red aquarium plants header

Adding plants to your aquarium is a great way to do a lot of things, like add some nutrients for your fish, clean the water, add oxygen (when done right), and boost the aesthetics of the overall landscape.

But plain old green isn’t the only option. There are red plants, too, that can add some bright pops of color.

But the question is, which red plants are best, and how do you care for them?

We thought we’d take a look today at some of the most beautiful, interesting red aquarium plants and grass to add some color to your tank.

The 10 Best Red Plants for Your Aquarium

These are all plants ranging from super easy care to difficult care levels.

Our overview of each gives a good snapshot for what you need to know, but be sure to read an in-depth care guide and any information you can find on plants, fish, and animals they do and don’t do well with.

Remember the basics for creating and maintaining red aquarium plants…as says, “In summary: bright light, the right varieties, good fertilization, and low nitrates (probably) are required for truly red plants.”

1. Ludwigia Repens

#1. Ludwigia Repens

(Water Primrose)

ludwigia repens red aquarium plant
  • Other Common names: Creeping primrose willow, water primrose
  • Lighting: Moderate to high
  • Placement: Midground and background
  • Care level: Easy to moderate
  • Temperature: 74-79° Fahrenheit
  • Substrate: Any except sand

This stunning red plant originally comes from North American countries (United States and Mexico), and is an easy plant for beginners to work with. You don’t have to follow any strict care rules and adds some amazing color without major effort on your part.

It is a medium plant, meaning it’s going to need to be kept in a medium to large aquarium. Putting it into a small fish tank will cause issues, as the plant will take over too much space and potentially threaten the comfort and care of your fish and other critters.

The Ludwigia Repens can grow up to 20 inches, with each stem about 2-inches in width. It will take months, or years for it to reach this maximum size, so you have plenty of time to enjoy these red aquarium plants for beginners.

When you first purchase the plant, be sure that there is some reddish color and that the leaves are undamaged. Parasites and disease can quickly take over a damaged plant. You should also purchase the plant as young as possible to allow for time for it to develop and adapt in its new environment (your aquarium).

Only start with a few stems of the Ludwigia Repens to avoid overgrowth and crowding in your aquarium and avoid sand as the substrate, as this will suffocate the roots. Feed the plant with the appropriate nutrients (aquarium plant foods).


(Mud King Red)

echinodorus cordifolius red
  • Other Common names: Mud King Red, Marble Queen
  • Lighting: Moderate to high
  • Placement: Middle to background
  • Care level: Easy
  • Temperature: 72-84° Fahrenheit
  • Substrate: Nutrient-rich

The care for this beautiful plant is fairly simple. It will definitely benefit from CO2 supplementation, but doesn’t require it – so if your fish would benefit from this, you should consider this option to help bring out the vibrant red of your Marble Queen Radican Sword or Echinodorus cordifolius.

The striking plant can grow up to 24-inches tall and does best in large and tall aquariums. It simply needs nutrient-rich substrate and basic lighting (moderate to high levels of brightness, though!). It produces large leaves, has an extensive root structure, and must be planted with care to avoid shading or over-crowding your other plants.

This particular red beauty will also grow above the water line, if it’s not pruned accordingly and reproduces through rhizome division and side shoots. If you find your plant is getting too tall or too full, you can use these methods to prune and produce more plants to use in other locations or to give away or sell.

Marble Queens are particularly intolerant of copper, so make sure it is kept in a completely purified terrain (which is what your fish need anyway!). It will benefit from plant foods such as Seachem Flourish, and nitrogen, Iron, and other plant supplements.

#3. Rotala Rotundifolia

(Pink Rotala)

pink Rotala aquarium
  • Other Common names: Pink Baby Tears, Pink Rotala, Dwarf Rotala, Roundleaf Toothcup
  • Family: Lythraceae
  • Lighting: Moderate to bright light at 3.5 watts per gallon+, full spectrum light
  • Placement: Middle to background
  • Care level: Moderate
  • Temperature: 70-86° Fahrenheit
  • Substrate: Most

Pink Rotala are easy red aquarium plants, meaning they’re great for beginner aquarists. They’re a rapidly growing plant that does great with frequent, even heavy pruning, so not being an expert isn’t an issue. It’s great for regulating a newly cycled aquarium.

