A Complete Guide to Christmas Moss Care, Propagation and Issues

Last updated on December 24th, 2022 at 11:05 am

Christmas Moss is a beautiful carpet moss commonly known as a Christmas tree because of its unique appearance. They form overlapping branches that hang down to develop beautiful carpet-like vegetation inside the aquarium.

Christmas Moss care

Scientifically, it is known as Vesicularia montagnei and is one of the most used mosses for increasing the aquarium’s beauty. It belongs to the Hypnaceae family and has many other names, including Brazilian Willow Moss and Xmas Moss. 

Christmas moss is very easy to cultivate and care for in a tank. They grow very well in optimum water conditions. They provide a good food source for the small fishes and invertebrates and represent them as perfect hiding spots.

Origin and Habitat

Christmas moss has diverse habitat and native to the tropical region of Asia. These tree mosses have habitats in India, Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines.

These mosses reside in the underwater areas in the streams, shady banks of the river, and creeks. They anchor themselves to the underwater stems, branches, and submerged trees. They float freely inside the water bodies.

Xmas moss has a rhizoid root system that makes it easy to uptake nutrients and water through both stems and leaves. They prefer flowing water with a cool temperature. Often the perfect range of the water temperature lies between 72-82-degree Fahrenheit. 

Christmas Moss Care

  • Common Names: Christmas moss, Xmas moss, Tree moss, Christmas tree moss
  • Origin: Southeast Asia
  • Care: Easy
  • Size: 3 inches
  • Grow Rate: Moderate
  • Water hardness: 5-15 dKH
  • pH level: 5 to 7.5
  • Temperature: 72 – 82F
  • Propagation: Clippings and creeping
  • Fertilizer Requirement: Yes, liquid
  • Placement: Foreground


The appearance of the Christmas moss is more like carpet and provides a consistent growth over the surface. Although they are also known as tree climbing or tree moss, they prefer growth in the horizontal direction compared to the vertical.

When provided with favorable conditions, the Christmas moss can cover a larger area. Their growth is slow, and most of the hobbyists keep them in the tank for a specific purpose. They add moss in the aquarium to get a carpet and moss wall. 

Xmas moss leaves are small and have a round or oval shape. They have dark green leaves that grow at a right angle to the stem and have a termination at a sharp point. These mosses take time to get fully mature due to their slow nature. At maturity, they can grow to 4 inches.

Christmas Moss guide

Java Moss Vs Christmas Moss

Most people consider Java Moss and Christmas moss to be the same species which is a misunderstanding. They look similar but belong to different species. Both mosses have distinct characters, and Christmas moss has branches that point downward to give them carpet looks.

Christmas Moss Care Requirements

Christmas moss is very easy to propagate and is best for beginner hobbyists. They are relatively easy to take care of, and they added beauty to your tank with low maintenance. 

You will love to read : Java Moss | Growth and Care a complete Guide

Water parameters:

Xmas Moss is very sensitive to brackish water, having a high amount of salts. They grow in freshwater and prefer water that has a fewer amount of salts.

Besides water composition, the temperature is the second leading factor for keeping the moss. They can live happily in different temperature ranges. But they need an optimum temperature between 65-77 degrees Fahrenheit

Aquarium moss likes good water flow inside the tank. They want moderately fast water and grows well in these water conditions. For optimal placement, place them next to the filtration system to get them good water flow. 

A pH level of 5 to 7.5 is good for the best growth of Xmas moss. They like fresh and light water compared to heavy water. Always keep your tank water clean from ammonia and other pollutants because they don’t grow in dirty and low-quality water.

Fertilizer and CO2:

Christmas moss growth rate is very low, and they need more time to cover the tank’s base than some other options. They are capable of making their food and don’t need fertilizer dose to thrive.

Liquid fertilizer and carbon dioxide are sometimes necessary to avoid slow growth and keep the moss healthy. They collectively improve the health and growth of fishes.

Read Also : Dwarf Hairgrass Care Guide: Carpeting And Planting


Christmas Moss does not need a particular substrate to grow and thrive in the tank. They have a root system that can absorb their nutrient from the water. Because of having a shallow root system, they can grow in any substrate.

The only thing they need is the water flow. With an adequate clean water flow, this moss can thrive on most of the substrate. 

Christmas Moss lighting

Lighting Christmas Moss:

Christmas moss survives in every lighting condition because of its ability to adapt well to the changing light conditions. However, there are some scenarios that better to address for getting optimal and healthy moss.

Their growth rate has a direct link with the quality and amount of light that it receives. If the light is very low or medium, then the growth reduces in the aquarium. 

