Red Root Floater Vs Frogbit – Why I’m Switching!

Amazon frogbit is a fast-growing aquatic plant ideal for new aquariums, but its rapid root growth and tangling can be problematic; in contrast, red root floaters, while slower-growing, is easier to manage and can develop a unique red hue, making them a preferred choice for many aquarium enthusiasts.

I prefer to have floating plants in each of my aquariums because of the numerous practical advantages they offer, and their appearance adds an extra layer of detail to the tank that I really like.

Unfortunately, my Amazon frogbit has been causing me several problems recently and I am seriously considering switching it out for red root floaters due to both plants offering similar benefits for the tank.

Due to this, I wanted to publish my red root floater vs frogbit comparison article to explain my logic to my readers and potentially help you decide on the better plant for your tank setup.

Just because I am thinking of switching over to using red root floaters does not mean that Amazon Frogbit doesn’t have its place in the hobby and I will keep my “Amazon frogbit jar” for any new tanks I start but more on that later.

FeatureAmazon FrogbitRed Root Floaters
Light RequirementMediumLow
Growth RateFastModerate
Nutrient UptakeHighHigh
Benefits– Nitrate Reduction– Nitrate Reduction
– Shelter For Small Fish– Shelter For Small Fish
– Algae Control– Algae Control
Appearance– Long Roots– Red Roots
– Small Round Leaves– Small Round Leaves
– Light Green Color– Green To Red Coloration
Difficulty LevelEasyModerate
PropagationRunnersRunners
Amazon Frogbit Vs Red Root Floaters

Growth Rate

1 Week Of Amazon Frogbit Growth
1 Week Of Amazon Frogbit Growth

Amazon frogbit has an extremely rapid growth rate in the right conditions and depending on your tank setup, you may need to trim its roots every couple of days.

I try to coral my frogbit away from my hardscape so I can usually stretch the root trimmings to once per week but as I mentioned in my article going over trimming frogbit roots, it starts to become a pain after keeping the plant for a couple of months.

That said, the rapid growth is due to the amount of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates that the frogbit is sucking up out of your tank’s water column to use for growth.

This not only assists in maintaining healthy and safe water conditions for your fish, but it also makes frogbit an excellent floating plant choice for new aquariums during the initial 1-3 months when establishing a new tank.

I plant to keep a jar full of Amazon frogbit that I will add to any new aquariums that I start to help keep the cycling process as easy as possible.

Once the tank is established and its beneficial bacteria colonies are able to deal with the ammonia and nitrites, I will put the frogbit back in its jar and replace it with red root floaters.

Red Root Floaters grow slower than Amazon Frogbit, but the plant still helps to manage ammonia and nitrite levels in the tank.

Swim Space

Amazon Frogbit In A Floating Ring
Amazon Frogbit In A Floating Ring

The rapid growth rate of Amazon frogbit can also cause problems with the swim space in your tank.

As you can see in my photograph above, I keep my frogbit in a floating plant corral that is anchored at one end of my tank but this ring is long enough to cover around a quarter of my 29-gallon tank.

After three or four days of growth, the roots of my frogbit can restrict a large amount of swim space in the tank.

After a week, the roots are so long and thick that they heavily restrict access to around a quarter of the tank potentially causing problems in heavily stocked tanks.

Some of my fish do like to swim between the roots of the Amazon frogbit but the majority of the fish in the tank simply avoid that area.

Red root floaters don’t present this problem as their roots spread out horizontally over the surface of the water rather than down into the water column.

Tangling

Tangled Amazon Frogbit Roots
Tangled Amazon Frogbit Roots

The roots of my Amazon frogbit constantly get tangled on the hardscape of my tank.

This really doesn’t bother me now and I just leave the roots to do their thing until Sunday when I trim them back but some people may be bothered by this.

Red Root Floater Growth
Red Root Floater Growth

The red root floater in my photograph above is actually older than my Amazon frogbit but I have never had to trim its roots once.

