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Re: How the moss got its name
With all due respect to Loh Kwek Leong for his current generosity with
supplying portions of moss to fellow hobbyists, I'm gonna climb on my
soapbox once again over the issue of hobbyists making up new names for
plants and fish that already have perfectly valid scientific names and
widely accepted common names.
In short, its darned confusing!
We have hobbyists on this list from all over the world and of all levels of
experience. The plants that we grow in our aquariums come from all over the
place and while some types are limited in their natural distribution, others
are widespread and can be found in a number of different places. I guess
that it is understandable that some plants are going to be called different
things by people in different places but if you are at all interested in
communicating with hobbyists in other parts of the world and having them
understand what you are talking about, it is important that you both
understand which plants you are discussing.
Thanks to the generosity of another aquarist, I have a portion of this "new"
moss. Its my second attempt at growing it, my first attempt was cut short
last winter through a combination of severe illness on my part and some
rather hungry fish in one of my tanks. When I had it last year, I couldn't,
with any certainty, identify it as to genus, let alone species - it hadn't
grown well enough to enable me to do so. Hopefully, my second attempt will
be more successful, as I've queried my source as to how it grows best for
him (apparently, it likes cooler water, his grows better at 21C than at
28C), and I've put some in a number of different tanks to guard against
Call me anal if you will, but I like to know what is growing in my tanks.
Knowing which genus and species a plant belongs to can sometimes help you to
find out where and how they grew in nature, and that can often help you give
the plants the sorts of conditions that they need to grow and thrive in
As far as I can tell, and someone with a clearer picture of this is more
than welcome to correct me, there are two different mosses commercially
available within the hobby. The more common one is Vesicularia dubyana - the
Java Moss. The other one is Fontinalis antipyretica, which appears to be a
pretty cosmopolitan species, growing in North America, Europe and Asia,
generally in cooler waters than we would normally consider "tropical".
According to the "key" I consulted, there are numerous Fontinalis species
and subspecies, which doesn't surprise me because the Fontinalis moss I used
to collect from the brooks in northern Nova Scotia definitely looked
different from the photos in Amano's books, which he calls Willow Moss -
Fontinalis antipyretica. By doing a "google" search on the net and using
"Fontinalis antipyretica" as a search term, you come up with references from
widely scattered geographical areas, so I assume that the species is very
cosmopolatin. But I don't know enough botany to be able to narrow it down
Apparently, a number of sources agree on one thing, the moss coming out of
Singapore is not native to that location - it originally came either from
Japan or Taiwan and is generally called either Willow moss or Taiwan moss by
those who grow it. Now the question is, is the "Christmas Moss" that Loh has
the same plant as the moss which Amano grows in his tanks, and which he
calls "Willow Moss"? If it is, why bother changing the name from one that
people can find in references to something which might mean something only
to the "namer"?
As far as I am concerned, there is already enough confusion within the hobby
as far as properly identifying the plants that we grow without us
compounding the issue by penning new names for plants which already have
widely accepted names.
Of course, by whatever name you call it, the moss looks good and hopefully
will become more widespread within the hobby. But it would be nice to know
whether the plant I grow and call "xxx" is the same plant you grow and also
Again, I laud Loh for his generosity, but plead for clearer communication.