Placing different species of plants into your aquarium can create beautiful visual effects. Red aquarium plants can give a bold splash of color into your tank.
They provide a contrast to the shades of the green plant varieties.
The question is... Which red aquatic plant should you use?
Here are nine of the most popular red aquatic plants among aquarists. Get to know more about these plants and how you can use them to produce a more dramatic aquascape for your fish tank.
The rotala rotundifolia is a classic aquarium plant you can grow without a problem. It only needs strong lighting and pruning once it reaches the surface.
You need good lighting to produce the true colors of rotala rotundifolia. The plant can grow in medium light but inadequate light may cause this aquatic plant to lose its leaves. Provide enough light exposure at all times.
Rotala rotundifolia originated from Southeast Asia. It thrives there as a weed in rice paddies and wet soils. The form and color of this species vary depending on its surrounding.
Exposing it to low or medium light can cause a lanky, and yellow-green specimen. Place the plant under intense light and ensure it receives enough amount of micro-nutrients to achieve pink coloration.
Aquascapers often use this versatile plant in Dutch style and Nature Aquarium style layouts. It can serve as a reddish accent or the focal point.
Rotala rotundifolia looks good when you mix it with other low-growing plants. Place it in mid-ground or background position.
The plant often turns back downwards when you let it grow to the surface of the aquarium, which results in an attractive cascade.
This fast growing stem plant responds well to frequent and heavy pruning.
Beginner aquarists should consider growing Ludwigia repens. This plant is easy to grow and maintain you do not have to follow strict rules to grow it.
It is also one of the most beautiful red plants for the aquarium. It looks good in any fish tank regardless of the decoration you want to use.
When buying the plant, choose one that has a reddish color with no damage in the leaves. Parasites and diseases can infect aquatic plants that look damaged.
You need to observe caution when placing any aquatic plant in your tank. You would not want to place infected plants in your aquarium and risk spreading disease.
Get a plant that is still young so it will have plenty of time to adapt to the conditions in your tank.
Limit using a few stems if you do not have a large aquarium. Ludwigia repens can propagate quickly. This means you can grow dozens of small plants from a few stems.
This plant has very strong roots so you can use any kind of substrate. Do not use sand, though, because it can suffocate the roots.
Use chemicals that can provide the needed nutrients for the plants at least during the first few months if the substrate does not have enough nutrients. This can help create a strong root system for the aquatic plant.
The rotala wallichii is a stem plant with pink and red hues and needle-shaped leaves. It produces flower spikes with bright, purple flowers.
It may not be the easiest aquarium plant to grow but it is one of the most popular red stem plants among hobbyists.
The plants need carbon dioxide injection and bright illumination. It also needs nitrate and iron doses. It grows best with high phosphate levels.
The rotala wallichii may tax to maintain but this should not stop you from growing it. Given the right conditions, the plant can reward you with bright pink or deep red stems that can grow to the water’s surface.
The plant's parts that are closest to the water surface are likely to develop the most intense color. They also produce many lateral shoots.
If you notice that this plant grows too large for your tank, you can cut off its uppermost parts and replant these in the substrate. The lateral shoots of the rotala wallichii grow new roots fast once re-planted.
Carbon dioxide, strong lighting and fertilization can bring out the vibrant colors of the leaves. Ensure that the nitrate level of your aquarium never falls to zero not exceed 10 to 15 mg per liter.
For best visual effects, plant rotala wallichii three to five stems at a time to form large and dense groupings. The rotala wallichii will look best when you grow it in a group as a background or mid-ground plant.
Image by Planted Aquariums Central
Rotala indica, also known as the Indian toothcup, is an ideal mid-ground plant for a freshwater aquarium.
The good thing is this somewhat undemanding plant can also adapt to most typical water conditions.
It can grow and spread across the water when you provide sufficient carbon dioxide, strong lighting, and doses of iron and trace elements.
This creeping annual herb is a favorite among aquarists because of its colorful leaves and flowers.
The plant has squarish soft stems and leaves arranged in perpendicular pairs along the stems.
Its leaves are green at the top and pink at the bottom. These are also oblong and egg-shaped with thick and cartilaginous margins.
Rotala indica is a fragile plant. I do not advise using it in tanks with active or large fishes that might damage the stems.
It also quickly forms side shoots so the rotala indica tends to look compact and bushy. This makes it hard for the light to penetrate the lower leaves.
Prune this plant periodically because it propagates fast. The bushy appearance, however, makes the rotala indica a suitable place for fry or brood fish.
Alternanthera Reineckii Mini
Alternanthera reineckii mini is a popular but demanding aquarium plant.
