Hello all, welcome back to another vivarium post! Since our terrarium post was so well received, we decided to take a deeper dive into the Mossarium. Today we’ll cover what moss terrariums are, how to make one & the different types that can be established. Mossariums have always been a thing in the east but very recently has begun to gain popularity within the western civilization.
What Is A Mossarium?
A mossarium, also commonly referred to as “mossaria”, is a clear enclosure used to grow specifically moss.
The prefix Moss is a mass of small, flowerless, rootless plants that grow in clumps together. Mossarium, as a word, would translate to “a container of moss.” Mossaria would be used to describe multiple moss terrariums or a room dedicated to the rootless plant.
Making A Moss Terrarium
Making a mossarium is a fun and easy vivarium project to start. Compared to other plants, moss can be on the relatively low end of the demanding spectrum. The key layers for a moss terrarium are very easily obtainable but vital to the longevity of your moss nursery.
Key Layers Of A Mossarium
The Drainage layer of this setup usually consists of some type of earthy material, like gravel, rocks and activated charcoal. This area is important because it provides an easy way for stagnant water to escape, providing a filter for the substrate layer. Allowing water to settle down here helps keep the humidity levels stable within the enclosure. This layer also serves as a good spot for healthy bacteria to thrive and break down unhealthy chemicals like ammonia.
The Substrate layer of the mossarium is made up of some type of grow media. In most cases, it contains soil like coco coir or potting mix. You will want something that is easy for the moss to attach
The Moss layer of the mossarium is the moss itself. Decorations are a nice complement to this layer as well. Moss will help retain moisture in the substrate if done correctly. If any additional plants are added to the mossarium, be sure to remove any fallen leaf litter found around this layer.
The Lighting is a very important aspect for a moss terrarium. In fact, it is probably the single most important feature! Without light, your plants will not be able to produce energy from photosynthesis. Use indirect sunlight or artificial low lighting since moss thrives in shaded areas in the wild. I recommend LED lighting, but you can also use fluorescent lighting as well.
Different Types Of Mossariums
There are mainly three general types of
Moss terrariums are usually what comes to mind when thinking about the conventional mossarium. This type of enclosure requires all the key layers we covered in the previous section except the substrate layer. Moss can do exceptionally well without soil since it doesn’t actually have roots.
It’s actually common to find a mossarium that consist of a large rock or wood log as a base for moss to grow on, instead of soil. If you are designing a substrate-less terrarium, be sure that the drainage layer is completely functional and the moss isnt left sitting in stagnant water.
Air circulation will be vital to this setup so be sure to make sure fresh air is finding it’s way in to the container frequently. If this will be a closed terrarium type of set up, remove the lid a couple times a week or install a fan near ventilation to allow humidity levels to lower if you notice condensation forming around the glass.
Moss aquariums are a bit new to the hobby but just as rewarding. Aquatic mossariums consist of a lighting layer, a moss layer, as well as a substrate layer. Drainage or air circulation won’t be a necessary factor with this setup since the tank will be completely immersed in water.
Humidity will not be an important aspect of a moss aquarium as well and one might consider making this a sealed container to retain evaporation. Water changes should be virtually none existent since the particular moss will work as a natural filter making this a self sustaining ecosystem.
Moss paludariums are something we predict will become very popular in the near future. The idea of combining the best of both worlds is not only amusing, but aesthetically pleasing. The lighting and moss are the only essential layers here. The substrate and drainage layers will depend on personal preference and style of the overall design.
Air circulation will be vital for a moss paludarium. Even though having aquatic features will created the desired humidity nessasary for terrain moss, you will still ventilation of some sort to allow proper humidity regulating as well as air flow.
Caring For A Mossarium
Caring for a mossarium is pretty basic once the moss is established. Moss is a relatively hardy plant to care for but does require some up keep. Moss requires low ph levels, some light and lots of moisture.
Water parameters is something many might overlook when it comes to moss. Moss thrives in a ph between 5.0 and 6.0… A healthy mossarium will need to be acidic in order for moss to absorb nessasary nutrients.
Low indirect lighting or LEDs set to low will be the best case scenario to mimic what it looks for in nature. Remember that moss grows in shaded areas in the wild. Direct sun or too much lighting will result in the moss burning and potential dry out.
Humidity and air flow will be another nessasary aspect to your mossarium. Moss will absorb majority of its nutrients from the water in the air since it doesn’t have roots. Air flow will allow fresh air to circulate new nutrients throughout the plant. Be very careful not to drown the moss in water either. Moss will not do as well sitting in standing water or humidity higher than 80%.
