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"Christmas Moss"


  1. Amano's Unknown "Javamoss"
    by dirk_matthys/ (Thu, 19 Oct 2000)
  2. Amano's Unknown "Javamoss"
    by Loh Kwek Leong <timebomb/> (Fri, 20 Oct 2000)
  3. christmas moss
    by "Cathy Hartland" <hartland/> (Thu, 23 Nov 2000)
  4. Cameron's mysterious mosses
    by Loh Kwek Leong <timebomb/> (Thu, 30 Aug 2001)
  5. Answers to Christmas Moss questions
    by Loh Kwek Leong <timebomb/> (Fri, 31 Aug 2001)
  6. SAEs eat Christmas Moss
    by Loh Kwek Leong <timebomb/> (Wed, 10 Oct 2001)
  7. Christmas moss
    by Dwight <boukmn/> (Thu, 23 Nov 2000)
  8. How the Moss got its name
    by Loh Kwek Leong <timebomb/> (Sun, 5 Aug 2001)
  9. [none]
    by Loh Kwek Leong <timebomb/> (Tue, 7 Aug 2001)
  10. Oriental
    by Loh Kwek Leong <timebomb/> (Sat, 1 Sep 2001)

Amano's Unknown "Javamoss"

by dirk_matthys/
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2000

Hi there, 
I currently live in Japan. After visiting some fish stores specialising in Amano products I noticed this moss in their display tanks. It looks indead a lot more branched. Regular Javamoss looks more messy in the sense that the branches seem to divide on random basis and grow in any direction. This type of moss has main branches that divide to both sides every 2 or 3mm. When it grows out it starts to make "leave-like platforms" in a triangular shape.
I thought it was an awesome sight. Initially I thought it was because of the growing conditions. All those tanks had CO2 , at least 4w/gallon , anyway, the complete Amano technique. In my hometank I had some of the "traditional " Javamos growing under 3W/Gallon and CO2. The growing pattern was so different I was doubting if this was exactly the same species. 
So I bought some of it. Back home I stripped half of the old Javamoss that covered the bogwood and attached the newly aquired moss to the cleaned half. A good test, the conditions are now the same for both the mosses coming from different sources,  genetic difference should show (scientists , please don't flame me, this is amateur empirism  ) . 6 months later: The traditional Javamos grows messy as it always does. The "new" moss branched to form the triangular shaped leaves. It looks a bit more like a very fine fernleave. So there is definitely a difference! I like this moss a lot. Next month I am moving back to Belgium and I will surely carry some, even if I need to get it through customs on a ham and salad sandwich!! One surviving strand makes enough to grow a tankfull. ( patience and care). I also have the impression it needs a bit more light then regular Javamoss to really thrive.
The name is another thing. I can't read Japanese ( or not a wole lot) , but Amano uses the name "willow moss" a lot. I am not sure if it refers to this moss but is it very probable since there are not that many moss species right? Can anybody with Amano experience enlighten us ( Ryan, are you familiar with this? ). Sorry if I am giving wrong directions but this is definitely some hybrid or different species. Lets' call it Vesicularia Amanensis untill some real scientist can tell us the correct nomenclature, ha ha. 

( Ryan: Thanks for the soil tip, the tank is doing GREAT, I'm all excited about it, I hope Europe imports Aqua soil)

Dirk alias Sakanaman.

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Amano's Unknown "Javamoss"

by Loh Kwek Leong <timebomb/>
Date: Fri, 20 Oct 2000

>Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2000 11:55:44 -0400
>From: Dwight <>
>Subject: Re: Amano's Unknown "Javamoss"

> Does anyone have a scientific or common name for this plant?

Dwight, over here in Singapore, it's known by many names.  Christmas Moss,
Triangular Moss, Willow Moss, Taiwan Moss - take your pick.