Avoid exposure to bright sunlight for an extended period; otherwise, they may get affected.


The placement of the moss is not a significant issue. Most hobbyists like to place Christmas moss at the bottom or side of the wall. They can survive anywhere in the tank and form a carpet, bedding, or wall. 

These walls are a great hiding spot for the small fry and creatures in the tank.

Placing Xmas moss in the aquarium is not a complicated process. But for getting a specific aesthetic from them, you need to plan accordingly. If you want them as a carpeted wall, attach them to any mesh material and let them grow. They take any shape you wish to but need proper monitoring.

There are different materials that these mosses can attach and improve aquascaping. They adhere to stones, tree roots, and other materials like driftwood. However, they can get wilder and move freely in the water without any attachment to an object.

Related : Java Fern Planting, Growing and Care in Aquarium

Tankmates Christmas Moss

If you are using Christmas moss for aesthetic value, you need to choose the tank mates that do not eat them. Some species of the Flying Foxes and Siamese Algae Eaters can eat this moss in the tank. Snails and shrimp that are known moss eater usually do not damage Christmas moss. 

Christmas Moss Propagation

Christmas Moss propagation is a pretty straightforward process, and they grow to start the division process. This simple process involves cutting the parent moss into smaller pieces. Then attach them to the mesh or fishing line at the desirable site.

Once they attach themselves, they will grow slowly in the new moss plant and develop their small roots known as rhizoid. These roots anchor them to the substrate and help them to take nutrients for their steady growth.

After getting established at the new site, don’t forget to trim them to get their required shape regularly. You can choose Cherry shrimp to keep them trimmed and well-shaped.

Growth Rate:

Unlike Java Moss, Christmas moss are slow growers, and their growth rate is moderate. Having a slow growth pattern, they do not need active monitoring and trimming. Their pruning and trimming are accessible with pruning scissors. Good pruning can mold them in any shape.

The growth can be increased or decrease by some methods to create a Christmas moss wall. As they are not fast-growing moss so adding adequate CO2 and fertilizer can improve their growth. And if you want to slow down the expansion, you can delay the CO2 injection.

An undergrown moss show a thin carpet that may not look good to some hobbyists. 

Christmas Moss habitat

More for you : 18 Best Low light Aquarium plants.

Pricing and Availability

You can get healthy Christmas moss from any good aquarium store. They usually not expensive, and a medium-sized parcel costs around $5. Always check for their health before buying them and look for any potential snail infestation.

Consider buying the moss that looks good and has fresh color. Many online aquarium and fish stores offer their free delivery ready to plant condition in small water cups.

Common Issues

Christmas moss is a very easy-to-care aquarium specimen and usually does need active monitoring. However, a few issues addressed below that need to keep in mind when growing the aquarium’s moss.

1) Melting:

Melting is a common phenomenon that occurs to the moss upon introduction to the aquarium. It mainly arises when moss was grown in the lab conditions and then placed in the submerged conditions. When adapting to the new conditions, they scattered their old structure.

They need a brief time to recover and replace the new growth. The melted parts need immediate attention and need to discard from the aquarium. Otherwise, they begin to root and start to disturb the water quality. Regularly test the water quality to avoid toxicity in the aquarium.

2) Algae:

Algae is a common issue with all the aquatic plants and moss. Once they grow on any plant and moss, they are difficult to remove from the surface. Developing algae in the aquarium is a serious indicator of the imbalanced ecosystem. 

Evaluate the parameters like lighting, fertilization, and CO2 injection to maintain their healthy balance. Analyze the results and find the root cause. 

3) Fragments:

Developing the debris fragments over time is a common issue in the moss. Having a moss with the debris is an unpleasing look and can affect its health. 

Debris is generally a water-related issue, and you need to monitor the flow and filtration of the water. Another way around is having fry, shrimps, and snails in your aquarium can solve this debris issue as they will feed on it.


A high-quality canister filter is recommended for keeping fishes, mosses, and other creatures in your aquarium. These living organisms actively secrete wastes that combine with the food leftovers to create a toxic environment. 

For planting and moss aquariums, filters are essential to keep the water clean and provide the filtration’s circulation. 

Read Also : Mexican Dwarf Crayfish – The Complete Practical Care Guide

Summing Up

Christmas moss is the most appealing and easy-to-care plant for any hobbyist. It does not require complicated monitoring and is good enough for beginners. Their striking, bright, and appealing look make them the right choice for your aquascaping needs. Purchase them from reputable fish stores to avoid any issues. To successfully grow them in the aquarium, look for the water conditions, CO2 levels, and debris quantity regularly. 

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