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I could use some advice on moss species. What is best for carpeting the ground, epiphytic on driftwood and climbing the background walls? Java Moss appears to be a favorite on this board for its striking color, but is expensive and looks to come in only small packages making it difficult for my large tank. Contrarily I hear very little about fern moss which can be found in gallon bags. Does anyone use it? What about Riccia or Pillow? Do Dart Frogs have preferences which species they prefer? Any suggestions are much appreciated.
 

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I don't know much about the specific moss types, but I can say that if you plan on having dart frogs, they prefer leaf litter on the ground, not a lawn of moss. The conditions that would be required to grow a bunch of moss on the ground are likely going to be too wet for dart frogs. The place for moss in a dart frog viv is, as you mention, epiphytic locations - on wood, sides and background, again with the caveat that even this is not recommended if you need to have conditions that are too humid for the frogs in order to maintain the moss. This is one of the real disservices that YouTube and other influencers have done to our hobby, in my opinion. Completely green tanks are undoubtedly beautiful and I would love to have one someday. I wouldn't put dart frogs in it, though.

Mark
 

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I do not bother with aquarium mosses in a dart frog tank. Java moss, christmas moss, riccia (not a moss but treated like one) are expensive, come in small sizes and have no benefits over terrestrial mosses.

I get my mosses from the wild and its definitely possible to put them in the tank while keeping humidity in the 60-80% sweet spot. Terrestrial mosses simply do not need the same humidity and wet surfaces as aquarium mosses to look good. As for what types of moss? Well identifying specific species of moss is one of those things that is super difficult and also somewhat pointless. It is far easier to collect moss you like the look of, quarantine or co2 bomb it, then put it in the viv to see if you like how it grows. Some mosses I added to a viv looked awesome and grew well, others got all straggly looking and I eventually removed. Its one of those things you can just experiment with.

But as Mark pointed out you don't want to compromise the healthy parameters of the tank to grow the moss, you need to find the moss that grows alongside healthy frogs. Good news is, using wild moss, it will be free.
 

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@minorhero what is a co2 bomb? Can I use a bleach solution or are mosses too sensitive?
A co2 bomb is like when you were a kid making a volcano for school, only instead of letting the fizz go everywhere you use a big enough container it doesn't make a mess. Put this inside a bigger container (with a lid) that contains the plants you want to bomb. The result will be a lot of co2 being made that kills everything that breathes air (co2 being heavier then air it will saturate ground of the container). There are recipes to look up online for how to do it.

I have never used bleach because I'm concerned with killing the moss but other folk have reported success doing it that way.
 

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I have wild fern moss here that works great. Just keep in mind, it likes the brightest spot you can give it. Honestly, most mosses will probably do fine, some just need a dormancy period. If you can find the ones that don’t, it should work great. I use haircap moss, fern moss, a few unidentified types, and an unknown fissidens species (probably adianthoides).
 

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You generally cannot bleach moss - I killed a bunch of expensive sphagnum with bleach once. If you want to try bleaching it, try it on a small portion and then wait a few days to see if it survives. NEHERP offers pre-processed Thuidium delicatulum and Leucobryum, both of which are pest free and ready to go into a terrarium, but heads up that Leucobryum is notoriously difficult, needs a lot of water and a lot of light. I have a portion mounted on my background next to a very red brom, right under a mist head, and it's the only really happy portion I have.
 

