Java moss, also known as Taxiphyllum barbieri, is an aquatic plant that belongs to the Hypnaceae family of the Bryopsidales order. It naturally grows in slow-moving waters with high amounts of oxygen, like shallow pools and marshes along tropical coasts and in areas of moving water where it can attach itself to rocks or driftwood with its tiny rootlets.
Also known as golden moss, Christmas moss, or silver vase plant, and often abbreviated as Java fern in the aquarium trade, Taxiphyllum barbieri is an aquatic fern native to parts of Asia that have become naturalized in the Americas and other areas. It grows on wet rocks and tree trunks in swamps, shallow ponds, and marshes.
It can be grown as an aquatic plant even by the beginner aquarist; in fact, it can grow without light if necessary, although it will not flower without light.
Taxiphyllum barbieri is a very popular plant in the aquarium hobby due to its beautiful color and lush appearance. It comes in green, red, or variegated forms and can be used as a foreground or background plant in most freshwater aquariums. You can even use it as decorative moss in both fresh and saltwater tanks!
Taxiphyllum barbieri is an easy plant to grow, it can be attached to rocks, driftwood, or bogwood. When attaching it to items like wood, it’s best to use a basic aquarium-safe silicone glue because regular superglue doesn’t allow for good gas exchange. Be sure that whatever you are gluing Java Moss to doesn’t leak tannins into your water because Java Moss does not do well in acidic water.
Here are some tips on how to care for your Java moss (Taxiphyllum barbieri).
Origin and descriptions
Taxiphyllum barbieri is a popular, easy-to-grow aquatic plant that grows on rocks, wood, or even glass. It can be found in lakes throughout Asia. The name Java Moss comes from its origins – Java refers to the Javan area where it was first discovered while moss refers to its texture and growth pattern.
Taxiphyllum barbieri’s fast growth rate makes it ideal for aquariums and fish tanks as well as ponds. It is also used in terrariums because of its easy propagation method. There are several subspecies of Taxiphyllum barbieri which may have different appearances depending on their locations: var nana, for example, originates from Indonesia and Japan but has smaller leaves than Taxiphyllum barbieri var palmatum which originated from Java itself.
How to propagate java moss
Taxiphyllum barbieri is an easy plant to propagate. The best method is to simply tear off a piece of stem with at least one leaf on it, making sure not to damage any roots. This can be accomplished by using a razor blade or sharp knife to cut a clean piece off or by manually tearing it. The tear should leave a small root ball on each end of the piece that was torn off.
If you are propagating for aesthetic purposes i.e. for your aquascape rather than for raising plants, then it does not matter if there are some leaves attached to your cutting; but in that case, you may need a larger cutting as you will want some leaves left behind in order to grow more plants from those leaves. Just like any other aquatic plant, Java Moss benefits greatly from CO2 injection.
Make sure to keep enough light on your newly planted cutting so that it grows quickly. Once the new plant has grown sufficiently, simply snip it off near its base to separate it from its mother plant and you’re done!
Now just wait a few weeks until new growth appears on your young Taxiphyllum barbieri clone. Once you have several healthy shoots growing out of each side, then you’re ready to transplant them into their own containers. Don’t forget to provide plenty of cover for these plants!
Is Java moss easy to take care of (Java moss care)?
Java Moss, or Taxiphyllum barbieri, is a very simple plant to care for. It has no real needs other than sunlight, clean water, and sparse nutrients. The ideal environment for Java Moss is bright indirect light, with moderate water flow, and infrequent fertilizer applications. Do not over-fertilize as Java Moss will begin to decline in health within a few weeks.
This species of moss should never be kept in direct sunlight; prolonged exposure will cause it to decline rapidly due to sunburns. When introducing new java moss into an established tank, always acclimate slowly by floating your clippings in a bucket of tank water and changing out 20% per day until fully adjusted.
