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Red Root Floater Aquarium Plant Care Guide

Red Root Floater Aquarium Plant Care Guide

Are you curious to learn more about the Red Root Floater aquarium plant? These plants, native to South and Central America, can be a stunning addition that enhances the overall aesthetic of your tank.

With its heart-shaped leaves that transition from light green to vibrant red under high lighting, this floating plant presents an arresting sight.

Originating from the tropical waters of South America, it thrives in slow-moving or stagnant water bodies such as ponds, lakes, and river tributaries. Specifically, it is found in regions of Brazil, Venezuela, and Colombia

This guide will provide effective care measures, from ideal water parameters for growth to benefits and propagation techniques

Key Takeaways

  • Red Root Floater is a stunning floating plant that adds aesthetic value and promotes natural biotic activity in your aquarium.
  • It has a moderate to high growth rate and needs occasional pruning to maintain balance in population.
  • Its heart-shaped leaves transition from light green or yellow to deep red under high lighting conditions, adding color diversity to your tank.
  • This plant can thrive without the need for CO2 infusion

Red Root Floater Overview & Origin

  • Common Name: Red Root Floater
  • Scientific Name: Phyllanthus fluitans
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Tank Placement: Floating
  • Tank Size: Minimum tank size of 5 gallons
  • Water Temperature: Between 70°F to 82°F (21°C to 27°C)
  • Water pH:  Between 6.5 – 7.5
  • Water Hardness: Moderately hard

Red Root Floater (Phyllanthus fluitans) is a member of the Phyllanthaceae family and is native to parts of South America, particularly the Amazon River basin. It is well-regarded for its ability to oxygenate the water and provide shade, creating a healthier and more visually appealing aquarium.

In its native habitat, the Red Root Floater forms dense mats on the water’s surface, providing refuge for aquatic creatures and helping maintain water quality. Due to its striking appearance and beneficial properties, it has become a popular choice for aquariums worldwide. 


This captivating plant sports petite, heart-shaped leaves that beautifully transition from light green or yellow to a deep vibrant red under high-lighting conditions. This captivating color change sets it apart from other floating plants like the Salvinia floaters.

Its thin roots clump together beneath the water’s surface, creating an enchanting underwater forest for fish and other aquatic tank mates. On reaching full maturity, these unique freshwater plants grow up to one inch and become a significant visual element in any aquarium setup with their strikingly beautiful foliage and root structure.

Red Root Floater Care and Maintenance

To properly care for and maintain the Red Root Floater in your aquarium, you need to consider factors such as tank size, substrate, CO2 levels, fertilization, water parameters, water flow, and lighting.

Tank size

A suitable tank for the Red Root Floater should ideally be no less than 5 gallons. This aquatic plant adapts well to different aquarium sizes, but it needs enough space to spread and flourish while maintaining room for other species in your freshwater tank.

The right size will enable successful aquascaping and provide optimal conditions for fishkeeping. Remember that this floating plant can cover the water surface rapidly and might require frequent trimming to prevent overcrowding.

A bigger tank will also facilitate better control over water parameters necessary for the healthy growth of your Phyllanthus fluitans.


Red Root Floater is a floating plant that does not require planting in the substrate. This means you don’t have to worry about getting the right type of substrate or dealing with messy planting techniques.


Red Root Floater is a versatile and adaptable plant that can thrive without the need for CO2 infusion. While it doesn’t require additional carbon dioxide, providing regular fertilizer dosing can greatly benefit its growth and overall health.


Fertilizers help supply essential nutrients that may be lacking in the tank, promoting vibrant foliage and robust growth. So, even though CO2 isn’t necessary, don’t forget to give your Red Root Floater an extra boost with proper fertilization to ensure it thrives beautifully in your aquarium.

I’ve found providing a weekly dose of iron in addition to an all-in-one fertilizer really helps the roots to grow a deep red color.


Red Root Floater is a plant that prefers medium to high brightness for lighting. It thrives in high light conditions, so it’s important to provide at least 8 hours of light per day.

Not only does the plant benefit from the bright light, but it also helps to diffuse the light and control algae growth in the tank. With proper lighting, your Red Root Floater will be able to grow and thrive, adding vibrant color and beauty to your aquarium.

Water Conditions

  • Water temperature: 70°F to 82°F (21°C to 27°C)
  • Water pH: 6.5 – 7.5
  • Water hardness: Medium hardness

Water parameters are key considerations when caring for the Red Root Floater. 

Maintain a water temperature between 70°F to 82°F (21°C to 27°C) for optimal Red Root Floater growth. Consistency within this range is vital to prevent stress and promote healthy development. Aim for a water pH of 6.5 to 7.5 and a medium water hardness (exact hardness depending on the lighting intensity) for ideal conditions.

Red root floaters thrive in gentle water flows within the aquarium. The movement of the water helps to distribute nutrients and oxygen more evenly, benefiting not only the plants themselves but also your fish and their tank mates.

Additionally, a gentle water flow helps prevent stagnant areas where debris can accumulate, promoting a cleaner and healthier environment overall.

Size and Growth Rate

This plant typically has floating leaves that range in size from 0.5 to 1 inch (1.3 to 2.5 cm) in diameter. They are small enough to make them easy for hobbyists to handle in any sized tank without causing overcrowding issues.

