Red root floaters care tipsThe Red Root Floater is one of the most unique-looking plants you will encounter in the aquascaping and fishkeeping hobby.

Dark red in color, and with leaves similar to small, ridged lily pads, it’s no wonder that most novice hobbyists can’t stop looking at this floral wonder!

In this article, our experts will give you all the information you need to begin caring for your own Red Root Floaters. You’ll learn all about their preferred tank parameters, how to plant and position them in your aquascape, and how to care for and propagate them in due time.

Red Root Floater Facts and Figures

Before you purchase some Red Root Floaters of your own, it’s a good idea to become familiar with some of the key facts and figures about this aquatic plant. This will help you gauge whether or not the Red Root Floater will be a good fit for your aquarium.

This section will also give you an idea of the care and maintenance this plant will require from you. To start off, take a look at the table below for some quick scientific facts on the Red Root Floater.

Scientific Name Phyllanthus fluitans
Order Malpighiales
Family Phyllanthaceae
Leaf Size About 1 inch in diameter
Color Dull green or deep red
Distinctive Physical Features Round leaves with pockets or ridges in the center, fibrous roots; this plant may also develop slender white flowers if certain conditions are met
Aquarium Position Top layer or water surface
Care Difficulty Easy; recommended for beginners

The Red Root Floater is also known in the hobby by its alternative names. It is sometimes referred to as the Floating Spurge, Apple Duckweed, or simply as Red Floaters. Make sure you do not confuse this plant with other types of floating plants, such as the Water Lettuce and the Salvinia Minima.

This ruby-leaved plant originated from the stagnant waters of South America. They were first observed to grow in abundance in the Amazon River basin. Since their discovery, they have been grown and propagated in aquascaping nurseries and local fish store suppliers.

They are among the beginners’ favorites, as they require little to no maintenance. Because of this, they are great for new hobbyists who have yet to get their feet wet in the game of aquascaping and low-tech tank planning. If you add its stunning looks to the equation, you will easily figure why this type of flora is considered to be one of the best floating aquarium plants with long roots.

Protocols for Establishing and Propagating Floaters

Red Root Floaters are the perfect aquarium red plants. Now that you are more familiar with their scientific features and taxonomy, you’re probably eager to learn about how to select your Red Floaters. In this section, we’ll take you through the process of selecting good Red Root Floaters. We’ll also give you tips on how to design your own Red Root Floater aquarium.

– Choosing Your Red Floaters

It is important to select and bring home only the healthiest Red Root Floaters from your local fish store or other hobbyists. Not only will this give you a leg up when it comes to growing and propagating beautiful plants, but it will also prevent you from introducing harmful pests or illnesses to your current aquarium.

Here are some of the things you should look out for when you visit a store or hobbyist for a potential Red Root Floater purchase.

1. Round Leaves With Even Edges

The most obvious sign of good health in a Red Root Floater is that it has round leaves with even edges. These leaves might still be green in color, so you will need to take a careful look at the center area of the leaves to avoid confusing this plant with other species. Remember that Red Root Floaters have convex or embossed pockets on both sides of each leaf.

Be sure to touch the leaves of the plant you want to purchase. Your potential plant’s leaves should have no rips, tears, holes, or any visible pests attached.

2. Fine, Fibrous Roots

Lift the plant from the water surface if it is still in its original aquarium. Healthy Red Root Floaters have fine, fibrous roots that are white in color if the plant’s leaves are still green. On the other hand, if you want to buy plants with red roots already, the root system should also sport the same beautiful red coloration.

Check the roots for any physical damage, debris buildup, and the presence of pests. You want to choose plants with clean, strong roots. as these will have an easier time adapting to their new tank in your home.

– Designing a Floater-Friendly Tank

If you are designing a red plants aquarium, then the Red Root Floater will most likely be a good fit for the fauna and flora that are already established in your tank. On the other hand, if you are just starting out as a fish keeper and you’re wondering about which plants can help you provide a conducive environment for your tank inhabitants, you’ll find that the Red Root Floater is a must-have.

