, wood, mesh nets… even other plants. Anything heavy enough to support the plant.
To create a Java Moss “rug”, you need two pieces of mesh and some fishing line. It is important to make sure that all the materials you put in the tank are non-toxic.
Lay down a first piece of mesh and lightly cover it with Taxiphyllum Barieri. You can cut off small pieces to lay them flat. Once you have covered the mesh, place the second piece of mesh on top in a sandwich fashion and use string to secure the two pieces together.
Place the Java Moss Sandwich in the aquarium and it will slowly begin to grow through the mesh, providing a visually stunning vegetable bed that can be used as a floor or wall cover.
Now is when you can put some weight on the net. For example, if you want to cover the ground, you can add a light layer of gravel on top of it. In the following weeks you will begin to see the aquarium plant growing through the substrate.
Taxiphyllum barieri walls
Walls can be made in the same way as rugs, with plastic mesh. Moss generally grows a bit faster on walls, as the light is less likely to be blocked by other materials and fish.
What you will need is several suction cups to anchor the net to the glass. The plant will quickly grow over the netting and suckers, and they will no longer be seen.
java moss trees
Ideally, choose a piece of wood that gives the appearance of a tree with a few branches extending out. Alternatively, you can tie several pieces of wood together to form a tree.
Ideally, you should get a log that is heavy enough to support the moss, and has the texture to hold the tying line without slipping.
Attach Taxiphyllum barieri to the branches with string or some suitable glue. Then trim the moss to create a tree-like appearance and place it in the tank.
It is highly recommended that the bottom of the wooden log be inserted into the substrate. If this is not done, it is likely that the tree will end up floating. Java moss has the amazing ability to lift almost anything.
Is Java Moss Right For Your Aquarium?
It is extremely easy to grow and maintain and is perfect for both beginning aquarists and experienced aquarists.
The most likely problem you will face is algae growth; it is very difficult to remove. In most cases, it is best to start over and correct the tank conditions and light level.