Java Moss – Vesicularia dubyana, Taxiphyllum barbieri: An Aquarist’s guide

Java moss scientific name

Java Moss is one of the most popular and uncomplicated aquarium plants.

Java Moss is a Moss, which belongs to the hypnaceae family. It is native to Southeast Asia. It is quite prevalent in a wet tropical region and grows on tree trunks, rocks, riverbanks, creeks, and other waterways. Owing to its low maintenance and care it is the most popular moss amongst aquarists. 

It has various uses range from aesthetics to sheltering newborns.

Let us continue reading to know more about this strong and high-spirited moss.

An Overview

Description Category
Family Hypnaceae
Native Southeast Aia
Growth Rate Slow to Medium
Difficulty Easy
Max. Size 3-10 inches (7.5 – 25 cms)
Lighting Low
Temperature 60°-86°F (15°-30°C)
Acidity 5 to 8 pH
Hardness 6-20 dGH

About and the Origin of Java Moss

Java moss is native to Southeast Asia Indonesia, Japan, Java, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, and some of Southern India. They are extensively grown in the terrains of tropical forests, tree trunks, rocks, and the banks of waterways. 

The identity of this familiar plant is still debatable. Originally, it is known as Vesicularia dubyana. However, lately, this has been recognized as Taxiphyllum Barbieri. Many continue to refer to the original name, whereas, others argue that Vesicularia dubyana is a different species which is commonly known as Singapore moss.

It is a good beginner plant, it can be cultivated in almost any kind of water. Java moss is fairly easy to instate, grow, and maintain; It is virtually impossible to do away with.
Java moss delicately meanders into small irregular-shaped stems that are covered by a tiny succession of oval-shaped leaves. The leaves of java moss that grows underwater are much smaller than the one that grows on the land.
It is quite fascinating to know that the Java moss does not have roots like other plants. It breathes through its stems and leaves. They grow floating in the water or attaches themselves using Rhizoids, a short thin filament like a sticky fiber to the surfaces like rocks, driftwoods, and other solid decorations in the aquarium tank.

Benefits of Java moss

It is one of the easiest plants to grow. This moss is one of the most versatile and alluring plants with a range of utilities.

Java moss benefits

Java moss Carpet 

It can be used to aquascape your tank. Impressive green carpets can be easily created by attaching them directly to the substrate or using a plastic mesh. 

To create a mat of java moss using mesh, place the pieces of moss between the 2 sheets of mesh and tie them with a fishing line, which can be directly placed on the substrate using suction cups. In time, the moss will grow all over the mess and cover the floor of the tank. 

There is another simple way to create the carpet by placing the pieces of moss directly over the substrate and cover lightly with sand or gravel. With time, the moss will push out in between the sand or gravels and turn the whole floor into a vibrant green. 

Java moss Wall

Using the same wire mesh technic, we can create a java moss wall. Use the two sheets of mesh sandwiching the pieces of moss across; tie the moss to the mesh using some string or fish lining. Place it vertically in your aquarium wall using suction cups. 

Java moss tree

I find trees made of Java moss are the best. All we need is driftwood with some branches. Attach the moss over the driftwood haphazardly by using plant glue. Now, carefully, place the tree attached to the bottom of your aquarium tank. 

Eventually, the moss will cover the driftwood to make it look like a Bonsai.

Spawning mop

Many fishes like Ember Tetra scatter their eggs on the plants. It is a noteworthy option for egg scattering fishes. Once the eggs fall into the moss, and they get protection from the scavengers that include their parents. They make a great cover for the eggs and fry. 

Besides, you can use floating moss in a breeding tank to provide a spawning base for mop spanning. After the fish has spawned remove the floating moss to a different tank.

Shelter for the fry

Moss is an ideal place for eggs to secure themselves and for fry to hide from predators that include their parents. Along with providing shelter, the Java moss supplies food to the fry as moss is the perfect place for infusorians to anchor and multiply.
Infusoria is a tiny microorganism, and Java moss is a perfect setting for these microorganisms to proliferate. This is the best possible primary food for juveniles.

Shrimp Nest

java moss care

Java moss is also a great hiding place for Shrimps and other small fish like Ember Tetra, Neon Tetra, Harlequin Rasbora, Guppies, White Cloud Mountain Minnows, etc. Hence Java moss is a common aquascape amongst shrimp tanks and other small freshwater fish tanks.
Shrimps such as Ghost Shrimp, Amano Shrimp, Red Cherry Shrimp are great for Java moss as they gracefully clean the bouquet. They happily munch on the algae and the biofilm that grows on the Java moss.


Aquascaping is arranging plants, rocks, stones, driftwoods, and creating niches, etc. it is nothing but underwater gardening.
The primary objective of Aquascaping is to create artwork without undermining the requirements of aqualife present in the tank or pond.
Java moss plays a very important role in aquascaping any freshwater aquariums and ponds.
Whether a carpet of Java moss on the floor of the aquarium or a wall covered with Java moss or even just a bouquet of moss floating in the aquarium tank immediately brightens up the aquarium and turns it into a harmonious living scape.