Switching to red root floaters helps to keep all of the root growth for my floating plants at the surface of the tank and prevents tangling issues.

This makes it a far better option for tanks with hardscape or other plants that frogbit roots may get tangles on.

Appearance

red root floater vs frogbit
Frogbit Vs Red Root Floater

In its normal state, red root floater has a very similar appearance to Amazon frogbit with both plants being a similar shade of green.

Amazon frogbit does have slightly larger and thicker leaves but I would describe both plants as having medium-sized leaves for aquatic surface plants.

By that, I mean that the leaves are larger than duckweed while being smaller than lily leaves making them perfect for aquarium keepers.

Red root floaters can develop beautiful red leaves and roots in the right conditions making it one of the most unique-looking floating plants in the hobby but this can be surprisingly difficult to achieve.
Red Root Floater Leaves Turning Red

Red root floaters can develop beautiful red leaves and roots in the right conditions making it one of the most unique-looking floating plants in the hobby but this can be surprisingly difficult to achieve.

In my opinion, this gives the red root floaters the edge when it comes to looks but I have not been able to get the plant to turn red in any of my own tanks yet!

Propagation

Amazon Frogbit On HOB Filter
Amazon Frogbit On HOB Filter

Amazon frogbit propagates at a rapid pace and you will see tiny little baby frogbits in your tank with in days and there will be more baby frogbits in your tank than adult frogbits within a month.

The fast growth of Amazon frogbit has prompted numerous studies because it has become an invasive issue in certain regions of the world.

This species has a high reproductive potential as it can reproduce both sexually by seed and vegetatively through offshoots.

CABI – Ymkje van de Witte

Unlike other floating plants, Amazon frogbit is able to reproduce by seed and offshoots drastically increasing its growth rate when compared to other floating plants.

Depending on the type of filter you use in your tank, this may cause several problems.

My photograph at the start of this section shows baby Amazon frogbit on the surface intake and submerged intake of my hang-on-back filter.

Amazon Frogbit In The Intake Bay
Amazon Frogbit In The Intake Bay

The small frogbit plants then get sucked into the filter and settles in the intake bay or the filter media which may cause problems.

Thankfully, this is just a cheap hang-on-back filter and the frogbit seems to stay in the intake bay but larger canister filters may end up clogged with frogbit build-up.

Keep in mind, the baby frogbit that ends up in your filter will grow and then make more baby frogbit.

I guess an argument can be made that the frogbit in the filter can help water parameters by sucking ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate out of the tank water but its just too much hassle for me.

Red root floaters tend to propagate by spreading their roots across the surface of the tank and new leaves growing out of these roots.

Its ability to form dense mats, reproduce vegetatively,
be dispersed by water, and tolerate mutilation contributed to its risk score.

United States Department of Agriculture

The above-average spread potential (propagation rate) and above-average impact potential recently resulted in the United States Department of Agriculture giving red root floaters a “major invader” risk score with dense floating mats already being found in Florida.

Red Root Floaters In My Guppy Tank
Red Root Floaters In My Guppy Tank

The photograph above is from my 10 gallon guppy tank that has hardscape in it but I have never had an issue with the red root floaters in that tank.

Unlike frogbit which releases separate baby frogbit plants, the red root floaters seem to be attached or at least tangled to each other making their positioning in the tank far easier to control.

This helps you reduce the chances of their roots getting tangled on hardscape or baby red root floaters ending up in your filter and causing problems.

Care Requirements

Red Root Floaters In My Chili Rasbora Tank
Red Root Floaters In My Chili Rasbora Tank

Amazon frogbit and red root floater are both low-maintenance floating plants that are perfect for beginners.

I don’t provide any specific care to the plants in any of my tanks and they always thrive.

That said, I do have other live plants in all of my tanks so I regularly dose fertilizer in the tank and have a decent lighting unit to support plant growth.

Since both are floating plants, they can passively extract a huge amount of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate from the water column of your aquarium.

This helps to keep your water parameters within safe levels as the ammonia and nitrite are being absorbed by the plants and used for plant growth rather than turned into nitrate.

