Red Root Floater: Complete Plant Guide

Red Root Floater: Complete Plant Guide

Source: Aquaticarts


Are you looking to add a touch of beauty to your fish tank? There are plenty of floating aquarium plants with long, dangling roots to add some style and mystery to the waters; and your fish are bound to love swimming in and out of the roots. But before you start choosing the best floating aquarium plants, you need to get acquainted with different types, like the red root floater (Phyllanthus fluitans).

Let’s learn a little more about this stunning floating plant, so you can decide if it is right for your aquarium or not.

Why You Need Floating Aquarium Plants

Before we dive more into red root floaters, we need to briefly discuss the importance of aquarium plants, particularly the floating kind. Plants add more to your tank than a touch of green.

Benefits include:






Since you will have light shining down on the water and potentially have sunlight warming the tank as well, your fish will appreciate having a plant that can shade them. Of course, you need to strike a healthy balance between floating plants like red root floaters and the other flora buried in the substrate, so other plants are not starved of light.

Next, fish will enjoy the protection provided by the roots and leaves. Plus, your fish get fresher water, as well. Floating plants are part of the chemical and biological filtration process. Not only do plants pull contaminants from the water, floating plants will add oxygen, too.

Now, with that in mind, let’s have a look at how red root floaters can upgrade your aquarium.

About Red Root Floaters

The red root floater, also known as Phyllanthus fluitans, is a lovely choice for open-top aquariums or outdoor garden ponds. Native to the Amazon River basin area, the plant is used to growing in a nutrient rich environment and needs plenty of iron in order to survive. Under strong lighting conditions, the plant often changes from its usual green color to a softer red, hence the name. The roots, however, always remain red. If you want a hardy plant that can shade sections of the aquarium, then the red root floater is a great choice.

Seeking to propagate your plant? The red root floater naturally creates daughters similar to another floater—Salvinia minima. You can get new plants simply by clipping or pinching off a stalk about half between a cluster of leaves and roots. From there, it should grow easily enough on its own.

Creating a spellbinding habitat for your fish is also very easy with red root floaters. Like any floating plant that has trailing roots, the roots will add places of shelter for your fish. Species of shrimp and amphipods generally take well to red root floaters and similar plants. Another benefit of adding red root floater to the aquarium is that it will cleanse the water of organic waste, grow helpful bacteria, and also soak up nutrients the fish will not need.

Plants That Pair With Red Root Floater

Java Fern

Source: Aquadicarts

features beautiful clusters of green leaves that cover up rocks with roots and look very ornamental. It thrives in water temperatures around 68-82 degrees F (18-30 degrees C), just like red root floaters, and it can take moderate lighting but will also grow in shade.           

Pygmy Chain Sword

Source: Aquadicarts

because this plant requires little upkeep and can tolerate a number of conditions, it is ideal for beginners. With proper lighting, the tufts of green will change to red, complementing the gorgeous colors of red root floaters


Source: Aquadicarts

looking like a green squirrel or raccoon tail, hornwort is a versatile plant that can change colors and adapts well to a number of situations. You won’t have to worry much about fertilizing or adding a lot of supplements, but it does like being planted in substrate.

Caring For Your Red Root Floater

Adding pizzazz is easy with red root floaters, but you also need to know how to care for them. When starting out, the floating plant may be finicky and not want to take right away. It also needs plenty of nutrients right from the start in order for it to develop. Luckily, you don’t have to worry about giving red root floaters any Carbon dioxide supplementation, because like all floating plants, these ones get all needed CO2 directly from the air.

Source: Aquadicarts


You know when your red root floater is healthy when it starts producing tiny white flowers. On the other hand, if there is too much light (or too light), surface agitation, or too little iron provided, the plant will shrivel.

Care Guidelines

Level of Difficulty
Moderate to Difficult
Preferred Water
6.8-7.2 pH (Soft to Hard)
Moderate or Bright
CO2 Level
65-85 degrees F (18-30 degrees C).

As with any aquarium plant, you need to make sure that the lighting is full spectrum. Give your red root floater around 10 to 12 hours of light per day, and make sure you are changing the lighting around the aquarium every 12 months or so. If you don’t give you plants enough light, they will not grow, and they certainly will not flower.

If you want an easier plant to maintain, you might want to consider options like water spangles, which have a similar appearance but are not red. Duckweed is another viable choice as a substitute for red root floaters.

Pros of Red Root Floaters

  • When used in Open top aquariums, Red Root Floaters look beaitiful
  • Ideal for humid aquariums and environments.
  • Excellent for adding an exotic look to an aquarium.            
  • Under the proper conditions, it will propagate rapidly.           
  • Red root floaters start small and are easy to trim.
  • Can be added to outdoor ponds and lakes

Cons of Red Root Floaters

  • Require iron supplements to maintain their bright red color.            
  • Red root floaters can be finicky and have a specific diet of balanced nutrients. They will die quickly if not given the ideal ratio.            
  • Requires an intense light set-up in order to thrive.
  • Because red root floaters grow rapidly, excess growth will need to be regularly trimmed off to prevent it from becoming a nuisance.    


Now that you know more about Phyllanthus fluitans, also known as red root floater, you should be able to decide if you want it for your aquarium or not. There are plenty of reasons why you would want a floating plant such as this, but the bright red leaves and roots will certainly turn heads. Just remember that it can be a difficult plant to grow at first, especially if you do not have the proper environment for it.

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