Red Root Floater Care Guide (Phyllanthus Fluitans)


Common Name(s)Red Root Floater
Scientific NamePhyllanthus Fluitans
OriginAmazon River Basin, South America
Ease of GrowingEasy
AquacapeFloating plant
Size1 inch (2–2.5 cm)
pH6.5-7.5
Temperature72-80°F (22–26°C)
Growth RateFast growth
PropagationSeparating daughter plants or seeds
Light RequirementHigh (8 hrs a day or more)
CO2 RequirementNot required
red root floater
Red Root Floater (Phyllanthus Fluitans). Eric Hunt, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Red Root Floater, or Phyllanthus Fluitans, is one of the most popular floating plants for aquariums. They naturally grow in temperate climates of South America in the Amazon river basin. However, this adaptable plant can be found in Central America as well. They often grow in stagnant or slow moving waters.

Since Red Root Floaters are an adaptable plant, they are now being cultivated outside of these native regions. They are often cultivated at a larger scale in locations where it is cost-effective to do so. This plant is especially popular among fish breeders and shrimp breeders. The root provides a great hiding spot for fry, which helps increase the survival rate.

When creating an aquascape, many fishkeepers take inspiration from nature. In part, this is because fish are more likely to thrive in a place that reflects their natural environment. One of the fundamental aspects of an natural aquarium is live plants. Live aquarium plants can really bring the fish tank to life. Out of all of the different types of aquarium plants, floating plants are one of the best plants for both aesthetics and functionality. Many floating plants are low maintenance, help prevent algae growth, and help keep the water clean. Floating plants also provide lots of hiding places for smaller fish.

Red Root Floater Care

Although Red Root Floater is a beautiful low maintenance plant, it still has some specific care requirements. This is especially true for plants that are growing and establishing itself in a new environment.

First, Red Root Floaters require a good amount of light to thrive. In a high light environment, the plant will turn red and produce tiny white flowers. In general, hard water is recommended in high light environments.

Similar to many other floating plants, Red Root Floaters thrive in calm waters. If there is too much water flow, it could stunt the plant’s growth. High levels of nutrients, especially iron, is needed for Red Root Floaters to sustain their fast growth. They don’t require aquarium CO2 or additional substrates. These plants are a great addition to a wide variety of fish tanks as it will help maintain the water quality. The roots will soak up excess nutrients and heavy metal.

Keeping the pH levels between 6.5 and 7.5 and the temperature between 72-80°F (22–26°C) will help ensure that the Red Root Floater will thrive. Having the temperature any higher than this range may cause the plant to melt. If you suspect that the plant is melting due to the heat, provide partial shade from the sun. If aquarium lights are used, increasing the distance from the light and the water surface may be necessary. Switching to aquarium LED light may help by reducing the amount of heat emitted.

While Red Root Floaters can be grown in relatively small environments, a minimum tank size of 5 gallons is recommended.

RED ROOT FLOATER CARE

Red Root Floaters and Aquarium Fish

Red Root Floaters is a floating plant that is beneficial to many aquarium fish. Red Root Floaters give the tank a natural feel and help the fish feel like it is in its natural habitat.

One of the benefits of planting Red Root Floaters is its ability to absorb nitrates from the water. As a fast growing plant, they have the ability to make a significant difference in keeping the water parameters at optimal levels.

Since they grow fast, it can cover the entire surface of the water very quickly. If full coverage isn’t desired, the plant can be sectioned off in a particular area with a floating divider. This may be useful since fish need to be able to access the surface for feeding. Many fish with labyrinth organs such as Betta fish will need access to an open area if they wish to take in oxygen from the surface. Although many fish appreciate a shaded area, they also like to have some light as well.

Red Root Floaters are perfect for Betta tanks because they both prefer low water currents. However, Betta fish aren’t the only ones that can benefit from this plant.

Here’s a list of some of the fish and invertebrates that will do well with Red Root Floaters:

Since there are so many aquarium fish that can benefit from Red Root Floaters, it would not be possible to list them all. However, there are some fish to be cautious of since they may devour or destroy this plant. This includes Goldfish, Koi fish, and Oscar fish. They may either eat the roots or devour the entire plant. If you wish to propagate Red Root Floaters, consider growing them in a separate tank.

