Red Root Floater 101: A Comprehensive Care Guide

clusters of red root floaters
Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: July 18, 2024
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Dive into the **aquatic beauty** of the Red Root Floater, an eye-catching plant that’ll test your abilities. This handy guide simplifies the care and upkeep of ***Phyllanthus fluitans***. Grasp the basics, keep these lively floaters thriving, and watch your aquarium **blossom**.

Article Summary

  • Red Root Floater, scientifically known as Phyllanthus fluitans, is a unique floating plant native to South America, particularly the Amazon River basin.
  • It features small, round leaves that float on the water’s surface and vibrant red roots hanging down from the undersides of its leaves.
  • Red Root Floater helps maintain water quality by absorbing excess nutrients, reducing the risk of algae overgrowth, and providing shade and cover for fish.

Species Overview

Red Root Floater, also known as Phyllanthus fluitans, is a unique floating plant species that belongs to the Phyllanthaceae family. It is native to South America, specifically the Amazon River basin. This aquatic plant is characterized by its small, round leaves that float on the water’s surface, creating a beautiful carpet-like effect.

The Red Root Floater gets its name from the vibrant red roots that hang down from the undersides of its leaves. These roots not only provide stability for the plant but also serve as a means of nutrient absorption. The plant’s roots are quite delicate and can easily break off, so it is important to handle them with care.

One interesting aspect of this South American floating plant is its ability to reproduce rapidly. It reproduces through a process called vegetative propagation, where new plants form from the parent plant’s runners or daughter plants. This allows for the formation of dense mats of Red Root Floater in the aquarium, providing hiding places for fish and other aquatic organisms.

The Red Root Floater plays a crucial role in maintaining water quality. Like other floating plants, it helps to absorb excess nutrients such as nitrates and phosphates, thereby reducing the risk of algae overgrowth.

Additionally, it provides shade and cover for fish, helping to create a more natural and stress-free environment.


The red root floater is a captivating aquatic plant that adds a touch of vibrancy to any water feature. Its small, round leaves are a vibrant green, resembling heart-shaped cups on the water’s surface. These leaves have an interesting characteristic – they are water-repellent, allowing them to stay dry even when submerged.

One distinctive feature of the red root floater is the color change it undergoes in high lighting conditions. Initially light green, each leaf develops a stunning red underside as it adapts to brighter surroundings.

In addition to its striking foliage, delicate bright red roots hang down from the floating plants, further enhancing their appearance. These roots create an elegant flow in the water and provide shelter for small fish seeking shade.

They thrive in calm waters with plenty of light exposure but can also tolerate some shade. Maintaining stable water conditions and providing sufficient nutrients are crucial for their well-being.

hydrophobic leaves of red root floater

Size & Growth Rate

Red root floaters are small aquatic plants that can reach a diameter of 1 inch (2.5 cm). These plants have the ability to multiply quickly under optimal circumstances.

The size of red root floater leaves varies, but they generally grow to be relatively small. Their thin root tendrils also contribute to their compact size.

To support healthy growth, red root floaters require an adequate supply of nutrients. When provided with the right amount of nutrients, these plants can flourish and propagate efficiently.

Red Root Floater Planting and Propagation

Planting the red root floater is a simple process that involves placing them on the water’s surface. This hardy plant has unique red roots that add a vibrant touch to any aquarium or pond. Here are some key points to consider when it comes to planting and propagating red root floaters:

Placing on the water’s surface

To plant red root floaters, gently release them onto the water’s surface. They will naturally spread out and create a beautiful floating carpet. Ensure that they have enough space to grow without overcrowding other plants.

Propagation through runners

Red root floaters propagate by sending out runners, which are long stems that produce new daughter plants. Over time, these daughter plants will develop their own roots and leaves, creating a lush and thriving colony of red root floaters.

Regular pruning for control

As with any aquatic plant, regular pruning is essential for controlling the growth of red root floaters. Pruning helps prevent overcrowding in your aquarium or pond and maintains a healthy balance within the ecosystem. Trim back any excessive growth using sharp scissors or pruning shears.

