Common Names: Java Moss, Christmas Moss, Dubious Bladder Moss, Mini Moss, Singapore Moss, Triangular Moss, Willow Moss
Scientific Name: Taxiphyllum barbieri
Synonym: Vesicularia dubyana
Origin: South-east Asia
Height: to 4 inches (10 cm)
Width: to 4 inches (10 cm)
Growth Rate: Slow to Medium
Placement: Mid and Foreground
Lighting Needs: Low
Temperature: 59 to 82°F (15-28°C)
pH: 5.5 to 8.0
Hardness: to 20 dGH
Origin and Distribution:
Java Moss originates from Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Japan, Java, Maalaysia, Philippines, Singapore Vietnam, and the islands of the East Indian archipelago. In moist tropical climates, it is very common, often seen growing vigorously on rocks, tree trunks, and river banks. It is the most common of the mosses used in aquariums and is widely sold throughout the world in the aquarium trade, both in shops and online.
Originally identified as Vesicularia dubyana, Java Moss has recently has been reclassified as Taxiphyllum barbieri. Many references still use the original classification, and debate still continues over the accuracy of that change. Some assert that Vesicularia dubyana is a different species, known by the common name of Singapore Moss. However, that is also highly debated and many believe that they are, in fact, the same moss.
A delicate moss, Java moss has small irregularly branched stems that are populated with rows of tiny overlapping oval-shaped leaves.
The elongated bright green leaves of the submerged forms of Java Moss are much smaller than those that grow on land. Like other mosses, Java Moss has no true roots, instead absorbing nutrients primarily through the leaves. It will grow free floating, or will send out rhizoids to attach itself to rocks, decorations, driftwood, as well as gravel or sand.
Java Moss is very popular as a foreground cover that prefers sandy or rocky substrate but will grow on virtually any surface. It can be attached to rocks, driftwood, and aquarium decorations. Stunning carpets of Java Moss are easily created by attaching it to plastic mesh, which can be laid on the substrate or against the side of the aquarium to create a living wall. Another use for Java Moss attached to mesh is to cover equipment that would otherwise be unattractive if left in view.
To attach Java Moss to surfaces, place a thin layer on a rock, driftwood, or decoration. Attach it by wrapping fishing line or cotton thread around it. To create a mat of Java Moss using plastic mesh, place the moss between two pieces of mess and tie them together with thread or fishing line. Over time the moss with grow through the holes and create a dense mat of moss that can be used in a number of ways. Creative aquarists have formed cones, balls, and other shapes out of mesh, to grow Java Moss on. Your imagination is about the only limitation on what you can do with Java Moss.
Java Moss can also be used as a floating plant to provide a spawning site for mop spawning fish. Fish that build bubble nests, such as Bettas and Gouramis, also enjoy clumps of floating Java Moss.
Keep some floating, as well as clumps on the substrate to provide lots of hiding places. A mat of Java Moss is also a great option for egg scattering fish. The eggs fall into the moss and are protected from the adult fish. Last but not least, Java Moss makes a great cover for tiny fry and juvenile fish. Mature Java Moss also supports the growth of Infusoria, an ideal first food for newly hatched fry.
Maintaining good water quality is the best care you can give Java Moss. Periodic feedings with a liquid fertilizer will promote new growth, and keep your moss healthy. Java Moss on the bottom of the tank is prone to collecting debris, which can be unsightly and even damaging to the plant if large amounts build up. To clean the moss, remove it from the tank and rinse it well in water. Don't worry about being too rough with it, as Java Moss is quite sturdy.
Perhaps the only problem that may be encountered with Java Moss is algae growth. Once algae begins growing in the moss, it is almost impossible to remove, and the entire plant has to be discarded. The best way to avoid algae growth is to avoid excessive light and keep the water clean. Elevated nitrates and phosphates, which tend to creep up when water changes aren't performed regularly, encourage algae growth.
Java Moss is a slow to medium grower and is propagated by division, meaning to start new plants one only has to divide pieces off the main plant and place them in another location. It will attach itself to any surface by the use of rhizoids, which resemble roots. However, these rhizoids do not absorb nutrients as roots do. The only purpose they serve is to attach the plant to an object. Nutrition is absorbed throughout the stems and leaves of the plant.
Generally, Java Moss grows rather slowly, but increased lighting and the application of liquid fertilizer will promote more rapid growth. Warmer water temperatures tend to slow the growth of this moss. As it grows it will spread both horizontally and vertically in rows, often forming dense tufts of heavy growth. As it grows it should be trimmed to keep a good shape and promote further growth. Pieces that are trimmed can be used to start new plants.