The plant does need to be pruned regularly with the leaves at the base kept away from the light. The one time to skip the heavy pruning is when you’ve got some fish fry in the tank that need shelter or adult fish or worms that you plan to breed in the aquarium. The bushy growth gives the shelter needed for both.

Typically, you won’t be able to grow the plant beyond the water surface, but for the plants that do, purple flowers will appear above the water line.

The plant looks best when planted in large groups. It should also be placed in the middle or background of the tank. The brighter the light, the redder the leaves will turn.

#4. Ammania Senegalensis

(Copper Leaf Ammania)

Ammannia senegalensis
By H. Zell – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
  • Other Common names: Copper leaf Ammania
  • Lighting: Moderate to high
  • Placement: Middle to background
  • Care level: Moderate to difficult
  • Temperature: 68-82° Fahrenheit
  • Substrate: Most

The Copper Lead Ammania, as Ammania Senegalensis is commonly known, is an exceptionally colorful stem plant. It’s relatively new to fishekeeping hobbyists, but with the proper care, it’s a brilliantly vibrant colorful freshwater aquarium plants option.

With the right nutrients and ideal lighting conditions, this gorgeous plant will develop bold red or maroon coloration which is highlighted with green, orange, and yellow tints. It stands out as a real focal point in any aquarium, which is why it’s recently become a much-beloved aquarium plant.

This plant does best in the midground to background portion of the aquarium and looks best under high lighting, though it can be kept in moderate light. It won’t be as colorful, though, if moderate lighting is used.

You’ll also want to consider CO2 supplementation for the Copper Lead Ammania for a brighter, flourishing, thriving plant, though it’s not absolutely necessary for its health. This plant also needs high iron for health and the brilliant coloration.

#5. Alternanthera Reineckii


alternathera reineckii red aquarium plant
  • Other Common names: AR
  • Lighting: Medium to high, with higher red/blue spectrum
  • Placement: Foreground to midground to background, depending on variety
  • Care level: Easy to moderate
  • Temperature: 71.6 to 82.4 Fahrenheit
  • Substrate: Soil based is best

The beautiful, vibrant Alternanthera reneckii comes in a range of different varietals, including the “mini,” which is shorter and redder than other varieties. They’re generally a slow-growing plant, which means they’re great for newbies getting into aquascaping.

This particular plant is pretty forgiving overall, though is prefer to be trimmed without being uprooted or replanted. If you need to move it, do so with extreme caution and rarity. Instead, cut off tall shoots and allow new side shoots to sprout naturally from the remaining base. It sounds a little intimidating for new hobbyists, but this method gives you dense plant growth over time, with shorter recovery time for the plants. And you can replant the cut tops elsewhere and grow more.

And while many folks will recommend high CO2 injections, the plant can still do well without them. Great lighting, of course, also helps improve the coloration and density of leaves. They are susceptible to algae, though, which is challenging with high lighting. You’ll need to make sure you’ve got some algae eater species to help keep the balance in there.

#6. Ludwigia Palustris

(Water Purslane)

ludwigia palustris red
  • Other Common names: Marsh seedbox, Water Purslane
  • Lighting: Moderate to high
  • Placement: Middle to background
  • Care level: Easy
  • Temperature: 59-77° Fahrenheit
  • Substrate: Iron-rich substrate

For a fast-growing, medium-sized red aquarium plant, consider the Marsh Seedbox. This beautiful plant commonly known as Water Purslane, is a striking red plant that is hardy, reaches about 12+ inches, and grows exceptionally fast, even in moderate lighting.

For the brightest red, of course, offering this plant high lighting will improve its changes.

This gorgeous aquatic plant needs iron-rich substrate for that stunning red color, and does best with some CO2 supplementation, though it’s not absolutely required. It can be trimmed to replant more, as well, which makes it an easy-to-grow plant in other ways, as well. 

#7. Pogostemon Stellatus

(Broad Leaf)

Pogostemon stellatus
By User: Tsunamicarlos – Author, Public Domain,
  • Other Common names: Broad leaf
  • Lighting: High
  • Placement: Middle to background
  • Care level: Moderate
  • Temperature: 59-90° Fahrenheit
  • Substrate: Nutrient-rich

This is another reasonably new plant to the aquarist hobby. It’s a bit more advanced for coloration, which may be part of the “delay” in becoming popular. But under high-tech setups, this beauty is bright red and absolutely stunning.

