7 Best Red Aquatic Plants to Add Color to Aquarium

7 Best Red Aquatic Plants to Add Color to Aquarium

Every aquarist dreams of adding colors to the aquarium. Besides colorful fish, adding plants with varying colors makes the tank look alluring.

Live plants offer many benefits, and one of them is they increase the tank’s aesthetics. Even though most of the Aquatic Plants come in shades of green, there are a few varieties that have vibrant shades of red, producing stunning contrast.

If you want to add vibrancy to your aquarium by introducing some red Aquatic Plants, there are many options to explore. Some popular red aquatic plants are Alternanthera Reineckii, Rotala Macrandra, and Ludwigia sp. Red; however, there are a lot more that may interest you. Check them out!

Red Aquatic Plants for Aquarium 

When it comes to plants, green is the primary color. However, beautiful contrast comes when there are varying colors- be it a garden or an aquarium. Usually, the number of green plants and varieties is more, but here we are with some of the best red Aquatic Plants to beautify the tank and make it more attractive.

  1. Alternanthera Reineckii

Those who say that red aquatic plant varieties are difficult to grow must not have seen Alternanthera Reineckii, one of the thriving Aquatic Plants of all time. This beautiful red plant adds color and contrast to the tank beautifully. Moreover, it is one of the easy plants to grow and maintain.

Two popular varieties of the plant that can be grown with no fuss are:

  • Alternanthera Reineckii “mini”
  • Alternanthera Reineckii “Rosanervig”

If you have a small tank, or you are more into small plants, go for a variety of ‘mini’ as it is best to use as a decorative foreground or surface plant. However, if the intent is to add a red aquatic plant in the background, taller counterparts like Rosanervig” and “Rosaefolia” will help.

Nature and requirements:

Alternanthera Reineckii is a bushy plant providing shelter to small fish. It also ensures that fish get plenty of area for playing and swimming. Under proper water conditions, the plant grows profusely. It requires regular trimming to ensure bushier and adequate growth.

Talking about its special needs, Alternanthera Reineckii loves light. In fact, only proper lighting will ensure the appearance of true vibrant red-colored leaves. Other than light, this plant requires a soil-based substrate for good growth. There is no need for additional carbon dioxide.

One more thing that requires attention is the algae management. Often, algae cover its leaves, eventually killing the plant. Therefore, to keep Alternanthera Reineckii healthy and thriving, algae management is crucial.

Basic requirements of Alternanthera Reineckii:

  • Moderate to high lighting levels
  • Soft to medium hard, slightly acidic water
  • Temperatures between 17 and 25 °C
  • Nutrient-based substrate
  • High nitrates and high phosphates to accelerate growth
  1. Red Cabomba

Red Cambomba, scientifically known as Cabomba Furcata, is native to Central and South America. The special feature of this plant is its beautiful red stem that can bring stunning contrast to the tank. The leaves are finely divided and bushy, looking more like a bottle brush that increases the aesthetic of the plant, making it more alluring. However, its high maintenance may restrict beginners from growing it.

It is a fast grower and, therefore, requires regular pruning. Moreover, its requirements are very specific, and slight fluctuations may hamper the growth. But, when maintained perfectly, the silky soft foliage with a delicate appearance looks extremely pretty and unique.

Nature and Requirements

Red Cabomba is very hard and tricky to maintain, especially for novice aquarists. From temperature and pH to lighting conditions, everything requires special attention. Shorter internodes appear when the lighting is high and the temperature is cold. In the opposite condition, leaves turn green, and you may see elongated internodes.

The growth pattern of Red Cabomba is fast, which calls for regular trimming. It is not easy to care and have any special and specific requirements. It requires medium to high light conditions to get a flashy red color.

Here are some basic requirements of Red Cabomba:

  • It is a heavy feeder and requires a high quantity of fertilizers.
  • Carbon dioxide brings bright colors
  • Temperature between 22 to 28 degrees Celsius
  • The ideal pH ranges between 6.8 – 7.5.
  1. Rotala Hi Red

Rotala Hi Red is one of the common Aquatic Plants that you can add to bring color to your aquarium. It is a rare species of Rotala but a must to introduce for bringing vividness and flashy redness. The stunning red hues in the plant make it one of a kind. The soft stems and the creeping lumps that they form give an exotic look to the aquarium.

It is known popular as Small Mint “Hi Red and is perfect to use as a background plant. It belongs to the Lythraceae family. Under good water conditions, the plant gets stunning red color and looks amazing in an aquarium.

Nature and requirement:

The growth rate of Rotala Hi Red is moderate; therefore, it doesn’t require regular trimming. However, to give a bushy appearance, proper trimming becomes a must in the initial days. The leaves are red in color and long in shape, and the branches have peculiar reddish pink hues.

