How Can I Remove Algae from Spiky Moss?

Spiky moss, also known as “the older brother of Christmas moss”, is a variety of moss suitable for nearly any aquatic environment. With a simple, flowy, layered leaf growth it is an ideal moss to include in your aquarium!

Having said that, this layered growth is an added reason for the Spiky moss plants’ ability to trap algae.

How Can I Remove Algae from Spiky Moss?
How Can I Remove Algae from Spiky Moss?

With a gentle water flow in the tank, there is a higher chance for algae to come in contact with the moss, but little chance for it to be blown off the moss.

This forms algae growth over time.

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How can I remove algae from Spiky Moss?

Removing algae from Spiky moss may sound like a tricky situation. However, there are a few simple and effective ways you can do so without killing your moss in the process:

  • Bleach – Dipping your Spiky moss plant in a soft, light bleach solution for a few seconds will help kill off the algae in your moss. These few seconds of bleach wash will not harm your Spiky moss, but make sure to thoroughly rinse the moss in clean water after bleaching to prevent any possible damage to the moss.
  • Brushing with baking soda – As difficult and skeptical as it may sound, gentle brushing of your moss with a soft brush (like a toothbrush) will help remove any algae stuck to your Spiky moss plant. Although, remember, be gentle with it! This can be combined with baking soda, which reacts to remove any form of tough algae.
  • Shrimp – It’s well-known that shrimp love feeding on algae. The fastest way to get rid of such growths naturally will be to include a few shrimps in your tank, such as Amano or Cherry shrimp, and watch the algae disappear!

How can I keep my Spiky Moss plant clean?

Algae grow well in prolonged lighting periods. In general, an aquarium requires lighting periods of about 8 hours. If the tank contains aquatic plants, lighting periods can go on for up to 8 to 10 hours.

If this lighting period is exceeded, it creates the perfect environment for algae to thrive. This combined with infrequent water changes will then result in the uncontrollable growth of algae.

So, to prevent algae growth, you can start by limiting these conditions.

  • Shorter lighting periods – To start, you can shorten your daily lighting periods to about 8 hours. These hours can then be broken into sections instead of being continuous. For instance, you can have lighting for 2 hour periods with hourly gaps in between.
  • Frequent water changes – Frequent changes to the aquarium water will help maintain a pure and clean tank. Since algae grow better in impure water, this will help minimize the growth rate to a considerable extent.

Why do algae grow in Spiky Moss?

In general, algae are referred to as plant-like organisms. They grow well in aquatic sources (such as aquariums) that are high in light and nutrients.

Typically, algae growth in tanks on a small scale is useful. They help maintain the balance of water and act as food for certain types of fish and other aquatic animals.

Will algae kill Spiky moss in my aquarium?

This depends entirely on the volume of algae in your tank. While a few growths of algae will not kill your Spiky moss, a large volume of algae will.

If your tank is surrounded by algae, on the tank walls, the surface of the water, or is fully covering the moss, it can then kill your Spiky moss by absorbing most, if not all, of the nutrients in the water and by blocking the sunlight from reaching the moss.

Does Spiky moss feed on algae?

No, it doesn’t. Spiky moss, similar to algae, produces its food by absorbing the nutrients present in the tank and photosynthesizing in the presence of light.

As a result, the rate of growth of each plant depends on its ability and rate of absorbing nutrients and the presence of light.

How long does it take to kill algae from Spiky Moss?

This depends on the level of growth of algae in your tank and the method used to remove it.

If using bleach, you only need to rinse the Spiky moss for a few minutes at the most. This will ensure the moss remains safe while the algae are killed.

If brushing with baking soda, you will need a few minutes based on the level of algae growth on the Spiky moss.

If using shrimp to eat away the algae, it would take a few days before you see some distinct results. Larger shrimp such as Amano shrimp will feed on greater amounts of algae in a shorter time period in comparison to smaller shrimp such as Cherry shrimp.

Keep in mind that this is when other types of food are given in smaller amounts or are completely omitted for the shrimp. Also, do note that if the shrimp are not fed even after the algae are eaten, they will start feeding on your Spiky moss plants as well.

