Top 5 Red Plants you can grow without Co2 supplementation

Top 5 Red Plants you can grow without Co2


The red coloration seen in plant species is directly proportional to the amount of light it is being exposed to. Coloration and pigment in plants are similar to a tan in humans. It protects the plant from increased light levels. This means that the
brighter the light the more red of a plant you'll grow. Though that is not the only factor that affects pigmentation in plants. A secondary factor that will affect leaf pigmentation is nitrate limitation. By keeping your nitrate below 10 ppm and even below 5 ppm, you'll limit your nitrates. This results in more xanthophylls and less chlorophyll being produced by the leaves. Because of this, your plant will show less green coloration and more red pigmentation.



Ludwigia palustris (Super Red Ludwigia)



This species is the easiest to achieve the desired red coloration. To achieve it you only need medium to high lighting. While nitrate limitation will have a small effect on red coloration, it is not required to achieve the desired pigmentation. This is a fast-growing and easy-to-care-for stem plant, which propagates easily by producing numerous side shoots. This species also tolerates a wide variety of water conditions. This is evident to many because it has become invasive in many bodies of water throughout the world. This can be grown as either a midground or background plant. Though to achieve an ideal midground bush, frequent pruning is required. This is due to the fast growth rate this species
exhibits. The option to let this plant grow taller and fill the background of the aquarium is commonly utilized. No matter where or what form you choose to grow this species in, it will be a striking and eye-catching addition to your aquarium.

Light requirements: This species will grow in both low and high-light environments. The best coloration can only be achieved with moderate to high light levels. In excessively low light environments it will show more green coloration.

Rate of growth: This species has a moderate to fast rate of growth compared to other species of stem plants.

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Phyllanthus fluitans (Red Root Floaters)


This is a stunning and easy-to-grow plant that requires no supplemental Co2. This is because it floats on the surface of the water. The only difficult aspect of this plant is how to achieve the desired deep red coloration. This plant will only
show an ideal deep red color in a nitrate-limited environment. At levels below 10 ppm of nitrate, it'll start to grow yellow to orange, and below 5 ppm of nitrate it’ll achieve a deep red color. Light is a secondary factor for this species when determining color intensity. This is not because light has a different effect on coloration for this species when comparing it to other plants. It is because this species floats on the water’s surface giving it ample light exposure. Light intensity is significantly reduced when it is forced to pass through water. The amount of water the light must pass through determines how much PAR intensity is available for the plants to utilize during photosynthesis (PAR refers to the light spectrum that plants are capable of using during photosynthesis, as well as the intensity of the light output).

Light requirements: This plant will grow in low light conditions, but the lower the light intensity, the greener the plant will grow. Under moderate and high light conditions it will often show intense red coloration.

Rate of growth: This species has an extremely fast rate of growth due to its access to atmospheric Co2.

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Cryptocoryne Wendtii Var. Red



This is a low-light and slow-growing species of Cryptocoryne.
While this variant does not achieve the deep red color common in the other species on this list, it will grow easily in most aquariums. Making it the easiest species of plant on this list. At the same time, it still shows an attractive reddish-brown coloration. An important note is that most of the time when you buy Cryptocoryne at an aquarium or pet store they'll have been grown
emersed (out of the water, which reduces cost for the plant cultivator). Because of this, it is extremely common for them to melt and regrow in the first 2-3 weeks after being added to your aquarium. Simply give it time to recover and it’ll flourish with minimal difficulty.

Light requirements: this species is a low to moderate-light plant, unless you are supplementing Co2 into the aquarium, high light should be avoided.

Rate of growth: In aquariums, this species has a slow to moderate rate of growth which is similar to most species of Cryptocoryne

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Rotala rotundifolia red (Rotala H’ra and colorata)


Out of the 3 species of stem plant that have been included in this article so far, this color variant is the easiest plant to grow. Though a downside to this ease of growth is that it is also the hardest plant to achieve the desired deep red coloration. Similar to one of the previous species, the red root floaters. The Rotala H’ra color variant requires fairly severe nitrate limitation to achieve the optimal color intensity. Not only that but because it is a stem plant and underwater, unlike the red root floaters. This species also requires fairly intense light exposure to achieve the desired deep red coloration. While this species does not require Co2 supplementation to show a deep red color. Letting the stem grow to the water‘s surface will make it easier to achieve optimal coloration. This is because once a stem plant breaks the water’s surface it will have access to a near-unlimited supply of Co2 from the atmosphere. Allowing it to bypass the biggest limiting factor in low-tech aquariums, which is available carbon. It should be noted that the most available source of carbon that plants will utilize in aquariums is carbon dioxide gas. Coupled with the unlimited supply of carbon which allows for an optimal rate of photosynthesis. Reaching the water surface also drastically increases the amount of light which the plant is exposed to. That increased light exposure results in a deeper and more vibrant red coloration near the top of the stem.

Light requirements: This species will grow with ease under low, medium, and high lighting. But optimal color will only present itself in high-light environments.

Rate of growth: The rate of growth for this species is very fast compared to other stem plant varieties.

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Alternanthera Reineckii


The last species to highlight is the slowest to grow. While it is
very possible to grow this species in an aquarium without Co2 supplementation, not everyone is successful. In part due to the variant of this species, they attempt to grow. Not only is there a regular variety for this species. There is also a mini, panda, variegated, and rosanervig. The only variety that will frequently survive and grow in an aquarium without Co2 supplementation is the regular variety, which is the most commonly seen. The other varieties have a higher
difficulty level and often require supplemental Co2. Though even the regular variety is quite stunning. Growing slowly but with a deep red coloration. It doesn't require nitrate limitation or excessively high light levels to show significant red coloration. Which makes this species one of
the easiest to achieve the desired red coloration. No need to limit nitrate, simply focus on the health of the plant and keeping the leaves free of algae and you'll be rewarded with a stunning species that can become the focal point of your aquarium.


Light requirements: This species can sometimes be grown in low light conditions. For the best chance at success moderate to high light is recommended.

Rate of growth: The rate of growth for this species is slow to moderate compared to other stem plant varieties.

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That has been an overview of the top 5 species of red plant you can grow in an aquarium without Co2 supplementation. Each of these species is available for sale on our store. If any have caught your interest, no need to look further. Simply order it and enjoy growing your stunning red-colored plant.


Honorable mentions: (Click below to see more)


Written by Jacob Thompson

Imagery by AquaticMotiv Llc 



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