I can guess how these common names came about.  Christmas because, when
tied to driftwood and growing well,  it looks like a Christmas Tree.
Triangular because of the shapes of the fronds.  Willow, I don't know but
could be named after weeping willows.  Taiwan because that's where its
originally from.  If you have a girlfriend called Kate, you can even name
it after her.  You know, Kate Moss :)

I have heaps of them in my tanks and it all started about 2 years ago when
I found one frond of this strange looking moss in a bunch of Java Moss
which I bought from a fish shop.  There are a few folks on this mailing
list who have received the moss from me in the past.  I don't know how many
of them have successfully propagate this moss but it's really quite easy.
It's not a demanding plant.  If you can grow Java Moss, you shouldn't have
any problems with it.

Anyone who wants the moss can try sending me a private email.  I don't
promise I have enough for everyone but if you write a nice email, you are
sure to get some ;)

Loh K L

christmas moss

by "Cathy Hartland" <hartland/>
Date: Thu, 23 Nov 2000

> >>~Christmas moss is HERE!!!  /<<
> OK Dwight...I'll bite. What the heck is Christmas moss? Is this another
> one of you Florida name things? :)
> Robert Paul H

Robert, I believe he is referring to Fontinalis antipyretica, a moss 
used by Amano which has a more orderly growth habit (kinda like 
Christmas tree branches) than Vesicularia (Java moss). It's very 
pretty and hasn't been seen a lot in the US as far as I know.
Cathy Hartland
Middletown, MD

Cameron's mysterious mosses

by Loh Kwek Leong <timebomb/>
Date: Thu, 30 Aug 2001

At 3:48 AM +0800 8/30/01, Aquatic Plants Digest wrote:
>Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2001 12:52:15 -0500
>From: "Cameron Case" <>
>Subject: more moss mystery
>Well, folks, the moss discussion seems to have died down...  Well, today I
>got an
>order of java moss from and guess isn't like
>the java moss I get at the LFS or from AZ isn't willow moss
>like I've gotten from other IS, however, as near as I can
>tell, the same as the christmas moss that our friend from Singapore sent.

Hi, Cameron,

Maybe I can shed some light on the mystery.  The Christmas Moss which I
sent you will grow differently under different parameters.  When conditions
are perfect, the triangular shapes of the fronds are very distinct and the
is a rich dark green.  But when conditions are less than perfect, like for
when temperatures are too high or when there are not sufficient nutrients, the
Christmas Moss can become unrecognizable.  The triangular shapes will disappear
to be replaced by stringy fronds that would, in all appearances, look very much
like Java Moss.  One thing I am quite sure about is that the lower your
are, the more beautiful the Christmas moss will grow.

The Christmas Moss I sent to the good folks here came from many different
Most will have very distinct triangular shapes while some may look more
like Java.
When packing the moss, I did try to ensure that everyone will get some
triangular fronds.  But I have been packing quite a few so I suppose some
folks may
have gotten moss that do not have any.  But it's unlikely.

As for Willow Moss, I have never seen it before but I took a look at the
website that
Anthony Baker posted and they look to me to be like Christmas Moss grown

In any case, I'm sure everyone who has seen the moss wall on my website would
confirm that it couldn't possibly be Java.  But if you are still not quite
sure, please
feel free to take another look at:

Loh K L

Answers to Christmas Moss questions

by Loh Kwek Leong <timebomb/>
Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2001

At 9:53 PM +0800 8/31/01, someone wrote:

>BTW, what conditions do you think would be best to cultivate the moss
>emersed so as to increase the mass quicker?  I had lost a lot of the
>original amount to fish and general moving around of plants, etc.  I placed
>the remainder in a small clear plastic cup filled with water, on a rock in
>my windo sill earlier this year. It seemed to increase some.  I was
>wondering though, if there were some other way to increase growth amount,
>possibly emersed???  I have it growing now on the top of a piece of
>driftwood, partially out of the water, and it really looks nice.  I will
>have to take a picture of it soon and let everyne see it!

Hi, folks,

Someone emailed me the above question.  I'm answering it here because
I believe that there may be others who want to know the answers to his
question too.  But that's just one reason.  There's another which I will talk
about later.

As far as I know, the moss grows fastest if you tie them down to
driftwood or rocks.  I can't explain why but that's what I have noticed
over the years.  Unlike most other plants, the moss sinks if you just
chuck them into your tanks.  So if you are too busy to tie them down,
you can also simply drape them over any driftwood, just like a woman
draping a fur coat over her shoulders.  Not that I have seen any females
wearing fur coats in sunny Singapore but that's the only analogy I can
think of.
One thing to remember though, is not to heap the moss on top of one another.
Those at the bottom will turn brown and die.  Spread them out and you will
get more moss faster.

