I have a Fluval Edge Aquarium and have really enjoyed experimenting with different natural methods to keep it clean and healthy. I originally saw real Marimo Moss Balls at a Pet store but was not sure if my snails would just eat them. Then I discovered the Fluval Moss Balls which you can use as a decoration and to keep your tank clean, but do not have to worry about it spreading or dying. Of course you have to change it every two months compared to a real one, but for some this may work. I used mine for two months and after a conversation with the people at the pet store decided to replace it with a real Marimo Moss Ball for about the same price.
The Fluval Moss Ball is about 2 inches across and looks real when it is in your aquarium. It is a synthetic moss on the outside and inside is a resin that will absorb nitrite and phosphates for about 2 months. This will not replace your filtration system but will assist it. I am not sure what the resin is made of but I read somewhere that it is charcoal inside. After two months you are supposed to remove the used ball and replace it with a new one.
Using the Moss Ball
It is easy to use the Fluval Moss Ball. Just remove it from the package, rinse it under the tap until it is saturated with water and then place in your aquarium. If you don’t squeeze the air out, your moss ball will float. If you squeeze it gently under the water it will release the air and tend to sink to the bottom. It will still float about somewhat though and if you have aquarium creatures they may move it about as well. This is safe to use in all freshwater aquariums, and fish will benefit from a cleaner tank.
One Moss Ball Treats 10-20 gallons of freshwater for up to 2 months. If you have a larger tank you will need to buy more of them.
The Fluval Moss Ball costs about $4-5 and lasts 2 months. A real Marimo Moss ball costs about the same and lasts forever. I did the math and got a real one after using this for 2 months.
Fluval Moss Ball vs Real Live Marimo Moss Ball
To me their is no contest. The Marimo Moss Ball wins out, but it may not be best for everyone as there are pros and cons to both. I tend to like to play around with my aquarium rather than just look at it so if you are not one who likes to tinker, then you might prefer the fake Moss Balls to the real Marimo Balls.
Visually the Fluval Moss balls and the Real Marimo Moss balls look similar. The hairs on the fluval balls are a little bit longer and the color is a slightly lighter shade of green compared to the real ones.
Both the Fluval Moss Balls and the real live Marimo Moss balls are safe to use with all freshwater fish and snails. Fish will not eat either of them. One of the reasons I like the Marimo is that I can have a live plant in my tank without my fish and especially my snails eating them. Snails will move over them which is fun to watch and fish will enjoy picking food out of them but they won’t eat either the live or the fake moss balls.
The real Marimo Moss balls are a living thing. They start out small and grow. You can buy a big one and divide it into smaller ones. Frankly if you just toss this in your tank and forget it, it will eventually grow to a maximum of 10 inches. I have had some for 6-8 months and they have definitely grown but not that much. I am guessing it may take ten years for them to grow that much. The one thing that I did not count on is that the Marimo Balls reproduce in your tank. For the first few months I just had three balls that rolled around and looked pretty. I started with two but decided to divide the larger one into two small ones. I had read you could just cut or pull them apart but when I did that they were not round so I took a needle and thread and pulled in the edges to make them round. The divided ones grew and I am guessing the thread could be removed at this point.
A couple months ago I noticed little tiny moss balls growing on some of my fake plants and thought it was pretty cool. Besides that though there appeared to be strings of the stuff that was growing too. I am guessing this could be very evasive if left to it’s own devices. About once a month I have to take the filter intake apart and remove all the built up moss, which was looking more like a seaweed at this point. You might think this was a bad thing but at the same time I noticed that my tank was cleaner than it has ever been and that my fish looked great. The thing about the Marimo Moss is that it lives off the waste that the fish produce, so it made my aquarium a more efficient system. It does require a lot of maintenance though, but I hardly ever have to replace my filters anymore now that I have this moss running through my filter system. I also have reduced the amount of water changes that I needed to do since the moss was eating the fish detritus. Essentially the moss is acting as an organic live filtration system.
So there you have it. To some of you reading this you will think that the Marimo Moss Balls are too invasive and messy and will opt for the Hagen Fluval Moss Ball instead. The decision on which to get really depends on what kind of aquatic hobbyist you are. I tend to like to watch things grow and so I do not mind the upkeep of the real Marimo, but to others the Fluval Moss Balls provide the same look without the upkeep.
Final thoughts and Rating
While I will not use the fake Fluval Moss balls anymore in favor of the real Marimo Moss balls I have to say that for those who do not want live plants in their tank that I can recommend the Fluval Moss Balls as a decorative addition that adds a little bit of extra cleaning. While they do not clean as well as the real Marimo they are definitely a help as long as you change them out every 2 months.