Whatever your reason for wanting to include the Floating Spurge in your tank setup, these tips will help you prepare a floater-friendly home for your new plant. You can use the table below as a reference for the Red Root Floater’s water parameter preferences.

Temperature 72 to 80 °F; 22 to 26 °C
Light Level Medium to High Brightness
pH Level 6.5 – 7.5
Water Hardness 2 to 12 dGH
Substrate Not necessary; grown primarily as a floating plant
Fertilizer/Chemical Additives CO2 is not necessary; liquid fertilizers may be used occasionally
Tank Size 5 to 10 gallons
  • Provide Ample Natural or Artificial Light

Red Root Floaters love light. They grow and spread fast in environments that are exposed to a constant amount of bright, natural light. That said, you should aim to mimic these conditions in your own aquarium. If your fish tank is positioned in a dim or shady area of your house, you might want to invest in a few high-quality LED lights for your Red Floaters.

Be mindful of the length of time you expose your floaters to light, however. Keeping your Red Root Floaters under intense lighting at all hours of the day might dry up the leaves or encourage your plants to begin a propagation frenzy.

  • Tanks With Gentle Water Flows Are Best

While Red Root Floaters can certainly be housed in nano tanks or aquariums that do not have any form of water flow or agitation, they will fare better in environments that have gentle water flows.

Keep in mind that these plants were originally abundant in stagnant ponds and canals. Because of this, they are used to slow and infrequent water movement. Mimicking this environmental factor will help your floaters grow healthier and stronger, as minimal water flow encourages the formation of sturdy root systems and stems.

  • Supplement the Water With Liquid Fertilizers

Another tip you can use before introducing new Red Root Floaters in your tank is to inject your preferred brand of liquid fertilizer and let that sit for a few hours. This will boost the nutrients in your tank water, which Red Floaters are highly dependent on for growth and proper adjustment.

You can “feed” your Red Root Floaters liquid fertilizers once a week, especially during the first two months of its adjustment to your aquarium. This will aid you in preventing any leaf discolorations and stunted growth due to nutrient deficiencies.

– Reminders for Efficient Propagation

Red root floater careRed Root Floaters are fully capable of propagating without any help or intervention from their human caretakers. If you leave a group of Red Floaters alone on one side of your tank, you will likely observe that they multiply after a couple of weeks. Soon, they will cover the entire surface of your aquarium.

Still, some hobbyists prefer to help their Red Floaters propagate efficiently. Here are a few actions you can take if you want to exercise more control over the propagation rate of your new Red Root Floaters.

  • Daughter Root Clippings

You can propagate your Red Root Floaters by identifying which “mother” plants have “daughter” leaves growing beside them. These daughter plants will have smaller and younger leaves. You can identify the daugther leaves are they are bright green.

Once you have identified some daughter plants, lift them gently from the water surface. Look for the root system that runs horizontally from the mother plant and connects with the daughter plant. Use proper plant scissors to cut away the daughter plant’s initial share of roots. Then, you can opt to plant the severed younger Red Root Floater in another part of your aquarium while waiting for it to grow.

  • Stalk Cuttings

You can also help your Red Root Floaters multiply by using stalk cuttings instead of root clippings. This method of propagation is more suitable for large or old Red Root Floaters that need to be pruned to avoid the risk of overcrowding.

Using proper plant shears or scissors, lift a lush part of the original or older stalk out of the water. Identify leaf clusters along the plant stalk that will be ideal for propagation. Each cluster should have at least three leaves before being cut away from the mother stalk. This will ensure that the cut plant will be able to photosynthesize and survive on its own.

Cut on a bias or diagonal in the areas between your identified leaf clusters and the main stalk. Remove as many leaf clusters as you can, but be sure to leave enough leaves on the main stalk to prevent it from drying out or dying. You can then plant your stalk cuttings in other areas of your aquarium or place them in a separate container for later use.

Red Root Floater Care

Red Root Floaters are so easy to plant and propagate that novice aquarists who have tried their hand at growing this plant often do not design any new tank setups without it anymore. You can usually just leave your Red Root Floaters on the water surface of your aquarium, and they will thrive with or without your attention.