Also known as AR Mini, it is a new dwarf variety of alternanthera reineckii, a popular slow-growing stem plant
The AR mini is a hardy plant that can grow compact. It is ideal for small aquariums but also makes a great foreground plant in larger aquariums.
It produces flowers in emersed conditions. The leaves have different shapes and shades. The color of the upper leaf varies from sage green to brown while the lower surface is purple red.
If you intend to use the AR mini in a small tank, plant it in small groups around the center of the aquarium. This will expose the plant to the best light, which can help it achieve optimal color.
Avoid over-planting because the plant make take up the swimming space of the fish.
You need to add iron into the aquarium to achieve red colorations. Trim the plant regularly so you can create a dense, red-violet carpet in the foreground.
Just like most plants, you can propagate AR mini by cutting and replanting the stem. You can use a soil-based substrate to support stable growth.
Ludwigia arcuata is a needle leaf plant with delicate red and green leaves. This plant has thick and pointed leaves that usually grow in opposite pairs along the stem.
The Ludwigia arcuata is an easy to maintain aquatic plant that can add movement and dimension to your fish tank.
The leaves of this plant species vary in color. They may be red or green depending on the amount of iron present in the water.
Adding nutrients and providing strong lighting can help achieve the desirable red color of this plant. A higher amount of iron in the water can also bring out the red tones of ludwigia arcuata.
You need not do carbon dioxide injection to cultivate this plant, but adding carbon dioxide into the tank can support the robust growth of ludwigia arcuata.
We can grow the ludwigia arcuata plant submerged or emersed. When you grow these plants emersed, the leaves are likely to take round shapes like other ludwigia species. They will also remain green.
The leaves, however, will become thin and turn orange to red if we place the plant under high light and submerged in the aquarium. You would want to do this if you are after the red color of the ludwigia arcuata.
Ludwigia arcuata grows slower compared with many stem plants but make sure you prune it regularly so it will branch out.
Pruning the top of the stem can produce new shoots from the node. Doing this often overtime can achieve the bushy appearance that many hobbyists want to achieve.
Ludwigia palustris adds color to an aquascape without the hassles that often come with growing and maintaining colorful aquarium plants.
Ideally, you can place this plant in the fronts zones of the tank where its vivid color can create a beautiful focal point. The leaves of ludwigia palustris can be gold, red or orange depending on the tank conditions.
While use of this plant species in the aquascape depends on the color form it is being cultivated, the reddish form of this plant, which also is the most common, is the most decorative.
You can bring out the plant’s desirable bright colors by providing strong lighting and high nutrient levels.
You can grow this plant submerged or immersed but it is far more difficult to cultivate in emersed form.
The plant produces side shoots. Cutting can increase the number of these shoots and make the plant denser. You can replant the cut-off shoots they can generate new roots in a short period amount of time.
Ludwigia glandulosa is among the most colorful aquatic plants albeit it's demanding to grow and maintain.
Its striking color makes it a suitable accent plant you can use as a focal point in an aquascape. The intense red and purplish coloring of the leaves can attract the eye.
It can develop wine-red leaves as long as you provide it with strong lighting, a good supply of carbon dioxide and a nutrient-rich substrate. You also need to ensure that the temperatures are not above 25 °C.
The leaves of the plant will become greener and even fall if there is not enough light in the fish tank. Unlike other red plants, however, ludwigia glandulosa does not need low nitrate levels to maintain its red color.
This plant species is also unlike others. It develops upright and does not like to branch even if it grows right up to the water line.
Image by Mactac90
Proserpinaca palustris which people also identify as mermaid weed. This herbaceous aquatic plant is not too difficult to growth although you may have to allocate a lengthy period for its transition.
The proserpinaca palustris can transform from its saw-toothed, green emersed form into the finely toothed, orange-red submersed form. It can produce a dramatic visual statement in the tank where we plant it.
Its leaves start out with vibrant green colors and choppy serrated edges. Once you grow the plant under high-intensity lighting, the leaves may resemble tiny and delicate combs.
The shade of the leaves will also deliberately change from green to a variety of pink and gold. Adding this plant into your fish tank can give it a pop of color.
The red- and orange-colored varieties make a great choice for small aquascape because of their small size and moderate growth rate. The plant also makes an excellent red accent.
They need sufficient lighting, nutrients and carbon dioxide to thrive. Lack of nutrients and light can cause the proserpinaca palustris to shed its leaves.
This plant grows at a slow to moderate pace so you do not have to worry about trimming it often.
Adding red aquarium plants into your fish tank can create a stunning visual effect. They can produce a focal point and break the monotony of the green hues of other plants. We hope we provided you the basic information you need to determine which plant will work best for you.