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Aquascaping with Java Moss

Alright, perhaps you've heard about how great Java moss is at sheltering and feeding your tiniest aquarium inhabitants, but with just a little extra care, it could be a staple decorating feature as well.

By now you all know how much I love things that are beautiful... and also, useful!

Look at that moss tree. Isn't that stunning!?

Java moss is very prevalent in "aquascaping" (a technique similar to landscaping, where a desired aesthetic effect is created in an aquarium through plants), because of its versatility in all the different ways you can decorate with it. It can be grown close to the substrate, like a carpet, over decorations like driftwood and rocks, or just be grown as an island type, usually in the mid and foreground.

We can also use it to soften aggressive or unnatural characteristics in the aquarium, like covering a back wall in your tank,  or equipment like the filter intake.

Now... how can we elevate a messy clump of snarly moss, to a nice tidy feature in our landscape? 

First out, here's how it's even possible: Java Moss has something called rhizoids. It's somewhat unique in the aquascaping world. These tiny tentacle-shaped structures are how the plant manages to anchor itself. However, don't confuse rhizoids with roots, as they don't provide any nutrients to the actual moss. Their primary purpose is to attach the plant to objects. Java Moss absorbs nutrients through its fronds.

We can use this naturally occurring Velcro to get our Java Moss to stay where we want it. It can easily be attached to driftwood, rocks, or really, any other surface. To achieve this, carefully tie a clump of moss to the desired surface with thin, soft fishing line. The thinnest you can find.

I have also used cotton sewing thread, or even something I didn't know existed; clear poly machine sewing thread! It's a game changer.

People commonly use things like driftwood, Cholla pieces, Spider Wood, and volcanic Lava rock in their aquascaping. The above project is some driftwood with Java moss and Anubias affixed. It can be quite the centerpiece in your aquarium!

Sound like too much work? I make hand-tied Java Lavas myself!

Now, if you're looking to try something a little more difficult, grab a few pieces of plastic cross-stitch canvas. It looks like this:

You, know, from summer camp crafts? They come in sheets, and I believe the most commonly sold size is about a foot tall/ wide. Stitch your Java moss to one side of that plastic sheet, using the aforementioned clear sewing thread or fishing twine. Whatever you have on you! It doesn't need to be super tight; just enough so that the moss doesn't fall out.

Now use it as a wall backdrop on one end of your tank!

By the way, do be careful not to hurt the plant. Java Moss is pretty sturdy, but you can still crush it into mush. You want it tight enough to remain in it's place, but not enough to crush it.

About 30 days later, you can remove that fishing line or string, as the moss will have already attached itself to its support. From then on, keep pruning as it grows.

How do you prune?

To trim your Java Moss, simply use scissors to keep it under control. Short quick snips. Save those scraps in some mesh to make a free floating ball. The moss will grow right out and in- between the holes.

I've used creative items like the plastic mesh you get oranges in at the grocery store. The plastic mesh in those fluffy bath loofas would work too! Be sure to ask permission from the loofa's owner before you go snipping. It can be bad.

In conclusion, maintenance of this moss is entirely up to you.

You can let your Java moss grow wild, trimming it only occasionally, or trim it regularly to configure it in specific ways.
The nice things is, that other than pruning, moss has no other specific maintenance requirements.
To ensure your moss grows as quickly as possible, the best advice I've found is to put it in place and then leave it - don't touch or try to move it, just trim when necessary.

Looking for more info on Java moss? Have a look at this short article on Java moss growing requirements. It's short because there almost aren't any. :)

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