Red Root Floater Vs Frogbit: A Detailed Comparison

Red root floater and frogbit are both popular floating aquarium plants, but they differ in their appearance and growth characteristics. The former has reddish roots and small circular leaves, while the latter has larger round leaves without visible roots.

Red root floater tends to grow faster and propagate more quickly, while frogbit grows at a slower pace and may not reproduce as readily. In addition, red root floaters excel in moderate to high lighting, while frogbit can grow in low lighting conditions.

So, are you pondering which plants to choose for your aquarium? Ultimately, the choice between these two plants depends on the specific needs and preferences of you; the aquarium owner.

However, in this article, I’ll help you decide by highlighting key differences, and similarities between these two plants.

Red root floater & Frogbit
Red root floater & Frogbit

Root Floaters And Frogbits [A Quick Comparison]

Both plants have similarities and dissimilarities, the below table will help you understand them easily.

ConsiderationRed Root FloaterFrogbit
Scientific NamePhyllanthus fluitansLimnobium laevigatum
OriginSouth AmericaSmall, round, or heart-shaped leaves
Leaf ShapeSmall, round or heart-shaped leavesLarger, oval-shaped leaves
Root SystemLong, red rootsShort, feathery roots
Growth RateModerate to fastModerate to fast
ReproductionAbsorbs nutrients from the water columnProduces runners and daughter plants
Light RequirementsModerate to highLow to moderate
CO2 RequirementsBeneficial, but not essentialNot required
Nutrient UptakeAbsorbs nutrients from the water columnAbsorbs nutrients from water column
Water MovementPrefers calm water with minimal flowPrefers calm to moderate water movement
Can help reduce algae by shading the water surfaceCan help reduce algae by nutrient uptakeCan help reduce algae by shading the water surface
Floating BehaviorStays on the water’s surface, can form clustersStays on the water surface, often drifts individually
Aesthetic AppealBright green color, contrasting red rootsLight green color, delicate appearance
HabitatTropical and subtropical regionsTemperate and tropical regions
MaintenanceRegular thinning to prevent overcrowdingRegular thinning to prevent overcrowding
CompatibilitySuitable for community tanksSuitable for community tanks

Note: Remember that individual growth and behavior may vary based on specific tank conditions and care.

Differences Between Red Root Floaters And Frogbits? [Detailed]

These two aquatic plants may look similar at first glance, but they actually have some distinct characteristics that set them apart (already shown in the above table).

I will discuss the variations between red root floaters and frogbit to help you better understand these fascinating plants.

Origin, Leaves, and Roots

Red root floater
Red root floater

Red root floaters (Phyllanthus fluitans) are native to South America. They come from the Amazon River basin and can be found in calm freshwater bodies such as rivers, lakes, and ponds.

The leaves of red root floaters are small and circular, resembling miniature lily pads. The color of the leaves depends on the lighting provided. The leaves grow approximately 1~2 centimeters, and they are water-repellent.

These plants have long red roots that hang below the water’s surface, providing a natural hiding place for small fish and fry.

Beautiful red root floater
Beautiful red root floater

Frogbits scientifically known as Limnobium laevigatum also originate from the American continent. It is native to various regions of North and Central America, including countries such as the United States, Mexico, and several parts of Central America.

The leaves of frogbit are slightly larger than those of red root floaters, ranging from coin-sized to around the size of a golf ball. They can grow several centimeters under the right conditions, and the growth rate is higher than the red root floater.

Frogbit plants
Frogbit plants

They have a rounded shape and a bright green color, giving them a cheerful and lively appearance. But their leaves are not water-repellent.

Unlike red root floaters, frogbit does not have hanging roots. Instead, it has long, white, feathery roots that dangle down into the water column.

Care Requirements

Red root floaters are relatively easy to care for, making them suitable for beginners in the world of aquatic plants. They thrive in high to medium-light conditions.

Red root floaters leaves will turn red under high-light conditions, and will also produce tiny little white flowers. Under moderate light, the leaves remain green, and under low light their growth hinders, and leaves take yellow-green color.

Same plants different variations due to lighting
Different variations of the same red root floater plant due to lighting

They prefer calm water, too much water flow will hinder their growth. The ideal water pH for red root floaters is 6.5~7.5, and they thrive in the temperature range of 72 °F – 80 °F. At temperatures higher than 80 °F, red root floaters will melt.

Red root floater doesn’t require supplemental carbon dioxide (CO2) injection to grow, but it benefits from a CO2-rich environment.

In high-tech planted tanks with CO2 injection, it can grow rapidly and provide excellent coverage. In low-tech setups without CO2 supplementation, its growth may be slower.

They need a high level of nutrient supply, especially iron. They can grow in small areas, however, a minimum 5-gallon tank is recommended for optimum growth.

Close look of Frogbit plant
A close look at Frogbit plants

Frogbit requires similar care to red root floaters, thriving in low to medium light conditions and soft, slightly acidic water (pH 6 ~7.5). Frogbit is tolerant of wide temperature ranges (64°F – 80 °F) but prefers cooler water temperatures.

Frogbit, similar to red root floater, can grow well without CO2 injection. However, in high-tech setups with CO2, it exhibits faster growth and healthier foliage. In low-tech tanks, it still thrives but at a slower pace.

Nutrients are also necessary for frogbits. You have to dose liquid fertilizer to provide sufficient nutrient supply unless your tank has a high bio load with fish and invertebrates.

