plant Easy level

Phyllanthus fluitans Benth. ex Müll.Arg.

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Red Root Floater

Phyllanthus fluitans is a freshwater floating plant native to South America, spread in the Amazon River basin and across Central America. In nature, it is typically found in tropical, stagnant water habitats such as canals and rivers.

This species is known and for its bright red roots and underside, and under high lighting, its leaves can turn completely red. The leaves grow around nodes along a central stalk, with one leaf per node attached to the roots. The leaves float on the water while the roots hang down below the surface.

Phyllanthus fluitans is an easy plant to take care of, and it will thrive in the right conditions. Indeed, it propagates quickly, forming carpets of leaves and providing a lot of shaded areas in the aquarium, thus being a good addition to a tank that hosts more reclusive species. Furthermore, blocking light from reaching the tank bottom, it helps prevent algae growth.

Native to:

Argentina Northeast, Bolivia, Brazil North, Brazil West-Central, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico Southeast, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela

Introduced into:


Submitted by
Eleonora Pasquariello

Water Chemistry

Water information

Water type
Fresh water
Water color
Clear water
Water transparency
Concentration of sediments
Water temperature
21-26 °C
Water flow/curent

Chemical parameters

Dissolved Oxygen


Plant form
Plant type
Plant size
Plant growth rate
Plant light demand
Aquarium equipment

Phyllanthus fluitans requires good lighting in the aquarium tank and also does well when the water has a slow flow. CO2 injection or special substrates are not necessary for this plant.

Plant care

This species can thrive in a relatively wide pH range as well as low to high lighting. in high light, the leaves will turn completely red, but in this conditions hard water is recommended. On the other hand, in low to medium light, the leaves will remain a bright green with a small tint of red around the edges, and soft water is recommended.

P. fluitans requires a low level of surface agitation and a gentle water flow. In the right conditions, the plant will grow quickly (thus, a regular pruning will be needed) and provide significant denitrification as well as oxygenation. It does not require CO2 supplementation but, like most floating plants, it will benefit from supplementation of nitrogen, iron, and other plant supplements.


Water care

This species does well in a a neutral pH range, and the optimal temperature goes from 21 to 28°C. It is important not to have a strong flowing water.