How to grow aquatic mosses in planted tank

August 22, 2019 2 min read

How to grow aquatic mosses in planted tank

Mosses have tremendously flexible usage in planted tanks. They are undemanding in terms of light, nutrients and CO2 (suitable for low tech tanks) and can be flexibly placed in the aquarium as they can grow well even without a substrate. This means they can be attached to rock and wood, taking on the shape of the surfaces they cover. There are many varieties of mosses, which gives us a large range of textures to work with.

Beginners tend to avoid mosses as their tanks do not contain much hardscape; but they are a staple of hardscape heavy competition tanks. They allow an aquascaper to fill a tank with hardscape yet retain a planted look by covering hardscape surfaces with moss. Maintaining the form of hardscape focused tanks is much easier with moss than with rooted plants most of the time, which require far more management and pruning.

A few varietals covered here are actually liverworts rather than true mosses, but they all have similar growth requirements and usage.

Key Success factors

  • Stable water parameters, well cycled tank
  • Cooler temperatures - this isn't a necessity for many hardy species, but mosses generally grow greener with better form in cooler temperatures (26 celsius and below)
  • Good water quality - mosses are vulnerable to filamentous algae, so they do much better in algae free tanks
  • Consistency in long term maintenance


  • Most mosses can be simply chopped up into smaller pieces. Each piece will grow out in time.Even small pieces (<1cm) of moss will grow.

Attaching to rock or wood

  • Cut moss into smaller pieces and cover surfaces using one of the below techniques. 
  • Tie with string (time consuming, less precise than gluing)
  • Whole surfaces can be covered with moss then covered with netting.
  • Super glue (fast, accurate, but leaves visible marks on hardscape if moss is removed)
  • Shoving into cracks/gaps/rough surfaces (fast, but may be unreliable)

 Top view of tank above

My ADA90p tank planted mostly with mosses and bucephalandra

Right side of tank

Middle of tank

Head here to find out how to cycle a planted tank.

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