The bare minimum tank size is 10 gallons for frogbit as its leaves grow larger than red root floater.

Growth Rate And Propagation

Red root floater exhibits a moderate growth rate under ideal conditions.

Reproduces through vegetative propagation, where new plants appear from buds or runners that detach from the parent plant. They can also produce seeds, but seed germination is relatively low.

Frogbit shows a relatively fast growth rate, especially during the warmer months.

Propagates happen primarily through runners that branch off from the main plant. They can also produce seeds, and seed germination rates are generally higher compared to red root floaters.

You need to trim the red root floater and frogbit regularly to prevent them from overshadowing other plants or blocking out too much light in the aquarium.

Use sharp scissors or trimming tools to carefully remove excess leaves and runners.

Prune any roots that protrude excessively, as they can hinder water flow and disrupt the overall aesthetic of the tank.

Red root floaters in an aquarium

Also, you can limit the amount of light and nutrients provided to the plants to prevent rapid overgrowth. Adjust the lighting period and intensity according to the growth rate of the plants.

Aesthetic In Aquascaping

Red root floater: This plant features reddish leaves, which can add a striking and vibrant touch to your aquascape.

It creates a beautiful contrast against green background plants, making it an excellent choice if you want to create a bold and eye-catching display.

Frogbit: If you prefer a more natural and serene look, frogbit might be the ideal choice. With its round, green leaves and delicate roots, it adds a sense of tranquility to the aquarium.

Frogbit is particularly well-suited for tanks with a more natural theme or those aiming for a calming ambiance.

What Are The Similarities Between Red Root Floaters And Frogbits?

While they have some differences in appearance and growth habits, there are also several similarities between these two aquatic plants.


Both red root floaters and frogbit can reproduce through vegetative propagation, forming daughter plants that break off and become new individuals.

They can also reproduce through flowering and seed production, although this is less common in aquarium or pond settings.

Frogbit in a fish tank
Frogbit in a fish tank

Water Conditions

Red root floaters and frogbit thrive in similar water conditions, including neutral to slightly acidic ph levels (around 6.0-7.5) and moderate water hardness.

Both plants prefer nutrient-rich water and can benefit from the addition of fertilizers or plant supplements.

Ecosystem Benefits

Both plants provide valuable ecological benefits by helping to regulate water quality and oxygenation.

Their floating leaves and dense clusters provide shelter and spawning areas for small aquatic organisms, contributing to a thriving ecosystem.

What Are The Benefits Of Having Red Root Floaters Or Frogbits In A Tank?

Red root floaters and frogbits are beneficial to tanks or ponds as they provide shade to fish and aquatic organisms, reduce algae growth, and improve water quality by absorbing excess nutrients.

These plants also create a natural and aesthetically pleasing environment for your aquatic habitat. Let’s explore the benefits of having these plants in your aquatic environment.

Red root floater plant
Red root floater plant
  • Oxygenation: Red root floater and frogbit both generate oxygen through photosynthesis, enhancing the oxygen levels in your aquarium and benefiting fish and other aquatic inhabitants.
  • Filtration: Their strong root systems help to filter out excess nutrients from the water, reducing the risk of algae blooms and maintaining water clarity. Frogbit is good at absorbing nitrates from the water, reducing the risk of nitrate buildup.
  • Shade and cover: The dense cover provided by these plants offers hiding places for small fish, fry, and invertebrates, creating a stress-free environment and reducing aggression.
  • Alleviating stress: The presence of natural floating plants, like red root floater and frogbit, can help to decrease fish stress levels by providing a more natural and secure habitat.
  • Aesthetic appeal: Lastly, the beauty and vibrant green leaves of the red root floater and frogbit add visual appeal to your aquarium, making it more captivating and enjoyable.

Whether you choose red root floaters or frogbit, incorporating these plants will undoubtedly contribute to the overall health and aesthetics of your aquatic space.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Red Root Floater And Frogbit Compatible With Each Other?

Yes, red root floater and frogbit are compatible and can be kept together in the same aquarium. They thrive in similar conditions, such as still or slow-moving water with high to moderate light.

How Do Red Root Floater And Frogbit Help Maintain Water Quality?

They absorb excess nutrients like nitrates, which helps prevent algae growth and keeps the water clean and clear. Additionally, these plants provide oxygen through their photosynthesis process, creating a healthier and more balanced ecosystem for your aquarium inhabitants

Can Red Root Floater And Frogbit Be Used In Outdoor Ponds

Yes, both red root floater and frogbit can be used in outdoor ponds. However, it’s important to consider local climate and temperature fluctuations. These plants require warm water temperatures to thrive, so if you live in a region with cold winters, it may be necessary to bring them indoors during the colder months to ensure their survival.


To sum it up, both red root floater and frogbit are excellent choices for adding beauty and function to your aquarium or pond. Red root floater provides striking red foliage and forms dense mats, making it ideal for controlling algae and providing shade.

On the other hand, frogbit offers charming, floating leaves that provide shade and shelter for aquatic creatures while absorbing excess nutrients. Both plants are easy to care for and can thrive in a variety of water conditions.

Consider the specific needs of your setup, such as lighting, space, and water movement, to determine which plant is the best fit. Remember to monitor their growth and remove any excess foliage to prevent overcrowding.

Sujit Modak

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