Besides adding color, Rotala Hi Red also helps in bringing algae down by improving the Water quality. Here are the basic requirements of this plant:

  • Medium to highlight
  • Temperature between 18 – 30 degrees Celsius
  • CO2 allows it to grow with better density and better coloration
  • Additional fertilizers for better growth
  1. Rotala rotundifolia ‘Blood red’

This beautiful red plant, hailing from Asia (Southeast China), is another one from Rotala to add colors to the tank. It is popular as ‘Blood Red’ and is one of the highly demanding plants of the Rotala family. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, one sight of the plant is enough to attract you, mainly because of its colors and vibrancy.

Even though you can find many more varieties of Rotala- mini, green, narrow leaf, broad leaf, etc., ‘blood red’ is worth a try. However, if you are a beginner, escape this red plant as it requires high maintenance. You can still go for green varieties that are less demanding and easy to care for.

Nature and requirement:

Rotala rotundifolia ‘Blood red’ is a moderate growing plant with high nutritional needs. As it grows, the red color starts becoming more prominent. Due to high and specific requirements, aquarists often struggle to maintain it. Strict temperature, pH, and nutritional needs should be fulfilled to get the perfect color and optimal growth.

Here are the basic requirements of Rotala rotundifolia ‘Blood red’:

  • High-intensity lighting with no shade
  • High Carbon dioxide
  • Plenty of phosphates (1.5 – 2.0 ppm)
  • Nitrate should be 10ppm or less

It is essential to maintain a proper balance of macro and micronutrients in the tank when you add Rotala rotundifolia ‘Blood red’, or else be ready to have stunted growth and discolored leaves. At the same time, make sure to prevent shading to get a flashy red color.

Note: Since this plant has strong coloration, use it as a centerpiece to ensure it doesn’t disturb the uniformity of other green plants.

  1. Ludwigia sp. Red

A variety of Ludwigia palustris, this super red species looks stunning. It has an almost similar flashy red color to Rotala macranda; however, it is easy to grow and maintain. Therefore, it is a beginner-friendly red aquatic plant that can grow in a wide range of water conditions and develop its peculiar color.

The leaves of Ludwigia sp. Red are completely red- from both up and downsides. It can be used as a midground plant to bring contrasting colors to the tank. Due to its fast-growing nature, this plant requires regular trimming. When done after regular intervals, it shows large and bushy growth.

Nature and requirements 

Ludwigia sp. Red is a fragile and soft plant that requires proper handling. Even though its needs are not very specific, sudden water changes may disrupt its growth. Therefore, try to maintain optimum water pH and temperature.

Similar to other red aquatic plants, Ludwigia sp. Red is a sucker of high light intensity that helps it to develop vibrant red color.

Here are the basic requirements of Ludwigia sp. Red:

  • High light intensity will give better color; however, the plant can survive in low light conditions, too.
  • It can thrive well in low fertilizers, but additional nutrient supply will develop side shoots and more branches. Low fertilizers will cause stunted growth.
  • Carbon dioxide of at least 10 ppm
  • Regular trimming
  1. Ludwigia repens

Ludwigia Repens is a beautiful red aquatic plant that can increase the aesthetic of your tank. It is popular as red leaf ludwigia, red repens, and the creeping primrose willow. Being beginner-friendly, it is easy to maintain as well. This plant is native to the US and Mexico and is one of the most popular aquatic plants of all time.

Whether we talk about its vibrant color or growth habit, it looks suitable in all aspects, especially for novice aquarists. Since the plant attains a height of around 12 to 20 inches, it can be placed either as a midground or background plant. The growth rate is fast when water conditions are optimum.

Nature and Requirements

Ludwigia repens is an amphibious plant whose leaves develop a beautiful red color when provided with optimum light intensity. Usually, the underside of the leaves shows red coloration while the upper side stays light green. It can be grown in large groups to attain a beautiful aquascape. However, regular trimming is essential to maintain proper shape.

It is easy to grow and maintain the plant with no strict needs.

Here are the basic requirements of Ludwigia Repens:

  • Medium to very high lighting
  • 8 to 26.1 degrees Celsius is the optimum temperature range
  • It thrives well in slightly acidic water
  • Nutrient-rich substrate
  1. Bacopa Caroliniana

Originating in the South-eastern United States, Bacopa Caroliniana is another beginner-friendly and easy-to-maintain pinkish-red and purple colored aquatic plant. Since it demands less and gives more, everyone should give it a try to get stunning contrast in the tank. At the same time, it is a great option for aquascaping due to its slow growth, giving enough time to plan and decorate the aquarium with it.

This plant is native to North America and belongs to the Plantaginaceae family. With few specific needs, it is best for novices to add to their aquariums and bring stunning colors to them.

Nature and requirements:

Bacopa is a hardy plant tolerant to hard water.

One of the basic necessities of every red aquatic plant is light, and Bacopa is no exception. All you need is to manage to provide good light intensity to this plant, and it will give the best color. Due to its normal height, it can be used in midground groups.

