7 Recommended Red Aquarium Plants

7 Recommended Red Aquarium Plants7 mins read

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Tal Halperin
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If you’re looking for something to make your tank look spectacular, red aquarium plants are a fantastic way to do this. Many aquarists like to add different colors to their tank foliage, but red plants have a reputation for being tricky to look after compared to other aquatic plant species. Nevertheless, there are some very easy options for beginners, including red floating aquarium plants like red root floater, and small red aquarium plants for the bottom of your tank.

What’s more, red aquarium plants for beginners tend to be striking and captivate people’s attention, easily leading to a professional-looking tank. So, read on for more information, as well as how to choose the best red aquarium plants for you, and cure any plant diseases.

What Are Some Recommended Red Freshwater Aquarium Plants?

There are lots of choices of red aquarium plants, but as they are less common, sometimes you might need to search a little bit before you find the species that might be perfect for your tank. However, here are some of our top picks below:

1. Bacopa Colorata

Bacopa Colorata
Bacopa colorata is a small-leaved, medium-height red aquarium plant. Image from Reddit.com

Bacopa colorata is a small-leaved, medium-height red aquarium plant. It comes from places in the south of the USA, such as the Everglades in Florida and the swampy environments of the deep south. It’s a stunning plant for beginner aquarists that can easily take your tank to the next level. Likewise, it’s one of the best red aquarium plants, no co2 needed, for those who want something low maintenance.

How to Care for Bacopa Colorata

Some red freshwater aquarium plants require something called CO2 injection to give them their full coloring (this involves the process of adding CO2 into the water). Therefore, bacopa colorata may sometimes develop brighter colors, but you can grow it without CO2 injection. This is especially the case if you find natural ways of raising the CO2 levels in your tank.

Similarly, it helps if you have softer water to grow bacopa colorata. It thrives more easily and tends to have more vibrant colors in soft water, although you can still grow it in hard water.

2. Red Root Floater

Red Root Floater
Red root floater is a red floating aquarium plant that has a rusty coloration that extends all the way down to its roots, which hang about an inch to two inches below the surface of the water. Image from Pinterest.com

Red root floater is spectacular and one of the best red aquarium plants for beginners. This is especially true if you’re looking for a way to create a better environment for your fish without having to develop any advanced-level skills.

Red root floater is a red floating aquarium plant that has a rusty coloration that extends all the way down to its roots, which hang about an inch to two inches below the surface of the water.

How to Care for Red Root Floater

It’s also one of the best small red aquarium plants in terms of leaf sise, although it is a prolific spreader. Other red floating aquarium plants can do the same thing, but red root floater wins out for its low maintenance habits, as well as how it spreads so quickly. It’s also one of the easiest red aquarium plants if you want to create a sheltered environment for fish. Small fish such as tetras can swim amongst the roots and this gives them a sense of shelter and safety.

Did you know? This plant creates a variety of favorable environmental conditions for your fish. Firstly, it creates a dappled lighting effect. This means that fish can shelter from direct light, especially if you have an LED bulb. In your aquarium, red plants don’t often spread this quickly nor can you find floating ones, so this plant is really a special addition with a unique niche.

3. Rotala Rotundifolia

Rotala Rotundifolia
Rotala Rotundifolia is one of the most visually striking red aquarium plants and also one of the best easy red aquarium plants for aquascaping. Image from Flickr

Rotala Rotundifolia is one of the most visually striking red aquarium plants and also one of the best easy red aquarium plants for aquascaping. If you want red aquarium plants no co2 injection tanks can work well with, this is also a great option. It doesn’t need additional co2 to show off it’s bright and colorful foliage!

How to Care for Rotala Rotundifolia

If you’re looking for easy red aquarium plants, it can’t be beat as trimming actually helps stimulate its growth. Therefore you can more or less leave it alone and you don’t have to worry about your fish nibbling on it. In fact, this is one of the most recommended red plants aquarium keepers should have for the first time.

4. Red Tiger Lotus

Red Tiger Lotus
Red tiger lotus comes from stagnant environments in West Africa. Image from Pinterest.com

Red tiger lotus comes from stagnant environments in West Africa. Due to the challenging nature of its natural habit, it is not only very hardy, it is also one of the best red aquarium plants, no co2 required. It’s ideal for beginners as it’s virtually impossible to kill, and if you give it enough nutrients and ensure you fertilize, you will easily see a vibrant red color.

