How to fix aquarium mosses
Cultivation made easy with ISTA planting helpers

The manufacturer ISTA offers handy helpers, especially for planting aquatic mosses (but also other plants) into a shrimp tank or nano aquarium. ISTA moss pads are flat and equipped with a piece of grid. They keep a nice portion of submersed moss in its place. Ceramic bottom parts in one piece or subdivided in small compartments that can be filled with substrate make sure that the whole construct doesn’t float. After some time, the plants will grow out of the grid and create beautiful, natural-looking cushions.

One of the major benefits of those pads is the fact that they can easily be moved around or taken out of the aquarium when you are redecorating or cleaning the substrate. Moreover, if you want catch out shrimp for selective breeding or need to net fish, the aquarium can easily be cleared out to make this tedious task easier for you. Furthermore you won’t need to tediously tie down the moss and you can scrap the superglue, too.

In the following we’ll take a closer look at some ISTA products.

Ceramic pads

ISTA - Water Plant Cultivation Ceramic

These products are called ISTA Water Plant Cultivation Ceramic. These handy little helpers are ceramic pads in different shapes and sizes (angular or round), equipped with a correspondingly sized and shaped stainless steel grid. The grid is held down by four metal pins in the corners of the angular pads and at regular distances around the circumference of the round pads. For planting, simply bend up the pins and remove the grid.

liftin da grid

Now you can load the pad with plants. Mosses or ground covering plants are ideal for this.

loading da pad

Now close the pad and fasten the pins by bending them down again.

clamping da grid

The moss pad is now ready to use. The individual shoots will grow through the grid over time.

ceramic pad

Multi-chambered plastic pads

ISTA also offers multi-chambered polymer pads under the name Water Plants Cultivation that can be easily planted. You can choose between two different sizes (M and L), with 4 or 8 pads in each set. The upper and bottom grids can easily be removed from the central element.

multi-chambered plastic pads

Now fill the upper compartment with moss or any other aquatic plant with a flat growth habit such as Dwarf Baby Tears or any other ground cover.

loading the pad

The bottom compartment is then filled with small stones or some substrate to weigh the pad down and prevent it from floating to the surface. You should not choose to small a grain size. Gravel or soil are recommended here. Especially ground covering plants can easily and effectively be cultivated with the Water Plants Cultivation system. The protective grid prevents burrowing inhabitants such as shrimp or catfish from digging up the foreground plant and from uprooting it. With the ISTA pad, the plant stays put and doesn't float up. If the bottom chamber is loaded with a high-nutrition substrate (such as soil) or maybe even with an additional nutrient tab, the ground cover can be systematically fed through its roots because both chambers are connected by small holes.

weighing down a plastic pad

Close the pad.

closing the plastic pad

Now the pad is ready to use and the plants will grow out of the upper cage over time.

plastic pad

Shelter Home

The Ceramic Shelter Home was designed specifically for the use in an aquarium with shrimp, crayfish or catfish. This hiding spot is made of ceramics and consists of several clay tubes and a planter on the top. Just like the plant pad, the planter is equipped with a grid to easily fix mosses or other suitable aquatic plants. To stock the Shelter Home with plants, you bend up the fastening pins and remove the grid.

Shelter Home

Then a small portion of moss is placed in the designated spot.

planting a Shelter Home

After that, put the grid back into position and bend the pins down carefully.

planting a Shelter Home

Now the product is ready for use in your aquarium. The Ceramic Shelter Home is - as the name implies - made of ceramics and has enough dead weight to keep it in place underwater without further weighing it down.

Shelter Home


Even though the plants might initially look a bit sparse, with some patience, the ISTA planting helpers will reward you richly after a while. After a short time, the plants will sprout through the grids and form beautiful cushions.

plant growth

After a few months the plants have developed and you’ll have lushly covered pads that will give your aquarium a very natural look. To the animals inside your tank, these planted pads offer hiding spots and opportunities for grazing off biofilms.

moss on a pad