When grown emmersed, the moss grows even slower.  Not only that but
the triangular shapes will disappear altogether.  So don't go emmersed
if you want more moss.

I have grown the moss in tanks that do not have CO2.  But that's not to say
it doesn't need it.  I do believe it will grow better and faster with CO2
What I can't stress enough is low temperature.  The colder your tank, the
better the moss will grow.  I never succeeded growing them in my indoor tanks
until I fixed up my cooling fans system.  I would consider anything above 28
degrees Centigrade to be too high for growing the Christmas moss.

As for lighting conditions, I have seen the moss growing beautifully in the
display tanks of fish shops which uses very high lighting.  But I have also
seen them growing very well in my own balcony tanks in the darkest corners.
What I think is important is that you must have soft water.  As for Ph and Kh,
I don't think it will make any big difference.  But if you want to know, the Ph
of my tanks is about 7 and Kh is 0.

Okay, that's all for the moss.  Now for the other reason why I wanted to answer
the question on the mailing list.  It's because everytime the moss is mentioned
here, I get another few requests.  I got another 3 today after Cameron Case
about her mysterious mosses.  So, if you want to help the defense fund, a
good way
would be to keep talking about the moss on this mailing list.  I don't have
all the
answers but I will try my best to tell you what I know.  Thank you.

Loh K L

SAEs eat Christmas Moss

by Loh Kwek Leong <timebomb/>
Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2001

Hi, folks,

I like to share an observation which I made recently - SAEs eat
Christmas Moss.

After I took down my moss wall about a month ago, I tried to
re-grow a new one.  But after a few weeks, nothing
happened.  The moss wasn't growing.  No new fronds were
coming out of the holes in the plastic mesh which I used to
sandwich the moss.  I was wondering why when I noticed one
day that my 2 adult SAEs were loitering around the moss
wall quite a bit.  They seem to be pruning the moss but I wasn't

So I decided to take the SAEs out.  And sure enough, a few days
later, new fronds were pushing out from the holes of the plastic mesh.
I remember having SAEs too when I put up my first moss wall.  But then,
I never had a problem.  It could be that, at that time, the SAEs were still
very young.  I guess they are like the Chinese algae eaters which, although
are peace-loving fishes when young, can become terrible bullies when fully-

So, if you have adult SAEs in your tank and your christmas moss doesn't
seem to be growing, it could very well be that the moss is being eaten.

Loh K L

Christmas moss

by Dwight <boukmn/>
Date: Thu, 23 Nov 2000

Robert H wrote:

>>~Christmas moss is HERE!!!  /<<

> OK Dwight...I'll bite. What the heck is Christmas moss? Is this another
> of you Florida name things? :)

James Purchase:

I'll bet that it is a bunch of "hanging chads", painted green for the
Holidays! <g>

Ha! Ha! >:-) .... NO.  No "hanging Chads" or "Florida names"  here.  Check
Nature Aquarium World Book#2 pgs 20-21.  Amano called it "unknown" moss. At
first glance, it looks like Javamoss (Vesicularia dubyana) or willow moss
(Fontinalis antipyretica).  This "Christmas" moss doesn't seem to require
constant trimming, grows EXTREMELY branched  (doesn't become "stringy" the
way Javamoss does) and is lighter green than the other mosses.  Seems to
create a "finer" more "puffy" look.

The name "Christmas moss" was the name OTHER LISTERS who are familiar w/
the plant called it (didn't you catch the posts a month or so back?)  B/c
it tends to branch so frequently, they say the store they got it from
called it "Christmas moss" b/c it looks branched like a Christmas tree.  No
one has been able to tell me its scientific name.  

It seems to have the same growth requirements as JM and WM.  However,  I
have been advised that it does require at least moderate light to grow well
and does less well in low light when compared to JM and WM.


How the Moss got its name

by Loh Kwek Leong <timebomb/>
Date: Sun, 5 Aug 2001

Hi, folks,

Have you ever wondered how the Christmas Moss got its name?
Well, not to sound boastful, but yours truly has got a lot to do with it.

