Little Plant Shop of Horrors

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Hey there and welcome to the shop. Well, its not really a shop and I'm still getting the hang of this. As you can see, the site is new, the layout is plain and yeah, generally lots of things could be touched up on except that I'm kinda sucky at HTML.

So what is this place anyway? Well, generally, I thought I'd celebrate the aquisition of my new digicam by creating a site on the other thing that I'm good with: Plants! Ah, but not just any plants, nooooo...I'm talking about the wild, the wacky and the wonderful (at least to me). You'll see what I mean as the shop grows.

Having the dubious honour of being the first inhabitants of the shop are...


AKA: Cladophora aegagropila

Origin: Lake Akan, Japan

Status: Protected

So these cute lil guys aren't really plants, they're actually just little balls of algae. That bottle cap is there for a reason, ya know! The one in the pic on the bottom may look large, but as you can see in the pic on the top, it really isn't. So what's so special about them? Well, for one thing, this algae is a dream-come-true aquarium inhabitant. Its an exception to that "avoid algae at all costs" rule most aquarists have. Tame as they may look, these guys are like nutrient vacuums and will out compete practically any other algae which tries to grow in the same water body as itself. This, of course, keeps the water that it grows in crystal clear. Marimo is non-invasive too, so it won't spread and infest the tank it grows in, but remain in its ball form. Also, Marimo can actually move around by itself! Well...almost. It traps air bubbles when it photosynthesizes and under high light conditions, it traps enough air to move around the tank(if there are more bubbles on one side) or even float. Thus its not unusual to see it in one corner of its tank in the morning and at a different location in the evening.

The back history of this algae can easily be found on the net, as can many sites which sell the 'plant'. Its mainly sold in small balls barely 1cm across as good luck charms. You might have seen them selling some time back. The prices were quite obscene, ranging from between $10-50. In any case, I won't go into the history of the plant, but talk about the main concern, obtaining and growing it.

Best obtained from: Online sites or Ebay.

Cost: Between $10-30 for a fairly large ball.

Singapore: Some nurseries at Upper Thompson Road sell them, but choose carefully.

Hardiness: Just won't die.

Growth speed: Sloth personified

Generally, Marimo is extremely hardy and it is actually very difficult to kill...which makes me wonder what those nurseries at Upper Thompson do, because most of their stock, while large, were half-dead the last time I saw them. To give you a good idea of the kind of punishment the Marimo ball can take, I cite two personal examples. My Marimos have lasted two months without a water change, with the water remaining crystal clear. Also, they were shipped to me in sealed plastic bags with almost no water in them. This means that they survived 3 weeks with no light and hardly any water...and this is an aquatic algae we're talking about here. Tough, huh? Did I mention that fish generally won't eat them either? I guess they taste bad or something.

However, just because these guys are fairly forgiving does not mean you can ignore their requirements. If you do, you are a bad person. Bad! No cookie for you! Here are the more important things to take note of. First, water. Singapore tap water is probably near the best in the world when it comes to plant requirements. Its neutral and doesn't contain too many dissolved minerals (this causes the water to be 'hard') nor is it acidic ('soft'). It does however, contain a lot of chlorine and fluorine, which Marimo balls really hate. Any water used for these guys MUST be left to stand overnight to let these gases escape. This is a must because Marimo is an algae and these gases were added to the water to kill algae, among other things. Water should be changed between once every two days to once every week. Do NOT do what I did and leave it standing for 2 months. Second is temperature. Marimo balls must be kept in a cool place. Yes, it means you can keep them in the fridge, but not 24/7 since they do require light. They will survive in temperatures between 3-30 degrees C, with a preference for cooler water. In Singapore, just keep them out of direct sun and you should be fine. Even better if you've got an air-conditioned room where you can place them near a window. I keep mine that way, with the air-con cooling the waters at night while I sleep. Third is of course, Light. Marimo is very forgiving when it comes to light as well. Basically, if you see it producing bubbles of oxygen like the one in the pic, you've got a good spot. Note that it will stop doing this when the carbon dioxide in the water runs low. This is also the main reason to change the water regularly. When that happens, it will stop its neutrient intake and brown algae will start to grow, both in its container and on the Marimo ball itself. If this ever starts to happen, change the water and move the container to a brighter spot! Remember to wash the brown algae off the Marimo ball as best you can. Marimo can take some brown algae growth and still live happily, but not if it covers the entire ball.

That said, Marimo makes a great gift, especially if you put in the effort to package it creatively. Its hardy, long lives and requires little upkeep. It takes very little to keep Marimo balls happy. I know mine are (Especially after the water change, haha!). The ones above are happily photosynthesizing.


At 3:42 AM, Anonymous snoc said...

I wish my marimo would grow faster :P It hasn't been photosynthesising much these days, not even with the CO2-dispensing angelfish around. Which makes me worry a little for the fish, actually (though I suppose sufficient O2 should diffuse into the water?). Hey would you know if sunlight and artificial light work the same way on plants? Y'know, rates of photosynthesis and such.
Anyhow, cute blog! Do you have enough stuff back home to write about and keep it going though? Maybe you could upload pics of the Kent Ridge pitchers (and their contents! Wheee~), give a brief explanation of your ISM project? *nods encouragingly*

At 5:23 AM, Anonymous WWW said...

I know what ya smaller marimo isn't photosynthesising much either. The fish should be okay though.

Sunlight and artificial light may not work the same way on plants, it largely depends on what kind of artificial light you're using. I placed my Marimos near a window, just in case. :P

At 6:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to buy the Marimo ...can i have the contactable or address in singapore as you said at thompson there...appreciate for your help...pls email to

At 3:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A word of help. I just bought eight Marimo so did a bunch of reading and found that the city I live in no longer uses chlorine because it dissipates to quickly. So they've added ammonia making chloramine. Letting water stand for a couple of days will dissipate the chlorine, but you may still have ammonia. Best check with your local water treatment plant. There are drops available that will get rid of both - read the label carefully. Great site, made me feel I had a chance with these little guys, so in turn I hope I'm saving the lives of some Marimo at least...

At 12:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi ;D
can you tell me the place to buy marimo in singapore?
upper thompson rite?
i really really REALLY wanted to have a marimo ;D
do tell me will you?

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clementi blk 328, selling $3 each

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Hey if anyone is intrested, there is an online blogshop that sells marimo right here in Singapore. The marimo are FLOWN ALL THE WAY from Hokkaido and sold in pairs:) And pretty cheap too. The small ones in pairs.

If you wanna hear more, e-mail me at :)

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hey.. there is a website selling marimo. he does delivery and did a nice packaging as well. You may email him at

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