Marimo and Moss Terrarium

by Barbara-

FullSizeRender 02I have been a long lover of moss terrariums and Marimo. After seeing pictures of a tiered glass jar and a Marimo in a glass container with moss on top,  a few weeks ago, I was inspired to bring my love of terrariums and water gardens together in a tiered glass container.  I really like the outcome.

Labelled terrarium


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If you would like to learn how to make moss terrariums, I previously made a post about it here.  I made this terrarium 2 weeks ago and I plan to keep monitoring it to see how well the moss keeps. I’ll post an update on how it is doing soon. This terrarium along with the previous one I made is an experiment I am embarking on to find out how long a moss terrarium can last indoors and the perfect conditions for it to survive. I will be trying closed plant terrariums in the future. I have tried open terrariums with the polka dot plant (Hypoestes) and was very successful.  I don’t know though if it would technically be considered a true terrarium as it was in a partially opened container. Although the plants loved the humidity, they quickly became overgrown and unsightly. I don’t know why it did not occur to me then, but I failed to cut it back and I ultimately had to dispose of it (another mistake I have made as a new plant lover). Anyway, I have seen so many pictures of pretty terrariums on line and pinterest made with moss, cacti and other succulents and I wonder if they are really practical. I also wonder how you can water them and keep them still looking pretty. You know, I’m talking about the ones with the beautiful sand art and a perfect cacti sitting prettily in the center. Yup, those ones. Would you have to redraw those lines and shapes in the sand every single time you water? I recently read an article from that keeping moss in a closed terrarium is a hard feat and one would be more successful at keeping it open most of the time and then closing it perhaps for special occasions when you want to show it off to others :). Eventually, the moss terrarium is doomed either way as it cannot live under indoor conditions forever no matter how much we obsess over its care. I have recreated beautiful sceneries using preserved moss in a dry non-living terrarium  and although this is my first experience making a live moss terrarium, I would have to agree with this article. As mentioned previously I will be sharing lessons learned with the open vs. closed terrarium soon.

I love seeing green in containers, even if they are not living (when it comes to moss). Containers to the left and right of marimo water garden are sceneries created with preserved moss and lichen

Now that I’ve finished venting over unrealistic terrariums, lets talk about marimo. For the Marimo mini aquarium, all you need are pebbles, shells or other decorative ornaments, tap water and you guessed it, Marimo.


Marimo, commonly known as moss ball in English is actually not moss at all but green algae found mostly in lakes in a few regions around the world. Marimo is Japanese meaning “ball seaweed” or  “ball algae1.  You can get Marimo at a pet shop that sells aquarium supplies. I have read on websites that some stores sell fake marimo which is anything but live. I myself have seen these ‘fake’ marimos at pet stores but they come in packaging which more or less lets the buyer know that they are designed like marimo and act like the real marimo by reducing odors and filtering the water but are in no way living. Real marimo are sold in a container of water just like you would buy a fish in water. I am yet to see aquarium supply stores selling faux marimo and passing them off as real ones.  If you do happen to purchase the real Marimo, you will find that they are super super easy to care for and a great way to bring some green into your house. It has low light requirements and you only need to change the water it sits in every 1-2 weeks. To learn more about Marimo and its care go here.

The fun in making a marimo aquarium is the endless possibilities of how how you can design it. The pictures below are a few ways I’ve displayed my Marimos.



Marimo with other Aquatic Plants. The Anubias and corkscrew no longer exists in this water garden as I killed them :(. I will be trying my hands at them again though, after a little more research on how to keep them alive.

Have you kept a Marimo? Is it by itself or with other aquatic organisms? Do you have any thoughts on moss terrariums?


Hi, I’m Barbara and I’m a little obsessed with house plants. I share my house plant adventures in the hopes of inspiring you to continue to enjoy the greens in your home. And if you have no plants (yet!) I hope this blog inspires you to add some green to your home. So go on! Try it! I think you might quite like it. And who knows? You may end up being … obsessed too.


  1. Svk

    What is the orange and yellow plant with the moss ball?

    27 . Jun . 2020
    • Barbara

      That is an artificial plant for aquariums.

      08 . Jan . 2021
  2. Moss Terrarium Follow Up: Opened or Closed? That Is The Question! |

    […] If you remember a few weeks back, 5 weeks exactly, I put together 2 moss terrariums and made a post about them here and here. […]

    18 . Dec . 2014

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