Despite all its hardiness and extreme adaptability to different tank conditions, the Apple Duckweed is not completely immune from physical stress and common plant problems.

In this section, we’ll tackle some of the most important questions you might be asking yourself as you continue to care for Red Root Floaters in your tank.  You will also learn how to treat or prevent common problems associated with Red Floaters, using proven care tips from our resident experts.

– Why Are My Red Root Floaters Not Turning Red?

Aquarists who have never grown Red Root Floaters sometimes end up frustrated because their plants seemingly refuse to take on that gorgeous red color they are famous for. If you’re dealing with this same problem, worry not! Red Root Floaters usually remain green in color for the following reasons:

  • There Is Not Enough Iron in the Water

The easiest way to encourage your Red Floaters to sport leaves that have a blood-red or rusty red color is to supplement your tank water with liquid fertilizers that specialize in providing iron. Check the level of iron in your tank water, and provide the necessary dosage to keep it high enough for your Floating Spurge to adopt that rusty red color.

  • They Are Not Receiving Enough Lighting

While you work on properly adjusting your tank water conditions, you should also ensure that your Red Floaters are exposed to high amounts of light during the early mornings and late evenings, as this will also help in bringing out that deep red in your Red Floater’s leaves.

– What Are the Common Health Problems of Red Floaters?

Red Root Floaters are a hardy aquatic species that will usually fare well even when left alone. Still, aquarists sometimes find that they experience one or more of the following health problems with their prized Red Floaters:

  • Leaf Melting

Leaf Melting is the term hobbyists use to describe the phenomenon of leaves dropping off of the main plant in an uncontrollable manner. Red floaters sometimes go into a phase of leaf melting due to environmental shock.

If this happens, decrease the light intensity in your aquarium and limit the amount of time that the tank is exposed to light. At the same time, check your water parameters and make sure that you keep factors such as pH, DH, nitrite, and ammonia levels in check.

These actions should help you effectively correct the problem of leaf melting. After that, just give your Red Root Floaters a week or two to adjust to their new surroundings.

  • Physical Leaf Damage

You might notice that some of the leaves of your Red Root Floaters have holes, rips, or other signs of physical wear and tear. This usually occurs when you have aggressive or high-energy fish in the same aquarium as your Red Floaters. To curb this problem, you might want to first learn more about the ideal tank mates for Red Root Floaters, or else provide a larger tank for your aquatic fauna and flora.

Providing more space to move and grow can help decrease the instances of your fish resorting to plant bullying or nipping. In addition, providing a larger aquarium will encourage your Red Root Floaters to spread further and grow wider, stronger leaves and root systems.

  • Nutrient Deficiencies

Red Root Floaters can frequently become wilted, brown, or stunted if the water from which they take important nutrients is overcrowded. Remember that minerals and nutrients in the water are finite resources and that your Red Floaters compete with other plants and fish in your tank for these same substances.

If you notice that your Apple Duckweed keeps dying despite your regular feeding of iron supplements and liquid fertilizers, it might be a sign that it is time to decrease the plant population in your tank.

Make a habit out of regularly pruning or trimming excess growths from your Red Root Floaters. In addition, be sure to remove leaves that appear sickly or weak. These simple actions will prevent nutrient deficiencies and overcrowding in your fish tank and allow your remaining Red Floaters to flourish beautifully.


We certainly covered a lot of knowledge bases about the Red Root Floater. As a quick wrap-up of our discussion, here are some of the key points we tackled earlier:

  • Red root floater propagationRed Root Floaters originated in South America.
  • These plants are easy to establish and propagate in freshwater tanks and low-tech tanks.
  • These floating plants love natural light, but will also thrive under artificial light.
  • Red Root Floaters can be propagated by clipping off daughter roots or taking stalk cuttings.
  • These plants are not completely immune to problems such as leaf melting, overcrowding, and nutrient deficiencies.

Now that you know more about this plant, you should definitely try growing it in your aquarium to enjoy its beauty and benefits!

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