Red Root Floater: The Ultimate Guide

image of caring for RRF

There’s a good chance you’ve come across the red root floater plant because of its popularity around the world. It has a reputation for being low-maintenance and improving the aesthetics of an aquarium through light.

If you’ve ever considered adopting this tank in your aquarium and you are confused about how to take care of it or other details, this is for you.

Find out everything you need to know about red root floaters, including tank requirements, tank mates, planting them, and any FAQs you might have.

Red Root Floater: Overview

image of RRF overview

Red root floater (Phyllanthus fluitans) originate from the Amazon River in South America, and it is an excellent plant to put in your aquarium. Its bright and vibrant colors can add a lot of life to your aquarium, and it responds favorably to an extensive growing environment.

What’s more?

It is a floating plant which means you will get exposed to some fantastic aesthetics above and below the water surface.

You will find that red root floaters are one of the most sought-after plants in fishkeeping and aqua scaping communities. You don’t need a lot of experience to keep them healthy, and they will grow without any hitches in most habitats.

The appearance of Red Root Floater

If you look at these plants from the surface, they resemble a delicate “ground” cover. It has small, heart-shaped leaves. Each leaf is rounded and has a deep pocket that gives a distinct shape.


You don’t have to worry about the leaves as water slides off them naturally.

As long as you keep the water conditions at excellent levels, you might notice some small flowers in your plant. These flowers are usually white with sex petals and have a visible stamen.


We wouldn’t advise you to hold your breath for this as it is a rare occurrence.

As its name suggests, it has beautiful red roots, and each root tendril is delicate and small. You will find that the roots gather together in big clumps to form great masses that fishes can swim through.

Growth Rate and Size

Red root floaters have a considerably high growth rate, especially when you keep the water conditions ideal. If you don’t keep them trimmed, they may form a thick carpet of leaves that float on the surface of your tank.

That’s not all:

This rapid growth can surprise many aquarists, especially beginners, so prepare for it. You need to prune and trim the plant regularly to control the growth.

Its roots don’t usually grow more than a millimeter. Health root systems typically grow to lengths of 5-6 inches below the surface. Individual leaves of this plant start small, but they can grow up to one inch over time.

Caring for Red Root Floater

image of caring for RRF

Regardless of your skill level, you shouldn’t encounter any significant issues caring for red root floaters. However, just like taking care of any aquarium plant, there is some basic information you need to know in setting up your tank to give them the most appropriate conditions for survival.

Tank Size

Red root floaters typically adapt to the size of your aquarium, so you have a little flexibility when it comes to tank size. However, to get the best results, we recommend a tank with a minimum of 5 gallons.

Take note:

To get the best visual impact from having them in your tank, you should pay more attention to length and width instead of depth just like other floating plants. Even though the fishes in your aquarium are your priority, if you can get a long tank for them, you should.

Many wrongly assume that you need a very deep tank to make this plant flourish and grow properly in a tank. This is far from the case, and even the aquatic plants in the wild thrive on muddy surfaces. The main thing to focus on is having a large water surface area because they spread and fill up tanks fast.

Water Parameters

Even though we said this plant could grow and survive in various conditions, always aim to recreate its natural growing conditions if you want the best results. Try to pay attention to tropical biotypes, warm and nutrient-rich water.

Unlike some other aquatic plants, you don’t need CO2 to make this plant survive, but it will significantly benefit from adding natural supplements such as iron. Before applying it into the tank, you must determine if the fertilizer you wish to use is safe for all your aquatic creatures.

Red root floaters do not like strong currents as it messes with their growth cycle. Keep to gentle water flow and maintain the following water parameters.

  • Water Hardness: 0 – 30 dHG
  • pH Levels: 6.5 – 7.5 (keep it neutral)
  • Water temperature: 70 – 82OF


You need to give red root floaters a typical day and night cycle to keep them healthy. Don’t go lower than 6 – 8 hours of light. You can increase the light exposure depending on how you want your plants to turn out. You can significantly improve and change the aesthetic of your tank with just lighting.

If you expose the plants to low – medium lighting, the leaves will stay vibrant green, with a bit of red around the edges depending on your plant. Generally, standard light exposure makes a red root floater look like a regular floater.

Want to know the best part?