Here are the basic requirements of Bacopa Caroliniana:

  • Soft water accelerates growth and coloration
  • Carbon dioxide injection helps to attain a flashy color
  • Medium to highlight

How do you attain a flashy red color in red aquatic plants?

Often, it is believed that maintaining the red color of aquatic plants is very difficult, and aquarists need to make extra efforts to obtain it. On the contrary, maintaining these plants is almost the same as maintaining any other aquatic plant; however, their needs get a little more specific. While most of the aquatic green plants can stay healthy in minor fluctuations of water parameters, with red ones, you need to get a little strict to ensure they stay red and vibrant.

Let’s understand a few things about red aquatic plants that amuse aquarists the most.

Why some plants are red in color?

Plants whose stems and leaves contain a high quantity of anthocyanins reflect red color instead of green. Anthocyanin pigment is one of the most common reasons for red coloration in plants. These are water-soluble pigments found in the cells of plants, giving them red, purple, or blue depending on the pH of the cell sap.

The major role of anthocyanin is to protect the plant’s DNA from harmful and strong ultraviolet rays.

Here are the basic requirements for a plant to appear flashy and vibrant red color.

  1. Strong Light Intensity 

Strong light conditions stimulate red plants to produce more anthocyanins, which, in turn, make them redder. The criterion of strong light is different and can be divided into four major aspects:

  1. Color spectrum– When the color spectrum contains a higher proportion of blue and purple light, it stimulates the increased production of anthocyanins. It causes the leaves to take on a red hue. Furthermore, red plants have the unique ability to reflect rather than absorb red light. To compensate for this and generate energy equivalent to green plants, they rely on absorbing more green, blue, or purple light from the spectrum. Thus, a light source rich in green, blue, and purple wavelengths promotes the optimal coloration of red plants.


  1. Light intensity- Usually, the light intensity needs to be medium to high so that the plant can produce more anthocyanin and keep reflecting red color. However, high light intensity cannot help in obtaining a red color, and it needs to be combined with carbon dioxide and other nutrients to ensure better results.


  1. Duration of lightning– For the duration, you need to know the biological clock of the plant. If, under normal conditions, the plant opens at 8:00 a.m., you need to open the light at the same time. In the absence of light at the right time, the plant starts producing more chlorophyll, and the new leaves start turning green.


  1. Time of lighting– Since red plants have more anthocyanin instead of chlorophyll, they need longer time lighting than their green counterparts to make sure they can undergo photosynthesis and grow adequately. As a thumb rule, lighting of at least five to six hours is necessary; however, it depends upon the plant species, how powerful the light is, and the quality of water. In certain cases, ten to twelve hours of light also becomes necessary.
  2. Controlled Fertilization 

Fertilizers such as nitrogen and phosphate need to be used in lean amounts to maintain anthocyanin. It ensures that the red plant will stay flashy and vibrant red for long. Some amount of both these fertilizers are already present in the tank’s water, so there is no need to add them further,

Likewise, iron is also not required for red plants; however, it helps in chlorophyll formation. Since red plants need to have more anthocyanins than chlorophyll, additional iron will only make them green. So, limit its addition as well.

  1. Carbon Dioxide 

For a plant to produce more anthocyanin that comes from sugar material, it needs to be rich in glucose. And, as we know, sugar production requires carbon; carbon dioxide supplementation will help.

Usually, the only source of carbon for aquatic plants is carbon dioxide, so adding it will indirectly help in getting a vibrant red color in the leaves and stems.

  1. Temperature 

Maintaining the right temperature is the key to healthy and optimum growth for all aquatic plants. Red plants usually thrive well when the temperature is slightly low. This is mainly because chlorophyll production is favored at higher temperatures. Slight decreases in temperature deter chlorophyll formation and facilitate the development of anthocyanins, giving the plants a reddish appearance.

At the same time, when the temperature is cooler, light penetrates easily, helping in better growth and color pigmentation. Usually, the optimum range for red color plants is between 20-23ºC (68-73.4ºF).

  1. Water pH

Lastly, ensuring that pH is within the specified range will help attain a perfect red color. Usually, red plants require slightly acidic water to get their natural red color. When water turns alkaline, the plants can be seen turning blue or purple instead of red.

The ideal pH range for red aquatic plants is between 6 to 6.8.

Final Words 

Adding a few Aquatic Plants to the tank makes the tank look lively and vibrant. Also, it makes the fish feel more like home as plants give a vibe of natural ambiance. Therefore, adding plants is advantageous in a lot of ways.

If you have some green plant varieties in the tank, it’s time to add a few red aquatic plants, too, to give amazing contrast and beautify the aquarium. In this article, we have discussed everything- from some of the best and easily found red Aquatic Plants to how to make them red.

So, get your favourite red aquarium plant today and make your tank look aesthetically more pleasing.

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