How to Care for Red Tiger Lotus

Another interesting fact about this plant is it is actually semi-aquatic. Therefore, you can in fact allow it to grow above the surface of the water, at which stage it will produce small blue and white flowers. However, this depends on whether you have a lid on your aquarium.

However, it’s not small. If you’re looking for small red aquarium plants, it’s better to go for something like rotala rotundifolia (above) as this loves to be trimmed. On the other hand, red tiger lotus will grow up to 30 cm if you give it enough space.

Author’s Note: Despite its growth rate, this plant can adapt to smaller tanks as it will simply grow to the size of its environment.

5. Ludwigia Repens ‘Rubin’

Ludwigia Repens ‘Rubin’
Ludwigia Repens ‘rubin’ cultivar is a medium-sized variety that has narrow oval leaves and slender stems, all of which are a dark wine-red color. Image from Flickr

For some red plants, aquarium conditions that are not ideal can make them lose their brilliant coloring. If you want a red plant that has fantastic colors to start off with, look no further than this one. Ludwigia Repens ‘rubin’ cultivar is a medium-sized variety that has narrow oval leaves and slender stems, all of which are a dark wine-red color.

How to Care for Ludwigia Repens ‘Rubin’

The most important thing to know about all ludwigia species, red one included, is that they are mat-forming plants. They are trailing plants with long stems and are great for aquascaping as you can grow them across your soil or let them trail across a rock or other decoration. In fact, they colonize new habitats very quickly!

They are not hard to grow and are not that sensitive to parameters and CO2, unlike plants like ammania gracilis. However, it’s important to keep on top of their growth, and trim them regularly, because otherwise, they can crowd out the other species in your tank.

6. Echinodorus Red Varieties

Echinodorus Red Varieties
It is ideal for planting at the front of an aquarium and provides cover for fish to hide in as well as interest and variety in the foreground of an aquascape. Image from Flickr

Echinodorus or Amazon sword, or simply sword plant, is a small variety of plant that will not dwarf the other species in your tank. It is ideal for planting at the front of an aquarium and provides cover for fish to hide in as well as interest and variety in the foreground of an aquascape. Of all aquarium red plants, it is one of the most varied. In fact, not all varieties are red in the first place, so for the purpose of this we will look only at the red echinodorus varieties.

How to Care for Echinodorus Varieties

Finding small red aquarium plants can be a challenge sometimes, so the multiple subspecies of red echinodorus provide many beginners with easy-to-care-for variety in their tank. However, looking after them is like looking after most echinodorus species. Simply ensure they have a suitable medium in which to grow, and they get plenty of natural light. You can also supplement this with an LED light. And for red aquarium plants, no CO2 needed, you can’t beat it.

7. Ammania Gracilis

Ammania Gracilis
This is unless your water is very soft. Its preferred pH is acidic to neutral, and like the easy red aquarium plants on this list, it also needs lots of direct light. Image from Pinterest.com

Lastly, to finish off the list, we have one plant that is more suitable for intermediate to advanced aquarists. Ammania Gracilis, or Red Ammania, grows in West Africa and is a flowering plant. When you look after it well, it can even produce small pink flowers with four petals on top of upright stems that have long triangular leaves.

How to Care for Ammania Gracilis

This plant is generally not that difficult to look after. However, if you are looking for red aquarium plants for beginners, note that it is better for intermediate aquarists. This is because it is one of the species that require more CO2 injection. This is unless your water is very soft. Its preferred pH is acidic to neutral, and like the easy red aquarium plants on this list, it also needs lots of direct light.

Author’s Note: Ammania Gracilis can grow without these conditions but expect poor coloration. In your aquarium, red plants like this definitely need top conditions to show their full beauty. It is also sensitive to temperature, large fluctuations in temperature can easily kill it.

Do Freshwater Aquarium Plants Need CO2 Injection?

You may hear about lack of CO2 becoming a problem for aquarium plants. Or, alternatively, you may find that your plants aren’t growing very well, and decide to look up why, and from there find out about CO2.

