If you follow John and me on Instagram or you’re already a hobbyist in the planted aquarium community, you may be already familiar with Wabi Kusa. So, what is a Wabi Kusa? Wabi Kusa is basically a condensed ball of aquarium soil that is covered with aquatic plants in their emersed form. I love their versatility, mobility, and easy care. They’re also a wonderful choice for beginners looking to green their homes.
When taken care of properly, these aquatic plant balls grow extremely quick and new growth is possible on a daily basis. Without further ado, below is my quick tutorial of how to create an easy DIY wabi kusa ball for yourself.
THINGS YOU’LL NEED:
- Aquascaping tools
- Spray bottle
- Mesh material – the finer, the better.
- Thread, fishing line or string
- Aquarium Soil
- Sphagnum moss – This bit is optional, but having some on hand adds stability and helps the ball keep its form better.
- Aquatic plants – While most aquatic plants can be grown emersed, not all can. Be sure to do your research in choosing aquatic plants that work best for your experience level and overall set up.
- Bowls, Containers, Tank – To mix the contents of your ball and your final decorative container, plate, tank etc. of your choice for your finished wabi kusa. In this tutorial, I’m using this small aquarium as my final container.
- Decorative foreground – I’m using fine natural sand. Gravel or small pebbles would look nice too!
- Mixing tools – I’m using a pair of chopsticks, but anything will work lol!
Gather your materials and prepare a clean workspace. Making Wabi Kusa isn’t always the cleanest activity, so be sure to have proper space and cleaning items just in case! If you don’t like getting your hands dirty, a pair of gloves may come in handy as well. Once you have everything ready, start by mixing your aquarium substrate, sphagnum moss, and water together. This would also be the time to add any additional additives such as fertilizers if you so wish. Mix, mix and mix until you get a semi-solid consistency. I recommend adding water slowly as you can always add more. Patience is key!
Once you have a semi-solid consistency, begin using your palms to mold your mixture into a ball. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you should be able to pick it up and have it keep its form. Take your mesh material and place it on the bottom. You’ll now wrap the substrate ball and secure it further with thread. It should be looking fairly ugly by now, but don’t worry, your aquatic plants will cover this up without a problem.
Once you’re happy with your substrate ball, you can start planting. This is the most fun part in my opinion. You can experiment with different types of aquatic plants and get as creative as you want. I like to add aquatic moss to the base of the ball as it’s relatively cost-effective, a little goes a long way and it’s readily available. Carpeting plants such as Micrathemum Monte Carlo can also be used. Make sure you use some thread or fishing line to secure the plants until they’re able to attach readily to the mesh material. For the top of the ball, aquatic stem plants are generally used. Here I’m using Hygrophila Pinnatifida. I did not end up using the Echinodorus and also added Staurogyne Porto Velho, Hemianthus Callitrichoides and miscellaneous Bucephalandra.
*TIP: Aquatic plants generally come wrapped in rockwool. Be sure to remove as much as possible with a gentle hand to ensure fragile roots aren’t hurt!
Plant your plants by gently inserting the stem into the soil by its roots. This can be done much easier with a pair of aquascaping tweezers! Once you’ve finished, simply place your planted Wabi Kusa into or onto its final resting place whether it’s an aquarium, shallow dish or vase. Aftercare is generally very simple as well. Make sure to provide your newly planted Wabi Kusa with a humid environment, quality light and daily misting. You should start to see the plants slowly spread and grow in their own respective ways.
This is the final look of my easy DIY Wabi Kusa and I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! If you happen to try this out yourself, don’t forget to send them my way. I’d love to see it! Enjoy and happy plant keeping. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask! (: