Growing Land Moss in Water

Michael Langerman
12 min readDec 21, 2021

Buy live land moss locally on Craigslist:

Or buy live land moss on Amazon (paid link):

Land moss grows everywhere.

Often you may find different mosses grow in the same place next to each other.

Mosses like moisture and for that reason they grow in shady damp places.

Also, mosses grow well in sunny places too if you keep them moist.

Warm seasons are the best time to pick moss for whatever projects you may have in your mind.

Pick the greenest and healthiest samples.

I’ve been taking samples of mosses starting back in 2016.

To grow land mosses in water for my aquariums.

Indeed, some land mosses grow underwater.

You can observe terrestrial mosses grow underwater in Nature in frequently flooded areas.

Here is an example I found in Central Park of NYC.

The same land moss grows below and above the water line.

This stream floods during rains.

And moss likes it!

The best samples of land mosses to grow underwater in aquariums I pick on trees and rocks.

Those samples actually grow away from local ponds and lakes.

Here is one example.

Mosses growing on tree trunks come with less dirt compared to mosses growing on land.

And mosses growing on rocks and walls also come with less dirt.

Less dirt is easier to clean.

Moss with dirt placed in water often gets spoiled in a matter of days or weeks.

Before placing moss in water you have to clean the moss of all detritus that gets trapped in the moss.

Put the moss in a jar.

Fill it up with water and shake it.

Drain the dirty water.

And repeat it all as many times as it takes to get the moss clean.

In this example, I wash moss collected from the tree with not much dirt to begin with.

Keep the cleaned moss in the same jar filled with water.

Cover the jar loosely to reduce water evaporation.

Let the moss sit in water for a couple weeks or until you see new moss growing.

It takes much more effort to wash moss collected from ground.

Wherever you pick your moss, make sure to clean it as best as you can.

Being patient and persistent goes a long way.

You want to wash moss very thoroughly the first time around to avoid problems later.

Some samples of moss sink to the bottom while other float.

It takes time for dry moss to absorb enough water to make it sink.

Trapped in moss air bubbles may keep the moss floating the first time you put it in water.

You want to shake the air bubble off for one reason — to see Oxygen bubbles building up.

Healthy growing moss exposed to sunlight produces Oxygen bubbles you may see here.

That is a sign of moss growing underwater that is ready to be moved into your aquariums.

Often I use small containers, disposable plastic cups to grow land moss underwater.

That is a great way to experiments with aquatic critters — seed shrimp in this example.

And this a way to learn about land mosses in water without compromising your large aquarium.

And I enjoy making small ecosystems — I like to call them aquarium gardens.

Let’s make one using a 1 liter glass jar with a lid — that’s a great step up from plastic cups!

Fill the jar with dechlorinated water.

And…let’s add whatever is available to make our aquarium garden beautiful!

Here goes colorful Imagitarium gravel I got from Petco.

Some small rocks — to add minerals.

Seashells always look good in aquariums.

And there are some pretty rocks.

Now let’s add aquatic plants.

For this small setup, any small plants will do.

And don’t forget to add the land moss that has been waiting patiently for weeks in water!

Here it goes.

Bladder and Ramshorn snails are great to keep in any small or large aquarium.

Now let’s cover the jar with a lid modified to serve as a planter.

The holes in the lid allows air circulation while reducing water evaporation.

Now you can put different types of land plants on top to grow with roots in water.

Do you know that even some succulents grow with their roots in water?!

I have a long list of videos about land plants growing in water — check them out.

Let’s add one more cutting.

And that’s all it takes to make your own sustainable aquarium garden.

Here is the land moss growing underwater — it looks beautiful.

The aquarium could be much simpler or more complicated — it’s all up to you.

Here is an example of a plastic bottle aquarium with land moss and pothos growing underwater.

This one is populated with seed shrimp and snails.

The same moss is on the bottom and tied to the driftwood.

Here is another example of land moss underwater.

The dwarf lily in the middle of the moss looks very adorable.

The land moss in water grows long strings toward the water surface.

I am going to move this more than 6 month old sample of land moss into a 3 liter aquarium with fish.

Here it goes.

The land moss grows underwater continuously all year around making kind of a mesh.

Fish fry and small aquatic critters hide inside of the moss mesh.

Here you can see snails and adult scuds already exploring the mesh of moss.

Land moss growing in aquariums serves really well for critters and fry to hide in.

But there are more benefits to harvest from land moss!

Different types of fish including toothless guppies feed on land moss.

Here you can see young adult dwarf guppies nibble on land moss.

I am not sure of the nutritional value of land mosses…

Though, judging from how eager fish are for it speaks for itself.

Land moss makes any aquarium more attractive.

And moss grows everywhere — readily available even in places where no pet stores sell plants.

And care for the land moss in aquariums is as simple as just adding water.

Water and indirect sunlight is all it takes to grow land moss in water.

No air pumps, no filters, no water changes.

Just add water aquarium gardens to enjoy all year around.

Have fun and happy aquarium gardens :)