Red Root Floater (Phyllanthus Fluitans): A Complete Guide

Red Root Floater

As the name implies, the Red Root Floater is a floating plant with a red root, which is popularly used as an aquarium plant. It is known to be very beautiful, due to its peculiar red color that is even more pronounced under high levels of light.

Both the roots and the leaves are round and water-repellent and are known to develop a red color. Many aquarium keepers also love the plant because it is quite easy to care for, is hardy and beautiful and also provides additional oxygenation for the fish tank.

Like other aquarium plants, it provides hiding places for shrimps and fish, and also shades them from light.

Facts about the Red Root Floater

The Red Root Floater (Phyllanthus Fluitans) is known to originate from the Amazon River in South America, and would be a great choice if you want to introduce some plants into your aquarium.

The red roots hang downwards into the water. But like other aquarium plants such as water lettuce and duckweed, the top of the Red Root Floater itself floats in the water. You can find this plant on Amazon.

Although it is relatively easy to care for, it requires specific water conditions, particularly when the plant is still growing.

Care of the Red Root Floater

The plant requires a good amount of light in order to grow properly. It must not be exposed to too much or too little light. Rather the light must be regulated for either soft water (requires less light) or hard water (requires more light).

Many aquarists have affirmed that it prefers more light, rather than less, and in fact, in the right conditions, it will also grow small flowers.

You might wonder if such a high level of light would be good for the fish in the aquarium, since they mostly avoid exposure to light.

However, this plant is perfect for creating shade on the surface of the water. Artificial lighting such as LED lights is preferable because this type of lighting does not emit heat into the tank.

The Red Root Floater is a plant that thrives in water with a calm-surface. If the water gets too disturbed by internal or external factors, it may affect the growth of your plant.

There also has to be a high level of rich nutrients, especially iron, in order for the plant to grow and survive, although it requires no additional substrates or carbon dioxide.

In the right conditions, they produce smaller plants quickly. They also serve as a natural means of filtering the tank, as the roots can soak up excess nutrients (such as nitrates) and waste from the water.

Red Root Floater Temperature

The temperature has to be kept low, between 18° to 30°C. Too much heat will melt the plant. This is why many aquarists prefer indoor lighting systems, rather than natural daylight, in order to avoid the heat of the sun.

The pH should also range between 6.5 and 7.5.

Red Root Floater Dying

Although relatively easy to care for, many beginner aquarists find that their Floater wilts and soon starts dying in their tank. This could be caused by a variety of factors. However, don’t despair – the plant can be re-invigorated, if it’s not totally dead.

The reason for your Red Root Floater dying might be connected with too much surface agitation in your tank. They really can only tolerate very slight movement in the water.

Another reason your Floater might be struggling is if your lighting levels are too low or too high. It’s easy to introduce artificial lighting into your tank, to help you to easily control the lighting levels.

The most likely cause of your Floater dying is insufficient nutrients. It may well be that the aquatic life in your tank isn’t providing enough natural nutrients – this can be remedied by using a better fertilizer that is rich in iron, to supplement the nutrients.

A mineral deficiency would also lead to your Red Root Floaters dying. However, you need to be careful of using chemical treatments, as excessive use will cause the Red Root Floater to die more quickly.

If you don’t weed out the excess Red Root Floaters when they begin to multiply, you might find them overcrowding the tank and covering its entire surface.

When this happens, they begin to struggle for light and nutrients and start dying off. Thus, it is necessary to thin them out, and keep them restricted to one area of the tank, so that other aquatic plants won’t get blocked out.

Red Root Floater Propagation

This plant propagates from the stalks, and it does so pretty quickly in the right conditions. The plants are known to branch out and get divided into multiple parts that might grow alarmingly fast.

You can simply throw some of the plants into the water, ensure they are vertical, and they will start to propagate. However they must be well adjusted to their new environment before propagation can take place.

Soon the leaves will begin to increase on the surface, and may grow to such an extent that they will require trimming. They naturally propagate very easily without much assistance, and when they don’t propagate, it might mean something isn’t right. It might simply need more intense light or a better supply of iron to better propagate.

Frogbit vs Red Root Floater

Frogbit is another option if you require floating plants in your aquarium. Just like the Red Root Floater, water lettuce and duckweed, it is also a really good addition to any aquarium.

Like the Floaters, Frogbit also doesn’t do well in highly agitated water. For many aquarists, the Frogbit grows very fast and does not die easily once it has started to grow. Thus they are very hardy and actually grow even faster than Red Root Floaters.

Frogbit’s rapid growth is one reason why some aquarists prefer to grow the Red Root Floater, rather than struggle with maintaining the wild spread of Frogbit. Frogbit needs weeding more often than Red Root Floater.

While the Red Root Floater is water repellent and would still survive when the leaves are dipped in water, Frogbit leaves are usually lost when put underwater.

Unlike the Red Root Floater however, the Frogbit has no red coloration and would do well in low lighting as well as different temperature ranges. Frogbit survives well regardless of the light and also doesn’t require additional carbon dioxide for its growth.

These two floaters are however both very sensitive to sudden water changes which might cause them to start dying off. In addition, choosing between Frogbit and Red Root Floater depends on why you want floaters in the first place.

If you need to reduce the nitrate level in your tank, due to the specific needs of your fish, then you should opt for a faster growing surface plant, such as Frogbit. This plant soaks up nitrates faster and is more efficient at filtering the tank.

Red Root Floater with Betta

If you love Red Root Floaters but don’t want them covering the whole surface of your tank, you can partition or section them into a particular area of your tank. This is definitely required if you have a betta fish tank.

The Red Root Floater is an aquarium plant that is very safe for your betta, so you need not worry that this aquatic plant would harm your fish. It also gives your betta fish tank that natural habitat feel that bettas enjoy and can hide in.

The roots of the Red Root Floater serve as a good filter for the betta tank. They also help to stabilize the water environment to suit the betta’s requirements and curb the growth of algae which could happen as a result of your tank being in direct sunlight.

Bettas also prefer tanks with a low water current, making the tank suitable for Red Root Floaters too.

Be careful of blocking your betta with the Floaters

However, because betta have to come to the surface of the tank for air, you must be very careful to avoid your Floaters overcrowding the water surface and blocking the betta from getting to the surface. The betta fish’s labyrinth organ requires access to the surface, and although the shade is good for them, they sometimes prefer some contact with sunlight.

This is the main challenge for betta fish keepers who want to have Red Root Floaters. Aquatic plants must be monitored to ensure they are safe for your betta fish.

If you only have a bowl for your betta, it would be inadvisable to use a live plant such as the Red Root Floaters. Bettas do not eat plants, so even if you have the floaters, you do not have to worry about them being eaten.

In summary, Red Root Floaters serve to beautify any fish tank and would be a lovely addition at any time, as long as they are well taken care of and well monitored to be suitable for the requirements of the other aquatic life in your tank.

Saurabh Kumar

I am a passionate fish keeper, with years of experience. You will find some really useful tips and information on this blog about Freshwater Aquariums.

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