Red Root Floaters Dying [3 Reasons, Solution, Alternatives]

Red root floaters, also known as Phyllanthus fluitans, are popular floating aquatic plants that require specific conditions to thrive.

If red root floaters are dying, it may indicate issues with water quality, lighting, nutrient levels, water movement, and inappropriate tank mates that need to be addressed for their survival.

Regular monitoring and adjustments can help maintain a healthy environment for these beautiful floating plants. I will discuss the reasons behind the dying of red root floaters and provide tips on how to prevent it.

So, let’s dive in and discover how to keep your red root floaters vibrant and healthy.

Red root floaters roots
Red root floaters roots

Why Are Red Root Floaters Dying?

Red root floaters are popular aquatic plants known for their vibrant red color and ability to float on the water’s surface.

These beautiful plants can add a touch of elegance to any aquarium or pond. However, it can be disheartening to see them deteriorate and die.

There could be several reasons why red root floaters are dying, and the most common reasons are:

  • Insufficient Lighting
  • Incorrect water parameters
  • Too much water flow or movement
  • Nutrient deficiency
  • Incompatible tank mates

#1. Inadequate Lighting

Red root floaters dying could be attributed to inadequate lighting conditions, which can hinder their growth and survival.

Proper light intensity and duration are crucial for maintaining the health of these aquatic plants.

Different colors of red root floaters
Different colors of red root floaters

Red root floaters’ leaves will turn red and produce tiny water flowers under high light conditions. Leaves remain green under moderate light and will turn yellow and show stunted growth in exposed to low light.

  • Insufficient intensity: Red root floaters require moderate to high light levels to thrive. If your aquarium lacks the necessary brightness, these plants may struggle and eventually die.
  • Incorrect light color temperature: It’s important to use light bulbs with the correct color temperature for optimal plant growth. Red root floaters benefit from lighting in the range of 6500k to 7000k, simulating natural sunlight.
  • Limited duration of light exposure: Just like any other plant, red root floaters need a sufficient duration of light exposure to carry out photosynthesis. A lighting period of 8 to 10 hours per day is usually recommended.
  • Uneven light distribution: Ensure that the lighting in your aquarium is evenly distributed to all areas. Shadows or dimly lit spots can prevent sufficient light from reaching the red root floaters, causing them to suffer or die.

Using high-intensity light may increase the temperature of the water, so use LED lighting that doesn’t produce much heat.

#2. Incorrect Water Parameters [pH, Temperature, Hardness]

Red root floaters may die if the water parameters are incorrect, such as pH, temperature, and hardness. Ensure that the water conditions are suitable to prevent the death of these aquatic plants.

  • pH level: Red root floaters prefer slightly acidic to neutral water conditions, with a ph range of 6.5 to 7.5. If the ph level in your aquarium is too high or too low, it can stress the plants and lead to their decline.
  • Temperature: Red root floaters thrive in tropical temperatures, ranging from 72°F to 80°F (22°C to 26°C). At temperatures above 80 °F, plant leaves will melt and ultimately result in the death of these delicate plants.
  • Water hardness: Soft to moderately hard water is ideal for red root floaters. If your aquarium water is too soft or too hard, it can interfere with the plant’s nutrient uptake, leading to its demise. They prefer water hardness in the range of 20-30 dHG.

To ensure the optimal water conditions for your red root floaters, here are some tips:

Close shot of red root floaters
Close shot of red root floaters

#3. Too Much Water Movement

Another common reason for red root floaters to die is if there is excessive water movement in the tank. High levels of water agitation can affect their growth.

  • Water currents: Strong currents in your aquarium can result in continuous agitation of the water surface, making it difficult for the red root floaters to remain anchored and stable.
  • Nutrient displacement: Excessive water movement can displace essential nutrients, preventing the red root floaters from receiving the nourishment they need for healthy growth.
  • Root system damage: Strong water currents can uproot or damage the delicate root system of red root floaters, inhibiting their ability to absorb nutrients and water effectively.

To address the issue of too much water movement, consider the following solutions:

  • Strategic placement: Position your red root floaters away from areas with intense water movement, such as near the outflow of your filter or strong water jets. Instead, choose calmer areas where the plants can thrive undisturbed.
  • Floating barriers: Create barriers using a ring tube, or plastic mesh to create a calmer microenvironment for your red root floaters and shield them from excessive water movement.
Beautiful Red root floaters
Beautiful Red root floaters

#4: Nutrient Deficiency

Red root floaters rely on a balanced nutrient supply to flourish. Insufficient levels of essential nutrients can weaken the plants and make them more susceptible to diseases and decay.

Lack of macronutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as micronutrients like iron, can negatively impact their growth and overall health.

  • Supplement with fertilizer: Consider supplementing with iron and potassium-rich liquid fertilizer on a regular basis. (My pick: API LEAF ZONE)
  • Remove excess plants: Also, remove excess red root floaters from the tank because if they overgrow they will compete for nutrients and lighting. Therefore, regular pruning is essential to keep them under control and ensure enough nutrients for them.
  • Ensure a bare minimum tank: Red root floaters require ample space to spread their vibrant roots and foliage. Without space, you can’t expect healthy growth. Avoid overcrowding your aquarium, and provide a bare minimum of a 5-gallon tank to propagate steadily.