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Honestly, most mosses will probably do fine, some just need a dormancy period.
This is a bit of a misconception about mosses from the northern hemisphere, it's very rarely the case that that they actually need a period of dormancy over winter in order to continue growing.
Whats's usually occuring is that people dramatically underestimate just how slow growing many mosses are, particularly acrocarps, and as such they are very, very easily outcompeted when conditions are moist enough for more aggressive species to flourish.
It's more accurate to say that many species of mosses have adapted to survive total/extreme dessication that they will never experience in our tanks - this adaptation means that they are able to grow in areas where otherwise they would be rapidly outcompeted by algae, fungi, or faster growing pleurocarpous mosses and other plants that aren't adapted to survive extreme moisture fluctuations. It's not that they NEED a period of dormancy themselves to grow, it's that they need a period where conditions become unsurvivable for the other pioneer species they compete with.
It's actually incredible how long some mosses can spend in a dessicated state before quickly rehydrating to take advantage of an opprtunity for growth that may last only hours or even minutes.
You might easily put a species that is only likely to double in size every few years or so into a tropical vivarium and assume that it needed a period of dormancy when in fact it was simply overtaken by algae or that the protonema were being consumed by your tank custodians faster than they were being replaced.
Mosses grow on every continent and in such diverse conditions that it's almost pointess and nearly impossible to make useful generaisations about them. There are mosses from Antarctica that would likely be able to grow on mars - and plenty from the northern hemisphere that could form a beautiful, dense emerald carpet across all the wood and background in your dart tank without the need to provide moisture at levels that would be detrimental to the frogs, you just might need to be prepared to wait a decade or two.
I always tend to include the disclaimer that I don't actually keep dart frogs in my posts, I actually keep and breed micro geckos. For me it was very interesting to observe the changes that occured in the types of moss growing in my vivariums when I began creating very pronounced seasonal variations in moisture and temperature in order to give the animals a rest from breeding. Certain mosses that couldn't survive the drier period died out and were replaced by much slower growing species that could take advantage of the more favourable conditions during the cooler wetter period but also survive the warmer drier period.
 

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Also you can sanitise moss with a dilute bleach solution but it's a bit like kicking someones face in to remove a loose tooth.
Generally we only use bleach solutions to sterilise moss for tissue culture where it's strictly necessary that it actually be completely sterile and the tissue damage isn't such a problem.
CO2 bombing is far less destructive although you need to watch out for very delicate species that can be harmed by the weak carbonic acid formed when co2 interacts with water if they are sodden when you co2 bomb them.
 

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This is a bit of a misconception about mosses from the northern hemisphere, it's very rarely the case that that they actually need a period of dormancy over winter in order to continue growing.
Whats's usually occuring is that people dramatically underestimate just how slow growing many mosses are, particularly acrocarps, and as such they are very, very easily outcompeted when conditions are moist enough for more aggressive species to flourish.
It's more accurate to say that many species of mosses have adapted to survive total/extreme dessication that they will never experience in our tanks - this adaptation means that they are able to grow in areas where otherwise they would be rapidly outcompeted by algae, fungi, or faster growing pleurocarpous mosses and other plants that aren't adapted to survive extreme moisture fluctuations. It's not that they NEED a period of dormancy themselves to grow, it's that they need a period where conditions become unsurvivable for the other pioneer species they compete with.
It's actually incredible how long some mosses can spend in a dessicated state before quickly rehydrating to take advantage of an opprtunity for growth that may last only hours or even minutes.
You might easily put a species that is only likely to double in size every few years or so into a tropical vivarium and assume that it needed a period of dormancy when in fact it was simply overtaken by algae or that the protonema were being consumed by your tank custodians faster than they were being replaced.
Mosses grow on every continent and in such diverse conditions that it's almost pointess and nearly impossible to make useful generaisations about them. There are mosses from Antarctica that would likely be able to grow on mars - and plenty from the northern hemisphere that could form a beautiful, dense emerald carpet across all the wood and background in your dart tank without the need to provide moisture at levels that would be detrimental to the frogs, you just might need to be prepared to wait a decade or two.
I always tend to include the disclaimer that I don't actually keep dart frogs in my posts, I actually keep and breed micro geckos. For me it was very interesting to observe the changes that occured in the types of moss growing in my vivariums when I began creating very pronounced seasonal variations in moisture and temperature in order to give the animals a rest from breeding. Certain mosses that couldn't survive the drier period died out and were replaced by much slower growing species that could take advantage of the more favourable conditions during the cooler wetter period but also survive the warmer drier period.
I suppose this makes sense. I am fairly certain, however, that some species at least benefit from a dormancy period. The mosses that I grow near windows get a dry rest at 40F every year, and they grow faster than patches of the same species that I grow in my dart frog tanks.

You breed micro geckos? That’s amazing! What conditions do you keep them in?
 

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So what do most people do with moss to make sure it’s safe to put in your viv? I wouldn’t want anything entering my enclosure I wouldn’t want in there. Is co2 the really only option or is moss generally safe without doing anything to it?
 

