Red Root Floater: (Phyllanthus Fluitans) Complete Care Guide

Red Root Floater

In the aquarium world, the Red Root Floater (Phyllanthus Fluitans) is one of the most common types of floating plants. These widely sought-after floaters are referred to as “Red Root Floaters” because to the amazing and brilliantly red roots on which they are grown.

Red Root Floaters are similar in appearance to green Salvinia floaters, but the leaves are bigger and may develop a deep red hue. It may also be confused as young Water Lettuce on occasion.

Red Root Floater naturally occurring in warm regions of South America in the Amazon River Basin. This plant, on the other hand, may be found in Central America as well. They are often seen growing in stagnant or sluggish flowing water.

Fish and shrimp breeders are big fans of this plant. The root serves as an excellent hiding place for fry and shy fish, which helps to boost their chances of survival without putting them in risk of being injured.


The presence of living plants in a natural aquarium

Several fish keepers use natural elements as motivation when designing their aquascapes. This is due in part to the fact that fish are more likely to survive in an environment that closely resembles their native habitat.

The presence of living plants in a natural aquarium is a crucial component of the ecosystem. Real live aquarium plants can truly bring a fish tank to life. Floating plants are one of the most beautiful and useful aquarium plants available. They are available in a variety of types.

Many floating plants need little care, serve to avoid algae development, and contribute to the cleanliness of the water. They, also, provide many spots to hide for tiny fish.


Red Root Floater General Information

Scientific Name: Phyllanthus Fluitans
Common Name: Red Root Floater
Other Names Apple Duckweed, Floating spurge
Origin: South America, Amazon River Basin; North and Central America
Aquascape: Aquatic plant that floats on the surface of the water
Growth Ease: Easy to Medium
Size: 1 inch/ 2.54 cm
pH: 6.5-7.5
Temperature: 72-80°F/22–26.6°C
Water hardness    Soft to moderately hard
Aquarium Size (minimum) 5 gallons/20 liters
Substrate No need
Rate of Growth: Moderate to high
Light Requirements: High – at least 8 hrs a day or even more
Fertilizer  Recommended
Propagation: Detaching baby plants or seeds
CO2 Requirement: Not required


Red Root Floater Description

The name “red root floater” comes from the brilliant red roots that this South American floating plant species has.

The light green floating leaves of the Red root floater are round-like, water-repellent. They change their color in response to growing circumstances. In freshwater tanks with adequate illumination and a low supply of nitrogen, the leaves can turn a deep brown-red, reddish-purple, or pink color.

Thin submerged stems with profuse red roots and floating leaves with a heart-shaped base hide the stems characterise Phyllantus fluitans. These leaves are notable for being around 1 inch (2.5 cm) in size and have a convex center. The leaf edges are barely flush with the waterline, and if growth circumstances are suitable, the leaf axils will develop small white flowers with six petals.

When compared to other floating aquarium plants, the red root floater is much smaller. The stems of this plant are fragile, with diameters ranging from 1-1.5 mm and lengths of 130 mm.

The red root floater looks like a floating fern of the genus Salvinia, however it only has one floating leaf on each alternate stem instead of the two seen on the Salvinia.

Most aquarists choose Red root floater over Frogbit, Dwarf Water lettuce, Duckweed, and other floating plants because of its deep red color, water resistant properties, and slower development rate.


Red Root Floater Origin

Phyllantaceae is a flowering plant family that includes around 2000 species of trees, shrubs, and herbs. It was formerly classified as a member of the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae, but has since been moved to the Phyllantaceae family.

It is the genus Phyllantus that has the most species in this plant family (Phyllantaceae), and the only aquatic species found in this family is Phyllantus fluitans, which is often referred to as Red root floater in the aquarium hobby.


Growth Rate & Size

Red root floater plants develop at a moderate to fast pace. It may spread fast in suitable water conditions!

If you’re not careful with maintenance, you may end up with a dense blanket of leaves floating on the water. Many novice aquarists are surprized by it. Fortunately, managing the plant’s growth isn’t too difficult with trimming (more on that later).

The red root floater’s individual leaves begin tiny. They may, however, grow to be approximately an inch long.

As previously stated, the roots are thin. Most don’t become much thicker than a millimeter. In terms of depth, healthy root systems may be found 5 to 6 inches under the surface.

Phyllanthus Fluitans care

Red Root Floater Care and Maintenance

Red root floater is an excellent choice for beginning aquarists since it is quite simple to care for; all you need to do is keep a few things in control and the plant will thrive all year long.

Add Iron

You should supply appropriate iron levels to the plant for it to use up the iron in the process of developing its reddish hue. The plant is renowned for its deep red leaves and roots. Therefore it is in your best interest to provide sufficient iron levels to them.

