Red aquarium plants are a beautiful addition to any tank.
They really pop against the surrounding greenery and add depth and interest to the overall look.
That said, taking care of red plants isn’t always easy. In fact, it’s often difficult to get them to maintain their red color.
It’s true that some red plants are meant for experienced aquarists but there are plenty of options available for those just getting started.
Let’s take a look at some varieties that are easier to care for and learn more about how to achieve the results you’re looking for.
Table of Contents
- The 10 Easy Red Aquarium Plants
- How to Keep Red Aquarium Plants Red?
- How to Care for Red Aquarium Plants?
The 10 Easy Red Aquarium Plants
Believe it or not, red aquarium plants aren’t always red and don’t always stay red. Some are downright difficult to care for.
Luckily, there are plenty of varieties out there that are beginner friendly. Here are ten you should consider:
1. Alternanthera Reineckii
More commonly known as the Magenta Water Hedge, Alternanthera reineckii is a slow-growing plant with purple undertones that turns red when it gets enough light.
They can grow as tall as 20 inches and are a good plant to place in the middle or back of an aquascape.
This plant needs nutrient-rich substrate and moderate to high lighting. If the light isn’t bright enough, it will lose its red color and the lower leaves will begin to fall off.
Optimal growing conditions are soft water that’s slightly acidic and water temperature between 75 and 80 degrees F.
2. Ammania Senegalensis
The Ammania Senegalensis, also known as copper leaf ammonia, has some color variations but with the right lighting and nutrition, it takes on a beautiful brick red color.
The wavy oval leaves add texture and visual interest to your aquarium and look great in the mid-ground.
While this is not the easiest plant on our list to take care, it’s but no means difficult. It needs high lighting, adequate levels of carbon dioxide, and regular fertilizer.
It can also be easily propagated by cutting new growth at the base and simply replanting it.
3. Echinodorus Red Devil
This gorgeous plant is a combination of a few different species. The color varies but in the right conditions, the leaves take on a deep ruby red and can grow to about 12 inches and make great background plants.
To get the best reds and strongest growth out of the Red Devil, it needs nutrient-rich substrate and generous lighting.
While adding additional carbon dioxide is optional, you should fertilize regularly.
4. Cryptocoryne Albida Brown
One of the reasons that the Cryptocoryne Albida Brown is so good for beginners is that it can grow in just about any conditions.
Although optimal conditions will produce a faster-growing plant, you generally don’t have to worry about lighting or carbon dioxide.
This plant has long, narrow leaves and is a short plant that’s ideal for the foreground. The leaves are red and brown with a crimped edge. Leaves can grow to about 6 inches long and look great set among taller green plants.
5. Echinodorus Red Diamond
For a great looking small plant that’s relatively easy to care for, take a look at the Echinodorus Red Diamond.
In the right conditions, the leaves can grow between 6 and 12 inches long and keeps a fairly tight shape.
This is a good solo plant and even does well in smaller aquariums. It can grow in water between 60 and 85 degrees F with a pH of between 5 and 7.
With regular applications of fertilizer and optimal lighting, you’ll get the deep ruby red leaves you’re looking for.
6. Echinodorus Ozelot
For a great middle-ground accent, you can’t go wrong with an Echinodorus Ozelot. The red variety has short stems and long oval-shaped leaves with prominent veins and bright spots.
These plants aren’t very particular and can grow in most water conditions. They don’t require addition carbon dioxide.
In fact, the only real requirement is good, nutrient-rich soil. The only require moderate light for fast growth and side shoots should be removed to control growth.
7. Ludwigia Repens Rubin
There aren’t many plants that are as easy to keep as the Ludwigia Repens Rubin.
It’s a versatile plant that only needs bright lights and adequate nutrients to produce its brightest colors. While it doesn’t require carbon dioxide injections, they can produce fast growth.
This plant has darker red leaves than other varieties of the species, so much so that they make a gorgeous centerpiece for most arrangements. Propagating new plants it easy, too. Just take cuttings from the main stem and replant them.
8. Echinodorus Hadi Red Pearl
Echinodorus Hadi Red Pearl plants are a little rare but very easy to care for.
These plants have large sword-shaped leaves that a green with heavy red markings covering most of the surface.