Broad leaf, as Pogostemon stellatus is more commonly referred as (within the family, at least) is a stem plant that is native to Australia and Southeast Asia. This variety can grow to a giant 8-inch width.

It requires high lighting, CO2 injection and properly nutrient-rich substrate for the ultimate brilliant red you’re probably looking for.

It’s a moderately prolific plant, as well, as long as it’s well cared for, and easy to prune. And despite the higher-tech setup required, it is pretty easy to maintain and grow.

#8. Red Cryptocoryne Wendtii

Cryptocoryne Wendtii
  • Other Common names: N/A
  • Lighting: Low to moderate
  • Placement: Foreground to Midground
  • Care level: Easy
  • Temperature: 74-84° Fahrenheit
  • Substrate: Iron-rich substrate

These low light red aquarium plants are an extremely popular option for fish keepers. It’s perfect for beginners, but works beautifully in advanced aquascaping as well.

The Cryptocoryne wendtii is likely the most well-known crypt and comes from Southeast Asia. It’s been developed into a wide range of colors and sized, resulting in a stunning red variety that’s perfect as a foreground and midground aquarium plant.

One reason this plant is so popular is that it thrives in low-light, low-tech situations – meaning beginners are sure to do well with it and still have vibrant red coloring. That also means it does great in aquarium setups where fish or other plants need low light settings. It needs iron-rich substrate, however, to thrive with vibrant coloring.

Red Cryptocoryne wendtii is a slow, steady grower that adapts easily to many water parameters, as long as changes aren’t sudden. It does need to have plenty of time to settle into a new environment or to adapt to changes, but once it’s established, it will reproduce by sending out runners with new plants.

#9. Lobelia Cardinalis

(Cardinal Plant)

Lobelia cardinalis red
  • Other Common names: Cardinal Plant, Cardinal Flower
  • Lighting: Moderate to high
  • Placement: Foreground, middle
  • Care level: Easy to moderate
  • Temperature: 63-82° Fahrenheit
  • Substrate: Most

This lovely, versatile plant from North America makes for a unique foreground or middle ground red aquarium plant. They grow between 4 and 12-inches on average, meaning you can have quite the variety even with the same plant type.

Submerged, the leaves are bright green with a red-purple underside of the leaf, but what makes it really popular is the bright red flowers that grow on these immersed plants.

The Cardinal plant requires moderate to bright lighting and benefits from CO2 supplementation, though it’s not absolutely necessary. Natural fertilizers (safe for plants and your critters and fish!) help increase the coloration as well.

#10. Rotala Indica

(Indian Toothcup)

rotala indica
  • Other Common names: Indian toothcup, True Rotala Indica, Bonsai Rotala
  • Lighting: High
  • Placement: Foreground to midground
  • Care level: Moderate
  • Temperature: 64-86° Fahrenheit
  • Substrate: Iron-rich substrate

This beautiful red aquarium plant, known as Indian Toothcup, is ideal for mid-ground freshwater aquarium planting. It’s a reasonably undemanding plant and can adapt to most “average” water -parameters. They need iron-rich substrate and CO2, along with bright lighting, and trace elements to thrive and grow the red coloration you’re looking for.

The plant is a creeping plant, which means it will spread across the water (when provided sufficient circumstances) and adds some brilliant coloring and flowers wherever it grows. Indian Toothcup is a fragile plant that should not be placed with highly active or large fish.  

Tips For Keeping Your Aquarium Plants Red

Chances are that you’ve chosen red plants because, well, you want red plants in your aquarium. A few things that will help bring out the red in your plants include:

  • Bright light brings out the red – the brighter the light, the redder the red
  • Choose the right plants for your setup – if your aquarium needs low lights, certain substrates, or other specifics, don’t choose plants that don’t work with those parameters
  • Provide your plants with the recommended substrate
  • Provide your plants with the right supplementation – CO2, iron-rich fertilizer, or whatever else they require
  • Keep the nitrates low for peak redness

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