I have kept Amazon frogbit in tanks with a wide range of temperatures but my red root floaters have always been in tanks around the 77F (25C) mark so I can’t speak on their temperature tolerance.

Benefits To The Aquarium

Water Parameters For A Tank With Amazon Frogbit
Water Parameters For A Tank With Amazon Frogbit

Amazon frogbit and red root floaters offer the same benefits to aquariums with each plant being better than the other in certain areas.

The main benefits offered by these plants are:

  • Ammonia, Nitrite, And Nitrate Reduction
  • Hiding Spots
  • Grazing Areas

If the tangling and rapid root growth of frogbit isn’t enough to put you off the plant, here is a breakdown of each of these benefits.

Ammonia, Nitrite, And Nitrate Reduction

Amazon Frogbit absorbs a huge amount of Ammonia and nitrite to support its rapid growth and propagation.

Due to the ammonia and nitrite being absorbed and used as building blocks by the plant, they can’t harm your fish or be turned into nitrates increasing the required water changes for your tank.

I have been tracking my progress with a fish in cycle in my 29 gallon tank and I really haven’t had any major problems with the ammonia cycle and I honestly think this is due to the Amazon frogbit in the tank.

The levels are checked daily using the API Master Test Kit using this method to ensure the readings are as accurate as possible and so far I am impressed.

Red root floaters can absorb ammonia and nitrite in your tanks water column but the slower growth rate of the plant suggests it will be at a lower level.

Both plants can definitely help maintain stable water parameters but I would use Amazon frogbit in new tanks or tanks with known ammonia problems.

Aquatic plants will be sifting the water 24 hours a day for ammonium. Plants in aquariums also increase ammonium removal by simply increasing colonization sites for nitrifying bacteria.

theaquariumwiki – Diana Walstad

Hiding Spots

Honey Gourami Hoding Under Amazon Frogbit
Honey Gourami Hiding Under Amazon Frogbit

Several of my fish seem to really like hiding under the floating plants in my tanks and it really seems to help calm them.

I have seen my honey gourami, neon tetras, guppies, and chili rasboras hide under the plants in their tank countless times with some fish spending large periods of their day relaxing under their floating plants.

Care guides often recommend that you add floating plants to tanks for betta fish or gourami as they are commonly found in their native habit and can help keep the fish calm and reduce aggression.

Chili Rasboras Relaxing Under Red Root Floaters
Chili Rasboras Relaxing Under Red Root Floaters

Amazon frogbit can work well but the rapid root growth may require more frequent trimming for larger fish so I would argue that red root floaters are the better option here.

Grazing Areas

Amazon Shrimp And Cherry Shrimp Grazing
Amazon Shrimp And Cherry Shrimp Grazing

I often catch my shrimp grazing on the biofilm and algae that grows on the floating plants in their tanks and some fish graze on them too.

In my experience, the shrimp seem to prefer the red root floaters but the fish seem to prefer the Amazon frogbit so this will depend on what you are keeping in your tank.

Another thing to note is that my guppies stripped my Amazon frogbit roots of all the the smaller roots that branch off the main root and the plant started to turn brown.

The guppies still pick at the red root floater I added to their tank after removing the frogbit but there doesn’t seem to be able problems with nutrient intake like there was with Amazon frogbit.

Due to this, I’m going to call this one a draw as it depends on what you keep in your tanks and both plants can work well.

Final Thoughts

After a detailed comparison between Amazon frogbit and red root floaters, both plants offer valuable benefits for aquariums, ranging from nitrate reduction to providing shelter for aquatic life.

However, while Amazon frogbit is beneficial for new tanks or those with ammonia problems due to its rapid growth, it can pose challenges in terms of overgrowth and tangling.

On the other hand, red root floaters present fewer issues with tangling and root growth, making them a more maintenance-friendly option.

Ultimately, my preference for red root floaters stems from their ease of care and unique aesthetic, though both plants have their merits.