With its dark green shade and thick shoots that grow vertically, the flame moss (Taxiphyllum sp.) plant is popular among aquascapers because of how it enhances a tank’s appearance with lush vegetation that looks like a green burning flame. As the plant spreads, it’ll start looking like a football pitch in your aquarium!
Fortunately, flame moss care is pretty easy, albeit you’ll need to be patient due to its slow growth rate. Follow along in this guide as we go over some basic information about the flame moss plant, then move on to flame moss plant care.
Flame Moss Quick Care Stats
- Scientific Name: Taxiphyllum sp. “Flame Moss”
- Family: Hypnaceae
- Order: Hypnales
- Genus: Taxiphyllum
- Care Level: Easy
- Growth Rate: Slow
- Maximum Size: Naturally 8”, but in a tank, they often cap at 3”
- Water Conditions: pH range of 6-8 and a cozy temperature of 54°-86° F (12°-30° C)
- Lighting: Low
- Propagation: Sexual and asexual
- Tank Placement: Away from direct sunlight or light sources that emit UV radiation
Overview: Flame Moss
Although it was discovered relatively recently, the flame moss plant has gained wide popularity for its stunning appearance; it has a cozy green color that gives your aquarium a park-like view, and the shoots grow in vertical spirals to resemble the shape of a flame, hence the name.
You may have noticed that flame moss has a peculiar scientific name: Taxiphyllum sp. “flame moss.” This name is used because scientists actually haven’t identified the flame moss as a species yet, but we know it belongs to the genus Taxiphyllum, so we use species affinis (sp. for short) to denote this.
In its natural habitat native to South and Southeast Asia, the flame moss often grows up to 6-8 inches in height. But in a controlled tank environment, they usually won’t exceed 3 inches, which is alright as it looks terrific in an aquarium!
Caring for Flame Moss In Aquarium
Since the flame moss will usually cap at 3 inches in height in a given tank, it can fit in pretty much any tank, regardless of its size, and you can propagate it as much as you need to.
- Temperature: 54°-86° F (12°-30° C)
- pH: 6-8
- dGH: Up to 30 degrees (500 ppm)
Low light is enough for the flame moss to photosynthesize, so you don’t need a fancy setup with strong lights. In fact, using strong lights puts your flame moss at risk of frying, so avoid it entirely.
A set of planted aquarium LED lights will do just fine.
Substrate & Fertilizers
You don’t need a specific type of substrate to grow the flame moss in. Its root system allows it to grow pretty much anywhere as long as it has access to its needed nutrients.
However, the plant isn’t very good at attaching to the substrate, so you’ll need to anchor it there yourself. We recommend doing this with a cotton thread since it’ll eventually dissolve away after the plant’s rhizoids (the plant’s “feet”) are able to anchor to the surface.
As for fertilizers, it isn’t really required for its growth since the flame moss can easily absorb nutrients from its environment. However, if you notice a lack of growth (and remember, it’s a slow grower), you can use liquid fertilizer or CO2 injection to boost its growth.
As previously mentioned, the flame moss is very easy to maintain and can thrive in a well-maintained aquarium without needing much specialized care. Just remember to keep your aquarium’s water clean to avoid algae growth, which can prove fatal to flame mosses.
How to Plant Flame Moss
Despite being an aquatic plant, the flame moss can still thrive without being fully submerged in water. You can place it pretty much anywhere in the tank, either by fixing it to the substrate or leaving it afloat on the surface, and it’ll grow. However, if you place the plant out of the water, remember to water it often for nutrition.
How to Propagate Flame Moss
Once the flame moss starts growing, you can snip off the moss into smaller pieces with a scissor and plant the new pieces wherever you want in the tank. The babies will grow just like the parent did.
Tank Mates for Flame Moss
The flame moss is very flexible with its neighbors and will be fine with pretty much any other creature except for algae, so you might want some algae eaters in there to protect it.
Additionally, the plant can have a commensalism relationship with small fish and shrimp, who can use it for shelter and eat the biofilm layer that’ll grow on the moss, so you might want to consider these, especially since they’ll also be beneficial for the nitrogen cycle.
How to Use Flame Moss in Aquarium
Like most mosses, the flame moss is very versatile and can be used to decorate your aquarium in different ways.
You can carpet your aquarium by propagating a layer of moss on the substrate or layer the walls by spreading them on the tank’s interior sides. Either way, the plant will grow the same.
And while the flame moss doesn’t provide much of a chemical benefit to an aquarium, it’s great for small animals living there who can use it for nutrients and shelter.
Final Thoughts On Using Flame Moss
To recap, flame moss is a very versatile plant that can grow in varying conditions but remember to keep it away from direct sunlight or UV light because these can burn the plant. However, if a brightly lit aquarium is your only option, check out the java moss, a similar plant that can withstand brighter light.