Peacock Moss (Taxiphyllum sp. ‘Peacock’): Care & Growing


When building and decorating an aquarium, plants add an amazing aesthetic and tend to bring the whole project together. They add color, they provide protection and hiding places for the fish and they even help keep the tank in stable conditions. One of the best and most interesting types of aquatic plants is moss. There are a great quantity of types and species of moss that add such a beautiful and distinctive view to each tank. Before deciding on which moss to add to your tank, it is important to know if it is the best fit. A very beautiful and gentle moss is called the peacock moss. Its scientific name is taxiphyllum sp “peacock” and it will make a great addition to your tank.

Peacock Moss Care (Taxiphyllum sp. ‘Peacock’)

Caring for the taxiphyllum sp. peacock moss is not difficult and can be easy enough for a beginner to handle. It thrives in cold water with the temperature between 65°F and 77°F. In higher temperatures, the peacock moss will begin to die and it will wilt and lose its peacock-shaped fronds. It does well in both hard and soft water, though it needs water with pH levels between 5.0 and 7.5. Peacock moss does well in all lighting, but the more lighting it receives the faster it will grow. The high intense lighting also causes the moss to grow more compact and more defined triangular-shaped fronds. Adding CO2 to the tank will also assist the moss in growing at a higher speed though it is not necessary.

Peacock moss is very attractive and is becoming more and more favored amongst aquarists. It is very compact and dense and can be planted all throughout the tank. In a submerged setting, peacock moss can be attached to the substrate to create a moss carpet though it is important to give it room since it grows pretty fast and takes up space. Peacock moss also attaches nicely to pieces of driftwood as well as rocks. It looks beautiful in a background as well and many aquarists attach it to mats to create a moss wall. Possibly the easy placement, peacock moss is also great for simply floating at the top of the tank in loose form. Apart from adding a beautiful view, it is beneficial to add peacock moss to your tank. Peacock moss provides great hiding places and homes for the fish and critters in the tank. Fish tend to enjoy peacock moss, and it is also a perfect space for the fish and shrimp to lay their eggs in. Peacock moss also filters your water by absorbing CO2 and releasing oxygen into the tank.

peacock moss
Peacock Moss (Taxiphyllum sp. Peacock)

Propagating the peacock moss is very simple. Separate the peacock moss and clip off at the stem or fronds. You can then plant the smaller pieces into the substrate or tie them to pieces of driftwood or rocks using a piece of thread. The will accommodate themselves and attach themselves over time. As mentioned above, peacock moss is beautiful when used for moss wall and moss carpet. To create either of the two, be sure to acquire a mesh or mat. Many aquarists use stainless steel mats as well as plastic or metal mesh sheets. Once you have cut your peacock moss into smaller pieces, simply tie the pieces down to the wall or carpet mesh using a piece of string. Many aquarists use fishline though it tends to hurt your fingers while using it. Other recommend using yarn since it is much more fragile on the skin. Once the peacock moss is tied to the mesh, it is ready to be either weighed down on the bottom of the tank with rocks, or hung up on the back of the tank. Many aquarists also use peacock moss to make amazing tree moss structures. The moss clings to the tree and travels along the branches, resulting in a beautiful centerpiece for any tank.

Peacock Moss vs Java Moss

In the aquarist world, java moss is one of the most known types of mosses.  It is also a part of the hypnacae family and these two mosses can often be mistaken for the other. In appearance they do look quite similar. When grown out, they are both dense and have a stringy look to their branches and are both considered great to fill up space. Peacock moss is more of a soft-looking moss compared to java moss but both have a feathery look to them. With tank and water requirements, java moss is able to survive with more variety of conditions which makes it incredibly easy to care for. For beginners, java moss is more recommended because it is almost impossible for anyone to kill this moss due to it being so hardy. Peacock moss and java moss both create amazing living and hiding spaces for the critters in the tank, as well as perfect nests for their eggs.

Though it isn’t very popular, peacock moss is such a unique looking type of moss. Its beautiful color and soft texture brightens up any tank and provides happiness and wellness for the critters that live in the water. It adds almost an artistic aesthetic to the aquarium, and it is worth giving it a shot!

Two Different Peacock Moss: Taxiphyllum sp. ‘Peacock’ and Selaginella Uncinata

Peacock moss is a type of species from the Taxiphyllum genus, though very often it can be mistaken for the Selaginella Uncinata. The reason for that is that both plants have the same nickname, though they have many differences. For clarification, this article is describes Taxiphyllum sp. ‘Peacock,’ not selaginella uncinata.

Physically, it is quite simple to distinguish between these two peacock mosses. The color of the taxiphyllum sp. is more of an emerald green color, whereas the selaginella uncinata has apparent hues of blue mixed with green on its foliage. The taxiphyllum sp. grows in a bush and has a soft and velvety appearance and texture. Its leaves look delicate and flow smoothly in the water, and the fronds of this moss resemble tiny pine trees. The selaginella uncinata has a more harsh and prominent look to its foliage. The leaves branch out from a central stem and have fine details and edges, almost as if they were each cut perfectly to their shape. 

Each of these plants are from different families. The taxiphyllum sp. is from the hypnacae family while the selaginella uncinata is from the selaginellaceae family. The taxiphyllum sp. and the selaginella uncinata are both a type of moss, but the selaginella uncinata has more of a fern-like foliage. The taxiphyllum originates from Asia, as well as the selaginella uncinata though they are from different regions of Asia. Each plant got their “peacock moss” nicknames for different reasons. When grown out, the taxiphyllum sp. resembles a peacock due to the placement of the branches. Each branch meets at a focal point and they fan outwards, creating the same shape that a peacock’s feathers do. As for selaginella uncinata, this plant has an outstanding iridescent blue and green color on its foliage that resemble the beautiful color of a peacock.

Both of these plants have somewhat of a similar behavior. The taxiphyllum sp. is a creeping moss, meaning it will spread quickly in its environment while attaching to anything in its path. The selaginella uncinata is a trailing plant due to the fact that it will also spread quickly in its environment. As mentioned above, the taxiphyllum sp. tends to grow in all directions while the selaginella uncinata only grows horizontally and stays low, making it a great plant to add to a terrarium, garden or nursery. The selaginella uncinata enjoys water, though it cannot survive if submerged entirely and is advised to not add to an aquarium. On the other hand, taxiphyllum sp. does excellent under water as well as above water and would be a better option for any freshwater aquarium.

Fish Laboratory

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

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