Spiky Moss Ultimate Guide on Planting, Maintenance and Care

Are you hoping to start your own aquarium? Did you picture it by including a scenery of natural moss? And now, are you on the hunt to find one of the easiest types of moss to aquascape with?

If so, stay tuned while we introduce to you one of the simplest, easiest, and most alluring types of moss to grow, Spiky Moss!

Moss in general belongs to the division of plants named Bryophyta. These simply structured miniature plants do not produce flowers and are often found along forest beds, sidewalks and even garden walls.

These clumped up plants that thrive mainly in moist shady environments also do flourish in aquatic environments, making it ideal to be used in your home, either outdoors in your garden, or indoors, in an aquarium or even a terrarium!

What is Spiky Moss?

Looking at Spiky Moss, also known as Taxiphyllum spiky, it is one of over 700 varieties of moss found across the world! Although classified as belonging to the Selaginellaceae family and the Taxiphyllum genus, this type of moss is yet to be differentiated as a separate species. Spiky moss can also be considered an epiphyte, as it grows well when attached to a substrate, such as a rock or tree bark.

Origin of Spiky Moss

Since originating from the Asian regions, Spiky moss has grown in popularity and is now found to be fast growing globally.

Appearance

With its pointy leafy vascular structure giving birth to its name, Spiky moss, is often fondly referred to as the older brother of Christmas Moss. This is because of its slighter larger size and broadly structured form in comparison to Christmas Moss.

Sporting a bright shade of green, spiky moss is renowned for being one of the hardier types of moss. Since its leaf growth takes place in layers, spiky moss is better suited for being grown in a vertical upright form rather than in a horizontal bed form, specially, if it’s being nurtured in a larger scale. This gives greater emphasis on the branched structure, making the growth look cleaner, fuller and richer!

Methods of growing Spiky Moss in an aquarium

So how do we go about growing spiky moss? Specially in an aquarium.

Spiky moss produces spores for its own reproduction. Therefore, we could use either these spores or cuttings from the mother plant to re grow them.

If you prefer propagating through spores, you could plant these spores about 1½ – 2 inches deep in a prepared soil which should be kept moist throughout the growth period, to encourage a nourishing sprouting environment. These sprouts can then be planted in the aquarium, either on the floor bed or with the help of an upright substrate.

However, if you prefer using cuttings from an existing growth of Spike moss, which is an easier and quicker approach, you could then plant the cuttings right away in your aquarium.

So how can this be done?

Firstly, take a sample growth from the mother plant (an existing growth). For this, you would be at an advantage if you’re one of the lucky people who live near a woodland, where you have easy access to many varieties of moss.

But if you’re a person like me, who lives in the heart of the city, you would most likely need to purchase the sample from your nearby store. You can however keep an open eye in your garden or sidewalks since moss growths are quite commonly found in these areas as well.

Once you’ve got your sample, be sure to give it a thorough rinse by fully submerging the moss in water. This is to get rid of any bugs, insects, sand and dirt particles that could most likely have been trapped in the layers of your spiky moss cutting. Be sure to rinse the moss at least twice to clean it fully, because let’s be honest, who wants a dirty muddy aquarium?

Next, we can separate our cuttings into smaller portions. It’s important to remember that spiky moss branches out as it grows. Because of this, it’s best to not crowd your tank when planting the cuttings, and to give it ample space to breathe and grow.

According to your preference, you can plant Spiky moss either in the substrate of the aquarium bed, or aquascape by adding different substrates of differed heights for the moss to grow on. Yet, it could be said that spiky moss looks highly exquisite when grown vertically on a substrate, as the branches and layers can be seen more clearly.

Wondering how you could attach the moss to the substrate? This is quite a simple process! All you need is a little super glue, the substrate and the spiky moss cutting! Using glue could leave a stain once dried, but this shouldn’t be a problem, because as the moss grows these stains would be all covered up!

Tank requirements when planting Spiky Moss

Spiky Moss Tank Requirement
Spiky Moss Tank Requirement

Are you concerned about the necessities that you would need to grow spiky moss? Well, you shouldn’t be. One thing most non-professional beginner level aquarists worry about are the requirements when creating a live aquarium bed.

Spiky moss is one of the easiest types of moss to grow! It flourishes beautifully even in a dimly lit environment. While having a medium growth rate, it grows well even in an aquarium with less CO2.

Lighting

Most aquariums can be maintained well by using a LED light or a fluorescent light. This lighting works perfectly well even for an aquarium with spiky moss. Spiky moss only needs a low to medium level of light. Periods of about 8 to 10 hours of lighting would be ideal for such an aquarium.

