Riccia Fluitans (Crystalwort Moss): Ultimate Care Guide


Common Name(s)Riccia Fluitans, Riccia Moss, Crystalwort
Scientific NameRiccia Fluitans
OriginEurope, America and Asia
Ease of GrowingEasy
AquacapeForeground plant
Height1.2 inches (3 cm)
pH6.0–8.0
Temperature68–79°F (20-26°C)
Growth RateFast
PropagationPropagation by cutting or spores released by the plant.
Light RequirementModerate to high light
CO2 RequirementCO2 is not required, but medium levels (6-14 mg/L) of CO2 injection may help its growth rate.
Riccia Fluitans
Riccia Fluitans

Riccia Flutians is an easy to care for plant that any level of aquarist would love to have in their aquarium. If cared for properly, it can be an attractive, eye-catching feature of any aquarium. Despite looking and growing like moss, Riccia Fluitans is not one; it’s a type of plant.

Most aquarists tend to look for any way to set their aquariums apart; for most, the answer is various fish species. But for some, the way to set them apart is with a gorgeous, well-cared-for plant. That’s where Riccia Flutians comes in; it is highly versatile and easy to care for. Here’s what you need to know about the crystalwort moss.

Riccia Fluitans Facts

Takashi Amano, a famed Aquascaper, popularized the use of Riccia Flutians in the early 1990s. He was the first to use it completely submerged in water. Amano used them as a carpet in one of his tanks, but thanks to their extreme versatility, they can be used in any way your mind can imagine. Some accomplished aquarists even trim the leaves of the Riccia Flutians to sculpt them into impressive and intricate designs. But if properly taken care of, oxygen bubbles form at the tips of its leaves – a gorgeous phenomenon known as pearling. Its vivid green coloring makes it perfect for decoration in any tank.

Common Name for Riccia Fluitans?

The Riccia Flutians is more commonly referred to as crystalwort or floating crystalwort. In nature, the crystalwort is traditionally found floating. Both its scientific and common names describe it aptly; both describe its floating characteristics. Fluitans is derived from Latin and means floating. The ends of its leaves will form a crystalline structure, hence the crystal part of its common name.

Riccia Fluitans Origin

Crystalwort, or Riccia Flutians, was first cataloged by Carl Linnaeus in 1753. Thailand, Europe, and Singapore each have their own variant of Riccia Fluitans, respectively. But only the Japanese one can survive fully underwater.  As previously stated, Takashi Amano, a Japanese Aquascaper, popularized the use of Riccia Flutians in tanks. He was the first to submerge it entirely, which was only possible because he used the Japanese variant.

Riccia Fluitans Care

Riccia Flutians is easy to grow, not taking much care or preparation to grow in any freshwater tank environment. If cared for properly, it can even produce more oxygen for your tank! You can also trim the leaves and sculpt them into any design of your choosing. It grows best in tanks with low water flow; that is the habitat it’s generally found in. A swift-moving current will snap its fragile stems causing loose crystalwort to float around the tank.

Riccia Fluitans Lighting Requirement

The lighting requirement of Riccia Fluitans is dependent on where you grow it in a tank. If grown at the bottom of the tank, it will require more light than those grown on the tank’s surface. Low-level lighting is sufficient for those growing on the surface, and high-level light, preferably from an LED light, should be enough to promote healthy growth.

Riccia Fluitans Temperature

Due to its vast potential homes, Riccia Flutains can survive in a wide range of temperatures. Riccia Flutains can survive at temperatures ranging from 15 – 30°C (59 – 86°F), but it thrives if kept between temperatures of 68–79°F (20-26°C).

Riccia Fluitans pH

The required pH level for Riccia Flutians is between 6.0 – 8.0. That range allows for the crystalwort to grow and thrive in tanks with various species of fish.

Riccia Fluitans Growth Rate and Height

Fast growth is one of the trademark features of Riccia Flutains. As long as the pH level, temperature, and lighting requirements are met, it will grow uninhibited and beautifully. It’ll grow an estimated 3 – 5 centimeters every two months. But be warned, its rapid growth could overtake your tank. If the Riccia Fluitans are not kept under control, they could grow from the bottom of your tank to the surface.  Trimming with a pair of shears is recommended. The breaking of its leaves could also clog the filters in your tanks. The pieces that have broken off or trimmed off can be used to grow more Riccia Flutians.

