Plant Profiles: Red Root Floaters


Plant Profiles: Red Root Floaters

Fish are cool, rocks rock, and planted greens? They might seem like the final touch to your tank setup, but floating plants dancing on the water's surface?

Oh, they've been stealing the hearts of aquarium lovers for ages!

Among them, one truly catches the eye.

If unique color contrast is your thing, you'll surely love those green leaves with bold red roots.

Enter the Red Root Floaters.

Originally hailing from South America, this floating plant is more than just a pretty face in the tank or pond. Its distinctive roots not only add a touch of scenery but also bring a range of advantages to your aquatic environment.

Curious to know more? Stick around as we dive deeper into their world!

What are Red Root Floaters?

What are Red Root Floaters?

Take one look at the red root floater and you'll instantly get why they are named as such. Scientifically known as Phyllanthis fluitians and hailing from the family Phyllanthaceae, the red root floater is adorned with bright red roots that stand out beautifully against their green leaves. It's this distinctive color combination that has earned them their straightforward common name.

Native to South America's wetlands, Red Root Floaters thrive in varied environments like ponds and streams. Unlike most aquatic plants that rely on substrate nutrients, they draw nutrients from the water column, showcasing their adaptability.


Red Root Floaters are characterized by their small, round-to-oval green leaves, which can sometimes turn completely red under high light or as they mature. And, just so you know, if they go a bit red, it's all good – it's just their thing and they're perfectly healthy!

Now, you might spot water droplets rolling right off those leaves. Cool, right? That's because they're hydrophobic – a science-y way of saying they really don't like holding onto water.

The standout feature, however, is their vibrant red roots that hang down and create this contrast against their green leaves.

And as if they weren't showy enough, give them just the right conditions and you might be in for a treat!

Every once in a while, these floaters decide to show off with delicate, six-petaled white flowers emerging right from the leaf axils and boasting tiny stamens. They don't bloom often, though, but it's still a sight when they do!

Growth Rate

Red Root Floaters, renowned for their rapid growth, can quickly cover the water's surface of an aquarium. If you're not careful, you might find them taking over the entire surface of your aquarium in no time.

When this happens, it might block light essential for plants and aquatic tank mates below. But don't fret! When you're caught by surprise by their rapid spread, it's relatively easy to intervene.

A simple periodic removal of some red root floaters ensures they complement, rather than overshadow, your tank's ecosystem.

Size of the Red Root Floater

The leaves of these floaters grow up to about 1 inch in diameter, with each leaf having two pockets near the center. The new leaves grow from nodes on a main stalk, and each leaf has a thin root that's just 1mm wide and hangs 5 to 6 inches below the surface.

And just to drop in a fun fact: while these leaves stay afloat, they have a heart-shaped incision at the base that gives them an extra touch of character!

Benefits of Red Root Floater Plants

Benefits of Red Root Floater Plants

Red Root Floaters have many benefits that make them a favorite for aquarium enthusiasts.

First off, these aren't just any regular floaters. They quickly grow, covering your tank's surface before you even know it. This not only adds a green touch but also strategically blocks sunlight, nipping any potential algae growth in the bud. So, the more they grow, the less room algae have to thrive.

Got concerns about excess nutrients? These floaters are on it! Acting like little vacuum cleaners, they absorb all those extra nutrients, cutting down on the biological waste in your tank.

Dive a little deeper and you'll find that their root system is more than just an anchor. It's a bustling hub for micro-organisms, making the environment rich and healthy.

And the best part? These floaters are super extremely easy to care for. Considering they've thrived in the wild, especially in regions like South Florida, you can be sure they'll be pretty content in your tank.

In your tank, they'll provide shade for those smaller skittish fish and shy fish seeking refuge. It also reduces direct light exposure, allowing them to roam comfortably and stress-free.

Tank Conditions

Tank Conditions

The Red Root Floater is often lauded as an easy plant to care for given its ability to flourish in the wild. And for those with open, low-tech aquariums, this plant isn't just an option – it's almost a must-have!

Now, while they're undeniably a hardy plant, they're especially suited to environments with gentle water flow. Excessive surface agitation? That's not in their playbook and can actually impede their proliferation.

So, if you're aiming for a thriving community of these floaters, it's best to ensure they're in a tank with calm and nutrient-rich water. In the right conditions, you'll find them not just surviving, but thriving, enhancing the overall health and aesthetic of your tank.

Tank Size

Ideally, for a flourishing community of these plants, aim for tanks starting at a size of 10 gallons or more. The more space you provide on the surface, the more room they have to grow and cover!

And while having deep tanks can be beneficial for many species, Red Root Floaters are unpretentious.

They've been known to thrive even in shallow, muddy locations. So, if you're concerned about the height of your tank, rest assured, that these plants are not too picky!

Water Parameters

When it comes to setting up the perfect aquarium for Red Root Floaters, understanding the water parameters is key. The good news? This plant is highly adaptable, making it a breeze to care for.

  • Temperature: Mimicking their natural habitat, Red Root Floaters prefer tropical conditions. This means maintaining a warm water temperature, ideally between 70°F to 82°F (21°C to 28°C).
  • pH Level: While they're quite flexible, aiming for a pH level between 6.0 and 7.5 will keep them happiest.
  • Water Hardness: These plants are quite tolerant when it comes to water hardness, but a range of 5 - 15 dGH would be optimal.

Now, remember that low water flow we talked about earlier? It's essential to ensure that the water conditions remain gentle, as too much agitation can disturb these floating plants. Red Root Floaters are particularly fond of nutrient-rich water. They thrive best when the water is reminiscent of their natural, nutrient-rich environments.