During the early stages of planting however, it’s better to maintain a lower lighting period of about 6 to 7 hours to prevent algae growths in the moss. Once the moss is healthy and growing, you can then increase the lighting period per day.

Temperature

You should although make sure the source of lighting does not heat up the tank too much. Even though spiky moss originates from the Asian region, it could melt and rot in high temperatures. Because of this, make sure you place the tank in an area which would minimize high temperatures.

For this, you could use a form of lighting (such as a non-incandescent bulb) which doesn’t emit much heat, or you could position your aquarium near a well lit window, but in a way that the direct sunlight doesn’t heat up the tank.

The temperature requirements for aquariums generally differ according to the type of fish bred, but it ranges mostly between 25 to 27 degrees Celsius (77 to 81 Fahrenheit). This temperature is ideal for spiky moss as well, which is one reason why it’s one of the easiest moss varieties to grow and maintain.

CO2 levels

Thanks to its Asian roots, spiky moss grows well in tanks with moderate or even low levels of CO2. Adding liquid CO2, to increase the CO2 levels of the water will make the moss grow richer, but this could be toxic to the fish homed in the tank! Because of this, maintaining a low to moderate level of CO2 in the tank would be ideal to ensure a healthy and long life span for both your spiky moss as well as the fish!

Substrate and attaching

Spiky moss, once introduced to the tank, would grow on absolutely any medium! You could easily attach it to a rock or a piece of wood using thread, mesh or superglue, and that’s it! Simple and easy as that!

If using a mesh to attach the moss on the rock or piece of wood, the easiest way to do this would be to lay the mesh on a flat surface, spread the spiky moss on the mesh and then place the substrate on the moss. You could then tie it up using a string or zip tie. However, take care in choosing the type of string used. While small strings are ideal to tie spiky moss to the substrate, it could once again be harmful for the fish, as they could get entangled or nibble on the loose ends of the string!

Gluing the moss would be helpful in attaching it to a more plastic or slippery medium. You could place a few dots of superglue on the surface and attach the moss cuttings. Remember to space the cuttings out because spiky moss spreads out when multiplying. Any visible marks left due to stains of glue will be covered up once the moss grows over.

When it comes to potting soil as a substrate, it would be a suitable growth substance for spiky moss. But this would make our aquarium muddy and unclean. Because of this, avoiding the use of potting soil and using substrates instead would be an ideal choice.

Maintenance of Spiky Moss

Maintaining your spiky moss breaks no sweat. All you need is regular trimmings along with a gentle water flow and it will survive great!

Spiky moss tends to grow in layers when grown on the aquarium bed. This can cause uneven growths in many places. As the new leaves grow higher up, the older layers die and rot at the bottom making the water impure, diminishing the overall beauty of the aquarium.

To prevent this, regular trimming could be done, to remove the decaying layers and to prevent tight clusters and knots forming in the growth.

More easily, growing spiky moss on a vertical substrate can help prevent the collection of decayed bottom layers, as the moss grows higher up. It also becomes more visually pleasing and aesthetic as the spikes branch out.

Maintaining a gentle water flow in the tank is important when growing spiky moss. Specially during the initial stages of attachment and growth! This is because a high flow could make the spikes sway too fast, shifting the placing of the roots of the moss. This can even blow away the moss from the substrate, stunting the growth of the spiky moss.

Maintaining proper levels of lighting for appropriate time periods is a must for the growth of spiky moss! Having periods of lighting for more than 10 hours could reduce the rate of growth of the moss. This is only because higher periods of light promote higher growth of algae, which thrive with longer lighting periods. While having shrimp in your aquarium will help in preventing algae growths, this will be best done only with the maintenance of light during the window of 8 to 10 hour periods.

Also maintaining a low level of pH in the water is an added way in minimizing algae growths in spiky moss. But take care, as very low levels of pH could not be ideal for the fish in your aquarium!

Growth rate and height of Spiky Moss

Spiky moss is a fast growing yet easy to grow moss variety.

Prospering well in low to medium levels of CO2 and lighting, spiky moss grows at a medium to fairly quick rate when compared to other types of aquarium mosses.

Growing to a height of nearly 2 – 10 cm, spiky moss branches out in layers while growing higher, making it ideal to be grown on vertical heights in an aquarium.

