Join the Marimo Moss Ball Craze : The Perfect Indoor Water Garden

Ever heard of Marimo moss balls? No? Well you are missing out. I love moss. In any form, it it one of the simplest, yet most stunning plants ever created. (My humble opinion!) So when our daughter gave Steve a moss ball aquarium for Christmas for his office, I was immediately hooked on these cute little plant pets. So I went about learning how to make my own Marimo moss ball aquarium, and I love them! So if you want to jump on the moss ball craze like I did, read on to find out what these little “creatures” are all about, how to create your aquarium, and how to care for your moss balls!




Marimo Moss Balls

What are Marimo Moss Balls?

First off, what are these cute little round balls of indoor water garden happiness? Marimo moss balls aren’t actually moss at all, they are a fresh water algae that grows in Japan, among other places overseas. Extremely slow growing, they can live for years. Fish enthusiasts use them in aquariums to filter the water naturally, and they are happy to exist with other water plants as well. But these little amazing beauties also make great decor! (Slash, plant pets. Our first one was named “Mossy”.:))

How to Make a Moss Ball Aquarium

So this may be the easiest DIY indoor water garden you could ever plant. Moss balls are not fussy in any way, so you can really use your imagination in decorating the aquarium.



  • Glass Containers – We used different sizes and shapes for fun, they can be open, or closed.
  • Aquarium or craft sand, gravel, crushed shells or rock. Your choice!
  • We used a piece of black coral as an accent, you could use anything that is water safe.
  • Live water plants if desired.
  • Marimo Moss Balls!
  • Tap Water


Where to Buy Marimo Moss Balls & Supplies

We found everything needed to make these moss ball aquariums on ‘Amazon’, and most of the supplies we mention below are Prime and/or free shipping. The moss balls we ordered from “Aquatic Arts’ were healthy and shipped fast, we were really happy with them!

The last link here are where you can buy entire moss ball terrarium kits, where everything comes except the water.  If you only want to make one small aquarium, this may be the most cost effective way to go, since you won’t have to buy larger bags of aquarium gravel.

Marimo Moss Balls

6 inch Glass Bubble Bowl

8 inch Glass Bubble Bowl

Glass Cylinder 8×6 inch

Terrarium Rocks

Aquariums Rocks

Craft Gravel

Sea Fan Coral Decor

Complete Terrarium kits


Step One

Gather your supplies together in one place. We had a variety of different materials to choose from as we made several moss ball aquariums at once, but you will probably have fewer choices if you are only making one. Start by rinsing your moss balls under water and squeezing them out. This gets them nice and clean. Rinse any stone, gravel or sand to get as much of the dust out of it as possible.



Step Two

Start by creating a bottom layer of gravel or sand in your glass container. This can be deep or shallow, you can layer more than one material, or you can stay simple. Fill the container at least half way with water.


Step Three

The rest is simple! Add any accessories you want! This can be larger stones, shells, coral, or even live aquarium plants. You may have to work with your fingers to anchor things under the gravel. Smooth out the bottom substrate to your liking. Toss in your moss balls! Done!


Marimo Moss Ball Care

Moss balls are one of the easiest water plants to take care of. First of all, they do need light, but not a lot. remember, their natural state is at the bottom of a lake. Not much light there! No direct sun folks, unless you want to cook them in their bowl. Once every week or two, change the water to more fresh tap water. Thats it! Give them those two things and they will last for years! Remember, the one way to kill a Marimo moss ball is to let the water dry out when you are away on vacation for a month during the hot summer. Ask us how we know. 🙂


Moss Ball Tips and Tricks


  • Marimo moss balls grow extremely slowly. So buy the size you want, don’t expect them to grow into a large container any time soon.
  • Buy from a reputable dealer or store. See below for our source that we were very happy with!
  • Your moss balls will float at first. If they don’t sink within a day, that means they have air trapped within them. Squeeze them out and let go while under water (important) and they will sink.
  • If your moss balls aren’t perfectly round, you can roll them between your hands to create a better ball shape. Then the algae fibers will grow through that ball shape and become permanent. Eventually.

