Why Do Plants Turn Red?
While looking at the alluring red aquarium plants, what’s the first question that pops up in your mind? Wait, let me guess; it must be what makes the red aquarium plants red, right?
It is one of those tricky questions to answer as each red plant responds slightly differently. The factors that determine the intriguing red colors are:
The primary reason behind plants’ redness is the limitation in the supply of nitrogen and an adequate amount of phosphate. Nitrogen and phosphate help trees grow green as these elements penetrate the plants’ tissues to produce more chlorophyll.
Naturally, the lack of nitrogen and phosphate brings forth vibrant red and pink tones in the aquarium plants’ leaves.
However, the reduced level of nitrogen to promote red hue works only with some plant species such as Ludwigia arcuata, Rotala Rotundifolia, etc., whereas other species such as Ludwigia Macrandra and its variants do not have much of an impact.
Regulating nitrogen levels in the aquarium tank should be done with precautions. The other aquarium plants in the tank that benefits from fatty nutrient levels might suffer if the nitrogen level sinks too low.
Bright lighting plays a significant role in the pigmentation of the leaves and plants. More light deepens the colors of all the plants, including green plants. The drawback of having higher and brighter light is the promotion of algae growth in the aquarium tank.
However, a properly maintained clean and healthy tank permits you to use the higher lighting without promoting algae problems. Algae bloom is one of the main reasons for the depletion of dissolved oxygen both in the aquarium tank and natural water bodies such as ponds, lakes, etc. Diminished oxygen level in the tank makes your fish drown/suffocate to death.
The red-Blue hue in the lighting system lights up red plants better. Red-blue light invigorates red pigmentation in the plants; the plants grow redder and look even redder. LED aquarium lights lack a red-blue spectrum; usage of multicolor aquarium lights with full-spectrum bulbs or LED grow lights full spectrum with a red-blue range renders different shades of colors in the tank.
How to Grow Strong Red Aquarium Plants?
Do you fancy having that desired red hue on your aquarium plants? Well, it’s not that hard a task to do. All you need to ensure is to provide optimum conditions to influence the growth of lustrous red leaves you can boast about.
Thus, always make sure you are ticking on the following points to grow intense red aqua plants.
- Pick the right species of plant to get the vibrant real red color.
- Ensure a nutrient-rich substrate
- Limit the level of nitrate present in the tank water
- Provide proper condition to produce a moderate amount of CO2 in water
- Offer proper lighting conditions.
- Maintain the right parameters of tank water
- Take regular care of the plants.
How CO2 Helps in Growing Healthy Red Aquarium Plants?
Well! we all know that trees inhale CO2, which helps them to survive and perform photosynthesis. But do you know what the fun fact about CO2 is? A sufficient amount of CO2 helps aquatic plants to develop a red or magenta tinge.
Have you mistakenly bought green plants from the market instead of red ones? Don’t worry! You can make those plants go through a complete transition from green to red color if provided with the right tank water conditions.
But are you wondering how to do so? Well, CO2 plays a pivotal role here. You can only achieve red aquarium plants when you deliver the right amount of CO2 in the aquarium.
Do you know how much CO2 is needed for growing those beautiful red aquarium plants? Anywhere between 20-40 ppm works well with most aquarists. Here, the objective is to pack the system with CO2 neither more nor less.
However, more than this level of CO2 can make your fishes struggle to breathe and sometimes potentially result in death. The proper control of CO2 thus offers well-rounded fertilization to the plants.
Role of Nitrogen in Growing Red Aquarium Plants
As an Aquarium keeper, you must know the vital role the proper nitrogen level plays in growing fishes and plants in the aquarium. But do you know how it helps in growing the red aquarium plants?
Well, nitrogen has always served as one of the essential components for the plants’ overall growth. But in this case, the condition is just the opposite.
Most aquatic plants use nitrogen to produce chlorophyll and remain green in color. And this is precisely why a low setting of nitrogen is needed to grow bright red aquarium plants. Whenever there is a lack of nitrogen in the tank water, the plants will automatically grow more orangish or reddish.