Biological and Chemical balance of an aquarium

Java moss provides excellent biological and chemical balance to your fish tank. It harbors several enzymes that digest nitrates and keeps the cleaning cycle to the minimum. It also consumes the excess nutrients present in the tank.

Tank Requirements

Java moss is a durable plant and can grow in most waters and it doesn’t require any elaborate tank set up

Water conditions

In nature, Java moss grows in flowing water with a water temperature ranging from 60°-86°F (15°-30°C). Although it can grow in a wide range of temperature of the water, they prosper better, where the water temperature range from 70°-75°F (21°-24°C). The plant looks healthier in cooler temperatures around 23 to 24°C. The required acidity of water should be between 6 to 8 pH. 

It is essential to keep the water circulating to move the water. Good quality water is the best you can provide for Java moss. 

Java moss can grow with almost no lighting. It will grow admirably with low lighting just like anubias and Java fern. The advantage of keeping the illumination at the minimum is we can check the growth of algae.

So, reflect before you illuminate the tank with bright lights.

You could use fertilizer to promote the growth rate and CO2 to aid photosynthesis; however, Vesicularia dubyana can grow just fine without added fertilizers or extra CO2.

Java moss Maintenance

Java moss aquarium

To keep a check on the growth, you need to keep trimming periodically. If it is left unchecked, it will take over the entire tank. 

Trimming not only checks its growth but also can shapen into desired shapes in line with other decorations of the tank. The more you trim the Java moss, the stronger and intricately it grows.

Java moss – Common Problems

Clogging filtration system

One of the common problems with Java moss is the clogging of the filtration system. Loose strands of the plant enter the filtration tank and clog up. First, it slows down the filtration process, and eventually, it can damage the pump and the filtration system.
The best way to avoid damaging the filtration system is to buy a filtration system with a pre-filter. In the presence of a pre-filter, the strands get collected in the pre-filter basket, which can be cleaned up regularly and keeps the filtration system safe.
Having a prefilter basket alone is not sufficient. Keep a strict regiment to vacuum out plant debris, and uneaten food out of the aquarium tank.

Algae Growth

Algae prosper very well in an environment brightly illuminated and with an excessive nutrient presence.
The worst thing is the plant makes it an excellent base for algae proliferation if unchecked. With those tiny leaves of the moss, it becomes almost impossible to clean the moss.
To clean the moss, remove it from the tank, brush the algae out using a soft bristles brush and rinse it vigorously; make sure you do this much before or much after the spawning time.
If the algae have grown uncontrollably, then the best solution is to remove the moss and start all over again.
Some aquarists suggest algaecide to fight the algae outbreaks in the tank.
However, always prevention is better than cure. It is important to understand the causes of algae breakouts. The factors which lead to algae breakouts are Poor Water Conditions, Excessive lightings, Excessive nutrients, and excessive carbon dioxide.
The key is to keep these elements in balance. An aquarium tank is a little ecosystem, with fish, plants, woods, enzymes, algae, etc. Too much carbon dioxide in the water may kill the fish. Unduly low lighting or food will affect their growth and health. It is important to strike the right balance of these elements that include the temperature of the water.
There is no room for any discussion when it comes to keeping the water clean. We reiterate that you keep the water circulation on and clean your filtration system periodically.

How to grow and propagate Java moss?

Java moss is a slow to medium grower plant. There are many ways to consolidate it into your aquarium tank.

If you want the moss to move with the motion of the water then you just take the plant and simply deposit it in the water. Believe it or not, this will instantly make your aquarium dynamic and lively.

As we have seen earlier in this article, carpeting the floor of the aquarium or back of the aquarium wall is another popular method of integrating Java moss into your aquarium.

It can propagate itself from a small piece. Cut the moss into pieces and sand wedge the cut pieces between the meshes or you can simply place the cut pieces straight on the substrate and cover it lightly with the same substrate materials, such as sand or gravels.

It is important not to place the moss too tightly, so much so that one piece overlapping the others when they propagate. The moss pressurizes rotten and produces ammonia that is poisonous to fish and kills them. Besides, aesthetically it is better the rocks and other substrate materials that are visible in between the green carpet.

You can make a Java moss tree with the help of driftwood with some small branches. Stick pieces of the moss scatteringly to the driftwood by using plant glue and place them at the bottom of the tank. 

You place the tree at the bottom of the tank with the help of plant glue or use the substrate to keep it in place. With time it will look like a bonsai in the aquarium tank. That is pretty awesome!

Is Java moss right for you?

Java moss is a great plant. It is a sturdy plant, which can handle the wrong-handling of a newbie and prosper in experienced hands.
Java moss has a substantial range of benefits from providing shelter fish eggs, fry, and small fishes to adding aesthetics to your aquarium.
It is an excellent plant to balance the ecosystem of the aquarium. They adapt to a wide range of water parameters such as pH, GH temperature, etc.
They can grow in almost no lighting and can thrive in excess lighting. It needs neither extra carbon dioxide for its photosynthesis or extra fertilizers for its prosperity.
Java moss is an inexpensive and widely available plant.
Furthermore, it is almost impossible to kill a java moss.

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