Rotala Rotundifolia: Care, Types, Growth Rate, Propagation & More

Rotala Rotundifolia is a fast-growing stem plant that has a few different variants. These species of aquatic plants have been used in high-tech aquascapes for a long time. This plant has a few variants that can look different and develop green to full red colorations. The most famous variants of Rotala Rotundifolia are Rotala Colorata, Rotala H’ra, and Rotala Ceylon.

In this article, you will learn everything there is to know about this plant. We will walk you through all the key information about Rotala Rotundifolia and how to care for them. 


Rotala Rotundifolia is a stunning aquatic plant that can develop deep green or deep red colorations. This plant can tolerate a wide range of water parameters which makes them somewhat easy to grow. 

This plant originates from southeast Asia, Japan, and southern India but now it has been cultivated in many countries around the world. This plant does best in high-tech aquariums but is also fully capable of growing in low-tech tanks without carbon dioxide injection.

Rotala Rotundifolia can grow fully submerged in water but can also grow partially out of water. This makes them a great plant for aquariums as well as Paludariums. The leaves in the water and the ones that grow out of water can look slightly different. Submerged leaves are usually more narrow and thin and develop deeper colors. 

If you are looking to add more coloration or you want to have a dense jungle to your tank then Rotala Rotundifolia is the plant you want to go with. No matter your skill levels, if you have them under good lighting they will thrive. 


Rotala Rotundifolia
Green Rotala Rotundifolia

Rotala Rotundifolia are stem plants that grow tall and upright. They will grow towards the light source and can continue to grow out of the water if the water levels are low. If you let them grow out of the water they can develop tiny beautiful flowers. 

Under high lighting, they seem to stay shorter and more spread out on the sides. If the light is less strong or other plants or objects are blocking the sides of your Rotala, it will grow more upwards and straight. 

The leaves grow green and round at first but once the plant gets used to the submerged aquarium environment it will grow narrow and thin leaves. In fact, Rotala Rotundifolia simply means ‘Plant with Round Leaves’. However, just a few types of Rotala Rotundifolia have round leaves.

They are heavily root-feeder plants and will develop vibrant coloration when they get a nutrient-rich substrate with a good light source. Roots are bright white and grow to a few inches. Roots usually grow at the end of each node on the lower parts of the stem which gives the plant another option to reproduce. 

Size & Growth Rate

Rotala Rotundifolia can grow to 6 – 8 inches in height. They grow relatively fast in comparison to other plants like anubias. They grow much faster under strong lighting and the presence of enough CO2. 

Under strong lighting conditions, this plant will spread more densely and stay low. But when the light is a little dim or far from the tank, Rotala Rotundifolia will grow straight up to get as close to the light as it can. 

Rotala Rotundifolia Care

Rotala Rotundifolia care is straightforward and simple. As long as you follow the instructions in this guide you should be able to grow beautiful and colorful Rotundifolia plants. This fast-growing plant will create a dense jungle in your tank that will look extremely beautiful without you having to put in a lot of time and effort. 

All you need to do is to prune this plant so it stays in its predefined area. Pruning is very easy and the plant can tolerate very heavy prunings. Make sure to use sharp aquascaping scissors when pruning your Rotala Rotundifolia. Doing this will prevent the stems from rotting. 

Tank Size

Rotala Rotundifolia can grow in 10 gallon tanks or larger. In a small aquarium, you can place this plant in the background to create a living wall. This plant is so versatile and hardy that you can also have them in nano tanks.

However, we believe the larger the tank, the better the living environment for the fish and plants. So we always recommend having the biggest possible aquarium you can house. Larger tanks are great for keeping water parameters stable and your plants can grow naturally to their max size. 

Rotala Rotundifolia

Water Conditions 

Rotala Rotundifolia plants are hardy aquatic plants. They can live in any tank as long as the tank has parameters within the range this plant can tolerate. Fortunately, Rotundifolia plants can tolerate a wide range which makes them very easy to keep.

They will thrive in a tank that has slow to moderate water circulation and a good light source. Once those two conditions are set you should check if your tank falls within the below-mentioned parameter or not. If your tank has parameters that match the requirements for Rotala Rotundifolia you can safely purchase this plant. 

