The big day is here… today I am going to buy my fish… My children bought me a fish tank for my Mothering Day present and now it is all prepared… I have put in the substrate (sand) filled it with water which has been there for almost a week now, I’ve bought plants (four) I’ve bought pebbles, a rocky arch structure for the fish to swim round, and I bought some moss balls…
I had no idea about moss ball until I entered the world of fish – they are literally balls of mossy looking stuff but are actually algae, not moss at all. They look pretty and in the wild they are formed as water moves about and the algae clumps together and rolls about, becoming a ball. I think the moss balls I’ve bought aren’t ‘wild’ in fact I’m pretty sure they will have been cultivated by a moss ball maker. Apparently they can live for up to a hundred years… good grief! Do my children realise this?
Moss balls are actually marimo, and are very popular in Japan, as you might imagine, and are actually kept as a sort of low maintenance pet by some people in Japan. They don’t only occur in Japan, they can be found in the right conditions in Austria, Iceland, Scotland, and Estonia and even Australia.
Their real name is Aegagropila linnaei, the first part means ‘goat hair’… Obviously they have other names in other languages, most common is marimo, the Japanese word for them which literally means bouncy ball water plant. In Iceland they have a name which comes from what fishermen call them muck-balls, not very nice – but when these get caught in your fishing net I guess as a fisherman you don’t feel very kindly towards them. The name I have come across which I like best is what the Ainu people call them torasampe which means ‘lake goblin’.
I thought having marimo would just make the tank more attractive and interesting for my fish (I don’t mean the fish would find them attractive, obviously!) but apparently there are benefits to having them – help in a small way to filter the water (I do have a filter pump but I’m sure any assistance from my marimo is good) very difficult to kill (thank goodness) helps oxygenate the water (I d have a thing to do this as well, but every little helps) and helps prevent other algae growing.
Here is an interesting page about them: