Rotala Indica is a stunning kind of aquatic stem plant that has become very famous in the aquarium hobby. This species of plant is known to be very hardy and can live in different water conditions. This flowering plant can be a great alternative to artificial plants and decorations as it can withstand parameters that other plants might not.
In this article, we will walk you through all the key information about Rotala Indica and how to care for them.
Rotala Indica is native to Southeast Asia, belonging to the Lythraceae family (loosestrife) of plants. This beautiful background plant has long been in the hobby for a long time and is used by many aquarists in their tanks. Despite coming from a very specific region of the world, nowadays it is being produced commercially in a few countries in the world.
This plant is also known as Indian Toothcup by some and is often found in rice fields. The same as rice plants, they grow half in the water and half above the water. Because of their fast growth rate, Rotala Indica is often considered to be a weed plant by rice farmers.
This plant grows vertically and high but creeps sidewise when it propagates. This makes the plant the desired aquarium plant for aquarists who are looking to create dense jungle looks in their tanks. This plant can be used in a single-species plant tank or with other plants to make beautiful and colorful scenes.
Rotala Indica are flowering plants that develop deep green or deep red colorations on their leaves. Unlike its fragile and delicate look, this plant is very hardy and can tolerate a wide range of water conditions. This makes them a great beginner-friendly plant to add some color and life to your tank.
This plant can grow partially submerged, submerged, and even fully above water when there is high humidity. Because of this, some aquarists use this plant to convert their aquarium into Paludariums. Submerged leaves, however, look slightly different than the leaves that grow above the water level. Leaves that grow above water are usually round and short.
The Rotala Indica has tall stems that grow vertically toward the light. Because of their narrow leaf structure they can grow multiple stems side by side which gives them a dense look. This plant grows a pair of tiny leaves along the stem on each node.
The leaves are round but narrow and slightly concave. Some varieties tend to grow leaves that are stretched and look like Rotala Rotundifolia. Rotala Indica and Rotala Rotundifolia are very similar plants that some might confuse the two. For more information please read our care guide on Rotala Rotundifolia here: Rotala Rotundifolia Care Guide
Rotala Indica planta usually develops light green or yellowish leaves. But under strong lighting and with enough iron supplements they can produce dark pink or red leaves. The stems will also develop pink coloration under these special tank conditions. More on this later in this article.
Size & Growth Rate
Rotala Indica can grow to 5 – 12 inches in height. The strength of the light you have in your tank will have a direct impact on the size and length of the stems. Under strong light, they stay short while in lower light conditions they tend to grow tall to reach the light source.
Rotala Indica grows relatively fast. Compared to other types of aquatic plants, Indicas are growing fast and can create dense jungles in your tank. However, they will not grow at a fast rate if tank conditions are not right. Depending on the type of setup you have, they might need CO2, strong lighting, and aquarium fertilizers to grow fast and create beautiful leaves.
Rotala Indica Care
The good news is that Rotala Indica care is very easy and straightforward. The instructions in this guide will make you ready to care for this beautiful plant. This plant is a very fast-growing species and will not demand a lot from you. They will create a dense jungle in your tank with little to no effort from you. This of course only happens if you make your tank conditions in their favor first.
Once thank conditions are in their favor, all you need to do is your regular maintenance and pruning schedule. Since Rotala Indica is a stemming plant, you can easily prune it by cutting the larger stems.
Note: Pruning should be done with a sharp cutter or aquascaping scissors to prevent stem rot.
Rotala Indica can grow in tanks larger than 10 gallons. Larger aquariums will provide your plant with enough space to grow naturally this is why we recommend having this plant in larger tanks.
At the same time, larger tanks will also make India’s maintenance easier for you. In a small aquarium, you will need to regularly prune and trim the plant so it doesn’t outgrow your tank. In larger tanks, you will not need to worry that much about this issue.
The other benefit of having a larger tank for Rotala Indica plants is that larger tanks will keep more stable water parameters. Stable parameters will let your plant grow much better and healthier.
As mentioned, Rotala Indica plants need stable water parameters. However, they are hardy species of aquatic plants and can tolerate a wide range of water parameters. As long as your tank parameters fall within the range this plant needs you can safely own and grow this plant.
When setting up your tank make sure to have a tank with slow to moderate water movement. The stems of Rotala Indica are very fragile and can easily break under fast-moving waters. This is especially true when they are at younger stages of life. Fast-moving waters prevent the plant from growing and becoming tall.
The ideal range of water parameters for Rotala Indica:
- Temperature: 62 – 82 Degrees Fahrenheit
- PH: 5.5 – 7.5
- TDS: 40 – 250 PPM
Rotala Indica can live without CO2 injection. Rotala plants are hardy species and can adapt to any tank conditions. While having CO2 will help the plant to grow faster, it is not necessary in order to have this plant in your aquarium.
Given enough light and fertilizers, your Rotala Indica will grow much faster and develop better colorations in the presence of carbon dioxide. If you decide to inject carbon dioxide into your aquarium make sure to track the ph of your tank as co2 can lower the ph significantly.
Rotala Indica will need a medium to high lighting conditions. A full spectrum of light will cause the plant to grow better and develop more pink coloration. Having the lights on for 6 – 12 hours per day on a set schedule is ideal.
There are also other factors you will need to consider if you want your plant to develop redder colorations. We will discuss this in detail later in this guide.
Rotala Indica needs planted aquarium substrate. This plant is mainly a root-feeding species and needs a nutrient-rich substrate to be able to flourish. They can also grow in less nutritious substrates like sand or gravel but you will have to add root tabs to the substrate regularly.
That said, they will also absorb lower amounts of nutrients from the water column. However, they will not be able to grow only with the nutrition present in the water column. So it is important to invest in a good substrate designed for planted tanks.
Planting & Placement
Rotala Indica grows tall so it needs to be in the background of your tank. Depending on the size and type of aquascape you are creating, you can also place it in the midground or even foreground of the tank.
In a smaller tank, the background is the only option you have. Unless you are willing to trim the tank often to keep it small and in its place. In larger tanks, however, you can easily play with the plant and have it in different locations in your tank.
Rotala Indica Propagating
Rotala Indica is a stem plant which means they are very easy to propagate. You can easily propagate this plant by cutting stems that are longer than 4 inches and have enough leaves on them.
Once you cut a few stems, you can bunch them up and plant them somewhere in the substrate. The new cuttings will soon start to develop roots and establish themselves. During this time they can lose some leaves and might not look very healthy. This is normal and as soon as they establish themselves they will start to grow new leaves.
They will also propagate naturally by stem fragmentation without any help from you. Once the stems of the mother plant grow to their maximum size, they will start to grow roots on some of the nodes above the substrate. The roots will keep growing until they reach the substrate and will continue to grow and make a new plant.
Maintenance & Fertilization
Rotala Indica is an easy plant and all you need to really worry about is trimming them once in a while. Other than this, they will not demand anything from you. Under the right tank conditions, this plant will grow with no issues.
Algae growth is an issue for this plant as algae can make the plant get less nutrition and light. Having a balanced tank will help you with this issue. Algae only grow if there is an imbalance between the waste produced in the tank and the lighting conditions. Regular water changes and the right lighting conditions will help you keep your Rotala’s algae-free.
If you see your plants are losing leaves at a high rate and do not produce new stems, it can be a sign of low light or low fertilizer. You can add liquid fertilizer to fight the fertilizer deficiency in the tank. At the same time, if you think light is the issue, you can increase the time by one or two more hours and wait to see its results. Depending on your setup you should have the lights on for at least 6 – 12 hours per day.
Always make small changes and wait for a few days to see the results. It is also good to do one change at a time so you can pinpoint the cause of the issue.
Rotala Indica are hardy plants when it comes to water conditions, but they are somewhat fragile plants. This means you should not have them with aggressive and large species of fish. Some types of snails and fish might eat the thin leaves of Rotala Indica. This is especially true when the plant is small and has small leaves which are easy to nibble.
Here are our top choices of tank mates for Rotala Indica:
- Guppy Fish
- Assassin Snail
- Molly Fish
- Nerite snails
- Platy Fish
- Mega Clown Pleco
- Gold Nugget Pleco
- Zebra Pleco
- Leopard Frog Pleco
- Neon Tetra
- Betta Fish
How To Make Rotala Indica More Red
Rotala Indica is normally a green and yellowish plant but under special conditions, they tend to become pinker. Light is the key to making this plant redder, the stronger the light the redder it becomes.
Your tank should have all the nutrition this plant needs as well as high levels of iron. The nitrates should be low and less than 5 ppm. The redness of your plant depends on the type of Rotala Indica you have as well as the conditions of your tank.
Rotala Indica is a stunning aquatic plant that can add beauty and functionality to your tank. They will create dense forests in your tank and can have shades of green, yellow, or red. They are fast-growing species so they will help your tank to maintain better water parameters by absorbing fish waste and other toxins. Their hardy nature makes them a beginner-friendly plant that most can own.