The ideal range of water parameters for Rotala Rotundifolia:

  • Temperature: 62 – 82 Degrees Fahrenheit 
  • PH: 5.5 – 7.5
  • TDS: 40 – 200 PPM

CO2 Requirement

Rotala Rotundifolia can live without CO2 injection. This plant is hardy and can grow just with the amount of carbon dioxide being produced by the fish. If you want your Rotala to grow even faster and develop better coloration you can inject CO2. 


Rotala Rotundifolia will flourish in medium to high lighting conditions. Under bright full spectrum lighting conditions, this plant will develop deeper colors. If you have red variants of Rotala Rotundifolia, they will start to become more red in strong lighting conditions. 


Rotala Rotundifolia needs a nutrient-rich substrate to be able to grow and become more colorful. If you have sand or gravel, you will need to supplement your substrate with root tabs to make sure your Rotala gets enough food to survive. 

They can also get some of their nitrogen requirements from the water but they need planted substrate to be able to flourish long-term. 

Planting & Placement

Rotala Rotundifolia grows to a manageable size so depending on the aquascape you are planning to have you can place it in the midground or background. If you have a smaller tank it’s probably best to have this plant in the background and let them grow to cover the back of the tank. 

In a larger tank, you have more options and can plant it anywhere you want. Larger tanks need larger plants so Rotal’s 6 – 8 inch size can even be a foreground plant. 

Rotala Rotundifolia Propagating

Propagating Rotala Rotundifolia plants is very easy as they are stem plants. Like all stem plants, you can cut the plant and the new cuttings will start to grow roots and become new plants. 

These plants will also naturally propagate by stem fragmentation. Basically, it means the plant will start to grow roots at nodes on its stems. These new roots will soon find their way to the substrate and grow even more deep root structures. 

Because of this method of propagation they can grow extremely dense submersed jungles that will continuously grow. This means you will need to trim and prune them regularly if you don’t want the plant to continue creeping into your tank. 

Maintenance & Fertilization

Maintaining Rotala Rotundifolia is simple as all you have to do is to trim them from time to time. When tank conditions are in their favor and light and fertilization are in balance this plant will show no issues. 

It is important to house this plant in a balanced tank so that algae won’t grow on its leaves. If there is an imbalance between the amount of waste your fish produce and the length of time your lights are on your tank can experience an algae bloom. As a result, your Rotala can suffer and may not grow as vibrant and beautiful as it should be. 

If you notice leaves are getting yellowish or falling, it can be a sign of lowlights or low fertilizer in your tank. Make sure to have your lights on for at least 6-8 hours per day on a pre-set schedule. You can also add root tabs and liquid fertilizer to ensure optimum growth and vibrancy in your Rotalas. 

When adding fertilizers you must start with lower amounts and only add more if you don’t see any improvement in your tanks. Adding too much fertilizer at once can crush your tank’s ammonia cycle and cause algae growth. 

Tank Mates

Then it comes to selecting tank mates for Rotala Rotundifolia you are in luck. This plant can easily live with most aquatic species. Some fish and snails might pick on the thin leaves of these plants. So make sure not to add aggressive fish that disturb plants. 

Here are our top choices of tank mates for Rotala Rotundifolia:

How To Make Rotala Rotundifolia More Red

The key to making this plant redder is to have a stronger light with higher PAR values. Your tank should also have lower levels of nitrates at around 5 ppm or less. But other parameters should remain high so it can grow. 

The amount of red your plant gets depends on the type of Rotala Rotundifolia you have. Rotala H’ra and Rotala ‘blood red SG’ are among the reddest types of Rotala you can get. 

It is very important to keep the nitrates at 5 ppm or less otherwise the plant will get more orangish than pure red color. Keep in mind that not all plants can tolerate this low amount of nitrates and might not survive if you lower the nitrates in your tank. So make sure your other plants are hardy and can tolerate these conditions.

Rotala Rotundifolia


Rotala Rotundifolia is one of the most popular aquatic plants that are known for its hardiness and fast growth rates. This plant is mainly famous for its ability to create red leaves. As a result, they have become a prominent part of many famous aquascapes. Some varieties will stay lush green that can be mixed with red variants to create beautiful scenes. 

If you still have any questions unanswered by now, please reach out to us by email and we will happily help.