Can baking soda kill algae in Spiky Moss?

Yes, it can. Brushing with baking soda can help remove and kill any algae growing on the Spiky moss.

Can hydrogen peroxide kill algae in Spiky Moss?

Yes, it will.

A few hours of submerging the entire tank in a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution can help kill off algae growing in your aquarium. Although you should take care to rinse the tank thoroughly at least thrice afterward.

If you’re only cleaning the algae off your Spiky moss plant, dipping the moss in a 3% hydrogen peroxide for a maximum of 3 to 5 minutes should do the trick.

What types of algae can grow in Spiky Moss tanks?

There are many types of algae that can bloom in an aquarium. For example:

  • Cyanobacteria (Blue-green algae) – This is a form of algae with a strong foul smell and bluish-green color. Although harmless to fish in your tank, it can kill off your Spiky moss by absorbing most of the nutrients in the tank if growing extensively.
  • Diatoms (Brown algae) – With a distinct brown color, these algae grow on the tank walls and on plants. Even though it’s harmless to fish, it can kill off your Spiky moss by limiting its contact with any source of light.
  • Thread/Green hair algae – These are long thread/hair-like structures floating in the water. These algae then get tangled in the Spiky moss growth which can prevent light from reaching the moss if growing massively.
  • Green water algae – These green-colored algae float in water. Although they do not grow on Spiky moss, they visibly cloud the tank, once again blocking any form of light.
  • Spot algae – Most commonly found as green spots, these algae can grow on the tank walls as well as the plants. Not only are they difficult to spot when growing on Spiky moss, but they’re also hard to remove from the surface they grow on.

What are the most common algae growing on Spiky Moss?

Unfortunately, all the mentioned types of algae can grow easily in your Spiky moss tank. Having said this, the type of algae growth will mainly depend on the level of maintenance of the tank.

High amounts of fish food remaining in the tank, infrequent or sudden water changes in the tank, and irregular cleaning of the tank, all promote the growth of the varieties of algae mentioned above.

How can I remove algae from fake Spiky Moss plants?

All you need is a brush and a moderately strong bleach solution. Dipping the fake plants in the solution for a few minutes followed by a thorough brushing will remove any remaining algae.

You can also simply dip your fake moss in boiling water for about 10 to 15 minutes. Then follow with the brushing.

With either of these methods, make sure to wash the fake moss in water for a minimum of 3 times, to prevent any bleach solution or remaining algae from entering the tank.

Similarities between algae and Spiky Moss

  • Both grow in water
  • They both produce food through photosynthesis
  • Both require light, nutrients, and water to grow
  • They are both non-vascular structure
  • Neither produces flowers

Differences between algae and Spiky Moss

  • While Spiky moss is always multicellular, algae can be unicellular or multicellular
  • Spiky moss reproduces by producing spores while algae multiply as a clump of individual cells
  • Spiky moss belongs to the division of Bryophyta. Other divisions of moss are hornworts, liverworts, and peat mosses. Divisions of algae are green, red, brown algae, and diatoms.
  • Spiky moss always grows attached to a substrate whereas algae can grow either attached to a substrate or free-floating in water.
  • While Spiky grows to about 2 to 10cm, algae can grow from just a few millimeters to a vast number of meters (depending on the variety of algae).


Although Spiky moss is one of the easiest plants to maintain in any aquarium, the possibility that it may trap algae over time is constantly present.

Be as it may, removing uncontrollable algae blooms in your Spiky moss is simple. With a small amount of bleach or baking soda and a few minutes of your time, you can help your aquarium get back to looking just as good as it used to!

In the same way, if you’re looking for early prevention steps, including a few shrimps from the types mentioned before will do the job for you.

So, stop worrying and get your Spiky moss tank clear of algae today!

By Uswatta Liyanage

Hello. I'm Uswatta Liyanage from Galle, Sri Lanka. I am the founder of this website. Since my childhood I'm an aqua plant lover and I have professionally learned more about aqua plants. So I created this site for share my knowledge and experience with all of you. Now you can refer my site and feel free to contact me if any inquiry.