Never add large amounts of Taxiphyllum barbieri all at once. If adding to an established system with high nitrates, always remember to do a 20% weekly water change while allowing your filter time to catch up on nitrate removal.
Does Java moss need lots of light?
Taxiphyllum barbieri (Java moss) likes medium-light to low light. This plant can be grown in low-medium light but will grow much faster in a higher light environment. If you want to propagate Java Moss, I suggest keeping it under 1 watt per gallon of aquarium water. However, if you are growing it just for aesthetics, keep it at around 5 watts per gallon.
You will know your plants’ needs when they turn yellow or start getting long yellow leaves that are not very healthy looking. If there is enough lighting, your plant should always have good dark green coloring on its’ stems and leaves. So pay attention to what kind of lights you have in your tank as well as how many watts are outputting from those lights.
Taxiphyllum barbieri is an epiphyte, so it requires a well-drained potting mix that won’t hold onto water. Also, because Java moss does not absorb nutrients from its container, choose a soil mixture that is low in nutrients to prevent algae growth. A pH of around 5.5 will result in healthy foliage coloration for your java moss.
Be sure to use sterile soil or create a solution of 2 tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water; let it sit until dissolved before mixing with existing soils. You can also sterilize your pots by boiling them for 10 minutes, letting them air dry overnight, then filling them with fresh soil/potting mix.
Be sure to wear gloves when handling newly sterilized containers as they are likely to be still hot and you don’t want to burn yourself. I like using these pots made out of nylon since they do not break down easily like clay pots and do not dissolve into the substrate over time as plastic ones do!
Java Moss is extremely forgiving when it comes to watering. In fact, you can’t overwater it! It can go weeks without any water whatsoever but will recover in minutes after a good dousing. However, as with any other aquatic plant, letting it dry out too much will kill it. And if you happen to let your tank get a little too warm for an extended period of time (warmer than 80 degrees), that’s when problems can occur.
If you notice drooping or browning leaf tips during hot weather, take some measures to cool down your tank immediately.
Always remember: Proper watering and cooling are key to keeping java moss healthy. Water quality should also be high on your list of priorities—it likes highly oxygenated water, so do frequent small water changes rather than infrequent large ones.
Taxiphyllum barbieri can withstand a pH range of 5-9 and will adapt easily to most freshwater conditions.
Taxiphyllum barbieri requires moderate lighting, so it may need weekly fertilizer if you want to grow it quickly. Use a weak solution of any plant fertilizer with an NPK rating around 2-1-1 or 5-10-5. If you decide to fertilize your Taxiphyllum barbieri, use it at half strength every time. You can also use an iron supplement for your plant, as long as you’re careful not to overfeed your aquarium. The best time to add fertilizer is when you change 25% of your tank water.
Taxiphyllum barbieri is considered to be a very forgiving plant with regard to water chemistry. It can tolerate wide fluctuations in pH as well as temperature extremes. However, they should be kept above 60 degrees F during their winter dormancy, if possible. The optimal temperature range is between 65 and 80 degrees F.
Like most aquatic plants, Taxiphyllum barbieri requires high humidity to thrive. Aim for a setting of at least 70% relative humidity in your tank or vase. There are two ways to achieve high humidity: Spray water directly into your container once or twice a day. Use a hygrometer to measure relative humidity.
If necessary, you can attach one inside your container as well, provided that it isn’t airtight. Porous rocks also work as humidifiers. Place them in a plastic bag with crumpled moist paper towels—then replace them every three months or so to prevent rot. It’s recommended that you only mist your plant when there is natural light streaming through, so your plant gets enough sunlight throughout the day without overwatering itself.
How do you trim Java moss in aquarium (Pruning)?
During pruning, Taxiphyllum barbieri should be cut back to an eye, or node. Removing too much of a plant can cause it to lose its vitality, so make sure you do not over-prune. One reason you may want to prune your Taxiphyllum barbieri is to help it adapt to its new environment.
