Star Moss Ultimate Guide on Planting, Maintains and Care

People all around the world today like to have a fish tank with them, some of them have them as a hobby at the residence and some of them make money through this. There is no place in the world that you don’t have a fish tank.

Not only having just fish in a tank, they have been adding different things in to this tank so as to increase its level of beauty as well as to provide with some requirements of the fish in the tank.

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Star Moss Tortula Ruralis
Star Moss Tortula Ruralis : Image Source

Aquarists all around the world have been trying to add new and different things in to their Aquariums so as to attract people towards having a fish tank with them.

Among these different adding Aquatic plants take a major .And although not an Aquatic plant they also use other types of plants as a decorating tool to the fish tank.

One of the famous plants used these days are Mosses. Mosses are of different types and some may be plants or Algae. These Mosses add a definite beauty to your fish tank while also providing with certain other benefits.

So let’s look into one such Moss that is used in decorating your fish tank, the Star Moss.

Scientific NameSyntrichia Ruralis
OriginSouth East Asia
Lighting NeedsMedium – high indirect light
Temperature55-80°F (12-26°C)
Water ConditionspH 5- 7.5
Average Size:0.5-2 inches
Growth RateSlow to Medium
PlacementMid and Foreground
DifficultyEasy – Medium
Star Moss Information Table

What is Star Moss?

Star Moss or scientifically known as Tortula Ruralis is a plant with star shaped leaves. This plant belongs to the family of Pottiaceae and the Class of Bryosida.The plant grows around 1.1 inches in size.

Actually the Star Moss is not an Aquatic plant. This plant is seen grown in the grounds of Grasslands, Forests, Deserts and the Arctic. This plant is native to the European, Asian, North American, Middle East, Pacific,South African,North African and Australian Countries.

Even said that this plant is not an Aquatic plant many people have been adding this plant in to their tank as a major decoration.

The Star Moss is not able to survive in the water for a longer period of time. And even if held in water it should be kept in the fresh waters as it cannot hold itself in the salt waters.

Submerging the plant fully in water for a longer period of time, and even if partially submerged the plant cannot be held in the water for more than 90 days.

The special feature of this plant is that even if this plant dries it will remain alive but will not grow itself. And when given the required amount of water it will start to grow again even after years of drying.

When these plants are given with the required amount of water the leaves will have a dark green and shiny look within it and when dry will turn to a brownish red colour.

For these plants to grow to its optimal and to have better health conditions it will be better to have these plants in a place with dryer conditions.

The Star Moss has a slow growth, but will grow larger in size eventually. This slow growth of the plant has made it very expensive to buy. Unlike other plants the Star Moss is easy to take care of.

Also this plant can grow in any climate condition and also holds shallow roots which can help them to anchor into any surface.

Not only this plant is a decorative tool but is also a great hiding place for the small creatures and is also a plant that can stabilize the soil and reduce erosion.

Type of Star Moss

Star Moss can also be identified as Side Walk Moss, Hairy Screw Moss, Tortula Moss and Twisted Moss.

Star Moss Care Guide


Star Moss, as said require the least maintenance when compared to other plants. When compared to other plants this star moss also require itself with sunlight to grow.

This plant is an amazing Plant as it can sustain itself in bright sunlight as well as the low lights too. So there will be nothing to be worried too much on the health of the plant.

Nutrients and Fertilizers

Star Moss plant like every other plant make its own food through the process of photosynthesis.

They will not require any nutrients from the outside for them to grow. But if you want to, you can add fertilizer in the plant which will make the plant grow faster.

Using CO2

Using CO 2 into you Star Moss is not that much of a requirement. But you can add CO2 into your plant as per your wish. You can use a plastic container, add the CO2 in it and leave the plants in this container for a several hours. Then have them back in your tank.


Star Moss has the ability on anchoring to any type of substrate. So selecting substrate for the plant will be not that difficult.

Methods of Planting Star Moss in your Aquarium

Planting the Star Moss plant in to your Aquarium can be done in different ways. As this plant is able to anchor itself on any surface with its roots, you can have these plants as a carpet attached to your tank.

Or otherwise you can attach the plant in to different other objects in the tank.

This plant can even be kept as a floating plant in the tank and if you are more creative you can add more things with the plant.

How to maintain Star Moss?

Maintaining your Star Moss Plant is not that difficult when compared to other Aquatic plants.


A regular cleaning of the tank will help the maintenance of the Star Moss. Star Moss plants in your tank will decompose and will cause clogging the filters in your tank, at times it will have Algae grown on them which is harmful to the plant , therefore cleaning and washing the plant will help you have a healthy and good looking Star Moss plant.


Trimming of the Star Moss Plant can give it a nice look to the plant. You can see that at times certain parts of the plant will be not in equal shape and size with the other parts of the plant .Therefore you can cut and give a trimming to the plant so as for it to have nice look and regrow.

Water Changes

A water change of the plant will be regularly needed for the Star Moss to grow healthy. Therefore changing the water and cleaning the tank regularly should be done to the tank with the Star Moss Plants.

Common Issues of Star Moss

Like the other Aquatic plants the Star Moss also has common issues with Algaes and Snails.


