Red Root Floater (Phyllanthus Fluitans)

Type:Floating Plant
Origin:South America
Growth Rate:Medium
Light Demand:Medium
CO2 Demand:Low

Phyllanthus Fluitans also known as the “red root floater” is a floating plant species belonging to the Phyllanthaceae family and it is attractive with its bright red roots. Before, it was classified in the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae). But after recent researches, the family has determined more accurately.

Although South America (especially Amazon River Basin) is the natural habitat of this floating plant, it is also found in Central America and even Mexico and cultivated in the United States.

However, it is very similar to Salvinia species, it differs from the Salvinia with its single leaf structure in each node. This floating plant which can propagate rapidly is preferred to create shading areas in the aquariums with an astonishing view of red color.

Phyllanthus Fluitans generally size around 2 cm and they have heart-shaped leaves in shades of green, brown, and red but the most striking part of this plant is the red roots underwater. White staminate flowers with have sizes 2,5 to 3,5 mm in diameter that bloom with 6 petals at certain times of the year will also enhance the look of the aquarium surface.


It is a plant that can grow easily in an open-topped aquarium if the necessary conditions are provided. While the lighting is set at approximately 0,75 watts per liter, the color of leaves turns from green to red-brown under intense light. Carbon dioxide is not necessary for the growth of this plant since it receives COP2 from the air. Water with a pH of 6.5 – 7.5 and a temperature of 20-30°C are suitable conditions for the growth of this plant. Phosphate, nitrogen, iron, and other plant supplements should be at proper levels in the aquarium for the healthy growth of Phyllanthus fluitans.

In environments where the free iron is low in concentration, the growth and red coloration of the plant are affected negatively. According to some reported cases, high surface flow is not good for the plant so, low water flow at the surface will improve plant development. In addition to these, there are also other reported cases that better results are obtained with low lighting in soft water and intense lighting in hard water. With the necessary conditions which are stated above a healthy Phyllanthus Fluitans is an ideal choice to add color to the aquarium with its leaves turning from green to red and brown, red roots and white flowers.

Phyllanthus Fluitans can naturally spread on top of the water. This improves denitrification and oxygenation capacity which is critical for aquarium life. But overspread is not always good. Sometimes this causes excessive shading due to rapid and easy propagation. In these situations, the enthusiast may prefer to remove some parts of the floating plants to provide more light to the underwater plants.

Propagation of Phyllanthus Fluitans occurs in different and easy ways such as fragmentation, splitting, or shootings. Therefore, Phyllanthus Fluitans is a plant that can grow easily in terms of providing the necessary living conditions. It adds color and an impressive look to the environment with its color tones. It is a popular floating plant in the aquarium hobby.

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