Christmas Moss: Care & Growing a Moss Carpet in Aquarium


Common Name(s)Christmas Moss, Xmas Moss
Scientific NameVesicularia Montagnei
OriginTropical Asia (Japan, India, Thailand, and Philippines)
Ease of GrowingEasy
AquacapeAquarium moss are great as foreground plants. They can be used to grow a carpet or be attached to driftwood.
Height1-4 inches (2.5-10 cm)
pH5-7.5
Temperature65-77°F (18-25°C)
Growth RateSlow to Medium
PropagationCutting
Light RequirementMedium
CO2Not required, but recommended for better growth and color
Christmas Moss
Christmas Moss (Vesicularia montagnei) and King Kong Shrimp

Christmas Moss (Vesicularia montagnei) is one of the most common aquarium moss amongst aquarists. They are great additions to freshwater aquariums since they provide a lot of benefits for the aquatic creatures and the entire aquarium ecosystem as a whole. In addition, they are beautiful plants that are great for aquacaping as well.

Christmas Moss Care

Christmas Moss is a feathery aquatic moss that is a part of the hypnaceae family and is native to tropical areas of Asia and found throughout Thailand, India, Japan, Philippines, and India. In India, they are commonly referred to as Brazilian Willow Moss. Christmas moss is mostly found in creeks, streams, and shady riverbanks. They grow best when immersed underwater and naturally attach to driftwood and rocks.

Vesicularia montagnei gets its nickname Christmas moss because the shape of its growth resembles a Christmas tree. On each branch there are tiny sprouts that get smaller as they reach the top of the branch which causes them to look have a triangular shape. Each branch sticks out horizontally and overlaps the one under it, resulting in a fir tree shape. Christmas moss fans out in layers and has a very fluffy look that attracts the eyes of aquarists. Additionally, it is nicknamed Christmas moss because of its bright and rich tone of green. This moss is a slow-growing creeping plant. It only reaches heights of 4 inches tall but it is great when used as a carpet moss or a moss wall since it tends to grow more vertically than horizontally.

Trimming and pruning Christmas moss is an important task in order to keep this plant in best shape. If the branches are too long, the ones under the bush of moss might not be receiving enough light or water flow. This will cause your moss to turn brown and eventually die.

Christmas Moss for Aquariums

Christmas moss is fairly easy to care for though it isn’t considered a great option for someone who is just starting the journey with aquariums. Since it is a freshwater moss, this aquatic plant will not do well in brackish or salt water and will not survive in these environments. It enjoys cool flowing freshwater with temperatures between 65°F and 77°F. If the water is too warm, you’ll notice your Christmas moss will turn brown because it does not like warm temperatures. Without flowing water, it will be difficult to keep your Christmas moss alive and thriving. Be sure to add a filter system into your tank to give that water movement to the tank. Water should be fairly soft with low hardness levels between 5-15 dGH and with pH levels of 5-7.5.

When it comes to lighting, Christmas moss is not too picky though it does not like low-lighting. On the other hand, high-lighting could also be damaging to the plant. This is why moderate lighting will be best. It is true that the stronger the light, the faster the growth but it is important to be careful. Over lighting can kill your plant and develop algae that will completely takeover your Christmas moss. It does not need feeding in order to thrive although liquid fertilizer and CO2 will definitely keep your Christmas moss healthy as well as give it a boost with its growth. If growth is important to you, this is definitely something to consider. CO2 is also needed if you plan on providing high lights for your Christmas moss.

Algae is important to mention because it is very common for moss to develop an algae growth if not cared for correctly. Anyone who is planning to add Christmas moss to their tank should have the commitment of having good water flow as well as cleaning out the water of the tank at least once a week. Not doing so will not only accumulate algae but will also kill your Christmas moss. Once there is algae on the moss, it is almost impossible to remove it.

Growing Christmas Moss Outside of Aquariums

Christmas moss is a great and versatile type of moss because it can survive completely immersed under water as well as outside of water. This makes it a perfect plant for any aquascapers that are looking for a beautiful and unique moss to add to their tanks. Apart from aquariums, Christmas moss will do well in a paludarium, riparium and terrarium. No matter the tank, Christmas moss will thrive as long as it is moist at all times.

Growing a Christmas Moss Carpet

Christmas Moss is considered one of the best aquarium moss for creating a carpet. Compared to other popular aquatic moss such as Java Moss, Christmas Moss grow lower and denser. In addition, Christmas Moss are slow growing. Therefore, once established as a carpet, they will require less frequent trimming.

In order to create a carpet with Christmas Moss, it must be attached to the aquarium floor. The best way to achieve the carpeting effect is by using a mesh material. While there are various mesh materials that can be used, stainless steel mesh is the best choice if you wish to create a moss carpet. This is because stainless steel is a durable material that will work as a weight as well. More specifically, non-galvanized stainless steel should be used.