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Moss is absolutely not safe without doing anything to it. The sphagnum I got that I ended up bleaching (and killing most, but not all, of it) was visibly crawling with mites, worms, and who knows what else - it had clearly been grown outdoors. A lot of times vendors are wild harvesting, so there's no telling what could be on it, and since it is so dense a visual inspection will not necessarily reveal pests. Moss that is wild harvested rather than grown is a whole other problem, I try to be very ethical about where I get my moss, but in the case of the sphagnum it was actually cultivated by the vendor (or so they said) and not wild harvested.

Your options are co2, or finding moss that is rehydrated from dried moss or grown in very specific, sterile conditions - NEHERP is the only vendor I have found that will make that promise. You may be able to find tissue cultures of aquatic mosses, which are sterile, but aquatic mosses aren't always suitable for vivarium use.
 

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I suppose this makes sense. I am fairly certain, however, that some species at least benefit from a dormancy period. The mosses that I grow near windows get a dry rest at 40F every year, and they grow faster than patches of the same species that I grow in my dart frog tanks.
You're 100% right that there ARE species where dormancy plays a role on their life cycle. As far as I know this is usually where the spores of certain species require certain seasonal changes in temperature or moisture to trigger germination, it's just not as common or ubiquitous in northern species as people tend to think. In your case another variable that might be having an effect is the light levels near a window and under artifical lighting in a vivarium. Like most plants, different species of moss have varying ratios of clorophyll A and B and so not all lights are equal when it comes to moss growth. In theory you could commission an LED lamp that would be dialled in to the needs of a specific species of moss.

You breed micro geckos? That’s amazing! What conditions do you keep them in?
Very similar conditions to dart frogs, that's why I'm here. Vertically oriented tanks with plenty of bromeiads and ferns and a very deep layer of mixed leaf litter and plenty of rotting wood. If I removed the warm uvb bulbs from most of my tanks I think many dart frogs would be abe to flourish in them.
One good thing about the geckos is that it's much easier to provide them with the proper dietary supplements because , although they eat a lot of insects, they all happily consume powdered diet, bee pollen, honey, frsh fruit and veg etc. and will lick directly from cuttlebone or powdered calcium sources. I would have problems otherwise as I keep them in much, much larger cages than is common for geckos this small so it can be hard to make sure they eat powdered fruit fies in time. I have Lygodactylus and Sphaerodactylus geckos. I've never seen a care sheet for Sphaerodactylus that mentions them eating fruit or powdered diets but they do when given the opportunity, some will even take bites from things like butternut squash, you just have to be cautious about providing them with too much sugar.
 

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You're 100% right that there ARE species where dormancy plays a role on their life cycle. As far as I know this is usually where the spores of certain species require certain seasonal changes in temperature or moisture to trigger germination, it's just not as common or ubiquitous in northern species as people tend to think. In your case another variable that might be having an effect is the light levels near a window and under artifical lighting in a vivarium. Like most plants, different species of moss have varying ratios of clorophyll A and B and so not all lights are equal when it comes to moss growth. In theory you could commission an LED lamp that would be dialled in to the needs of a specific species of moss.



Very similar conditions to dart frogs, that's why I'm here. Vertically oriented tanks with plenty of bromeiads and ferns and a very deep layer of mixed leaf litter and plenty of rotting wood. If I removed the warm uvb bulbs from most of my tanks I think many dart frogs would be abe to flourish in them.
One good thing about the geckos is that it's much easier to provide them with the proper dietary supplements because , although they eat a lot of insects, they all happily consume powdered diet, bee pollen, honey, frsh fruit and veg etc. and will lick directly from cuttlebone or powdered calcium sources. I would have problems otherwise as I keep them in much, much larger cages than is common for geckos this small so it can be hard to make sure they eat powdered fruit fies in time. I have Lygodactylus and Sphaerodactylus geckos. I've never seen a care sheet for Sphaerodactylus that mentions them eating fruit or powdered diets but they do when given the opportunity, some will even take bites from things like butternut squash, you just have to be cautious about providing them with too much sugar.
That thing about the lighting makes sense. Thanks for the info on the geckos!
 

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Also if you decide to go the CO2 rout just make sure to have the plants in light. Plants use CO2 in photosynthesis and produce oxygen as a byproduct. Plants also need and use oxygen so when there is no light for the plants to produce oxygen from photosynthesis then having a 100% CO2 environment in the dark will make the plant suffocate. This goes for all plants that photosynthesize.
Long story short, just make sure the area that your cleaning the plants/mosses has good light as it will be less stressful on the plant.
 
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