About 3 years ago, the moss made its first appearance here in Singapore.
At that time, only one fish shop has this plant and it wasn't for sale.  They
would sell it to you only if you buy the whole setup from them.
Their smallest tank costs in the region of several thousand dollars so very
few hobbyists were willing to pay that kind of money just to get some of their
moss.  Well, some people would I suppose, but definitely not yours truly.

Anyway, when I first saw the moss, it became my goal to get my hands on
some.  I tried asking several of my friends who are fish shop owners and
aquatic plant import/exporters.  But none of them could help me.  It seems
that the fish shop who has the moss brought it in themselves directly from
At that time, the moss was more commonly known as the Taiwan moss or
Triangular moss.  But I wasn't aware of the names then and whenever I wanted
to talk about that moss, I would say the beautiful moss in that "so and so"

One day, I met a friend, a fellow hobbyist and I asked him if he knows
how I can get some of the moss.  He wasn't quite sure which moss I was
referring to until I mentioned the shop's name.  And he said:  "Oh, you mean
the moss that looks like a Christmas Tree".

Well, I thought he was quite right.  It does look like a Christmas Tree with
their triangular shaped fronds hanging down.  So, that became the name I gave
to the moss - Christmas Moss.

A few months after our conversation, having given up hope that I would ever
get any Christmas Moss, I bought a bunch of Java Moss from my favourite fish
shop.  I brought it home and was tying them to a piece of drifwood when I
a strange looking frond among them.  On closer examination, I realised that
what I had in my
hands was the moss I was trying to get for months.  It was the Christmas
moss and
when I went through the rest of the bunch, I found another 3 fronds.

That was how I started, with just 4 fronds.  Over the last 3 years or so, I
must have
given away several kilograms worth.  They grow in all my tanks.  I grow them
emmersed too in my terrarium.  Strangely, it's still not easily available
in Singapore
and one aquatic plant farm owner even offered to buy up all my moss a few
ago.  Looking back, I'm glad I turned down his offer.

Questions about the Moss have popped up now and then on this mailing
list.  And whenever someone asked about the name, I would always tell them that
it's known as Christmas Moss in Singapore.  I believe I must have helped to
popularise the name.  The pubisher of the now defunct Aqua Journal and
a close friend of mine, asked me about the moss when he included an article
about mosses in his magazine a few years ago.  He thought the correct name was
Amazonia Willow moss but I told him I like to call it Christmas Moss and
that name
appeared in the article in volume 38 of the Aqua Journal.  I guess that
gave the name
some credence.

Actually, since nobody is quite sure of its name, you can call it
whatever you like.  I used to joke that if you have a girlfriend named Kate,
call it after her. You know, just like the supermodel :)

But in the last few days, from the numerous emails that I have been
receiving, maybe it's time the moss gets a new name - Defense Moss.

I have already packed and will be sending out all the mosses that I have
harvested from all my tanks other than the main one where I have the moss wall.
In other words, the wall still stands.  But I'm prepared to take it down if
more requests come along.  So please, give a little to the fund and then
write me for your free moss.  I kind of like the idea that maybe for the
first time in history, rather than one being built for defense, a wall is
taken down

Loh K L


by Loh Kwek Leong <timebomb/>
Date: Tue, 7 Aug 2001

>Date: Sun, 5 Aug 2001 09:52:24 -0400
>From: "James Purchase" <>
>Subject: Re: How the moss got its name

>Call me anal if you will, but I like to know what is growing in my tanks.

Hi, James,

No, I won't call you anal.  Maybe some other name perhaps, but not that :)
You have a good point there and I can understand that I may be adding to
the confusion
about the moss's name.  But until I know for sure what is its actual name, I
will have to keep calling it Christmas Moss.

The moss that I have sent out to the hobbyists on this list is, to all
similar to the moss that appears in Amano's Nature Aquarium Book 2 pages
20 and 21. In those pictures, the moss is listed as unknown.  Obviously, Amano
didn't know the name either but that didn't stop him from growing the plant :)

As for the moss growing conditions, it doesn't need temperatures as low as
21 C.
The lowest I ever got in my tanks was 24.3 C on one very cold December morning.
Mostly, the temp in my tanks hover around 27 C.  I know for a fact that the
is not a demanding plant.  If it is, I wouldn't have been able to grow it,
that's for sure.
I'm one of the laziest hobbyists around.  Anything that needs special care
will not
grow in my tanks.

They grow in all the five tanks that I have.  All 5 tanks have different
Some have CO2 and some do not.  Two have artificial lighting while the
other 3 uses
sunlight.  The moss is not fussy about lighting.  It will grow under any
sort of lighting
intensity.  The only difference will be in the shape of the fronds.  Under
shade, their
triangular shapes become very distinct.  In other words, it becomes more
It doesn't need any extra fertilisation either. I never add fertiliser to
my 2 balcony tanks
and strangely, that's where the moss grows best.  Maybe its got something
to do with
sunlight but I don't really know.

What I do know is that the water from our taps in Singapore is very soft
with Ph 7
and Kh 0.  I never do anything to alter Kh.  As for Ph, I suppose it should
be around
6.8 in my tanks that has CO2 injection but I never check, so I can't be
sure either.

Loh K L


by Loh Kwek Leong <timebomb/>
Date: Sat, 1 Sep 2001

>Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2001 09:07:05 -0700
>From: "Robert H" <>
>Subject: Re: Can't be the same

>OK...both aquariumplantdepot and myself import plants from Singapore,
>Oriental Aquarium, the single largest producer of plants in Singapore and
>Asia. Do you think it may be possible that Oriental Aquarium  is selling
>"christmas tree moss" to the states as Java moss?

I will be very, very surprised if the good folks at Oriental Aquarium can't
the difference between Christmas and Java.  I will be even more surprised if
they can tell the difference but choose not to price the Christmas Moss much
higher than Java.  I just spoke to a fish shop owner a few hours ago and she
confirmed that the going price for a hundred grams of Christmas moss is Sing
$40 while the same for Java Moss is only $20.  That's exactly double for
Christmas over Java.  She also confirmed that Oriental uses the name Christmas
moss although they have another name for it too - Triangular moss.  Besides
Taiwan moss, that was the original name until Christmas became more popular.
But don't blame that on me :)  It's the power of the net that makes the

The fish shop owner also said she can't get the moss because Oriental does not
have stocks.  Maybe Oriental is reserving their stocks for a more lucrative
market, I don't really know.  But I do know that the Christmas moss is not
easily available
in Singapore.  Among the many folks who wrote me for the moss last month, 2
my fellow Singaporeans who wanted to know where they can get the moss.
Besides these 2, I have also sent moss to 4 other fellow Singaporeans 3 months
ago when they said they couldn't find it in fish shops.

I don't know anyone in Oriental well enough for me to ask him or her about
their business dealings.  In any case, even if I have a friend working
there, it
wouldn't be right for me to probe.  Oriental does not usually welcome walk-in
visitors and they will probably think I'm a nosey parker if I were to ask them
about their mosses.  I already have a reputation here for being a 'kaypoh'
busybody in Chinese) and I really wouldn't want to enhance that reputation
further :)

But I have been to Oriental once about 2 years ago.  There were about 25 of
us then, all plant hobbyists from Singapore.  We were taken on a guided tour
of the farm by their manager.  He was really nice and took the trouble to
take time off his busy schedule to show us their plants.  I didn't see any
then so I suppose Oriental does not really grow the plant here.  More
likely, the
moss is imported from Taiwan or the neighbouring countries.  It could also be
possible that Oriental grows the moss in their other plant farm in China.
Overheads can be very high in Singapore and many businesses
have chosen to branch out into our neighbouring countries where labour and land
costs are much lower.

Sorry I can't help you much, Robert.  Like I said, I can only tell what I
know which
really isn't very much.  Actually, there's an easy way to find out if my
moss is the same
as the ones you sell.  Just try growing some of mine.  I bet you will find
they are very
different from the ones you are selling.  What I sent you is the same moss
I use
for my moss wall.  That can't possibly be Java, wouldn't you say?

Loh K L

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