Native from Japan, marimo literally translates to "ball seaweed." These tiny orbs are the perfect plant for any lifestyle.

By Nicole Bradley
August 30, 2018
Image courtesy of Getty Images

You’re probably looking at the image above and thinking, “What is THAT?” Often found in aquariums and fish tanks, these weird, fuzzy-looking aquatic balls are a Japanese type of algae, otherwise known as marimo. Although they’re natively Japanese, these moss balls also live in cool lakes in Iceland and Scotland. And as if their looks weren’t wacky enough, the science behind marimo balls is pretty fascinating.

In the morning, marimo balls rise to the surface of the water they’re in, only to sink back to the bottom of their container in the evening. WHY? No, it’s not magic—it’s science. The orbs follow a biological clock and use photosynthesis. In layman's terms, the plants will soak up sunlight and carbon dioxide throughout the day only to “breathe out” oxygen. This, in turn, causes each moss ball to be covered in tiny air bubbles, making it float to the top of the water when in contact with sunlight.

Owning a marimo moss ball is like having a pet but without the time or commitment. And caring for them doesn’t get much simpler! Find your favorite clear jar (like a mason jar, vase, or bowl) and fill with tap water. Pop in your fuzzy moss balls. Place your new “pet” in an area with indirect sunlight—too much sun can turn the orbs brown.

Looking for your own marimo balls? Order a six-pack here: Marimo Moss Balls Variety Pack, Amazon, $12.95


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