Plants grown in containers often need regular pruning so they stay at an appropriate size. It is recommended that plants are potted into smaller pots when pruned. Repotting also allows for plants that have been planted into deeper pots to have their root system brought up closer to light for air circulation.
Regularly check your plants for pests such as snails, algae, mealybugs, and gnats that like wet environments. Should any signs of these pests appear on your plants, you will need to act quickly as these pests multiply quickly if left untreated.
When to repot
Taxiphyllum barbieri can live in its pot for years before needing repotting. When it does need to be repotted, it should be transplanted into a similar-sized pot with fresh substrate. If you feel like your java moss has outgrown its current container, then it’s time to consider a bigger one! The roots of java moss will not spread through multiple pots, so you won’t have to worry about picking up an extra pot or two along with your moss when buying new ones.
Just make sure that whatever size of new container that you get matches or is just slightly larger than your old one—you don’t want to drop your plant off just to pick it back up again because there isn’t enough room for growth.
The best way to encourage the growth of Taxiphyllum barbieri is to keep it in a constant state of dormancy. Depending on your conditions, even if you don’t induce dormancy, it may go into a state of dormancy anyway. If you want to control when your plants enter and exit dormancy, there are several ways you can do so.
First, lowering temperature is one way to induce dormancy – but keep in mind that lower temperatures make plant growth much slower as well. Second, keeping your plants light deprived will also put them into a sort of semi-dormant state; whether they remain there or fully enter dormancy depends on how long they were deprived.
And finally, cutting your taxiphyllum barbieri back to ~5cm will force it into a dormant state – new shoots should start coming out in about three weeks or so. However, these methods aren’t 100% effective – once plants have gone into full dormancy it might be hard to get them out.
You can help with some judicious pruning though: by pruning newly sprouted shoots back by about a third before putting your plant back under its normal lighting regime, you might bring it closer to an earlier phase of dormancy than where it would be naturally. Try different combinations of techniques and see what works for you!
Flowers & Fragrance
Taxiphyllum is mostly grown for its foliage. However, some growers report a very faint plant type of scent when being handled or disturbed. It is said to be pleasant but subtle. Of course, they do not have any flowering capabilities.
Several scientific studies have reported that keeping Taxiphyllum plants in your home can help improve air quality by removing formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, and xylene from your home’s atmosphere! All you need to keep these plants in good shape is clean water and proper lighting for around 10-14 hours per day. In addition, a small dose of fertilizer every few weeks will make them even happier!
Is Java moss fast growing (Growth rate)?
Taxiphyllum barbieri has a very fast growth rate, growing from 1⁄2 to 2 inches per week. Grows well in low light conditions, or under weak light. It can take some time to grow thick enough to be used as a ground cover, so you will want to start with Taxiphyllum barbieri that is already 2–3 inches long; it grows at a faster rate when placed in brighter conditions than in lower-light areas.
Taxiphyllum barbieri is not considered to be toxic, though it contains a cyanobacteria and may occasionally release toxins into an aquarium. This should be of minimal concern to hobbyists in most circumstances, as Java moss is safe for both fish and invertebrates.
USDA hardiness zones
Taxiphyllum barbieri are best grown in USDA zones 11-12. Outside of these zones, it is recommended to grow in a container that can be brought indoors for the winter months. Even within zones 11-12, it is best to grow Java Moss in an unheated aquarium or terrarium during the winter months. Water temperature should be kept between 72 degrees F to 86 degrees F at all times. Recommended water conditions are pH 6-7 and a hardness level of 1-5 dGH.
Pests and diseases
Taxiphyllum barbieri is susceptible to two common aquarium pests: Apicomplexan protozoa and Oomycetes. Usually, though, a healthy population of plants will easily outcompete any infection without the need for treatment. Fungus gnat larvae sometimes attack Taxiphyllum. They can be treated with diatomaceous earth, which is harmless to fish but very toxic to pests.