By following these simple steps, you can enjoy the beauty of red root floaters while ensuring their proper growth and propagation in your aquatic environment. The striking appearance of their red roots adds an eye-catching element to any water feature, making them a popular choice among aquarists and pond enthusiasts alike.

Remember to monitor their growth regularly, as they can multiply rapidly under favorable conditions. With proper care and maintenance, your red root floater colony will flourish, providing an attractive focal point in your aquatic landscape.

Red Root Floater Tank Compatibility

Red root floaters thrive in peaceful community tanks with low water flow. They prefer low water movement as it allows their delicate foliage to remain undisturbed. High water flow can cause damage to this floating plant and prevent them from thriving.

These floating plants provide shade for fish and create hiding spots for fry or shy species. When choosing tank mates for red root floaters, it is important to focus on smaller aquatic animals that won’t harm or disturb the plants. Here are some compatible fish and invertebrates:

  • Small schooling fish like neon tetras or guppies
  • Shrimp species such as cherry shrimp or the ghost shrimp
  • Snails like nerite snails or mystery snails

However, it is best to avoid keeping red root floaters with herbivorous fish that may eat the delicate foliage. These include species like cichlids, goldfish, or plecos.

Larger fish should be avoided as they may get entangled in the roots of red root floaters. This could lead to stress or injury for both the floating plant and the fish.

Red Root Floater Care

To ensure the healthy growth of red root floaters, it is important to provide them with medium to high lighting. This will allow these aquatic plants to thrive and display their vibrant colors. Maintaining stable water parameters, including temperature and pH levels, is crucial for their well-being.

Red root floaters have a preference for nutrient-rich water. To meet their nutritional needs, it is recommended to supplement their diet with liquid fertilizers containing essential nutrients. This will support their growth and overall health.

Red root floaters prefer a range of 6.5 to 7.5. Similarly, maintaining a temperature between 70°F and 82°F is ideal for these plants.

Light plays a significant role in the development of red root floaters’ leaf coloration. In high light conditions, the leaves tend to exhibit a vibrant red hue. On the other hand, under low to medium light levels, the leaves appear light green with a subtle tint of red.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Red Root Floaters good?

Red Root Floaters are a popular choice among aquarium enthusiasts. They are known for their vibrant appearance and ability to enhance the aesthetics of your aquarium. These floating plants not only add beauty to your tank but also offer numerous benefits to aquatic life.

What are the benefits of Red Root Floaters?

Red Root Floaters provide several benefits to your aquarium ecosystem. Firstly, they help improve water quality by absorbing excess nutrients like nitrates, which can be harmful to fish and other aquatic organisms.

Additionally, their floating canopy provides shade, reducing light intensity and preventing algae overgrowth. This shade also offers shelter for fish and fry, reducing stress and promoting their well-being.

Moreover, the presence of Red Root Floaters can stimulate natural behavior in fish, encouraging them to explore and forage.

What is a red root floater?

Red Root Floater, scientifically known as Phyllanthus fluitans, is a small, floating aquatic plant characterized by its round leaves and vibrant red roots. It is native to South America and is widely sought after for its decorative appeal in freshwater aquariums.

These plants float on the water’s surface, with their roots dangling below, creating a visually striking display in your tank.

Do Red Root Floaters need CO2?

Red Root Floaters are considered low-demanding plants and can thrive in aquariums without the addition of carbon dioxide (CO2). They obtain carbon from atmospheric CO2 and can flourish with regular aquarium lighting.

However, supplementing with CO2 can enhance their growth and coloration, making them even more attractive.

What fish can live with Red Root Floaters?

Red Root Floaters are compatible with a wide range of freshwater fish species. Peaceful community fish such as guppies, tetras, and rasboras can coexist harmoniously with these plants.

Avoid keeping them with herbivorous or highly active fish that may uproot or damage the delicate floaters. Providing a balanced ecosystem with proper care ensures that Red Root Floaters thrive alongside your chosen fish species, contributing to a beautiful and healthy aquarium environment.

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