Here’s how to create a Christmas Moss carpet:

  1. Cut the stainless steel mesh to desired size
  2. Lay a thin layer of Christmas Moss on the stainless steel mesh
  3. Cover the Christmas Moss with another stainless steel mesh of same size
  4. Secure the two mesh material with fishing line or string
  5. Place the Christmas Moss carpet in your aquarium

Keep in mind that it will take some time for the Christmas Moss to grow into a full carpet. Expect the growth rate to remain slow especially in the beginning. However, after a period of time, the moss will start to creep out of the mesh. Eventually, it will cover the entire mesh until the mesh is completely covered.

Growing Christmas Moss on Driftwood

Christmas Moss naturally grow on various objects on the river bottom including driftwood. In an aquarium, when the moss is attached to a driftwood, it helps create the look of a nature aquarium. While there are many different types of aquatic moss, Christmas Moss is a great choice because it grows very tightly. Instead of spreading out and covering the open space, it will grow low and dense.

Here’s how to attach Christmas Moss to driftwood:

  1. Find a suitable driftwood to attach the Christmas Moss
  2. Cut the Christmas Moss into small pieces of 1-2 inches in length
  3. Secure the moss fragments onto the driftwood with Cyanoacrylate gel (super glue)
  4. Allow the glue to set for a few minutes,
  5. Place the driftwood back into the aquarium

Attaching the Christmas Moss to driftwood to with glue Cyanoacrylate gel is great because it is an effective way of securing the moss. In addition, it helps achieve the desired look very quickly. While attaching the moss to driftwood with a string is also possible, this may be difficult depending on the shape of your driftwood. Even after the moss is established, it may never grow on the underside of the driftwood, leaving the string visible even months after planting.

Propagating Christmas Moss

Overall, Christmas moss is fairly easy to take care of and the propagation process is no exception. All you need are a pair of scissors and some thread. Simply cut the plant into smaller pieces using the scissors and attach them as mentioned above with the thread. You can attach your smaller to rocks, driftwood, a piece of mesh to create a wall or carpet, or you can leave the little piece of moss to float on its own at the waterline.

Christmas Moss Bonsai Tree

My aquarists like to go above and beyond to create amazing tanks. Adding a tree into an aquarium looks mystical, and decorating the tree with moss makes it look so much more appealing. Creating a Christmas Moss Bonsai Tree is easy enough for even beginners to make and adding time and dedication to your tank will be exciting and give you satisfaction. Once you have your bonsai tree, grab your Christmas moss and cut it into good sized pieces. Be sure they are not too small. Before adding the moss to the tree, soak the bonsai tree in a bucket full of water. You will leave the bonsai tree completely under water until you notice that it sinks all on its own. Once ready, you can now add the Christmas moss. Using super glue, attach all your pieces of Christmas moss to the tree to your liking! Don’t worry, super glue is safe for the water as well as any aquatic critters in the tank. Decorate the tree as you wish and allow the super glue to dry and you are done.

Mini Christmas Moss

It is easy to get Christmas moss confused with mini Christmas moss and vice versa. They are very alike and differ mostly in their size. Mini Christmas moss has a smaller leaf variation with thinner and shorter branches when compared to the original Christmas moss. It also grows more densely packed and has a delicate texture to soften up the look of the aquarium. Mini Christmas moss is actually easier to care for since it can survive a wider range of water and tank qualities.

You truly can’t go wrong with Christmas moss. It can be used in so many different ways to decorate your tank. It’s commonly known and popular, but the look of Christmas moss is so unique and flattering and it will sure give a beautiful aesthetic look to your tank.

Christmas Moss vs Java Moss

Christmas Moss and Java Moss are both popular species of aquarium moss. Both are beautiful moss and great choices for many freshwater aquariums. In fact, they share more in common than differences. However, there are a few differences.

Growth Pattern and Shape

Christmas Moss and Java Moss has a different growth pattern. As the name suggests, Christmas moss has a growth pattern that resembles a triangular Christmas tree. In addition, the overall growth pattern of Christmas Moss is more flat and dense compared to Java Moss. This makes Christmas Moss an ideal candidate if you wish to grow a moss carpet.

Growth Rate

Christmas Moss has a slower growth rate than Java Moss. Christmas Moss can be particularly slow growers when adjusting to a new environment. Therefore, it is important to acclimate the plants to new environments slowly and gently. For best growth, provide the proper amount of lighting, fertilization, and CO2.

Care

In general, Java Moss is hardier and easier to take care of than Christmas Moss. Both moss thrive in very similar environments, but Java Moss tends to tolerate slightly colder waters than low light environments better than Christmas Moss. With that said, both moss are generally hardy plants that are easy to take care of, especially compared to other aquatic plants.

Fish Laboratory

With decades of collective fishkeeping experience, we are happy to share the knowledge that we've picked up along the way. Our goal at Fish Laboratory Aquatics is to keep publishing accurate content to help fishkeepers keep their fish healthy.

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