Despite their tiny stature, these aquatic plants have a moderate to high growth rate.

They thrive best under warm tropical biotypes with nutrient-rich water conditions and can rapidly spread across the surface if not properly managed. The speed at which these floating beauties grow makes them an ideal choice for aquascaping nurseries or fish keepers looking for quick cover.

Though they do need occasional pruning due to their fast growth, maintaining balance in their population ensures your tank stays healthy and visually pleasing. 

It’s also important to note that this vibrant plant has the unique ability to change leaf color from light green or yellow to deep red when kept under high light conditions; thus adding a splash of color diversity within your aquarium environment.

Planting and Propagation

Let’s look at how to properly plant and propagate your Red Root Floater to help create a beautiful and thriving display.

Plant Your Red Root Floater

To plant Red Root Floaters in your aquarium, follow these steps:

  1. Ensure your tank is clean and filled with water at the desired temperature and pH level.
  2. Gently place the plants on the surface of the water, allowing their roots to hang down.
  3. If needed, you can use fishing line or a mesh net to secure the plants in place.
  4. Ensure that they have enough space to spread out and receive adequate light.
  5. Avoid overcrowding by planting them in small groups or individually.
  6. Monitor the plants regularly to ensure they are thriving and adjust lighting and nutrient levels as necessary.

Propagate Your Red Root Floater

To propagate Red Root Floater, you can use the following techniques:

  1. Natural seed production: Red Root Floater can produce seeds that float on the water surface and eventually germinate to form new plants.
  2. Root propagation: Cuttings of the roots can be separated from the mother plant and replanted in a suitable substrate. These cuttings will develop new roots and grow into individual plants.
  3. Stalk propagation: Similarly, you can take cuttings of the stalks and replant them in the substrate. The cuttings will grow roots and form new plants.

Benefits of Red Root Floater

The Red Root Floater serves multiple purposes in an aquarium. This aquatic plant not only enhances the beauty of your tank but also plays a significant role in maintaining a healthy environment for the inhabitants.

One major benefit is the natural shelter it provides for fish and tiny creatures prone to larger tank mates’ bullying. The Red Root Floaters rapidly spread over the water surface, forming a thick canopy that diffuses strong lights and prevents harmful algae growth by limiting their access to sunlight and nutrients.

Another advantage of having this prolific floater in your tank is how it improves water quality. It absorbs excess nutrients present in the water through its roots, regulating nutrient levels within the aquarium, thereby keeping undesirable algae at bay while promoting oxygenation.

Lastly, including Red Root Floaters in your aquascape design creates visual depth and contrast against other typical green plants or decorations you might have in there. Indeed, adding these floaters can transform your standard fish tank into a captivating mini underwater ecosystem.

Suitable Tank Mates

This plant is most suitable for fish that appreciate natural coverage and gentle light diffusion. Due to its rapid growth, it’s ideal for smaller aquatic inhabitants:

Tank Mates to Avoid

Certain fish species should be avoided as tank mates due to their tendency to destroy the plants. Some of these species include:

  • Goldfish
  • Koi fish
  • Rainbow fish
  • Jack Dempsey
  • Clown loaches
  • African Cichlids
  • Oscar fish

Common Problems with Red Root Floater

Red root floater is a beautiful floating plant that can add vibrancy to your aquarium. However, like any plant, it can face some common problems. One problem often encountered is the rapid growth of red root floater, which can cover the surface of the water if not properly maintained.

To avoid this issue, regular pruning and trimming are necessary to keep the plant under control. 

Another problem is inadequate lighting. Red root floater requires a minimum of six to eight hours of light per day to thrive and maintain its vibrant red coloration. Insufficient light can cause the leaves to turn green or brownish in color. 

Why Are My Red Root Floaters Dying?

Red Root floaters may experience various issues that can lead to their decline or death. One possible reason is improper water conditions. These plants require specific parameters, such as a temperature range of 70°F to 82°F and a pH range of 6.5 to 7.5, along with medium water hardness.

Deviations from these optimal conditions can stress the red root floaters and cause them to wither.

Another factor that may contribute to the dying of red root floaters is insufficient lighting. These plants need a minimum of six to eight hours of light per day for healthy growth and photosynthesis.

Inadequate light exposure can weaken the plant’s vitality and result in its deterioration.

Lastly, overcrowding in the aquarium can negatively impact the red root floaters’ well-being. When too many plants are present, they compete for resources like nutrients and space, leading to stunted growth or even death.

Regular trimming and maintenance are necessary steps in preventing overcrowding and ensuring healthy growth for your red root floater population.

Wrapping Up

Red root floaters are a fantastic addition to any aquarium, providing numerous benefits for both fish and tank mates. Their ability to quickly spread and cover the water’s surface creates an ideal environment by diffusing light, which is beneficial for aquatic life.

Additionally, their petite heart-shaped leaves not only add beauty but also help manage algae growth by depriving it of sunlight and nutrients. The plant’s role in pulling nutrients through its roots directly impacts water quality and aids in oxygenation.

With their adaptability to various aquarium setups, red root floaters are a versatile choice that can enhance the overall health and aesthetics of your tank.

I’m Elle, the founder of FishHQ. I created this website to share knowledge, tips, and inspiration for beginner hobbyists to help them create a healthy, happy, and vibrant environment for their fish to thrive. Read more...