Willow moss (Fontinalis Antipyretica) is a great vivarium plant to have in aquatic enclosures. Its ability to absorb minerals, tolerate lower temperatures as well as low light requirements, are all reasons to consider using it in a vivarium. The pleasing look of this moss is great for adding diversity to underwater settings and its close resemblance to other more familiar mosses makes it an easy transitional plant to pair with others. The caretaking for this plant is minimal, making it a wonderful plant to have in any level expertises possessions.
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Scientific Name: Fontinalis Antipyretica
Common Names: Willow Moss, Greater Water Moss, Common Water Moss, Antifever Fontinalis Moss
Habitat: Cool Water, Freshwater
Height: 24 inches Tall
PH Range: 5.5 to 7.5
Temperature: 59°F to 82°F
What Is Willow Moss?
Fontinalis Antipyretica is a species of moss in the Fontinalaceae family. This moss is commonly referred to as willow moss due to its willow tree-like appearance. Though this moss is not a fairly new bryophyte to the world, it has recently become a more sought after plant to put in cooler water aquariums. Another reason for its recent rise in popularity may be due to the fact that Fontinalis shares a lot of visual similarities to the very well known plant, Java Moss.
Willow moss (Fontinalis Antipyretica) care guide
Willow Moss Facts
Fontinalis Antipyretica is commonly referred to as Willow Moss due to its striking resemblance to willow trees. This plant is also commonly known as Greater Water Moss, Common Water Moss, and Antifever Fontinalis Moss. An interesting fact about Fontinalis Antipyretica is its scientific name in Latin translates to “the water moss that stops a fire.” Not quite sure if it, in fact, lives up to its name but I can’t imagine many fires having much luck underwater… So willow moss has my vote!
Willow moss has a very common look when comparing it to other aquatic mosses. As I stated earlier, this plant closely resembles Java moss. The distinguishable difference between the two is the size of the leaves and branches of each plant. Willow moss looks significantly larger, bearing a thicker branch and stem system as well as bigger leaves sprouting from it.
Fontinalis generally comes in various shades of green. The more sunlight it receives typically makes it darker. If the moss starts to brown or appear tannish in color, it either isn’t receiving enough light or above water for too long. The oval-shaped leaves that grow from willow moss can get up to a quarter-inch in length. The stringy stems that branch out from the base are firm, spinely, and can get up to 24 inches in length.
Willow moss is thought to be native to the upper region of North America but can be found in Europe, Asia, and Africa. The environment this freshwater plant is accustom to is fast-flowing rivers and springs. This bryophyte is often found caught between stones and fallen debris in the wild.
One thing I find extremely interesting about this plant is its preference to tolerate lower temperatures than other mosses. Willow Moss is a cold water thriving plant, making it great for aquariums that house cold water inhabitants like Goldfish. Considerable temperatures will range between 59 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
Another well-liked feature with willow moss in the aquascaping hobby is it’s hardy tolerance to various types of water conditions. Most bryophytes typically like to stay around the acidic side of the PH scale… But this moss can tolerate PH levels as high as 8.5! That’s an awesome good-to-know fact if your current tank has hard water conditions and you really the idea of adding a tolerable moss to the enclosure. A thriving PH range to consider keeping this plant around would be anything higher than 5.5 but no higher than 7.5.
This type of moss will do great in a variety of vivarium types. When deciding if rather or not to use willow moss in a particular type of enclosure, Be sure to go with setups that have some level of aquatic areas. Here are recommended vivariums this plant will do well in:
Paludariums – Half aquatic/ half terrain-based enclosure.
Ripariums – Mostly aquatic-based enclosure with some terrain features present.
Aquarium – Fully aquatic-based enclosure with little to no dry terrain.
When it comes to vivarium placement for this type of Fontinalaceae, it can go in a number of places as long as it remains fully submerged in water. Being a centerfold type of plant, it would do really well-accenting hardscapes in the foreground area of the enclosure. Place it around rocks or tie it to wood branches and allow it to fully establish itself before pruning. It should go in an area that receives some level of light and it will eventually creep its way horizontally making a nice lushes carpet.
Substrates can play a role in helping willow moss anchor to the desired position. Any type of aquarium media will do fine for this moss since it will not need it to absorb nutrients. As I mentioned earlier, Fontinalis can latch on to any type of firm surface so the substrate is not an absolute necessity when caring for this plant. Rocks, wood, sand, gravel, and dirt are all-sufficient substrates that can be used to help lock willow moss into place.
The chilly rivers this plant is native to have shaded and indirect sunspots this plant spends most of its time on. Fontinalis Antipyretica can handle moderately bright lighting scenarios but will do best in lower light elements. Avoid direct sunlight and bright light sources. Sunlight could alter the temperature of the vivarium resulting in a warmer, more undesirable water condition. This moss should be given moderate to low levels of artificial lights since it usually takes shelter in shallow riverbeds in the wild.