If you are planting species like Rotala Rotundifolia, Hygrophila Pinnatifida, Rotala Goias, Ludwigia Arcuata, etc., then a low nitrogen environment will be the best to grow intense red leaves.
What are the Best Red Aquarium Plants for Beginners?
Do you want to commence your aquarist journey by keeping red plants in your tank? Well, then it would be good to start with beginner-friendly red aquarium plants.
Here, we have put forward the ten best options that beginner aquarists can opt to create a spectacular aquascape in their tanks.
Alternanthera or magenta water hedge is quite popular and looks pretty in both small and large tanks. It is principally a slow-growing stem plant that comes with a reddish appearance with a slight magenta hue.
Its leaves feature a greenish-brown color in the upper portion and purplish-red color in the lower half; do you know these contrasting leaves play the real color-changing game under the proper aquarium lighting?
They grow up to 20-inches (50 cms). These vibrant red aquarium plants grow better when you provide them with nutrient-rich substrates and high lighting. And the water temperature range from 75 to 80℉ (24-27C), with a 5 to 7 pH range.
Alternanthera Reineckii is an excellent plant to fix oxygen in the tank water and a perfect shelter for the fry and smaller fish to hide from the aggressive species.
Echinodorus Fancy Twist
Do you want some fancy-shaped twists inside your tank? Well, then the Echinodorus Fancy Twists will be the perfect ones for your aquarium. These plants come with large round leaves and feature a mix of colors like red, green, purple, pink, etc., and have an extensive root structure. At a young age, the plants’ leaves possess brownish-red spots.
Also, this red-hued plant is relatively easy to take care of. Echinodorus grow over the water’s surface; you would want to keep the plant entirely submerged in water and apply moderate lighting to obtain a bright reddish ambiance. Plant it directly on the substrate and add nutrients to its root for better growth. It requires a tank water temperature of 60-87℉ (15-30°C) and 6-7.5 pH.
As a beginner, the best red aquarium plant that you can choose is the Ludwigia Repens. The lustrous and vibrant red leaves are fairly easy to care for. Make sure you are providing this water plant with proper light, along with enough nutrients to get that bright color.
This dazzling red plant can make your aquascape designs look great in any tank size. Ludwigia Repens grow up to 20 inches (50 cms); you can easily cut them from the main stem and plant them on the substrate for better growth.
Wait! Are you using sand as the substrate? Hey! Hold on! Sand can suffocate their delicate solid roots, making them die.
Ludwigia Repens is compatible with Java Moss, Java Fern, Amazon Sword, Rotala Rotundifolia, etc. They are great for any peaceful community tank such as Cory Catfish, Guppies, Neon Tetra, Ember Tetra, Rasbora, Cherry Barbs, etc.
Ludwigia Repens go well with some of the Snails as well. Snails such as Ramshorn, Nerite Snail, Mystery Snail, etc. However, there are some snails, Goldfish, Rainbowfish, Oscars, and the other Cichlids which tend to eat plants and dig at the roots.
Echinodorus Red Diamond
Popularly known as the Red Tiger Lotus, it is a flowering tank plant whose white blossoms emerge from the water surface. This plant comes with red-colored arrow-shaped or round lily-pad-like leaves.
Do you know what the most exciting fact about this plant is? It is a low-maintenance species. It can even emanate a sparkling bright red color on the application of low-intensity lights.
Red Tiger Lotus measures about 31-inches (78 to 80 cm), hence most suitable for medium and large-sized aquariums. It flourishes well in a water temperature of 71-82℉(21-28°C) and a pH range of 5-8.
If you would like some orange shades amongst red aquarium plants in your tank? Then, the Echinodorus Ozelot is the perfect one to decorate the background of your aquarium or aquascape in jungle style to render it an aesthetic look. The red variety of this plant features oval leaves along with ellipse-shaped black spots all over.