This floating plant is highly adaptable and capable of thriving in both low to high-light conditions. Depending on the amount of light they receive, the red root floater will change its color.

In low-light conditions, the plant tends to display a light green or yellow hue. For a subtler low-light ambiance, soft water is recommended.

However, if you're aiming to witness its signature red leaves or a deep red coloration, high lighting is where it's at. Now, if you're leaning towards high-light conditions, it's best to pair it with hard water.

The transformation from light green to vivid red under high light is not just impressive but also adds a captivating dynamic to your aquarium.

Ideally, exposing the Red Root Floater to about 6 - 8 hours of light daily will let them be at their best.

Planting Red Root Floater

Planting Red Root Floater

Planting Red Root Floaters in any aquarium is a bit different than traditional aquatic live plants, as they aren't anchored in the substrate but free-float on the surface water.

  1. Preparation: Before introducing the Red Root Floaters to your aquarium, it's a good idea to quarantine them briefly. This helps to ensure they are free of any pests or unwanted organisms like the pest snails. Rinse them gently under tap water to remove any debris or contaminants.
  2. Introduction: Once cleaned, gently place the Red Root Floaters onto the surface of your aquarium water. Make sure their green leaves are facing upwards, while the roots hang downward into the water.
  3. Spacing: While Red Root Floaters tend to cluster naturally, it's advisable to space them out initially. This gives each floater enough room to grow and spread. They'll quickly group together and cover the surface, creating a beautiful green canopy.

Propagating Red Root Floater

Red Root Floaters are easy to propagate once they're settled in your aquarium.

To start, ensure your Red Root Floaters have access to adequate air exchange. It's essential because they draw their carbon source directly from the air rather than from CO2 dissolved in water, like many submerged plants.

In optimal conditions, these floaters will naturally produce daughter plants that branch off from the mother plant. Over time, as these offshoots grow and mature, they'll naturally detach and become independent plants.

For quicker propagation, you can simply cut these runners and relocate them within the aquarium or to a new tank. Ensure there's good air circulation for a seamless propagation process. In no time, these floaters will cover the surface water, enhancing the look and feel of your aquatic space.

Maintenance of Red Root Floater Plants

To maintain the pristine appearance and health of the Red Root Floater in your home aquarium, there are a few practices you should keep in mind.


Maintenance of Red Root Floater Plants

Akin to how we benefit from a balanced diet, Red Root Floaters thrive in nutrient-rich water. While they have a natural knack for absorbing nutrients from the water column, a little extra boost can elevate their growth and coloration.

Particularly, if you're eyeing that deep red hue under high light conditions, ensuring they get adequate iron is vital. You may consider using Seachem Flourish Excel to supply their dietary need.

Pruning and Trimming

To maintain your desired look and ensure the overall health of your red root plant, periodic pruning is key.

Regularly remove older or dying leaves to prevent overcrowding and unchecked spread. This not only ensures healthy proliferation but also preserves the aesthetic appeal of the plant. This trimming exercise allows new leaves to receive adequate light and nutrition, thereby promoting a vibrant and lively appearance in your aquatic setting.

Tank Mates

Red Root Floaters rapidly spread in aquariums and have delicate roots. Therefore, it's essential to choose tankmates cautiously.

While they can co-exist with many species, larger fish can get entangled in their roots, and some, like Goldfish and Oscar fish, may eat them.

On the brighter side, there's an expansive list of fish and invertebrates that harmoniously co-exist with Red Root Floaters. Here are some of them:

  • Fish: Bettas, Tetras, Platy Fish, Molly Fish, Danios, and Pygmy Cory Catfish.
  • Invertebrates: Otocinclus, Crayfish, Freshwater Crabs, and a variety of shrimps like the Cherry Red Shrimp
  • Snails: Ramshorn, Malaysian Trumpet, and Japanese Trapdoor Snails are also compatible.

If you are adding them with other plants, it's recommended to pair Red Root Floater with flora that doesn't require excessive light since the floaters might shade them. Examples of such plants include Anubias, Java Fern, and Cryptocoryne.


1. How long can the Red Root Floater survive during shipping?

Generally, this floating plant is robust and can survive up to a week during transit, given appropriate packaging and conditions.

2. I seem to have lost some of the floaters during the initial setup. Is this normal?

It's not uncommon for a few floaters to get lost or damaged during the initial setup, especially if they're exposed to sudden environmental changes. However, given their rapid proliferation, they should quickly recover and populate your tank.

3. How often should I fertilize my Red Root Floater?

Fertilization frequency depends on the nutrient content of your tank. If you notice the plants lacking in color or proliferation, you can consider a nutrient supplement like Seachem Flourish Excel.


The Red Root Floater is a unique and captivating addition to any aquarium. Their stunning red roots, graceful green leaves, and ability to grow in various conditions make them a favorite among aquatic enthusiasts. While they require some care and maintenance, the beauty they bring to your tank is truly exceptional.

Each nuance of their care - from understanding their lighting needs to choosing the perfect tank buddies - shapes their spread and vibrancy. And if ever you find yourself in a bit of a quandary, don’t fret! A pulsating community of aquatic enthusiasts awaits you on our Facebook group. With a staggering 470k members, it's not just about advice; it's about shared stories, passionate discussions, and a sense of belonging.

So, are you ready to dive into the captivating world of Red Root Floaters? Strap in for an aquatic journey that promises endless moments of wonder!




No comments

Leave a comment

Featured Products

Subscribe Us
Subscribe to our newsletter and receive a selection of cool articles every weeks.