When the tank of Star Moss is left without cleaning for a longer period of time it will cause the Plant to have Algae grown on them. Therefore having a regular clean of water and adding some Algae Eaters into you tank can help the tank be free from Algae


Certain types of snails may damage the Star Moss Plants in your tank .Therefore if there are snails in the tank you will have to have a careful look into your Star Moss plants.

Benefits of Star Moss

Not only Star Moss is a beautiful decoration to your fish tank. It also has certain Benefits. Let’s look into them.

Increase Oxygen in the Tank Water

The Star Moss like every other plant takes in the Carbon Dioxide and releases Oxygen. This will give you the advantage of oxygenating your tank of fish.

Best for Breeding Tank

Star Moss is the ideal plant for using in a Breeding Tank. The leaves of these plants provide them with a place to lay their eggs and is also a great hiding place to them.

Secures the Substrates

The Star Moss can be used as a carpet into your tank. This will help to suppress the substrates in the tank and prevent the tank from turning brown in colour.

Hiding Spots for Fish

Some Small fish when in a tank will be shy to come out. The star moss will provide them with a great hiding place for these types of fish as well as their eggs.

Source of Food

Star Moss will be a source of food for certain types of herbivorous fish. And small fries, snails and shrimps will eat out the Algae created on the Star Moss.

Why should you use Star Moss in your Aquarium?

Having a Star Moss plant in your Aquarium will be a definite advantage to you. As it is a

Durable Plant

The Star Moss is a durable plant which does not require much care. This plant can grow everywhere without any difficulty. So add this plant into your tank and get the advantage of it compared to the other Aquatic plants.

Look Attractive Design

Star Moss Leaves have a dark greenly shiny look on them. The name star moss indicates that they are star in shape which gives them a very attractive look. Also this plant will have a beautiful red brown colour when even it is dry.

Easy to Maintain

Unlike the other plants star Moss has an easy maintainance.They can survive themselves from very bright sunlight to even to very lower levels of light. So you can have your fish tank in any place of your wish.

Common Problems of Using Star Moss in your Aquarium

The Star Moss as it has its own benefits also has certain problems when used in the Aquarium

Plant Debris

Plant debris will be a problem to your tank when having this plant in your tank. So to solve this you can clean your tank much more often and have some fish, snails and shrimps in the tank which will help you to get rid of the debris in the tank.

Clogging your Filter

Star Moss when in the tank and grows will decompose and shed a lot. This will cause your filter to clog and you will have to clean your filter more often.


Like every Aquarium plant, the star moss will also have a growth of Algae on them. A proper cleaning of the tank and adding some algae eaters into your tank will help you to get rid of the Algae.

Suitable Tank Mates for Star Moss

The Star Moss plant is not harmful to any kind of fish. It can survive itself with any kind of fish. The most suitable tank fish for the Star Moss plant will be the Tetras,Gouramis,Rainbow Fish and live bearers.

These types of fish will not make any harm on the Star Moss plants in your tank.

Unsuitable Tank Mates for Star Moss

Even though it was said that any type of fish can survive with the Star Moss plant. There are certain types of tank mates than can harm the Star Moss Plants. Such tank mates are the gold fish, large sized cray fish, certain types of cray fish and invertebrates.


How to Trim your Star Moss Plants?

The Star Moss plant like every other plant will have certain parts of the plant grown higher than other parts of the plant which will look Shabby.

So to have a nice looking Star Moss plant you can cut out the outer grown parts of the plant and have all parts of the plant equal in size. Which can also help them to regrow.

How to Propagate Star Moss Plants?

Star Moss is a slow growing plant .But you can propagate the star Moss by dividing one moss into severals.Then place these Moss Balls in different places so that they can grow with time.

What are the Difficulties grow Star Mosses?

Star Moss plant is not an Aquarium plant, even though used in the decoration of fish tanks with their beauty. This plant can be alive even without water for years and will gain back in colour and grow when provided with water.

But when this plant is submerged in full water it will not be able to survive itself in the tank. If the plant is not partially submerged in the water it can hold itself in your fish tank for around 03 months of time.

There are certain vivarium that can hold the star moss as below,

  • Paludariums- Half Aquatic
  • Ripariums-Mostly Aquatic based
  • Terrariums-Fully terrain based with little to no aquatic features.

Why is Star Moss so more Expensive?

As said Star Moss plant like the Marimo Moss Balls have a very slow growth rate. This slow growth of the plant has made this plant so expensive.

How does Fast grow Star Moss?

Star Moss when compared to other plants has a slow growth. But will grow much larger in size with time. However if you need to make them grow faster you can use Fertilizer or CO2 on the plant.


Nature has given humans many beautiful things and places. And among them one of the God given gifts of nature are the Star Moss Plants. This plant grows in the Grasslands, Forests and even the Desserts.

So if you are thinking of adding this plant to your fish tank or has already having them in the fish tank .It will be a definite advantage to you. This plant is a freshwater plant and therefore can survive in the fresh water Aquariums.

The plant has a beautiful greenly looking star leaves which also turns into a beautiful red brown colour when dry. This plant is easy to be taken care of. So try this plant in to your Aquarium or fish tank.

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.