Because you don’t want your fish nibbling on it either, keep it in a separate tank before adding it to your aquarium. Fortunately, fungus gnats are typically not deadly like Cryptocaryon irritans, nor do they cause disease in adults like some other types of parasites. However, they have been known to suck oxygen from wounds, thus killing off new tissue growth if left unchecked.
Java moss (Taxiphyllum barbieri) facts
Is Java Moss Suitable for your Aquarium?
Yes. This aquarium-ready tropical plant has a beautiful appearance that most people enjoy. In addition to beauty, Java Moss can improve water quality by helping remove nitrates from an overstocked tank.
Do fish eat java moss?
Most fish will nibble on java moss, but it’s not their first choice of food. Small bottom-dwelling fish like Corydoras catfish will often feed on java moss, but larger fish may either ignore it or simply tear it apart as a result of rough play. If you do keep smaller fish with java moss in your aquarium, make sure they have plenty of places to hide from more aggressive species.
How long does it take for java moss to attach to driftwood?
Taxiphyllum Barbieri, or Java Moss, is an easy plant to attach to driftwood. Usually, after a day or two, you will begin to see it slowly creeping across your piece of wood. Many times, people are impatient and try putting their moss in water immediately after receiving it. The plant will not attach unless it is completely dry, so be patient! On average, it takes about a week for Taxiphyllum barbieri to fully colonize a piece of wood.
Can Java moss survive out of water?
No. While Java Moss is a versatile plant, it does not have very good survival skills. If you remove it from water for more than ten minutes, it will start to dry out quickly and lose its color. To keep your java moss alive, make sure that there is always enough water in your tank for Java Moss to stay submerged.
Does Java moss give oxygen?
The answer is yes. Java moss will give off oxygen during photosynthesis. They need light to do so, but they don’t necessarily need it 24/7. The problem with Java Moss overgrowing your tank or aquarium is that it depletes important nutrients such as CO2 and can cause your fish to be lethargic or show signs of stress if you have fish in there for a long period of time.
Can Java moss grow in terrariums?
Yes. It grows fast and stays short, so it’s great for small tanks like planted vivariums or terrariums. I do not recommend using Java Moss in bigger aquariums because it can grow very quickly in larger tanks. Java Moss needs good lighting to grow well, even though it can live without light too. That’s why I think that terrariums are perfect habitats for Java Moss.
Can Java moss grow floating?
Yes. In low light conditions, Java Moss will grow floating. In high light conditions, they will grow attached to wood or rocks. They do not require CO2 injection but it does prefer an enriched environment. A highly recommended method is to use root tabs on a timer that adds supplements daily for 6 hours a day with NO supplementation at night. It can be attached to nearly any surface using a fishing line/thread and then snipped off when the desired location is reached.
Is Java moss invasive?
Because of their fast-growing nature, they can quickly become invasive if it’s introduced into an established tank. Java Moss attaches itself to hard surfaces using tiny hairlike threads called holdfasts. These holdfasts provide structure for new shoots which grow up through dense mats that cover everything in their path.
Java moss carpet
Java Moss is commonly used in aquascaping as a carpeting plant. It provides a very naturalistic feel, especially with taller or branching species. However, it also can be grown floating or attached to rocks or driftwood for a more subtle effect. Wherever you use it, try to keep it on areas that receive some light but not full-on direct sunlight if possible.
This will help maintain its attractive green color and avoid any unwanted yellowing of leaves. It’s very important when using Java Moss as a carpeting plant to keep an eye out for algae build-up on top of your moss mats where they may have been exposed to more light than other spots of your tank.
How do you attach a Java moss to a bonsai tree?
When you attach a Java moss to a bonsai tree, it is best to glue it on. This is because attaching with glue is fast and efficient when compared to other ways of attaching plants. When you apply superglue, let it sit for 15 minutes before positioning your plant on top of your bonsai tree so that you have time to correct any misalignment. After positioning your plant, wait another 5 minutes before applying more glue if necessary.