Planting Red Root Floaters

Planting Red Root Floaters is as easy as simply placing the plants in the aquarium. As a floating plant, substrate isn’t required to grow this plant.

It’s important to quarantine plants before adding it to an aquarium. Plants from unknown sources can come with pesticides that could be toxic to the fish. Plants may contain unwanted pests as well. In fact, plants are one of the most common way parasites, snails, and predatory insects are introduced into an aquarium.

If Red Root Floaters are being added to an outdoor pond, be sure to remove the plants before the weather gets too cold. Next, move the plant to shallow water with a little bit of soil for the roots to grow in. The plants may be returned to the pond when there are no risk of frost. This is generally between April and May.

If other plants like water lettuce and Frogbit are being grown with red root floaters, it may slow down the growth. If it needs to compete for the available nutrients, manually adding nutrients is important.

Common Problems

The most common problems associated with Red Root Floaters are melting, overcrowding, and holes in the leaves.

In order to avoid plants from melting, make sure that the environment is properly set up. Here’s how to prevent Red Root Floaters from melting:

  • Gentle current
  • Proper light intensity
  • Proper light duration

If their environment is corrected, the plant should return to its healthy state soon.

If the plant is placed in a suitable environment, it will grow fast. However, overcrowding can become an issue, which will stunt their growth. Keep in mind that an aquarium that is overcrowded with too much plant is not good for the fish either.

If there are holes in the leaves of the Red Root Floater, this can become a serious issue. A potassium deficiency often causes this problem. This can be taken care of by simply adding aquarium plant fertilizer with a high potassium content. After adding the fertilizer, the plant should grow normally fairly quickly.

Keeping red root floaters trimmed and manicured is essential for healthy plant growth. It’s very easy for these plants to get out of control, so try focusing on leaves that are starting to submerge and parts of the plant that are approaching the once inch mark. Simple pruning shears will get the job done quickly and leave the plant open for hardier growth.

Red Root Floater Propagation

Red root floaters are easy to propagate, and there are several different methods to do so. Just like many other plants, red root floaters spread naturally through seeds. It’s easy to remove the new plant once it blooms. The conditions for red root floaters to naturally seed and bloom is very specific.

However, most plants will spread through the roots very easily. When small daughter plants appear next to the bigger plants, there should be a horizontal rhizome root that extends from the mother stalk. This root can be snipped to allow the daughter plant to be placed elsewhere to grow.

If a larger plant needs to be propagated, it’s recommended that stalk propagation method is used. Cut the plant stalk between a leaf cluster and a root. Moving the stalk to a new tank will result in a whole new plant.

Red Root Floaters are easy plants to take care of, and they can be grown by almost any aquarists. It’s bright red roots will glow against the backdrop of other green plants. Most aquarists prefer to mix plants like water lettuce, Frogbit, and duckweed to give the tank more dimension and make sure the roots pop. The heart-shaped leaves will draw in people’s eyes. As long as its light conditions are met and there is sufficient nutrients in the water, the plant is very likely to thrive. It’s easy to see why they are so beloved in the aquascaping community.

Frogbit vs. Red Root Floater

Red Root Floaters (Phyllanthus Fluitans) and Frogbit (Limnobium Laevigatum) are both floating plants that are often grown in aquariums. They share many similar characteristics in regards to their care. However, there are differences between the two plants as well.

Similarities Between Red Root Floaters and Frogbit

  • Grow in similar environments
  • Grows very fast under the right conditions
  • Hardy plants, especially after they are established
  • Do not grow well in highly disturbed tanks

Differences Between Red Root Floaters and Frogbit

  • Frogbit has a faster growth rate
  • Frogbit is more adaptable to low light conditions
  • Frogbit has a tolerance for a wider range of temperatures
  • Leaves of Red Root Floaters are water repellent, but the leaves of Frogbit are not water repellent

Both of these floating plants are great additions to almost any aquarium. Since they both grow in similar environments, many aquarists pair the two plants together.

Fish Laboratory

With decades of collective fishkeeping experience, we are happy to share the knowledge that we've picked up along the way. Our goal at Fish Laboratory Aquatics is to keep publishing accurate content to help fishkeepers keep their fish healthy.

Recent Posts