Difference Between Algae and Moss


Main Difference

The main difference between the Algae and Moss is that an Algae is mainly a single cell plant, collected together and grow in cluster form while Moss is a tiny plant found on land and known as the bryophyte.

Algae vs. Moss

Algae are mainly water living plants while mosses are mostly terrestrial plants. Algae study is called algology on the other hand moss study is called bryology. Algae are more massive on the other hand mosses are tiny plants. Algae are known as thallus plants whereas mosses are known as bryophytes. Algae have no thread like structure or leaves while moss is fibrous, latticed and feathered. Algae are found on wet places while mosses are found on dry areas. There are more than 30,000 species of algae, on the other hand, 12,000 species of mosses are found. Algae are unicellular and multicellular while mosses are always multicellular. In size, algae are from micrometers to several meters whereas mosses are from 1 cm to 10-20 cm in size. Algae found in floating as well as attached position while mosses are found only in the attached form to different substrates.


Comparison Chart

Algae is a single cell, polyphyletic group of lower thallus plantsA diverse group of small plants that lack the specialized tissues to conduct the water
Brach of sciences that studies the algae is known as algologyBranch of science which studies the mosses is called bryology
Number of species
More than 30,000 species of algae are foundMore than 12,000 species of mosses are found
Algae is both multicellular, unicellular and colonial organismMosses are multicellular organism
They are from several micrometers to several meters in sizeMosses are always from less than 1 cm to 10-20 cm in size
They are mainly aquatic plants, but some of them also live in humid placesThey are mostly terrestrial plants, but some of them have adapted to live in a marine environment
Way of life
Floating and attachedThey are always attached
Algae are divided into diatoms, red, green and brown algaeThey are divided into hornworts, bryophytes, liverworts and peat mosses
Algae are used in food and pharmaceutical industriesMosses are used as fertilizers, for the growing of plants, for healing and the treatment of rheumatoid diseases
Spirogyra, ulva, sargassum, ectocarpus, melosira and corallineNotothylus, bryum, megaceros, lunularia and sphagnum

What is Algae?

Algae are a polyphyletic group of lower organisms. Algae include both the unicellular and multicellular organisms. They live in making a colony. All algae are photosynthetic eukaryotes. They have chlorophyll and chloroplasts. Algae are found both in freshwater and other marine water. Algae are all aquatic organisms. They are also known as lower thallus plants, but they lack stem, leaves, and roots, therefore, their body is known as thallus. The thallus of algae is of different types like they can be filamentous, plate-like and sometimes branched. All kinds of algae are aquatic organisms, but some algae have adapted to live in wet soil, wet rocks, and tree barks. They can be found either in floating form or attached to the bottom of water basins by specialized cells. Some algae are about up to 30-60 meters in length. Some brown algae are spread in 40-50 meters in depth. Algae exhibit reproductive strategies from simple asexual to complex sexual reproduction. Algae are subdivided into different types which are as follows:

  • Green Algae: The algae that have predominant pigment in their cell-like chlorophyll are known as green algae.
  • Brown Algae: The algae that have to predominate brown and yellow-brown pigments in their chloroplast are known as brown algae.
  • Red Algae: Those algae that have red pigments in their chloroplasts are called red algae.
  • Diatoms: The algae whose cell wall is composed of silicon dioxide and their cell chloroplast have yellowish-brown pigment.


Spirogyra, ulva, sargassum, ectocarpus, melosira and coralline.

What is Moss?

Mosses are of a higher, paraphyletic group of plants. They lack the specialized tissues to conduct water. Mosses do not have root but instead that they have rhizoids. They reproduce by both types of sexual and asexual reproduction, but in the case of asexual reproduction, they require water. The mosses are multicellular, annual and perennial plants. Mosses are terrestrial plants, but there are also some mosses that have adapted to live in water. There are two main classes in the Phylum Bryophyta. Those classes are Hepaticae that includes liverworts and Musci, which includes mosses. They are confined to mostly moist and shady places. Alternation of generation is also present in case of mosses where the gametophyte is more dominant. The gametophyte is anchored to the ground by the tiny rhizoids. Mosses are subdivided into the following:

  • Bryophytes: The mosses that are usually 1-10 cm high. They grow in dense tufts in humid places. They have distinct leaves, leaf, and rhizoids.
  • Hornworts: They are the oldest group of terrestrial plants. In most of their species, cells contain one chloroplast. They attach to the ground by simple rhizoids.
  • Liverworts: They are small, irregular and tile like plants. They cover large areas of ground, trees, rocks, and other surfaces.
  • Peat mosses: They found in peat bogs. Most of their species are red and brown. Their stems grow in piles. Their stem contains one or two layers of dead cells that are used for transport water.


Notothylus, Bryum, megaceros, lunularia, and sphagnum.

Key Differences

  1. Algae are lower thallus plants while mosses are a polyphyletic group of higher plants.
  2. Algae are freshwater, and marine plants on the other hand mosses are terrestrial plants.
  3. Algae are unicellular as well as multicellular whereas mosses are multicellular.
  4. Algae do not have real roots, stem, and leaves while mosses have differentiation in stem and leaves.
  5. Alternation of generation is not present in algae whereas mosses have an alternation of generation.


The conclusion of this article is that algae are unicellular as well as multicellular, lower thallus plants found in freshwater or marine water on the other side mosses are polyphyletic higher plants that lack particular tissues to conduct water and are terrestrial plants.

Janet White

Janet White is a writer and blogger for Difference Wiki since 2015. She has a master's degree in science and medical journalism from Boston University. Apart from work, she enjoys exercising, reading, and spending time with her friends and family. Connect with her on Twitter @Janet__White