Phoenix Moss (Fissidens Fontanus): Ultimate Care Guide

Phoenix Moss (Fissidens Fontanus) is a freshwater aquatic moss. It is a fluffy, green plant that will attach and grow on many surfaces. It can grow into a large mat to provide refuge for fry fish and shrimp. It can also be a grazing surface for shrimp.

It gets its Latin name from its appearance. It looks like a fountain, growing from the center and sprouting off in different directions. Phoenix Moss is part of the Fissidentaceae family. There are around 400 kinds of plants in the family and it is one of the more popular plants in the group. It is also one of the largest.

Phoenix Moss is native to North America. It is a slow-growing plant that will grow on driftwood and rocks.

Phoenix Moss Care

Phoenix Moss needs a clean tank or algae could start to grow and settle on the leaves of the moss. Cherry shrimps are often in tanks with Phoenix Moss since organic matter is the perfect food supply.

Filtration is a must. It purifies the water and creates some water flow. If filtration is not a part of the tank, the plant will start to absorb the organic matter. It is not good for the plant. The water current should not be too strong. Moderate movement across the entire tank will give this plant the best environment.

How to Grow Phoenix Moss in an Aquarium

Clean water is the most important part of growing Phoenix Moss. This will prevent algae growth. Pair that with the right lighting and Co2 supply and the moss growth will be a lot higher. It easily attaches itself to stones, wood, or event plastic nets.

Phoenix Moss grows the same way regardless of how it is cut. It will have a round shape that looks like a water fountain. This moss can be moved from one place to another in the tank without hurting the plant.

The moss will grow up and out from the center and spread out in all directions. It does better if it is not put on the edge of the tank. Even the smallest plants will grow into bushy plants in about a month.

Phoenix Moss (Fissidens Fontanus)
Phoenix Moss (Fissidens Fontanus)

Lighting Requirement

Phoenix Moss can grow in a tank with low levels of light.


Phoenix Moss will thrive in water temperatures between 65 and 77 °F.

Water pH

The tank will need to have a pH between 5.0 and 7.5.

Growth Rate

Phoenix Moss is a slow-growing plant. It will grow faster and larger if given the right environment.

Growth Height

Phoenix Moss is considered a large aquarium moss. The branches can grow up to 1 inch. The blades of the leaves are narrow, long, and sharpened. The leaves can get up to 2 mm long. This makes the leaves too big for a Siamese Algae Eater to munch on, so they can be kept in the same tank. They are famous for eating moss, but they are great for cleaning up the organic material in the tank.

Co2 Requirement

Phoenix Moss is not a difficult plant to keep. It can benefit from Co2 supplementation, but it is not required. It will not respond well to chemical plant supplements and can live with no supplementation if the tank environment is well-maintained. Phoenix Moss has been shown to grow faster with Co2 supplementation.


Phoenix Moss uses spore reproduction in the wild. The spores are formed in a seed case called sporangia. This seed case will ripen and crack. The spores fall directly onto the parent plant and develop from there. The moss carpet stays thick because fresh shoots are constantly replacing the old ones.

The moss can be cultivated by cutting one plant into pieces. These small moss bunches should be tied together and fixed to one location. It will stick and start to grow in a couple of days.

How to use Phoenix Moss in an Aquascape?

Phoenix Moss can be used as a single plant or with other tank plants that have similar water requirements. They can be used in nano tanks and large tanks.

This moss will start to stick and grow to almost anything in the tank fairly quickly. One bunch of this moss attached to a stone or driftwood will grow into its natural fountain shape in about a month.

This plant prefers to be closer to the center of the tank instead of the corners. Its fountain design makes it difficult to place along the edges of the tank. There is one exception. When the entire tank is planted with Phoenix Moss, it can be placed near the edges. This moss will spread and it looks great when used across the entire tank.

Phoenix Moss can be used as a backdrop in the tank. Using a mesh net, moss bunches can be spread out at equal distances from each other and secured to the mesh with a cotton string. In less than 2 months, this moss will spread out and cover more ground. A cotton string can be used instead of a fishing line because this plant will secure itself to the net before the line has time to degrade.

If a mesh net is used to make this plant a backdrop for a tank, it is important to make sure the fish and other creatures in the tank cannot get caught between the mesh and the glass. The mesh should be flush against the back of the tank. Making the mesh long enough to stick into the substrate and tall enough to stick out of the waterline will prevent this problem as well. The length should be measured before starting to make sure the sides fit close to both sides of the tank. Suction cups can be used to secure the mesh to the tank walls and prevent the moss wall from sinking or falling into the tank.

How to Grow a Phoenix Moss Carpet

The most effective way to grow a carpet with Phoenix Moss is to divide the plant into smaller pieces. These pieces should be tied together so it stays attached while it begins to stick together on their own. Once this happens, the pieces can be placed around the tank. They will start to grow and spread. This will give the tank the moss carpet look.

Can you grow Phoenix Moss emersed in a terrarium?

Phoenix Moss can be grown emersed in a terrarium. It is native to North America and can be found in Europe too. In the wild, this plant can be found growing in lakes in depths as deep as 60 feet. It does best when it is fully submerged, but on rare occasions, it can be found above the water.

Phoenix Moss does best in naturally high-quality water. It will attach itself to almost any surface making it a great decoration for stones, driftwood, and even the walls of the tank.

How to Deal with Algae on Phoenix Moss

Phoenix Moss demands water cleanness. Algae is likely to grow in tanks where organic matter is allowed to settle on moss leaves. It is natural, but it can be managed.

Cherry shrimps and Siamese Algae Eaters are two animals that can be added to the tank to help mitigate the growth of the algae. Siamese Algae Eaters will eat most moss plants, but the Phoenix Moss has large enough leaves that it is not a problem.

Why is my Phoenix Moss turning brown?

Phoenix Moss is sensitive to light and temperature changes. It can turn brown if it is exposed to too much light or heat. Many aquarists report their plants doing better in the winter and turning brown in the summer months when the plants are getting exposed to more light and heat.

Where can I find Phoenix Moss for sale?

Phoenix Moss can be found online and in pet stores that carry aquarium supplies. Prices start at around $10. The price will differ depending on how big the plants are and if they are attached to decorative pieces.

Keep in mind that Phoenix Moss is not as popular as other aquarium moss such as Java Moss and Christmas Moss, so visiting multiple locations may be required if searching for this plant locally.

Fissidens Fontanus vs Fissidens Nobilis

Fissidens Fontanus and Fissidens Nobilis are both pretty simple to grow and take care of in a tank. They are freshwater mosses that will grow and spread on their own in the tank.

Fissidens Nobilis is considered a semi-rare moss. It is native to regions in Southeast Asia. This moss will grow on driftwood, rocks, and even glass. This plant can be grown on the back of tanks without much help from a net or other materials. It makes a beautiful backdrop in an aquarium. It can survive in almost any freshwater tank but does better in larger tanks since this moss grows into a large, shaggy plant.

Phoenix Moss, Fissidens Fontanus, is native to North America. It will cover the bottom of the tank and give the aquarium a lovely carpeted look. The shape looks like a fountain which makes for an excellent focal point for the tank.