How to Treat My Sick Spiky Moss?

Spiky moss, just as any other plant, can turn sick. This can be because of reasons such as improper lighting conditions, water quality, fertilizer, or even pests, like snails.

Identifying sick Spiky moss balls early and treating them is important for the healthy survival of the moss in your aquarium.

How to Treat My Sick Spiky Moss
How to Treat My Sick Spiky Moss

Table of Contents

Signs of sick Spiky moss

Sick Spiky moss can most often be easily identified through a visual change in the moss growth. This can be in the forms of wilting, discoloration of the leaves, or even unusual floating of the leaves.

Another sign of your Spiky moss plant being sick could be if you get a bad odor in your aquarium tank.

A bad smell could be due to many reasons, but if all conditions of the tank are at their optimum, there is a high possibility of the smell being caused because of your Spiky moss plant rotting.

Can Spiky Moss make us sick?

No, Spiky moss does not make humans sick.

Although, dying or dead Spiky moss in tanks can make your fish sick.

Does sick Spiky Moss release toxins?

Dying and rotting Spiky moss plants do release toxins. This is in the form of gasses such as ammonia and other nitrogenous waste that are harmful to both fish and other aquarium plants at higher levels.

The decaying parts of the Spiky moss plant can break off and get stuck in other plants or parts of the tank, polluting it.

This can increase the spread of toxins and waste within the tank, affecting the balance of the water quality, which is bad for both the fish and plants in the aquarium.

Color changes in Spiky Moss balls

Spiky moss turning brown

This is mainly due to excessive heat and light. The higher the light intensity and temperature of the tank, the higher the chances of your Spiky moss turning brown. This process of the moss starting to become sick, and die is also known as melting.

Spiky moss turning brown uniformly

This is also a sign of your Spiky moss wilting. However, uniform wilting can be because of a temperature shock after a water change, where the water temperature is either too cold or too warm.

Grey Spiky moss

This is an indication that your moss needs a cleaning along with a more consistent form of lighting. If your source of lighting doesn’t reach the lower layers of the Spiky moss, it can turn slightly pale/grey.

Spiky moss turning yellow

This highlights a lack of nutrients and a high temperature in the aquarium tank. If not tended to, these yellow patches will then turn brown, leading to the death of the moss growth.

Spiky moss turning black

Black moss or plants in an aquarium indicate high levels of phosphate that form because of leftover food rotting in the tank. To prevent this, regularly change the water and vacuum any leftover food.

Floating Spiky moss

Spiky moss naturally tends to float if left freely in the tank. Attaching it to a substrate will help it grow submerged.

Generally, moss balls tend to float because of air bubbles trapped within them.

However, this is not usually the case with Spiky moss. If you notice your Spiky moss leaves are wilting and thinning off, with the leaves floating higher and more easily in the water, this can be a sign of your Spiky moss turning sick.

How do I revive sick Spiky Moss?

You can revive your Spiky moss by correcting any changes in the water that should remain constant.


Maintain a constant temperature between 25 to 27 degrees Celsius (77 to 81 Fahrenheit), especially following a water change as water temperature changes can shock the Spiky moss.

Water quality

Sourcing water from the same source each time you do a water change is important. Thus, maintaining the pH levels and nutrient levels will be comparatively much easier, preventing any shock to the moss after the water change.


Ensure constant lighting periods of 8 to 10 hours daily, with no irregular changes. Higher lighting periods will encourage algal blooms while lower lighting periods will limit photosynthesis levels.

CO2 levels

Adding in liquid CO2 (carbon dioxide) will help in reviving a sick Spiky moss as it will help boost photosynthesis levels.


Adding liquid fertilizer too will revive a sick Spiky moss plant by providing more nutrients for the healthy growth of the moss.


More frequent maintenance measures, like water changes, trimming off excess leaves, and removal of algae growth and pests will help with a speedy recovery of your sick Spiky moss.

Why does my Spiky Moss smell bad?

This can be a result of the bottom layers of your Spiky moss rotting and decaying in the tank. The dying leaves if left unremoved, will then decompose and produce nitrogenous waste such as ammonia, creating a bad odor.

Your Spiky moss can also smell bad because of leftover fish food being stuck within the moss cluster. When decaying in the moss, this food will also make your moss smell bad.

How to clean my dirty Spiky Moss?

To clean your Spiky moss, gently remove the moss along with its substrate from the tank and hold it under a gentle flow of water.

You can also rinse the moss in clean water until any dirt and food particles are removed.

Also, it’s possible to gently vacuum the moss if cleaning the moss within the aquarium itself but avoid harsh vacuuming as it can damage the plant.

Why is my Spiky Moss falling apart?

Spiky moss leaves can fall apart because of a deficiency of light and nutrients, which in turn weakens the plant. This results in the leaf structure weakening and the moss falling apart.

How long does Spiky Moss live?

Although a distinct period is hard to name as a lifetime of Spiky moss, under proper supervision, care and maintenance, Spiky moss will enjoy a healthy and long life in your aquarium.


Spiky moss thrives well in an aquarium under a set of conditions that need to be maintained at a constant level. Any small change in any of these conditions can result in a significant change in moss growth.

So do keep a sharp lookout for any signs of changes in the moss colour or smell as it’s a good indicator of the health of your Spiky moss while practicing a regular maintenance routine to enjoy a healthy Spiky moss growth in your aquarium!

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.