They grow from about 4 to 9 inches tall and grow slowly making them a great plant for the middle ground.
9. Echinodorus Fancy Twist
The Echinodorus Fancy Twist really lives up to its name because it is, in fact, fancy.
This eye-catching plant makes a great centerpiece because of its large round leaves and variations in color from green to dark red.
The best thing about this plant is that it’s so easy to care for. It can be both emersed and submerged and planted directly in the substrate. Just make sure you’re properly supplementing the roots and you’re good to go.
10. Echinodorus Red Chameleon
Last but not least is the Echinodorus Red Chameleon. This is a pretty new variety of plant that’s quite similar to the Green Chameleon with one key difference: the central leaves develop a deep red color.
These plants are fairly easy to care for, requiring a nutrient-rich substrate, regular fertilization, and adequate carbon dioxide levels for strong growth.
They can grow to just about a foot tell and stay fairly compact in strong lighting.
How to Keep Red Aquarium Plants Red?
Believe it or not, one of the most difficult things about red aquarium plants is keeping them red.
You might start out with red leaves that turn green or introduce a green plant that you can’t quite figure out how to turn red.
There are other possibilities, too. Maybe you managed to get your plant from green to orange or brown but want the deep red or bright purple color you expected. You’re not alone! It truly is not always easy to get the desired color.
In order to understand what’s going on, let’s break it down piece by piece. The first thing to consider is why plants turn red in the first place.
Why Do Plants Turn Red?
There are a few reasons why this happens. We should note that it really depends on the plant species you’re dealing with but here are some general explanations.
Pollination. Remember that some of these plants grow so tall that they grow above the surface and flower. Some plant species developed red leaves to attract insects to pollinate their flowers.
Protection from the sun. It might surprise you to learn that plants can get sunburned, but they can! While all plants need the sun to survive, too much direct sunlight damages the leaves. The red coloring develops as a sort of natural sunscreen.
Nutrients. Depending on the plant and the nutrient, the red color can develop from too much or not enough of a particular nutrient.
For example, iron can cause plants to turn red but it’s also necessary for the formation of chlorophyll which turns the leaves green.
Limiting exposure to nitrogen and phosphate can also turn leaves red while an increase can turn them green or brown. This isn’t necessarily ideal, however. Plants need a sufficient supply of nutrients and denying them can cause long term problems.
How Can I Get my Plants to Turn and Stay Red?
There are a few things you can try to get your plants to grow and stay red. Again, these are just general guidelines and how effective these interventions vary from one species to another.
Increase light. Sometimes, all it takes is an increase in the level and quality of light to get a plant to turn red. Use caution, though. For some plants, this can actually cause harm.
Provide adequate nutrients. Before worrying about changing the color, you need to make sure your plants are strong and healthy. Making sure they have everything they need to thrive is the best way to do that.
Check the carbon dioxide. Some plants require an increase in carbon dioxide to turn red. If the levels in your tank aren’t high enough, you may need to infuse the water with more.
How to Care for Red Aquarium Plants?
Caring for red aquarium plants is basically the same as caring for any plant with a few extra steps added in.
Here are some things you should do to make sure they thrive.
1. Research to find out what lighting requirements your plants need and make sure you have the right setup in your tank. Bear in mind that some plants require much more light than others and arrange them accordingly.
2. Check your water parameters and make sure they match with that your plant needs to thrive. Most plants require a particular pH and temperature range. Knowing what your plant needs are the first step. Then, correct as needed.
3. Trim away any brown or dying leaves to prevent them from breaking down and affecting the overall health of the water. You should do this when you first get the plant before you’ve even placed it in the tank and continue to check it on a regular basis.
4. Prune new growth on a regular schedule. Some of these plants can grow very quickly and the leave at the top can prevent the bottom plants from getting what they need. Trim new growth as needed for the look you’re trying to achieve.
Getting your aquarium plants to turn red and stay red isn’t always easy but it is possible. Good results depend on proper care and the most important thing you can do it get to know your plant and the specific things it needs to thrive.
It’s true that some red plants are difficult to care for. That’s why it’s a good idea to choose something that’s beginner-friendly, like the plants we listed here.
With the right care and interventions, you’ll be able to achieve the look you want for your tank. It might take some time and a little bit of trial and error but if you follow the steps in this guide, you should see results.