Moss balls, my wet friends.

Hello, I’m going to be talking about moss balls, and aquatic plant. I had to take down my half gallon tank yesterday and inside I had a moss ball. I had bought this plant at Petco when I worked there. I’m told that they only grow 5mm a year, but this moss ball has easily doubled his size in the past six months.

Why would it grow so fast?
If I were to guess, it would be because I had a very poor filter, led lights, and an over stocked tank. I had 15 fish in the half gallon tank. The plants that I had in there easily kept the tank clear and clean. This moss ball probably doubled in size because of that.

So what is a moss ball, and why should you have one in your tank, or just in a jar?
The moss ball has a few names depending on where you go. Mirimo, lake ball, moss ball, Cladophora ball. This moss ball, isn’t really moss. The moss ball is actual a type of algae.

Algae, why would I want to put that into my tank?
The moss ball will stay in its ball shape, so it wont make your tank all green. It also eats the same nutrients as regular algae, but it eats them faster. So this helps keep down your algae that will grow on the glass. That is worth having for sure. This is also the reason why my half gallon tank didn’t have any algae in it, well besides the moss ball.

 So what does it do?
Well, the moss ball is just a plant, it will filter the water, and keep it clean. My moss ball, as fish were dying it started to be covered with bones and fish bodies. So it more then likely aided in breaking them down. Some say that the moss ball even will move around your tank.

Where do moss balls come from?
Moss balls are found mainly in the Northern Hemisphere and are most present in countries such as Iceland, Japan, Estonia, and Scotland.

How do they grow?
There are three different types of this plant. There is the Moss ball proper, which is the round velvet like balls you can buy in pet stores. There is the epilithic form, this grows on rocks that are in shade. Then there is the a form that grows as a free floater.

How to care for your moss ball.
When you have your moss ball, if you have it in a tank, you can introduce your plant into the tank as normal, and it will be just fine from here on out. If you have it in a glass of water, or a jar, make sure you change the water every two weeks or so.

My moss ball is turning brown. What do I do?
If you moss ball is in a tank, take it out and put it in a glass of water. Add a pinch of salt and let it sit in indirect light for the next week. You should be okay after that. Not always do you need to do this. Your moss ball can heal by its self.

Now what?
If you have your moss ball, and it is gaining some mass that is great. After a while of having your moss ball, your ball will grow what looks like a tumor. This happens after a few years of growth, depending on the environment of the ball. The tumor is fine, let it grow for a few months after you notice it. Let it grow. After a few months take your thumb and rub it gently. This should pop that tumor off.

*Warning* If you go to a pet store, and there are balls of moss that are floating, this is not the same thing. Moss balls that we are talking about sit on the bottom of the tank. The other is a Styrofoam ball that is covered in actual moss, wrapped in fishing line, and generally attached to a sinker. You will want the moss ball that sits on the bottom of the tank.  You can tell the difference by the touch.
The moss balls that we are talking about are squishy. the other kind are not.*Warning*

Ew, a plant tumor.
No this is a good thing. Leave that thing alone after you get it off. This with any luck, will turn into another moss ball. If you have it in a tank and you need to gravel vac your tank, gently scoop it into a cup and out of the tank while you gravel vac. The baby ball needs time to grow undisturbed.

moss balls

baby moss balls

That is it, you now know what you need to about moss balls. I suggest you go get one. They are really neat, and one of my favorite plants to put in an aquarium.
Thank you for reading.

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  1. Our moss ball was very efficient. Although my son “feed” the fish one day with half the container, our moss ball was able to relatively keep it clean once I scooped out all of the extr food out that i could. after day two or three, the tank was doing well to my surprise.

    • You sure can. I had two moss balls ( I cut mine in half) just in a jar for about a year. Just put new water in about every week or so to give them new oxygen rich water. Great question!