Life in the Bowl: Java Moss

Java moss, is the common name for Vesicularia dubyana, a hardy plant which makes few demands on the water or light and will grow on just about any surface. It is ideal for decorating stones and plant roots in your bowl. It can be anchored by placing a stone on top, tied into position using fishing line or just left free floating. If its growth becomes too excessive as it usually will given enough time it can be broken up and spread to other bowls and aquariums. Its an excellent hiding place for smaller fish and shrimp.

Java Moss fact Sheet

  • Scientific Name: Vesicularia dubyana
  • Substrate required: none
  • Light requirements Low to Medium
  • Temperature 10 - 30oC
  • Hardness tolerance soft - hard
  • pH tolerance: wide range from acid to alkaline
  • Easiness of Care: very easy to average
  • Placement: free floating or anchored to wood or rocks.
  • Growth characteristics: slow creeping growth
  • Propagation: cuttings, any cutting will grow into a new plant
  • Typical Uses: nutrient sponge, decoration, spawning substrate

There are a number of other types of moss similar to Java Moss. You may have heard of "Taiwan Moss" or "Christmas Moss". These two names have been used interchangeably to to refer to the same moss while others claim them to be two different types of moss. What ever the case maybe, both tend to have a more organized but even slower growth than java moss, tending to grow in a kind of triangular"christmas tree" type pattern. However, it maybe important to note that this growth characteristic depends on environment such as water temperature, lighting and so on. Many times Christmas moss will grow in a more stringy, chaotic fashion, greatly resembling it's cousin java moss.


Free floating java over grown in one of my minnow bowls




To propagate I'm going to start by removing part of the clomp either by pulling the strands apart or by using scissors



close up of a section of java moss that has been extracted from a bowl.

placing java moss into a new bowl can be done several was. One way is to just place a small clump in and let it float freely

You can place java moss in the roots of another plant like those of this spider plant. I've grown quite a few spider plants and a fair amount of java moss using this method


Another recommended method is tying the java moss to a piece of drift wood or this lava rock. While the moss could be placed under the stone to hold it in place the portion of the plant under the rock will eventually die.

Java moss that has been established in bowl for 4-6 weeks




For a pre established java moss that is already anchored and growing there is the Java Moss tile. For more information about this alternative got to:

Java moss at 10X magnification




Java moss at 60X magnification




Java moss at 200X magnification