How To Revive Dried Moss
I think one of the most spectacular aspects of moss is its ability to regenerate. It’s like the deadpool of plants! As long as it hasnt been chemically treated, its spores will spawn under the right conditions. Theres records of moss found in herbariums, hundreds of years old, that would began to regrow once given enough water and light.
If you are having trouble trying to spark the growth of brown or completed dried moss, try grinding it into powder and mixing it with buttermilk. This will
This is also a great method when applying moss to soil-less surfaces like stone, brick or concrete. If you wanted to experiment outside the mossarium realm, try painting patterns or letters on a wall and watch as it slowly comes to life!
Different Types Of Moss
There are over 10,000 types of moss (Bryophyta) species found around the world. When deciding on the ideal moss to stock your mossarium with, there are a few popular species we will cover today. Mosses all have their own individual needs, so try picking a type that fits the overall design and style of your moss terrarium.
Best Types Of Moss for Terrariums
The best types of moss for terrariums will be terrain based plants that like high humidity. Here are the more popular types of
- Mood Moss (Dicranum) – Also known as broom moss or fork moss, is a great accenting plant for critters to call home.
- Peat Moss (Sphagnum) – Known for its ability to hold moisture, this moss also works well as an additive to the substrate.
- Feather Moss (Hylocomium)– Also known as forest moss, works well on non-substrate surfaces like wood, brick, and concrete.
- Fern Moss (Thuidiaceae) – This fluffy moss closely resembles ferns and works as a great carpeting mat for woodland styled terrariums.
- Club Moss (Lycopodiaceae) – Also known as ground pine, has a very unique look bearing needle-like leaves. This moss will add an unusual aesthetic to any terrarium and can be paired nicely with leaf litter.
Best Types Of Moss for Aquariums
Planting moss in an aquarium can be a bit tricky. Since genuine moss wont do well very submerged in water, one will have to resort to plants close to the moss family. Here are a list of plants that arent part of the “Bryophyta” moss family but will still give an aesthetically pleasing look to a moss aquarium:
- Java Moss (Taxiphyllum Barbieri) – Arguably one of the most common aquarium moss in the hobby today… This moss is easy to care for and does a great job attaching to wood or stone surfaces.
- Phoenix Moss (Fissidens Fontanus) – Closely resembles the traditional moss we see above land. This clumpy, pillow-like moss does well completely submerged as well as partially immersed.
- Christmas Moss (Vesicularia Montagnei) – Does really well in corners and around stones. This moss can be a bit more demanding than others and will require more light and pruning.
- Liverwort (Monosolenium Tenerum) – Known as Pellia in the past, this plant is very close to the moss family. Being heavier than water, liverwort makes a good carpeting plant to have at the lower end of the mossarium.
- Crystalwort (Riccia F
luitans) – Is a floating plant that takes a bit of effort to maintain if you’re planning on tying it down to a hardscape. Crystalwort will add a very unique look to any well litmossarium with its sparkling look.
Where To Find Moss
Finding moss will depend greatly on your geographical location. If you live in an area where moss potentially grows, you can easily find it in shaded areas like woods or backyards. I’ve been very fortunate, living here in south Florida, to find moss growing in my backyard and along walls.
There are also places available online that sell various moss types and can easily be shipped to you since moss is a relatively hardy plant. If you are buying moss with the intent to grow it, be sure to avoid artificial moss or preserved moss as it will not be real and may have artificial coloring added to it which will wash out if put around water.
Best Mossarium Starter Kit
If you’re still unsure about how to really start a mossarium, I took a moment to gather an essential list of materials that would help construct the ideal moss terrarium. This kit is a hardscape based setup, meaning the moss will be glued directly to the stone and there wont be a need for a drainage layer.
Mossarium Glass Case
This 2 piece wood and glass case is about 9 inches tall and will be ideal for the mossarium you will build within this case. This case has a strong, sturdy base and wont hold more than a couple ounce of water at a time. Feel free to shop around for different styles if you prefer something aesthetically different.
Hardscape Stone Kit
Various Moss Kit
These various mosses are great for those looking to have some extra moss for additional projects in the future. This kit comes with an assortment of different moss species which is great because you can experiment with the look and feel of your mossarium.
A mossarium can be fun twist on the typical terrarium project. Building a terrarium based on a specific species of plant is something that’s becoming more popular as the terrariumist hobby evolves. If you really enjoyed our deep dive into moss terraria and would like to see another type of terrarium covered in a later post, be sure to let us know below!