Update : If you end up with algae in your aquarium, I found the solution! Barley extract is 100% natural and kills just the algae. They use it in ponds so it comes in a bigger bottle than you might need, but it will last forever. I literally poured 1/4 teaspoon in my medium glass bowl size moss ball aquarium, and the next day, 90% of the algae was gone. Seriously, I did NOT expect it to work this well. Saves you a lot of scrubbing rocks and makes your moss pets look awesome! The one I used was from ‘Amazon‘.



Moss Ball Aquariums, Revealed!

We made several different moss ball aquariums, and all of them turned out awesome. As you can see, you can use different approaches based on what you want your indoor water garden to look like. Honestly my favorite turned out to be the cylinder shaped container with the black and white layered rock and the live water plant. The contrast of the white on black really seemed to set off the color of the moss. But they all have their own personalities.


Gorgeous moss balls, they look amazing with the black coral accent too.



So here it is, my favorite out of all the ones we made.



Gorgeous water garden for Steve’s office!


Ok, so do you have a favorite? Many people create a more “seashore” type scene, and this can be pretty too if you want a more coastal feel. I prefer this vibe, myself.

So now all you have to do is find the perfect place for your Marimo moss ball aquarium! These are a step above an ordinary houseplant, and you can showcase your creativity in creating this indoor water garden too. Win win! So, do you love these little plant pets, or hate the whole idea? We’re thinking if you made it this far, they at least intrigue you! We think you will also want to check out our posts on How to Care for and Decorate with Air Plants, and DIY Indoor Vertical Garden Planters!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more info.

Kathy Bates

Kathy Bates & Steve Bates (co-owners) – Woodard Bates Media LLC consisting of three blogs:, and

Kathy Bates’ previous writing credits include:

Former home decorating expert for Lifetime TV, Galtime and Country Woman Magazine.

Her book spent time at #1 on Amazon’s Home & Garden Topseller List in 2002.

Published or featured in numerous national publications, including:

Country Sampler’s Decorating Ideas magazine, Woman’s Day magazine, HGTV, The Wall Street Journal, CBS Marketwatch, Decorating Solutions magazine, Decorating Ideas magazine, The Seattle Times, Chicago Tribune, Kansas City News, The Oklahoman, Akron Beacon Journal, Pensacola News Journal and The Telegraph.


    • Kathy Bates
      May 5, 2021 / 9:26 am

      We have a source in the post, however, right now there is difficulty getting them because of an issue with a type of snail that has been found with the imports… hopefully that will be over soon!

  1. Katie
    February 4, 2021 / 8:46 pm

    I am so happy to see this! So many people would insist on putting fish in those, and they don’t understand that fish take a lot more of an investment than that! For Instance, betta fish need at least 2 1/2 gallons to thrive, as well as a good filter, heater, and light. There’s also a lot of maintenance involved in keeping your fish healthy!
    It’s so cool that you put only moss balls and a little anubias. It looks so cute and it’s perfect for the plants! I just wanted to say, thanks for sharing, they’re great! 😁

    • Kathy Bates
      May 5, 2021 / 9:28 am

      Thx Katie!

  2. N
    November 24, 2020 / 4:46 pm

    I’d also reccomend using filtered or “aged” water.

  3. Caz
    November 3, 2020 / 1:12 pm

    Can I use rainwater instead of tap water?

    • Kathy Bates
      May 5, 2021 / 9:38 am

      I wouldn’t use rainwater… rain gathers a lot of pollutants on the way down!

  4. Emily
    September 25, 2020 / 3:30 pm

    Hi, I was just wondering what the other plant is (not the black coral) in with the moss balls ? Love this post !!

    • Kathy Bates
      May 5, 2021 / 9:48 am

      Thats a great question! lol, it was some form of sword plant we got from Petco! Hope that helps! (A little, anyway!)

  5. Della Babin
    May 21, 2020 / 8:24 pm

    I wonder if a betta fish would survive well in it?

    • Kathy Bates
      May 5, 2021 / 10:17 am

      We have seen other people put bettas in these aquariums, and thrive!

  6. Janet
    April 21, 2019 / 3:01 pm

    I love, love this idea. How do you change the water every two weeks or so without disturbing the gravel and rocks?

    • Kathy Bates
      June 17, 2019 / 1:49 pm

      I use a cup with a handle and just scoop the water out… in a simpler mossimo ball aquarium, you can just remove the bigger rocks and pour the old water out, new water in!

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