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Re: Differentiating Christmas from Java
Loh Kwek Leong wrote::
"One way to differentiate Christmas from Java would be to look for spores.
I'm not sure if that is what they are called but I'm referring to the little
brown stalks with something like a bud at the end of it. It looks like a
comma. Christmas moss will usually have some such spores but I have
never seen them on Java. Christmas moss grown emmersed
will produce many spores."
What you are probably referring to is the capsule, which in many mosses
looks like a little covered urn atop a long slender stalk. It is part of the
reproductive system/cycle of the moss I noticed them on the Christmas Moss
in your photographs of your tank.
I have had Java Moss growing attached to the cork backing in my large tank
for over a year. While it doesn't look anywhere near as nice as the
Christmas Moss Loh Kwek displays in his photos, it does grow right to the
water's surface in places and due to the humidity under the enclosed hood,
it also grows just above the water line. I have seen the same sort of
capsules on my Java Moss when it grows out of the water.
You can't differentiate Java Moss and Christmas moss by saying that one
grows these things and one doesn't. I'm pretty sure that all mosses grow
them, but in some types of moss they might look different and/or not be as
pronounced. According to my Bryologist acquaintance, differences in the
capsules are one of the main ways to decide which genus and species a
particular moss plant belongs to. In order to positively identify many
varieties of moss to the species level you need access to plants with these
capsules (and they have to be mature) and a microscope, for the differences
can be very minute from species to species.
Since mosses only develop these structures when grown emersed, folks with
mosses growing entirely submerged may never see them. The environment where
Loh Kwek photographed his moss growing emersed looks ideal for the
development of this part of the moss's life cycle.
At this point in time, the only way we have of differentiating those two
mosses is by their different growth patterns. Since some mosses can also
exhibit a variety of growth patterns, depending upon the environment in
which they grow, even this can leave us guessing.
As Loh Kwek noted, if there is regular Java Moss mixed in with the Christmas
Moss, it might be easy to get confused - just use tweezers to either pick
out the stuff that obviously has a growth habit like Java Moss (long, furry
branches), or you could also pick out a few of the "Christmas Tree" branches
and grow them in monoculture for a while until you get a big enough mass of
it to use in your aquarium. Given the right conditions, moss grows
Hobbyists who live in tropical and semi-tropical areas have a unique
opportunity to look for and find many different species/varieties of aquatic
moss that have never or have only rarely been available from commercial
growers. When they are generous like Loh Kwek has been (and like Tan Kah
Cheong has been as well) and spread samples of these plants around to other
hobbyists living in other parts of the world, everyone benefits (as long as
the recipients always take care to never release any of these exotic species
into local aquatic environments).