10 Best Red Aquarium Plants To Add Color To Your Tank

You may not know it but aquarium plants do many good things for your fish tank. For instance, they help with aeration, balance water chemistry, serve as hiding spots and beautify your aquarium. 

In fact, when they are red aquarium plants, you can imagine the extra aesthetic touch they’ll add to your tank. And who says you can’t have red aquarium plants in your tank? 

Red Plants
Image Credit: fishkeepingworld.com

Green isn’t the only option. Red plants are interesting, and caring for them is similar to how you would for green plants. But how do you know which is best for your aquarium? 

Let’s find out!

What Makes Aquarium Plants Red?

While you expect red aquarium plants to be naturally red, there’s more to it. Some are original green plants that change to red as they grow.

A couple of factors determine the redness and how red some aquarium plants will be. They are:

  • Nitrogen

Reduced nitrogen and phosphorus can help promote the hue color in aquarium plants and make them red rather than green. As long as nitrogen and phosphorus are reduced, there isn’t enough chance for more chlorophyll production.

This helps red aquarium plants like rotala rotundifolia and ludwigia arcuata become redder. However, it’s not the same for all red plants. You also must be careful when growing red aquarium plants by reducing nitrogen because other plants that benefit from it may suffer.

  • Bright lights

Light also plays a role in a plant’s pigmentation. Bright light tends to deepen a plant’s color, and can make your aquarium plants much redder.

Of course, this is the same for green plants. However, you should be careful with lighting in your aquarium as too much light can cause algae growth, which can suffocate oxygen in the tank and affect fish growth.

  • Red-blue lighting

Red-blue lighting also helps deepen plant pigmentation and make red aquarium plants redder. A red-blue spectrum will make any plant’s color come alive.

Are Red Aquarium Plants Hard To Grow?

Yes, red aquarium plants can be harder to grow than you think. You have to do extra and put some things in place for them to become red, except for a few.

Moreover, you would need to add lighting, limit nitrogen and phosphorus, and maybe increase iron in the water for them to become so red. The truth is, you have to be all in to make them grow well.

How To Grow Red Aquarium Plants?

Red aquarium plants are not that hard to grow. Maintaining their color can be more tasking, but you can successfully grow red aquarium plants with a little guide. 

  • You need to provide proper lighting conditions for your plant. Bright light is the ideal lighting for red plants to maintain their hue.
  • Ensure you have a nutrient-rich substrate in your aquarium and supplement as needed.
  • Lower nitrate level in your tank at all times as this can affect your red aquarium plant.
  • Maintain proper water parameters and prevent sudden and constant changes in your aquarium.
  • Your red aquarium plants need regular care to grow well and right.
  • Ensure the water has a moderate amount of CO2, which helps the plant stay healthy.
  • Trim unhealthy plants once you notice they aren’t growing as they should.

Best Red Aquarium Plants

Red aquarium plants’ levels range from easy to difficult. Knowing that will help you decide which you can grow in your aquarium without stress. 

Generally, red aquarium plants need good lighting, fertilization, and low nitrate to grow well. So, you better keep that in mind.

The following are the best red aquarium plants: 

1. Ludwigia repens

One of the best red aquarium plants for your tank is ludwigia repens. Its other common names are water primrose and creeping primrose willow. It is native to North American countries and easy to grow for beginners.

This plant is very easy to maintain as it’s a slow-growing plant. It can take months or years to reach its maximum length of 20 inches. While you wait for it to reach that length, it beautifies your tank with its color without you doing much work.

However, always ensure the plants remain red and remove any damaged leaves as parasites and diseases can take over them.

2. Pink rotala

Pink rotala or rotala rotundifolia is another beautiful red aquarium plant for your tank. It’s easy to grow and perfect for new aquarists. Apart from pink rotala, you can also call it dwarf rotala, pink baby tears, and roundleaf toothcup.

They grow fast, so they would need regular serious pruning. In addition, they’re good for newly cycled aquariums. Since they grow fast, they provide shelter for fish while looking perfect in the middle or background of the aquarium.

3. Copper leaf ammania

Copper leaf ammania (ammania senegalensis) is colorful, including its stems. The care level ranges from moderate to difficult. This plant is gorgeous and, when cared for properly, will attain its full red or maroon color.

They also have a tint of green, yellow, or orange colors. You must supplement this plant with high iron and CO2 to boost its color.

4. Ludwigia palustris

Ludwigia palustris (water purslane or marsh seedbox) is a fast-growing red aquarium plant that brightens up tanks. It is hardy and can survive different water conditions. 

It can grow up to 12 inches long. Supplementing the plant with iron and CO2 will help the red color deepen. It’s easy to grow and won’t be a problem for beginners.

5. Lobelia cardinalis

Lobelia cardinalis, or cardinal plant, is a beautiful and versatile red aquarium plant and adds color to your tank. They can grow up to 4 to 12 inches. Their red color is bright if they’re submerged in water.

If you submerge them in a substrate, their leaves can turn green with a red-purple underside. You can boost the color with natural fertilizers, CO2, and bright lighting.

6. Rotala Indica

Also known as Indian toothcup, bonsai rotala, and true rotala indica is a red aquarium plant fit for mid-ground freshwater planting. It’s easy to keep and requires moderate water parameters. 

This is a creeping plant and will creep all over the aquarium glass, so you may want to monitor that if you don’t want it that way. It also produces beautiful flowers which will look good in your tank.

However, you shouldn’t grow it in a tank with hyperactive or large fish. Ensure the substrate is iron-rich for optimum growth and pigmentation.

7. Red tiger lotus

Red tiger lotus is popular among aquarists, and its broad red-pigmented leaves spread in the water and make the tank beautiful. It is a water Lily and doesn’t need active maintenance to bloom.

It is fast-growing and can quickly take over the tank. Plus, it needs a lot of iron, and if it doesn’t get enough, it may start producing green leaves instead of its original red. 

This plant is nutrient hungry and needs lots of it to grow. However, it may not grow well with other aquarium plants because it releases toxic chemicals that may affect the plant’s growth.

8. Rotala macrandra

Rotala macrandra is also popular, especially because its well-pigmented colors brighten the tank. When it reaches maturity, it’s a beauty to behold. It’s highly demanding and needs a lot of nutrients.

You can mix it with other morphs like green, mini, or narrow leaf to have a burst of rotala macrandra in your tank. Bright lighting will bring them to life in your aquarium.

However, this plant isn’t easy to grow for beginners unless they’re ready to give what it takes. You should try injecting the plant with CO2 and avoid any sudden fluctuation or imbalance in the tank.

9. Ludwigia sp. red

Ludwigia sp. red is similar to ludwigia palustris but different in their morph. This one produces vibrant red colors, and it’s easier to grow than ludwigia palustris.

You don’t need to plant it under strict nutrient requirements; they simply need to get enough lighting. Even at that, a sudden change in the water parameters can damage the plant. Also, they can get bushy quickly, so they need regular pruning.

10. Rotala wallichii

This plant is a stem plant with needle-shaped leaves having pink or red hues. It blooms with bright, purple flowers and is a popular red stem plant among aquarium hobbyists. 

This plant needs high nitrite, iron, phosphate, and carbon dioxide doses to attain its full pigmentation. The parts that grow closest to the water surface are often deeper in color than those in the water.

Plant three to five stems in the aquarium to see their full beauty and watch them bloom.

What Prevents Red Aquarium Plants From Turning Red?

Some plants aren’t red from their early stage and may not turn to their full red color if they lack certain things. Likewise, mature red aquarium plants may not have deep red colors due to some factors.

Generally, low lighting in aquariums can prevent your plant from turning red. Lack of adequate CO2 may prevent red aquarium plants from attaining their most pigmentation.

Also, if the plant cells get damaged, you shouldn’t expect the plant to look red.


Red aquarium plants are beautiful and are good for your tank. In the same way, green plants are good, but red plants are more colorful. 

You can plant red and green aquarium plants together for full beauty. However, ensure you plant red aquarium plants under bright lighting and give them enough nutrients. 

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