You can make your plant have a dominant red coloration by increasing the intensity of light. High-intensity lighting changes the color of the leaves to a blushing red.


You don’t need any substrate in your tank to keep red root floaters. Its root system stays suspended in water and has no contact with the bottom of the tank.


Red root floaters can grow in sand-based substrates and mud in some cases. If you’re keeping this plant in your aquarium, you don’t have to worry about the substrate.

Tankmates for Red root Floater

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Red root floaters are an excellent addition to any tank, and many fishes will appreciate the influence and coverage of the plant on the water. However, some guidelines help you in your selection, so you put them with compatible tankmates.

You need to know some basic details to help you grow fish and plants with other tank inhabitants.

Red root floaters pair well with fishes that like having natural coverage and light diffusion. Since they spread fast, you should keep them with smaller aquatic animals because bigger fish can get tangled in their roots, killing them.

Bettas are also good companions for a red root floater plant, but you should take some precautions. Betta fish swim to the tank surface for air, so ensure your plant isn’t blocking the fish from getting to the surface of the tank.

It is advisable to partition the tank and keep your red root floaters in a section, so the bettas have space when they swim to the surface.

Crabs and crayfish generally do not do well in any planted tank as they will try to uproot and eat the plants. Also, avoid any fishes that eat plants as food.

In particular:

Oscar fish and Goldfish have become notorious for eating and destroying red root floaters. Here are a couple of tank mates for red root floater:

  • Fishes: Tetras, Danios, Molly fish, Pygmy cory catfish, Endlers, Platy fish, Otocinclus, Guppies.
  • Snails: Nerite snails, Black devil snails, Japanese trapdoor snails, Rabbit snails, Ramshorn snails, Malaysian trumpet snails, Nerite snails, Asolene spixi.
  • Dwarf Shrimp: Amano shrimp, Red cherry shrimp, crystal red shrimp, Tiger shrimp, Blue velvet shrimp, Vampire shrimp.

Planting and Propagating Red Root Floater in your tank

image of Planting and Propagating RRF in your tank

You don’t need any special skills or techniques to plant a red root floater. As soon as you have set up your tank, purchase the small dime-sized root masses from any store, quarantine them, and place them in your tank.

If the water conditions are adequate, the plants will start growing fast and spread. Never forget to quarantine your red root floater or any plant first before placing it in your tank.


Quarantining is necessary because of any preservatives or chemical pesticides that may be toxic to your tank. Others may have hitchhikers, and infectious plants can quickly spread and affect your tank mates.

As soon as the plant has established itself, it propagates itself through its side roots that branch out. You can also propagate by a red root floater by splitting the mature stalk between the root and leaves clusters or dividing the fully formed daughter plants.

You can remove the new plants from the tank and place them where you want.


How do you treat red root floaters?

If you notice any problems with your red root floater plants, you can treat them by adding fertilizers to supplement the insufficient nutrients in the tank.

Why are my red root floaters dying?

There are many reasons why your red root floater is dying, and you can save your plant if it hasn’t died ultimately. One primary reason your red root floater might be dying is too much surface agitation in your tank.

Red root floaters can only tolerate slight movement in the tank, and when it gets too much, they react badly and start dying in extreme cases.

The lighting in your tank is another reason why your plants may be dying. If the lighting levels are too high or low, it could constitute a problem for your plants. You can use artificial lights in the tank to control the degrees and levels of light manually.

However, the most common reason why your root floater is dying is insufficient nutrients or minerals. You can add fertilizers rich in iron to solve this problem but be careful of excessive chemical treatments, making the plants die quicker.

How big are red root floaters?

Red root floaters have leaves that are around 1 inch in size with a convex center. Overall, the plant itself can spread and multiply, covering up a considerable part of the tank.

Do red root floaters spread?

Yes, red root floaters spread very quickly in the tank.


There you have it! With this information, you shouldn’t have any challenges setting up a red root floater plant in your aquarium if you’re a beginner or expert. Its beautiful red roots will beautify and improve your tank aesthetics, just remember to keep a gentle water flow.

Also, check if the fish in your tank is compatible with the aquatic plant before putting it in.

Remember that these plants grow very fast, and they could overrun your aquarium in no time if you don’t prune and trim regularly.

image of red root floater in your tank

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