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Rotala Indica Aquarium Plant Care Guide

Rotala Indica Aquarium Plant Care Guide

The Rotala indica is a gorgeous aquarium plant that doesn’t need much maintenance. If you have a large tank that can fit it, it’s one of the nicest-looking wiry plants with its colorful leaves.

Rotala indica doesn’t demand a lot of maintenance. It only needs plenty of light and maybe some CO2 to thrive. It likes to grow tall and wide, so you must ensure that your tank has adequate space. The plant will provide oxygen and food for your fish.

What Is Rotala Indica?

Rotala Indica, also known as Indian toothcup, is a flowering plant that’s commonly used in aquariums. The plant belongs to the family Lythraceae and is native to India. It’s a low-maintenance plant that thrives in most environments, provided it has sufficient light. 

In the US, it only grows in California and Louisiana.

An interesting fact about this plant is that it grows in rice fields in Southeast Asia. This is because, like rice, the plant thrives in wetland conditions.

Thankfully, the plant isn’t invasive and is unlikely to cause any damage to neighboring plants. That’s another reason why it’s so popular among avid aquarists.

Note that Rotala Indica is commonly confused with Rotala rotundifolia (dwarf rotala). Rotala rotundifolia also grows in and near rice crops and has similar characteristics to the Rotala indica. However, the rotundifolia has shorter, bushier stems and round leaves.

Rotala Indica Appearance

Rotala indica’s appearance depends on where and how it grows. Above water, it has round green leaves and yellowish flowers, and they tend to grow in small clusters.

Underwater, it has long blades instead of round leaves. The color of the leaves ranges from shades of green to pinkish-red leaves. In the right conditions, it can even have a yellowish-orange tint.

It has long, wiry stems that can grow quite high, especially if not pruned regularly. Conversely, if pruned, the plant will have a bushy appearance. It’ll still have relatively long lateral shoots, though.

Rotala Indica Size & Growth

The size of this plant varies significantly. The plant needs plenty of light, space, nutrients, and CO2 to grow to its maximum potential. Generally speaking, the stems range from 4 to 20 inches (10 to 50 cm).

As I mentioned above, it tends to have long, wiry leaves. By pruning them regularly, you can achieve a bushier appearance that’d allow the plant to grow horizontally. Regardless, it tends to occupy a lot of vertical space, making it a perfect choice for large aquariums.

Tank Setup

Rotala indica demands a spacious tank, as it loves to thrive. Let’s go over some important parameters to ensure your Rotala indica thrives. 

Tank Placement

Because this plant loves to grow tall, it’s best placed as a background plant. 

You can also place it in the midground, provided the tank is large enough. Remember, it likes to grow wide and tall, so it’s going to take up a lot of space in the middle.

Another viable option is placing it in the front. However, you may need help to see your fish given how tall Rotala indica is. So, only do this if you have a wide tank.

Tank Size

I recommend a minimum tank size of at least 10 gallons (38 liters). Of course, the larger the tank, the better it is for this plant. 

Although it depends on how many other plants you have and your layout, you’ll always need a larger tank for Rotala indica. 

If you’re thinking about planting it in a smaller tank, you should prune it on a weekly basis to ensure it doesn’t dominate your tank.

Water Temperature

Rotala indica is a tropical plant, so it demands warm temperatures. Ideally, the water should be kept between 72°F to 82°F (22°C to 28°C). 

This will ensure that your plant remains healthy and grows steadily.

Water Flow

Like most aquarium plants, Rotala indica likes some moderate flow. This helps circulate nutrients in the tank, and it also stops debris from settling on the leaves.

If you have too much flow, it may disrupt the plant. So, adjust your flow accordingly.


Assuming your particular fishies don’t mind it, Rotala indica flourishes in slightly acidic conditions. A pH range between 6 and 7 is ideal.

But since the plant is sturdy, it can also handle slightly alkaline water, up to 8.0 pH. The plant will survive, but it may not achieve the desired coloration or size.


Rotala indica doesn’t need a CO2 injection to grow. 

However, like with most plants, providing just a bit of CO2 supplementation will help the plant achieve its maximum potential in terms of size and coloration.

If you opt to provide CO2, make sure it won’t hurt your other plants or fish. 


This aquatic plant loves light! Rotala indica benefits from bright light. 

This plant needs plenty of light on a standard day/night cycle, and depending on your desired growth rate, you can choose the amount of light you provide.

It’s recommended to get a 3–5 W LED light designed for planted aquariums and place it near your Rotala Indica.

This will allow the plant to achieve maximum coloration, resulting in a pinkish-red hue.


Use a nutrient-rich or aqua soil substrate. Remember, you need plenty of light and plenty of nutrients to achieve red coloration in Rotala indica.

I recommend the ADA Aqua Soil Amazonia ( It’s an organic substrate that won’t hurt your fish while providing your plants with all the nutrients they need.


Rotala indica is part of your aquarium’s ecosystem, so it needs regular water changes to stay healthy, just like your fish.

Do routine water changes as you usually do, and make sure to clean any debris you might see on the plant.

Rotala Indica Benefits

Rotala Indica can provide your fish with plenty of oxygen through photosynthesis. It also helps your aquarium stay clean for longer, improving water quality.

It’s a natural habitat for many fish, and some even like to snack on the plant.

Another interesting benefit is that it can outcompete algae, ensuring your tank stays clear.

Rotala Indica Care

Rotala indica needs regular water changes, substrate, and plenty of light to thrive. It also needs regular pruning to ensure it doesn’t grow too tall.

It’s best to plant Rotala indica rather than floating it, as it’ll allow the plant to thrive. If you float it, it’s only a matter of time before it dies due to a lack of nutrients.