Riccia Fluitans Co2 Requirement

As a general rule, it is recommended to supplement submerged Riccia Flutians with pressurized Co2 injections. An injection will help its color and structure and allow it to grow correctly.  Crystalwort growing on the water’s surface has free access to the carbon dioxide necessary for photosynthesis and thus does not need an additional injection.

How to grow Riccia Fluitans in an Aquarium

Planting Riccia Flutians in an aquascape is similar to how it would be planted in any tank. The first thing to do would be to decide how you want the Riccia Flutians to grow; on the ground or wall, rock or driftwood, or even floating. The method for each varies slightly.

How to grow a Riccia Fluitans Carpet

The easiest way to grow a Riccia Fluitans carpet is to get two pieces of plastic mesh. Place the Riccia Fluitans in between the two pieces and then tie them together using a fishing line. The Riccia Fluitans will grow over the mesh, hiding it from sight and giving you the illusion of a lush, green carpet.

How to grow a Riccia Fluitans Wall

Riccia Flutians, or crystalwort, can quickly be grown as a wall. Pin it to the side of your tank with a net or plastic mesh holding it in place. Over time the Riccia Fluitans will grow over and around the net, giving the illusion of an entire, grassy wall.

Can you grow Riccia Fluitans Emersed?

Riccia Flutians will grow very well emersed in water, and it should grow unimpeded as long as part of it remains in the water and has proper light. Riccia Flutians emersed in water would grow easier than those fully submerged and not take as much care. Such as, it wouldn’t require Co2 injections to promote growth.

How to grow Riccia Fluitans on Driftwood?

Riccia Fluitans is relatively easy to grow on Driftwood. Just tie a few pieces onto the wood using a fishing line and submerge it in your tank, and it’ll only be a matter of time from that point until you have a green, mossy-like Ricca covering the entire piece of driftwood.

Can Riccia Fluitans grow Floating?

If not tied down, Riccia Fluitans will float to the surface because they do not grow roots like other plants. But the advantage is that Riccia Flutians can grow quite well on the surface of a tank, and it’ll even grow out!

Riccia Fluitans Propagation

Riccia Fluitans is easy to propagate in any tank, and it will even do it on its own, releasing spores from the tips of its stems that will float away and grow new branches. It’s also possible to cut off some branches of the parent Riccia Fluitans and have them grow whole new plants.

BEST Aquarium Live Plants – RICCIA Fluitans

Where Can I Find Riccia Fluitans for Sale?

Riccia Fluitans can be purchased at any local aquarium or pet store, usually at a low price. It can also be found at several online retailers. Its ease of propagation means that with patience, you would only need to purchase it once. Be warned, though, the invasive nature of Riccia Fluitans has caused it to be banned for sale. One such place where it is forbidden is the state of Alaska.

Riccia Fluitans vs Riccia Fluitans sp. “Dwarf”

The most significant difference between Riccia Fluitans and Riccia Fluitans sp. Dwarf is in the name. The dwarf variant grows shorter, thicker steams. While the Ricca Fluitans grows long, thin stems. Riccia Fluitans sp. Dwarf requires more light and Co2. It’s a slow-growing plant, but if it should lose light, it will die extremely quickly.  Due to these factors, Riccia Fluitans sp. Dwarf is more commonly grown on the surface as opposed to the bottom of a tank.

Riccia Fluitans vs Java Moss

Java Moss and Riccia Fluitans are pretty similar in their uses. Both are traditionally used as a carpet, but the difference is that Java Moss is a natural moss; it clings to the bottom of a tank and anything else on the bottom. Riccia Fluitans does not stick to anything thing, requiring something else to keep it in place. Java moss is also more forgiving when it comes to Co2 and light levels, requiring less than the Riccia. Due to these reasons, Java moss is more popular than Riccia Fluitans. But nothing can beat the lush green color of Riccia Fluitans or how gorgeous it is when it pearls.

Finding a way to make your tank stick out isn’t always easy, but with Riccia Fluitans it is. It’s moldable and easy to care for, and its lush green color and gorgeous pearling make it a standout option for any tank.

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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