Pros and cons of planting spiky moss in your aquarium

With an aesthetic and visually pleasing sense of physical form, spiky moss will provide you with a sensation of calm and happiness. The gentle sway of leaves in the aquarium is not only beneficial in preventing algae growths from forming, but it’s also a sight for sore eyes at the end of a tiring day!

If your aquarium houses fish from a variety of sizes from small shrimp and guppies to medium or large fish, such as Angel fish or Oscars, or if you breed fish, or even are a beginner to maintaining an aquarium, spiky moss is ideal for you!

The clusters and branches of spiky moss provide the perfect hiding spots for small fish, shrimp and fish fry, making it the best plant in your aquarium! The algae being trapped in the leaves of the moss also make the growth the ideal dining table for your fish. With low maintenance being added into the bargain, spiky moss will be perfect for you!

However, it is important that you trim spiky moss in time, as the possibility of the lower layers decaying and destroying the cleanliness of the water is high. High levels of growth could even take up excess space in your aquarium, limiting free movement for fish.

Trimming this moss growth is simple. All you need is a pair of pruning scissors or tweezers and a net to collect the cuttings from the water. However, you could also remove the cuttings from the tank by hand as it wouldn’t cause an issue.

Common problems when planting Spiky Moss in an aquarium

Spiky moss is quite an easy moss to propagate and hardly poses any serious problems. The main aspects to look out for would be the type and period of lighting along with trimming and pruning.

Carefully choose a source of non-heating light and ensure the periods of light don’t exceed 10 hours, as it could promote algae growth rather than the moss.

Trimming and pruning should be done timely, to prevent the rotting of lower layers of moss and to prevent the uneven formation of moss clusters. Timely pruning will make sure the tank has a clean and spacious form of environment for the fish to thrive in.

Suitable and unsuitable tank mates for Spiky Moss

Spiky moss can be grown with many other types of moss with hardly any conflicts. Moss types such as flame moss and crystal wort moss would be ideal to be grown along with spiky moss, because they occupy less space when compared to spiky moss, which branches out and covers a larger space of the tank bed.

Homing a few small shrimps in your aquarium is highly beneficial for spiky moss. Shrimp such as Cherry shrimp and Crystal Red shrimp are perfect tank mates for spiky moss. As their diet includes algae, they help in preventing any growths of algae in the cluster of moss.

Any small fish varieties like guppies or betta fish are also viable tank mates for spiky moss.

However, including Siamese algae eater fish are an exception. Their preference for moss delicacies will prevent spiky moss from growing as they feed on the different parts of the growth, making them unsuitable tank mates for spiky moss.

Spiky Moss vs Java Moss

Java moss is a common moss variety grown in many aquariums. Having a hardy nature along with low maintenance requirements, it grows vigorously and healthily when left under fine aquarium environments. Holding well onto its substrate, java moss is ideal as a gap filler in your aquarium as it grows upright and outspread. However, it needs to be trimmed timely to prevent cluttered growths.

 Spiky MossJava Moss
Height (when regularly trimmed)2 – 10 cm5 – 10 cm
Growth rateMediumMedium
Maintenance and DifficultyHardy nature and easy to growHardy nature and easy to grow
Growth mannerBest grown vertically, however can be grown on the aquarium bed Best grown vertically as a gap filler
AvailabilityReadily availableReadily available
PricingBudget friendlyBudget friendly

Spiky Moss vs Flame Moss

Growing upright similar to burning flames of a fire, flame moss is a wonderful addition to any aquarium. With a bright green upward spiral growths and a short period of adaptation to its new environment, flame moss could easily be grown alongside spiky moss.

 Spiky MossFlame moss
Height (when regularly trimmed)2 – 10 cm8 – 10 cm
Growth rateMediumSlow to medium
Maintenance and DifficultyHardy nature and easy to growHardy nature and easy to grow
Growth mannerBest grown vertically, however can be grown on the aquarium bed Grown on the floor bed
AvailabilityReadily availableReadily available
PricingBudget friendlyBudget friendly

Finale

As clearly seen, spiky moss is one of the ideal moss types for any aquarist, with hardly any consideration to your level of expertise in aquarium maintenance. Growing well under low conditions of light and CO2, it only requires your periodic assistance in being pruned to shape and form!

So why hesitate some more?

Sample out your own Spiky moss and enjoy the relaxing yet joyous and natural scenic nature it brings to your life and the fish 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 searched more details about aqua plants for create my home aquarium. So I created this site for share my knowledge and long term experience with all of you. If you an aqua plant lover or hope to start an aquarium definitely my site will give a better guidance to you. I would like to invite you to refer my site and feel free to contact me if any inquiry.