How To Plant Rotala Indica 

To plant a Rotala indica in your aquarium, follow these steps:

  1. Clean your aquarium thoroughly.
  2. Add sufficient substrate.
  3. Trim the stem cuttings and remove leaves on the bottom side.
  4. Put the stem cuttings into the planting holes.
  5. Press the substrate around the plant to ensure the plant won’t move and has good contact.
  6. Slowly pour water into the aquarium, away from the plant, to ensure it stays undisturbed.
  7. Check the water pH and adjust it if necessary.
  8. Add a light bulb.

Does Rotala Indica Need Root Tabs?

Rotala indica doesn’t need root tabs, but it can benefit from them. Root tabs are only necessary if you decide to plant your Rotala indica in sand or gravel to ensure the plant gets sufficient nutrients.

Should Rotala Indica Be Floated or Planted?

Rotala Indica should be planted. Although it can survive as a floating plant, it’s far from ideal. Rotala indica likes to grow tall stems. It also needs a substrate to achieve a reddish leaf color.


I recommend pruning your Rotala plant regularly to manage its size and ensure it stays healthy. Some fish keepers wait until the plant gets close to the surface of the water and others allow it to grow beyond the limits of the aquarium.

Prune your Rotala indica once or twice a month. You can prune it more often if your tank is smaller and the plant is doing well. Make sure to remove any damaged parts when you prune it.

Propagation & Care

Here’s how to propagate your Rotala indica:

  1. Identify the healthy stems.
  2. Disinfect your sharpest scissors and cut the stem to around 4–6 inches (10–15 cm).
  3. Remove the lower leaves from the stems, as they can lead to root rot.
  4. Create a small hole in the substrate and insert the stem cutting.

Once you’re done, ensure the water stays warm, at around 72–82°F (22–28°C). 

Since the stems are slightly more sensitive than adult plants, you should also try to make the water more acidic and provide more light than usual.

How To Clean Rotala Indica 

How often you need to clean your Rotala indica depends on various conditions. Generally speaking, you should clean the plant every time you change the aquarium’s water.

To clean your Rotala indica, use your hands or a clean pair of tweezers to remove any debris or algae from the stems and leaves. Be gentle, as the leaves are pretty delicate.

Common Issues & Prevention

While Rotala Indica is a hardy and adaptable plant, it can encounter some issues. Here are a few:

  • Insufficient light
  • High pH
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Irregular cleaning
  • Excess algae growth
  • No water circulation
  • Tank mates that excessively feed on Rotala indica

To ensure your Rotala indica thrives, avoid any aggressive fish that like to dig up its substrate or feed on the plant’s leaves and stems.

Also, make sure to change your water regularly, clean the plant when you do, occasionally change the substrate, monitor the pH, and get a powerful LED light bulb.

Rotala Indica Tank Mates

Rotala Indica doesn’t like its substrate dug up, so it’s best to avoid fish that like to dig. It prospers in tanks with peaceful fish, Dwarf Gouramis, and catfish, as well as small shrimp and snails

When it comes to other plants, Rotala indica goes great with carpeting plants like Dwarf Hairgrass, Monte Carlo, and Glossostigma. It also works well with mosses and ferns like Java Moss and Java Fern.

Is Rotala Indica The Right Plant For Your Tank?

If you have a large enough tank, the Rotala indica can be one of the best plants you can get. It’s quite tall and bushy, so it’ll fill up any empty space in the corner of your tank.

Remember, the most important thing to remember is that Rotala indica loves warm water. So, if you have tropical fish, it’s the right plant for you.

What To Look for When Buying Rotala Indica 

When buying Rotala indica, it’s recommended to look for red or pink leaves. This indicates that the plant was taken care of.

If you can’t find any, a Rotala indica with lush green leaves will do just fine.

Also, make sure that you get at least 3–4 stems, just in case. If the plant thrives, you’ll be able to propagate it quite quickly and easily.

Rotala Indica FAQs

Is Rotala Indica a Beginner Plant?

Rotala indica is a great beginner plant. Beginner aquarists love the Rotala indica because it’s a sturdy plant that can survive in harsh environments and doesn’t need much care. It thrives in tanks and grows quickly, so it gives beginners an opportunity to learn how to prune tank plants.

Is Rotala Indica Low Light?

Rotala indica is not a low-light plant. It needs medium to high light levels to grow to its full potential and achieve maximum coloration. It requires sufficient light to do the photosynthesis process, which allows it to create food and oxygen. 

Does Rotala Indica Grow Fast?

Rotala indica is a weed, which means that it grows extremely fast. With the right nutrients, CO2, and proper lighting, it’ll send out new shoots and achieve a thick, bushy appearance. The Rotala indica grows so rapidly that it needs to be pruned every 1-2 weeks to maintain its shape and appearance.

Can Rotala Indica Survive Without CO2?

The Rotala indica can survive without CO2 in an aquarium. The plant can endure tough conditions and can grow reasonably well without any CO2. However, if you want your Rotala Indica to thrive, it’d help to add a supplemental CO2 injection to allow the plant to grow to its full size and coloration.

Wrapping Up

Rotala indica is a tall, beautiful plant perfect for any large aquarium. It provides plenty of oxygen for your fish and other plants. It grows quite easily under the right conditions, but it’s also quite tough. This makes it a perfect choice for both beginner and pro aquarists alike.

I’m Elle, the founder of FishHQ. I created this website to share knowledge, tips, and inspiration for beginner hobbyists to help them create a healthy, happy, and vibrant environment for their fish to thrive. Read more...