How to Care for Christmas Moss

What is Christmas Moss?

As mentioned in our guide on the best aquarium plants, most aquarists are aware of the presence of various types of aquatic mosses that can be grown in our fish tanks. The most common moss is Java moss, which is easy to grow and very well-known. However, the world of moss doesn’t end there!

Java moss has a rather sprawly and (depending on the lighting levels) spindly growth pattern. If you’re looking for a moss with better texture to spruce up your aquascape, you might prefer Vesicularia montagnei, better known as Christmas moss. The species is appreciated for its denser growth and named after its Christmas tree-shaped fronds.

Name Christmas moss, Xmas moss, Vesicularia montagnei
Care level Moderate
Temperature 68-82°F
pH Highly adaptable
Position Accent plant

Christmas moss planting

Christmas moss is a great option if you’re looking to add some extra texture to your aquascape. It’s quite versatile and can be planted in many different ways. You can opt to leave it free-floating to provide shelter for young fry, but the most decorative option is to attach the moss to walls or hardscape.

You can easily attach aquatic mosses to your desired surface using fishing line or superglue. Initial growth can be a little slow, but once the plant takes off it’ll quickly anchor itself and start sending out new fronds.

If you’re looking to create a moss wall or carpet, your best best is to sandwich the plant between pieces of mesh and put it in place. The mesh will be visible at first, but it’ll quickly be taken over by the plant and look more natural.

Christmas moss care

Although it’s not the easiest aquatic moss to grow in your aquarium, you should still be able to have Christmas moss thrive with the right care. The most important factor to keep in mind is light: unlike its cousin Java moss, this species doesn’t appreciate being grown in low-light set-ups. Medium light will work, but expect slower growth than if you’d be using brighter lamps. With higher amounts of light comes a higher demand for Co2, which means having a Co2 system running is a big plus if you’d like to grow this moss.

Pruning is an important part of keeping any aquatic moss healthy. If left to grow untamed, Christmas moss will become too dense, causing the fronds that aren’t receiving fresh water flow any more to eventually die off. This can result in the plant losing its anchoring to whatever surface it’s attached to, making for a messy look. To prevent all this, simply whip out the pruning scissors a few times a year to give the moss a good trim. Any pieces you remove can be re-attached in other places for an even lusher look to your aquarium.

Problems with Christmas moss

Growing live plants in your aquarium can be a struggle at times and this is no different with Christmas moss. Although we wouldn’t consider it an overly challenging choice, there are still some common issues that might arise when trying to maintain this moss species.

Algae. The dense fronds of mosses like Christmas moss are unfortunately an algae magnet. An imbalance in your aquarium (excess nutrients, too little Co2, too much light) can quickly cause thread algae to nest itself in this greenery, with the growth pattern making it quite hard to remove without ruining the moss too.

Christmas moss turning brown. As we mentioned in the section on care, one cause of Christmas moss dying off can be lack of pruning. This issue is easy to recognize, as the fronds will die off from the inside out. Other causes can include a lack of nutrients, lack of water flow, overly warm water or sudden changes in water consistency (like right after buying the plant).

Identification. Aquatic mosses look different in varying conditions and this is no different for Christmas moss and its close cousin Java moss. Java moss is usually a bit more stringy, but in certain circumstances the two can look so similar it’s very difficult to tell them apart. Make sure you’re buying from a reputable store to avoid accidentally acquiring Java moss instead of Christmas moss!

An aquascape in your home?

Using plants like Christmas moss in your aquarium can result in a beautiful green display, but unfortunately these aquascapes do require patience, maintenance and a lot of knowledge.

Want to enjoy your aquascape without any of the hassle? At FantaSEA Aquariums we get our hands wet so you don’t have to. Feel free to contact us here with your ideas!