#5: Incompatible Tank Mates

Fish roaming underneath the red root floaters

Certain fish species and invertebrates may find red root floaters enticing to nibble on.

For example, Goldfish, Oscar fish, African cichlids, etc love to eat red root floaters. So if you keep red root floaters in the same tank, you can’t expect healthy growth of your plants.

So, be careful while selecting the tank inhabitants to protect red root floaters.

What Are The Signs That Red Root Floaters Are Dying?

Signs of dying red root floaters include yellowing or browning of the leaves, wilting or shriveling, slower growth, and detachment from their root systems. It’s important to address these signs promptly to save the plants.

  • Wilting leaves: Drooping or sagging leaves is a clear sign that your red root floaters are not receiving adequate nutrients or light. This can be a cause for concern and should be addressed promptly.
  • Discolored foliage: If you observe noticeable changes in the color of your red root floaters’ leaves, such as yellowing or browning, it could indicate underlying issues with water quality, temperature, or lighting.
  • Decay and rot: Keep a close eye on your red root floaters for any signs of decay, mushiness, or decomposition. This can be an indication of poor water conditions or the presence of harmful bacteria or parasites.
  • Stagnant growth: Red root floaters are known for their rapid growth. If you notice a significant slowdown in growth or a lack of new leaf development, it may suggest that your plants are struggling to thrive.
  • Loss of root attachment: Red root floaters typically anchor themselves to the water’s surface with their roots. If you notice the plants becoming dislodged or floating freely, it could indicate weakening roots or an unstable environment.

Implementing appropriate adjustments and taking swift action in response to signs of decline can help ensure the longevity of these beautiful aquatic plants.

Red root floaters floating in the aquarium water
Red root floaters floating in the aquarium water

What Are Some Tips For Caring For Red Root Floaters?

These delicate aquatic plants can be quite tricky to care for, but with the right tips and techniques, you can ensure their longevity and vibrant appearance.

I won’t elaborate on this section, as I already discussed in the upper section for optimum care and to prevent dying off red root floater.

As a summary, you can consider keeping in mind the below-listed bullet points as a care guide.

  • Provide moderate to high-intensity light.
  • Invest in a reliable aquarium heater to maintain a stable temperature within this 72-80° F range.
  • Maintain other water parameters like pH and water hardness.
  • Ensure gentle water movement.
  • Dose essential nutrients from time to time.
  • Minimize predation by tank mates.
  • Avoid overcrowding.
  • Prune regularly to prevent overgrowth.
  • Avoid chemical treatments that may be harmful.
Red root floater plant in the aquarium
Red root floater plant in the aquarium

What Are Some Alternative Plants That Can Be Used Instead Of Red Root Floaters?

Looking to replace red root floaters? Consider alternative aquatic plants that can thrive in your tank and provide similar benefits. Explore options like Frogbit, water lettuce, and Amazon Frogbit as potential substitutes.

  • Water lettuce: This floating plant is known for its vibrant green leaves and ability to multiply quickly. It provides excellent shade and helps to reduce algae growth in the aquarium. Water lettuce also absorbs excess nutrients, promoting a healthier environment for your aquatic creatures.
  • Frogbit: Frogbit is a fantastic alternative that forms dense floating mats with its round, lily pad-like leaves. It’s almost similar to red root floaters. This plant is easy to care for and helps to control nitrate levels in the water. Its unique appearance adds a touch of tranquility to any aquarium.
  • Duckweed: Duckweed is a fast-growing floating plant that spreads rapidly, providing ample cover for your aquatic inhabitants. It helps to oxygenate the water and absorbs excess nutrients, making it beneficial for water quality maintenance.
  • Salvinia: Salvinia is an attractive floating plant with small, oval-shaped leaves that resemble fern fronds. It helps to reduce light penetration and control algae growth. Salvinia also provides shelter and creates a natural feel within the aquarium.
  • Azolla: Azolla is a remarkable floating fern that adds a splash of vibrant green to your aquarium. It not only creates a visually appealing environment but also helps to absorb excess nutrients, acting as a natural water purifier.

If you want to explore more options, please read this article where I listed the 15 best floating aquatic plants for aquariums.

Amazon Frogbit plants look almost similar to red root floaters
Amazon Frogbit plants look almost similar to red root floaters

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Revive Dying Red Root Floaters?

To revive dying red root floaters, check and adjust water parameters, provide adequate fertilization and lighting, remove any decaying leaves or debris, and consider adding a liquid co2 supplement if needed. Regularly monitoring and maintaining water quality and tank conditions are essential for their revival.

Are There Any Specific Care Tips For Red Root Floaters?

Yes, red root floaters require certain care to thrive. They prefer soft, slightly acidic water and moderate to high lighting levels. Additionally, supplementing with liquid fertilizers can provide essential nutrients to support their growth, and overall health


Overall, the decline of red root floaters can be attributed to a combination of water quality issues, lack of proper care, and insufficient lighting. To ensure the survival and growth of these beautiful plants, it is crucial to address these factors and provide optimal conditions in your aquarium.

Start by monitoring the water parameters regularly and maintaining a stable and balanced environment. Use high-quality fertilizers to provide essential nutrients to the plants.

Most importantly, ensure that your tank receives adequate lighting, as red root floaters are known to thrive under moderate to high light intensities.

Sujit Modak

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