Essentially the answer to this question is yes and no. All plants need CO2 to survive, but in a fully functioning ecosystem they get enough of it without the need for human interference. Co2 is in the air outside and can enter and exit the tank water via gas exchange through the surface. Fish also release CO2 through their respiration.

In What Circumstances Might You Need CO2?

Problems begin to arise when the plants in your aquarium don’t get enough CO2. In this circumstance, red freshwater aquarium plants, especially ones like ammania gracilis that are more delicate, may begin to lose their red color.

This might not be a problem if you have plants mostly for your fish, and not for the aesthetics. But in a low CO2 environment, fish also suffer, as algae can quickly build up, and plants fail to grow. You can solve this by buying a CO2 injector or inline atomizer, although both of these devices come with pros and cons. You can also ensure that your fish-to-plant ratio is optimal, although there are no hard and fast metrics for this. Simply understand that more fish means more CO2.

Do Red Freshwater Aquarium Plants Change Color Without CO2?

Yes, if you truly want to get the most vibrant colors from your plants, they will need optimum CO2. CO2 is released at night by both fish and plants, as well, so you only need to worry about it during the day. You can purchase Co2 supplements, in addition to the devices mentioned here.

Author’s Note: If you have sufficient plants, a large enough tank, and you keep it exposed to plenty of natural light, you might be able to have success without any supplements.

What Are Some Common Freshwater Plant Diseases?

If you have checked your CO2 levels and everything is fine, and you still have trouble with your plants, they may have succumbed to some of the common freshwater plant diseases and problems that affect aquarium plants, such as the ones below:

1. Nutrient Deficiencies

These are some of the most common issues affecting plants and of them, the most common tend to be potassium, inc, magnesium, and nitrogen.

2. Algae Growth

There are multiple types of algae that can appear in your tank. Green algae covering the sides of the tank is generally a sign of CO2 deficit, as we mentioned earlier. However, black algae covering the leaves and even stems of your plant can instead point to a phosphate excess. Just like too little of something can cause deficits in your plant, too much of something can also cause imbalance. Therefore, it’s good to know the difference between kinds of algae, and their causes.

3. Predation by Fish

Lastly, predation by fish is not a disease but can be a problem for some of your plants. This is especially true if you have fish like goldfish or the Chinese algae eater that can be prone to investigating and digging up plants.

You can keep your plants safer by using two layers of substrate, for example, a soil later in which they take root covered by a layer of gravel or sand This makes them harder to dig up and more of a deterrent for your fish.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the top-recommended red aquarium plants isn’t easy, as this is a surprisingly diverse category that has lots of variety in it. However, whichever you choose, red aquarium plants can be a striking addition to your tank and are not necessarily as difficult to look after as you might initially think. Furthermore, your fish will love you for them – so hopefully this guide will have shown you some of the varieties out there and how to care for them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are red freshwater plants harder to take care of?
No, red freshwater plants are not necessarily harder to take care of than other colors. However, some of them do require more CO2 than other colored species. This is why you may see aquarists talking about CO2 injection. There are many ways you can raise the level of CO2 in the water, including using crushed coral, a CO2 injector, or seeing how hard or soft your water is. But most of the species on this list are hardy and generally do not need supplementary CO2 to maintain their red color - although they can always benefit from it.
Do red freshwater plants need as much sunlight?
Most plants turn sunlight into energy through the green chlorophyll pigment in their leaves. However, red freshwater plants still need sunlight! In fact, plants still have chlorophyll in their leaves, even if the red pigment is dominant. Therefore always expose your tank to plenty of natural light. You can supplement this with an LED light too.
What fish like red freshwater aquarium plants?
Red freshwater plants can make great hiding species for small fish like tetras, but fish generally have poor color vision. They don’t tend to prefer one color over another, so the red preference is mostly for the aquarium owner. However, red root floater, which we cover above on this list, is beloved by many small fish that like to hide in its floating roots.
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Sydney Perry

Sydney Perry has loved fish since she was a child and has enjoyed keeping many varieties over the years, ranging from black moors and shubunkins to betta fish. As a lover of nature and of Japanese culture, her dream tank is an Iwagumi aquascape, combining fish with carefully crafted aquatic landscapes in miniature.