Your best approach is to get a high-quality iron supplement and to dose the aquarium water on a regular basis. Avoid overdoing it and always follow the manufacturer’s directions while applying the product. Overdose of chemicals can cause the plant to die fast.

Cut Your Plant

Pruning excess Red Root Floater foliage may become a recreational activity when it seems to be overwhelming the top layer of the tank and covering the whole surface. If you do not do this, the floating plants will fully shadow the plants at the bottom of the tank, which is not good, particularly if the plants at the bottom of the tank are not low-light plants.

Additionally, overpopulation results in competition for resources and quick depletion of the nutrients in the water, causing the plant to die slowly. Be sure to trim the plants when they are due and dispose of them appropriately. Begin pruning your red root floater with the submerged leaves.

Because plants thrive in nutrient-rich water, it is important to offer the necessary macronutrients in the appropriate amounts. Additionally, make frequent partial water changes to maintain great water quality, which will reduce the development of algae and diatoms in the aquarium.

Adjust The Light

Moreover, bear in mind that exposure to intense light will lead the plants to grow bigger and bumpier, as well as change their color from green to pink-red or even deep red, and the roots will develop the well-known brilliant red color.

Low light, on the other hand, will result in smaller, flatter leaves and a pale green hue with a faint touch of red on the leaves.


Tank Requirements

Red root floaters may be adjusted to fit any size aquarium, allowing you to be rather adaptable in your design. Considering the above, aquarists propose that you grow them in a tank with a capacity of no less than five gallons.

Concentrate on length and width instead of depth if you want to make the biggest visual effect possible. Obviously, if you have fish in your aquarium, their requirements should take precedence; but a lengthy tank would be excellent in this situation.

Contrary to common opinion, this plant does not need a very large or deep tank in order to thrive. Apparently, they can grow on muddy surfaces in the wild!

Special Note: The availability of a big quantity of water surface area for this plant is the most crucial factor in this situation. The red root floater can grow to completely fill even the largest of tanks!


Water Parameters

This blushing-red plant is very flexible, and it thrives in a broad variety of environmental circumstances. Just one of the numerous reasons why red root floater maintenance is so straightforward!

As is usually the case, getting the plant as near to its native growth circumstances as feasible is the best option. This necessitates a concentration on tropical biotypes. Warm, nutrient-dense water is ideal.

Water temperature: 70°- 82°F/ 21° – 28° C. The plant is sensitive to extremes in temperature and will melt if the temperature is too low or too high.

pH: The plant can withstand water that is gentle to mid hard, particularly in the range of 6.5 to 7.5

Water hardness: 0 to 30 dHG



In order to be healthy, red root floater plants need a regular day and night cycle. The basic minimum is between six and eight hours of light every day.

You may, on the other hand, increase the exposure to get the desired result. One of the many reasons for the popularity of this plant is the possibility to generate the look you choose via the use of lighting effects

The leaves retain their vivid green color even when exposed to low to medium illumination. You may see a few glimpses of red around the margins of the plant, but under ordinary lighting conditions, the plant appears to be your typical floater

Increase the quantity of light that it receives in order to bring out the red coloring. High-intensity illumination transforms the leaves into their distinctive blushing red color!


Substrate for Red Root Floater

Here’s some exciting news: red root floaters don’t need any additional substrate!

As we’ve previously said, this is a floating plant of some kind. The root system remains floating in the water and does not come into touch with the substrate at any point throughout the process.

Red root floaters are now capable of growing on a variety of substrates, including mud and sand. However, in a regular aquarium setup, this isn’t anything you need to be concerned about whatsoever.


Water Flow and Red Root Floater

Red Root Floater will not do well in an environment with a lot of movement or water surface agitation. Make sure to produce modest top circulation on the water’s surface when possible. The Red root floater likes calm water flow, such as that seen in its native environment.

However, avoid becoming overboard in your efforts. Keeping the plant in high-flowing or turbulent water will cause it to deteriorate and eventually die, undermining the point of having it in the first place.


Fertilization and Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

CO2 infusion is not required in the case of Red Root Floaters. As a floater plant, the Red root floater has unrestricted and continual access to carbon dioxide (CO2), which it uses for photosynthesis and subsequent development.

Fertilization, on the other hand, is necessary since the Red root floater obtains a significant amount of the nutrients it requires from the tank water. Because of this, it is recommended to dose the tank water with liquid fertilizers on a regular basis in order to restore lost nutrients and create ideal development circumstances.


Red Root Floater Planting

Planting the red root floater is as simple as putting the young plant in your aquarium and leaving it on the water surface.  Many pet stores offer them in the form of little dime-sized root masses. It is possible that they only have two or three leaves on them.

Once the watering conditions are ideal, the plant will swiftly grow and spread across the environment.

Make sure to supply appropriate nutrients and a calm water flow (they do not thrive in waters with a lot of movement) and watch as they develop healthily and multiply quickly to generate new plants.

