Fissidens Fontanus [THE BEGINNER'S GUIDE]

Published on July 15, 2018
Fissidens Fontanus [THE BEGINNER'S GUIDE]

If you are looking for a new addition to your aquascape tank, moss is always on top of the list.

Talking about moss.

Many of you will probably recognize java moss or Christmas moss, right?

They are awesome, but too many people are already using it.

Why not try something new that's less popular but looks aesthetically beautiful?

Interested to know more?

Introducing Fissidens Fontanus.

What on Earth is Fissidens Fontanus?

We get it, scientific name is always tricky to remember.

You probably have a better idea if we call it as US Fissidens, water pocket moss, palm moss or phoenix moss.

The plant is a delicate dark green aquatic moss that commonly grows on wood and rocks found in rivers and lakes to form round-like cushions.

Dark Phoenix Moss

It is a submerged plant known to anchor itself on stable objects by use of brownish rhizoids.

Its growth comprises the formation of new leaves along the stem.

While the stem is the main attachment of leaves, there are occasional branches on which leaves grow in alternating positions.

The stem grows to a maximum height of 13 cm.

To distinguish the moss from other plants, the physical structure of the leaf is essential.

Young leaves are light green, but this changes to olive green and eventually black with age.

The leaf is smooth, hairless, and very soft with toothless margins.

The midrib extends from the base almost to the tip.

On one side of the leaf, there is a sleeve that makes it look a little darker at the position than on other surfaces.

To summarize in a simple format:

  • Plant's name: Fissidens Fontanus
  • Alternative names: Phoenix moss, water pocket moss, palm moss, US Fissdens
  • Family: Fissidentaceae
  • Genus: Fissidens

How it breeds and multiply

Being a moss, water pocket moss does not have flowers and hence no fruits.

Occasionally, spore-bearing capsules develop on setae and later fall off from the parent plant before maturity.

Water carry these capsules to locations throughout the tank after which the cap enclosing the capsule falls off and allows the release of spores.

At other times, the moss will produce asexually.

The secondary stems will develop rhizoids at their base and when firmly anchored to the growth substrate, it will detach itself from the primary plant to form a clonal plant.

Cultivating Fissidens Fontanus

fissidens fontanus tank

Just like any other moss, Fissidens Fontanus does well in the cooler and shaded regions.

The species is sensitive, both to light and temperature.

Often, the moss does relatively well in winter but completely turns brown in summer because of too much light and warmth.

While some aquascapers may prefer to dry, there have been no benefits in the process since it does well while submerged.

The moss requires only little amount of carbon dioxide.

Water quality-wise, pH of 5-7 is preferable.

If your tank's water has a pH that's not suitable for the plant, a solution to try is alkaline and the addition of lime to an acidic solution will lower its pH.

An important for you who want to "adopt" this plant, the phoenix moss is a slow-growing plant.

Temperature Conditions

If you plan to get one, remember that Fissidens Fontanus is sensitive to temperature.

They can do well in the cool and dry regions, unlike other plants.

Looking at the naturally growing mosses, they are more often found in cooler shaded areas.

While it can also grow in conditions ranging from 4-26° Celsius, it relatively does better between 15-25°, with an optimal temperature of 25° Celsius, at which it will produce a bright green colouration.

Higher temperatures will cause the moss producing dark green leaves and small fronds.

Faunal, Aesthetic Common uses of Fissidens Fontanus

Fissidens Fontanus has a feathery look. As seen in the image below:

The most common usage is as root or stone binding.

Since it can attach itself sturdily to the media you place it on, you need not tie it back to the root/stone frequently.

Aquatic organisms, such as snails and insect larvae habit in its submerged present.

In its natural habitat, swans and ducks feed on its finds too.

Phenix Moss, and Where to find them.

The plant originated from the United States.

In fact, it's a relatively newly discovered plant.

That's what makes it interesting, right?

If you want to get one for your tank, you can easily find it in North America with others scattered in various locations in Illinois and Europe.

If you want to get one directly from nature, you can find it in high-quality wetlands in natural areas and rarely in low-quality wetlands where with polluted water.

Sometimes, we can find them growing in lakes at a depth of 60 feet.

In wet protected areas near water bodies, the moss could appear above water, though this is on rare occasions.

Taking Care of Fissidens Fontanus

Indoor aquariums are among the best-growing sites for the moss.

In these highly protected growth conditions, the moss is free from algae, which causes the discolouration of its leaves.

Its appearance is, therefore, vivacious unlike in the wild.

Injection of carbon dioxide into the water is not always necessary since the plant can grow without the gas.

An effective method to propagate the plant into your existing tank is to plant it to an existing spot.

It attaches to the media faster than when it gets tied down with cotton or mesh.

Be careful when trimming it though, the little pieces can pollute your tank and mess up with your tank's filter. A better solution is to utilise airline tubing to clean up the dirt.


There you have it. A beginner's guide to the newly discovered Fissidens Fontanus. If you are looking for a new addition to your existing or new aquascape tank, this moss is attention-worthy.

Not only because it's very easy to take care of, it also looks good when attached to a root or stone. The perfect place for your snails and larvae (extra fish food).

What do you think? is this plant worth to keep?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments form below.


  • Featured and in-content images by Tropica.

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