Java Moss (Taxiphyllum barbieri or Vesicularia dubyana) is a popular and adaptable aquarium plant. It has miniscule leaves lined up along spindly stems that grow in all directions. Like all mosses, it does not have true roots. It uses rhizoids to attach itself to hard surfaces like wood or rock. It grows primarily above the water line where humidity is high; however, it is able to adapt to being completely submerged in water, and it can also grow free floating.
Many aquarium hobbyists start out with something like the Tetra 3 Gallon Aquarium Kit (which I own and love) and a couple plastic plants, and things are going great! Maybe they add a few fancy guppies, and now there are fry all over the place! Awesome! Now they are thinking, “Maybe I’ll get some LIVE plants to really jazz this puppy up.” Then they drive over to PetSmartCo® and pick up some dwarf baby tears… and it completely fails. Now that poor hobbyist decides plants are too much trouble and totally not worth it!
I would like to avoid this scenario in the future by putting together a list of 10 relatively easy aquarium plants for beginners. I have picked out these plants because they are pretty forgiving with the amount of light they need, nutrient demands, and ease of planting and trimming. These plants definitely do not need any pressurized CO2 or any other bells and whistles.
A while back I experimented with making a Walstad jarrarium. I found a square, 2.5 gallon jar that was a great desktop size. I lined it with about an inch of organic potting soil and capped with a half inch of black, coarse sand. In the center was a vaguely tree-stump shaped piece of drift wood approximately 6 inches long. I wrapped the “tree trunk” with java moss, and the surface was coated with Amazon frogbit. Lastly I planted around the jar with java fern and hair grass. I had a small air pump slowly bubbling to help keep the water circulating.
For fauna I put in a few wild ramshorn snails. After waiting three months for the jar to stabilize, I added (as the title suggests) two male dario dario. I was worried they might be too aggressive, and there was a lot of tussling at first, but when the plants all began to grow (and they did, quickly!) they soon lost direct sight of each other most of the time and things settle down.
The most exciting part of this set up is that I never fed the dario dario a single bite of food. They lived completely on the NUMEROUS cyclops and worms that were thriving in the jar.
I would love to try and recreate a similar set up in the future.