Some aquarists prefer to use transparent plastic tubing to keep the plant isolated in the aquarium. This approach has the potential to generate an opening in the water. The confinement strategy, on the other hand, is only temporary at best. With enough time, the plant has the potential to extend beyond its original boundaries.

Keep in mind that you must quarantine the plant before introducing it into your tank. Avoid putting a red root floater, or any other kind of plant, straight in the middle of your primary aquarium without quarantining it beforehand.

This is due to the fact that plants might contain chemical pesticides or preservatives that are poisonous to your fish when they are grown.

Infected plants are one of the most popular ways aquarists introduce pest snails, parasites, and predatory insects into their aquariums.


Red Root Floater Trimming & Pruning

Pruning is one of the most crucial aspects of red root floater maintenance, and it should not be overlooked. The spread is so widespread that the growth pattern has the potential to spin out of control!

Make it a habit to keep the overgrowth under control. Concentrate on the leaves that have begun to suffocate. You may also pinch off leaves that are getting close to the one-inch mark.

Plant trimming should be performed on a regular basis. If you let the plant to thrive for an extended period without intervening, the leaves on the top will get overcrowded. Not only is this detrimental to the health of the plant, but it may also result in an excessive amount of light diffusion for the life below.

Invest in a pair of basic pruning shears to get the work done quickly and efficiently. Simply clip the whole leaf off at the base, and then dispose of the trimmings outside of the tank to avoid contamination. If you leave clippings left, they will just degrade and produce significant variations in the water’s state, so remove them immediately.

Note from the author: If the roots get troublesome, you may also clip them. For good measure, we suggest keeping at least a few inches behind


Red Root Floater Propagation

Red root floaters are simple to propagate, and there are a variety of strategies for accomplishing this goal.

This plant, like many other plants, reproduce spontaneously via the production of seeds. Being able to observe natural flowering and seed production is a breathtaking experience. However, once the new plant has bloomed, it is simple to remove it from the tank. Plant circumstances for red root floaters to seed and bloom naturally are highly specific.

Most plants, on the other hand, will spread quite readily via the roots. There should be a horizontal rhizome root that grows from the mother stalk when little daughter plants develop close to larger parent plants. This root may be clipped to enable the daughter plant to be transplanted to a different location to continue growing.

This strategy is preferred for growing bigger plants since it allows for more even growth. Between a leaf cluster and a root, cut the plant stem.  Moving the plant to a new tank will result in the formation of a whole new plant from the roots up.

Red Root Floaters are a simple plant to care for, and they can be cultivated by virtually any aquarist with a little effort. The brilliant red roots of this plant will stand out against the background of other green plants. Most aquarists like to blend plants such as Water Lettuce, Frogbit, and Duckweed in order to give the tank more depth and ensure that the roots stand out from the rest of the plants. People’s attention will be drawn in by the heart-shaped leaves. If the plant’s light requirements are satisfied and there are adequate nutrients in the water, it has a good chance of thriving. I see why they are so well-liked among those who are involved in aquascaping.


Red Root Floater Tank Mates

This plant has a lot of potential to improve any tank! Most fish will like the covering and the plant’s impact on the water. There are, however, certain exceptions.

The red root floater is an excellent plant for fish that want natural covering and light dispersion. Because it spreads quickly, it’s best to stay with smaller aquatic species. Larger fish may get caught in the roots, posing a serious health and safety concern.

It’s also a good idea to stay away from fish that could choose the plant for food. Goldfish, Koi fish, Rainbow, Jack Dempsey, Clown loaches, African Cichlids and Oscar fish are infamous for destroying Red Root Floaters. They may consume the roots or the whole plant.

Fortunately, the list of fish and invertebrates that are suitable is considerably longer!

Here are some tank mates who get along well with the red root floater plant:

  • Betta Fish
  • Platy Fish
  • Guppy Fish
  • Tetras
  • Molly Fish
  • Danios
  • Celestial Pearl Danio
  • Pygmy Cory Catfish
  • Otocinclus
  • Crayfish
  • Amano Shrimp
  • Bamboo Shrimp
  • Freshwater Crab
  • Red Cherry Shrimp
  • Ghost Shrimp
  • Ramshorn Snails
  • Malaysian Trumpet Snails
  • Japanese Trapdoor Snails

There are so many aquarium fish that can benefit from Red Root Floaters that listing them all would be impossible.


Red Root Floater and Betta Fish

The Red Root Floater is great for Betta tanks since the Bettas often travel about the surface looking for food particles surrounding the red roots.

The Red Root Floater is an aquarium plant that is safe for your betta, so you don’t have to worry about it harming your fish. It also provides your betta fish tank with the natural habitat feel that bettas want and may hide in.

The roots of the Red Root Floater act as an excellent filter in the betta aquarium. They also assist to regulate the water environment to meet the needs of the bettas and reduce the development of algae that may occur because of your tank being in direct sunlight.