You need not add extra carbon dioxide for this plant’s growth. It requires 59-86℉(15-30°C) water temperature to thrive. All you need to do is ensure that the soil is nutrient-rich and shed a moderate amount of light to get a reddish hue in your aquarium.
Red Cryptocoryne Wendtii:
How to Maintain Red Aquarium Plants Red?
Have you successfully grown your red aquarium plants? So, what should the next step be? Well, now your efforts will double up for maintaining the redness of those plants.
The exact coloration is not hard to get, but you need to follow some tricks regularly. Here are some tips for you to get the intense red hue of the plants:
Ensure the Bright Lighting
The first thing that you need to check is the brightness intensity of lights. However, there are a few plants that exhibit full-color potential in moderate light settings. But if you plan to plant Rotalas, then the lighting needs to be very intense within the defined spectrum and wavelength range.
Wondering why? Well, that’s because most of the red pigments act like sunscreen for the plants. They absorb the specified wavelength of blue light and reflect the red wavelengths.
Proper Supply of Nutrients
Without an adequate amount of nutrients, it’s tough to grow red aquarium plants. For proper nutrition, you need to provide an all-in-one fertilizer.
Also, the supply of a moderate amount of iron in the tank water will ease the job. But make sure you are not providing too much iron; otherwise, it can harm the tank’s invertebrates.
Lower the Nitrate Level for your Red Aquarium Plants:
The lower the nitrate level in the water, the redder the plants will appear. If you want to achieve the peak of redness, make sure you provide a low nitrate level to your plants. Moreover, nitrates are dangerous to all aquatic life; the ideal nitrate level is <20. Testing water regularly for all the necessary parameters with a test kit is a prerequisite in maintaining a healthy aquarium tank.
Use an efficient filtration system to lower the nitrates. Also, frequent changing of water can help limit the nitrate waste in the tank.
How to Care for Red Aquarium Plants?
To care for Red Aquarium Plants, all you need to do is add a few more steps to the techniques you adopted for taking care of your green plants.
Here are a few tips that you can follow to take proper care of your red aquarium plants.
Maintain Optimum Tank Water Parameters
The water specifications play an important role here. You would want to keep an eye on the water parameters to ensure that the tank water matches your red aquarium plants’ needs.
The majority of water plants’ requirements fit within the range of pH level of 6.5-7.8 and a temperature range of 70-85℉ (21-30°C).
Do you know the most critical factor to look after when you are thinking of keeping red aquarium plants? Lighting!
Your aquarium’s lighting needs to meet your plants’ requirements to obtain a beautiful reddish environment. Some plants require more light, while others rely on moderate intensity; also, the spectrum of lighting matters to bring the plants’ deep hue. Require to arrange the lighting accordingly.
Trim the Unhealthy Plants
For most red aquarium plant species, regular trimming is an essential part of the maintenance, just the way you do to your garden plants. Whenever you spot any brown or dying leaves, you need to trim them off. Letting those dying leaves fall in the water may disrupt the healthy balance of the aquatic environment.
It is paramount to remove the dying leaves off the tank; decomposition of leaves adds bio-load to the filtration system and encourages ammonia to build. At any given time, Ammonia and Nitrite levels should remain 0 in the water.
Also, do you know overcrowding can make the top plants prevent the growth of the bottom ones? And trimming the overgrown plant parts is the only solution to it!
Red Aquarium Plants – Wrap Up
Nothing can look more beautiful than a mix of those green, pink, brown, purple, and red aquarium plants in a fish tank. It creates a perfect replica of an alluring underwater life.
All you need to do is choose wisely the variety of plants based on their basic requirements such as water temperature, hardness, pH, lighting intensity, demand for CO2 level, etc.
All the seasoned aquarists know never to mix aggressive species fish with peace-loving species or the species which requires hard water with the one that requires soft water or a tropical species with a cold water species.
The same principle applies to aquarium plants; carefully study each species to which you are attracted and see how many of them co-exist without forgetting the fish and other invertebrates in the tank.
And share with us the process and your experiences of creating Red Aquarium.