The low water current that Bettas love makes the tank a good fit for Red Root Floaters, which also prefer aquariums with low water current.

Take cautious not to obstruct your betta with the Floaters.

However, since betta must come to the tank’s surface for air, you must exercise extreme caution to avoid your Floaters cluttering the water surface and preventing the betta from reaching the surface. The betta fish’s labyrinth organ needs access to the surface, and although darkness is beneficial, they occasionally prefer some exposure to sunshine.

This is the major obstacle for betta fish keepers who desire Red Root Floaters. Aquatic plants must be carefully maintained to ensure that they are not harmful to your betta fish.

If you just have a bowl for your betta, it is not a good idea to put a live plant like the Red Root Floaters. Bettas do not eat plants, therefore if you have floaters, you do not need to be concerned about their getting eaten.

Phyllanthus Fluitans

Red Root Floater Benefits

Red root floaters have a lot to offer aquarists apart from their visual benefits.

  • For starters, this plant offers much-needed cover in the tank. Red root floaters may give some shelter for shy fish or little species that are susceptible to bigger tank mates. While the roots are slender, they are thick and hang in the water column.

Small fish may swim inside them for shelter and cover. Even the most rambunctious fish will like these! If you want to spawn fish or shrimp, a floating aquarium plant like this one may help increase survival rates.

  • Another noteworthy advantage is the plant’s surface covering. Red root floaters spread quickly. It doesn’t take long for them to cover the whole surface of the lake.

This mechanism diffuses light, improving the habitat for many fish and invertebrates.

  • Not only that, but the filtered light may also be used to control algae development. Algae need sunshine and nutrients to thrive. The red root floater robs it of both!
  • Finally, there’s the issue of water quality.

When this plant develops, it draws nutrients via its roots in the same way that every other plant does. Because the roots are immersed in water, they have an immediate influence on the confined environment. Floating plants may assist oxygenate the water while also eliminating contaminants that may be harmful to your fish.


Red Root Floater Common Problems

Melting, overcrowding, and leaf holes are the most frequent issues connected with Red Root Floaters.

Make sure the environment is appropriately set up to prevent plants from melting. How to Keep Red Root Floaters from Melting:

  • Current that is gentle
  • Light intensity that is appropriate
  • Light duration that is appropriate

When their habitat meets all the requirements, the plant should be able to recover quickly.

If the plant is going in an appropriate habitat, it will grow quickly. Overcrowding, on the other hand, may be a problem, limiting their development. Keep in mind that a tank that is full with too many plants is also unhealthy for the fish.

If there are holes in the Red Root Floater’s leaves, this may be a significant problem. Deficiency of potassium can often be an issue. This is easily remedied by adding aquarium plant fertilizer with a high potassium concentration. The plant should develop regularly and fast once it gets the fertilizer.

It is critical to have Red Root Floaters cut and groomed for good plant development.

It’s quite easy for these plants to go out of hand, so concentrate on leaves that are beginning to submerge and plant components that are reaching the one-inch threshold. Simple pruning shears will complete the work swiftly while leaving the plant open for tougher development.

Red Root Floater is a battle between two aquatic plants.

In aquariums, Red Root Floaters (Phyllanthus Fluitans) and Frogbit (Limnobium Laevigatum) are two types of floating plants that are often grown in the tanks. Many of their qualities are identical when it comes to how they are cared for. Although there are some similarities between the two plants, there are some differences as well.


There are several similarities between Red Root Floaters and Frogbits:

  • Grow in surroundings that are similar
  • When given the proper conditions, they grow quite quickly
  • Plants that are hardy, particularly after they have established themselves
  • Tanks with a lot of disturbance do not support good growth


There are several differences between Red Root Floaters and Frogbits:

  • Frogbit grows at a higher pace than other species
  • The Frogbit is more tolerant to low light conditions
  • Frogbit is more tolerant of a larger variety of temperatures
  • While the leaves of Red Root Floaters are water resistant, they are not water repellent when it comes to Frogbit


Both floating plants would make excellent complements to practically any aquarium environment. Because they both thrive in similar conditions, many aquarists choose to keep them together in the same tank.



As you already noticed, taking care of red root floaters is something that anybody can accomplish on their own. You don’t need to be an expert aquarist or aquascaping master to use this plant. Just pick it up and place it in your tank!

The red root floater is an excellent addition to most types of aquarium settings and is an excellent way to add a splash of color to your aquarium.

This floating plant is affordable, visually appealing, and an excellent replacement for plants such as Duckweed, which need more maintenance to remain in good shape.

Add a few pieces of Red Root Floater to your tank and you’ll get a reward with a thick carpet of deep-red foliage that will compliment the greens in your tank and provide a whole different viewpoint on your aquascape.

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