Rotala Indica Beginner's Guide

Published on April 1, 2019
Rotala Indica Beginner's Guide

Another widespread species of aquatic plant that has grown its popularity is the Rotala Indica. For decades, this was wrongfully known as Rotala Rotundifolia.

A Short Historical Fact

Rotala indica was discovered in 1881 by a German botanist named Bernhard Adalbert Emil Koehne (1848-1918).

Koehne was a renowned professor of botany in 18th century Berlin who authored the family Lythraceae of plants.

Scientific Information

  • Order: Myrtales
  • Class: Magnoliopsida
  • Family: Lythraceae

Other known synonyms:

  • Indian Toothcap
  • Ameletia Uliginosa
  • Ameletia Indica
  • Ammannia Peploides
  • Rotala Elatinomorpha
  • Rotala indica emersed

Rotala indica can also be propagated into 'Bonsai' form that can bear similarities with Bacopa Caroliniana.

Where Rotala Indica Originates From

This flowering plant can be found on wetlands and along rice paddies in Southeast Asia. It is also called Indian toothcup because the weeds are native to India.

Rotala indica was later introduced in countries like the United States, Italy, Spain, Portugal and even in Congo. Although it originated in India, western people were drawn to adapt and appreciate it.

Prominent Characteristics

rotala indica characteristicsRotala indica is among the favorites in the aquascape industry because it is a pure flowering plant that exudes beauty.

It stands upright from the ground and creeps upward with its shiny green leaves and pink flowers. It can be dense creating a bush.

Its soft stem can grow to a maximum length of 60 centimeters, and once it starts, you will notice the stem turning reddish at the topmost.

It's intersecting leaves are colored green on its top and pink on the lower part. You will later see these leaves turn yellowish when it reaches its peak.

The topmost part which is the axil is where its flower blooms from its triangular-shaped sepal. You are most likely to find four tiny petals in shade of pink on each flower.

Each leaf is oblong in shape and measures 3cm. It changes in color depending on Illumination, CO2 and micronutrients provided.

Propagation Process

This species of plant can break apart easily when mishandled. Active fish in your tank can cause severe damage to its soft stem.

This amphibious plant multiplies invasively in moist areas as Rotala indica emersed and in ponds or aquarium in the submersed state.

Consider the design you plan if you choose to plant your Rotala individually or by clusters.

Planting them individually into the substrate will need enough spacing of at least two centimeters. Substrate comes in different colors and can be finely granulated gravel or just plain sand.

If you have just bought the plant, allow it to rest for a while in your environment before you place it in your tank. Do not worry in case you see these stem plant going dull when newly planted in the substrate. They are adapting yet to its new habitat, and they will stabilize in a day or two.

Make sure you cut the plant with enough allowance of at least an inch. Strip the leaves off the newly cut stem and replant them firmly onto the ground.

Over time, you will notice the plant developing roots on its node. This will aid the baby plant to firmly hold onto the substrate.

You may prune the plant regularly to attain a neat and orderly arrangement. Constant trimmings allow the cut particles to fall off in the ground to develop new stalks to grow.

Occasionally, Rotala can produce seeds to create new plants through its natural sexual reproduction. Multiplication takes place when tiny Rotala Indica thrives in a span of one or two months.

Caring and Conditioning

This plant only requires low maintenance and is not about to pose any danger with other living creatures in your aquarium.

Take note of the following requirements:

  • Water Temperature is within 22-28°C
  • Water quality, a hardness of 3 to 8 dGH
  • Moderate to High Illumination
  • CO2 injection must be 20-30 mg/liter
  • pH level of 6.0 to 7.5
  • Nitrate levels of 5 mg/liter of water
  • phosphate levels of1.5 to 2 mg/liter
  • Sufficient dose of iron
  • Enough Potassium
  • Iron-rich fertilizers

Other trace elements that aid in growth and coloration should also be considered. You may opt to use aqua soil powder in the substrate to allow faster roots growth.

Lighting and its Effects

Rotala Indica is known to be a demanding species of aquatic plant with light requirements ranging from low to high. Results vary depending on the Illumination provided.

If you provide your Rotala plant with high light, the tips of the stems will turn reddish whereas the Rotala Indica low light will result in more larger leaves and less compact plant as a whole.

We recommend 3 to 5 watts of full spectrum bulbs (5000 - 7000k) every gallon of water poured in your tank. This will provide vibrant coloration and optimal growth.

Decorating with Rotala indica

Rotala Indica is indeed a favorite aquarium plant that is capable of growing tall and firm fitting in the background. It is a perfect plant that can adapt well to any type of water.

As another addition to your new aquarium, this stem plant grows in the shortest period. It thrives well even on water's surface, thus known as emersed. You might not see the distinction between emersed and submersed unless you scrutinize very well.

Its round leaves can grow horizontally on sturdy stems creating thick bushes that you may need to trim regularly. The oval leaflets on its stem are dense providing a perfect ornamental appearance.

You may position it at the two rear corners of the tank making it appear like two bushes. You can trim those bushes in round shapes like a topiary art.

For a lot of hobbyists, the plant best suits the background view since it has the ability to grow tall. Assembling them in clusters at the middle is also a bright idea of an underwater landscape.

We recommend the foreground to be carpeted with Hemianthus callitrichoides, then mix your Indian toothcap with other Rotala species to create a multitude of colors. You may want to experiment with different light effects by adjusting the Illumination from low to high.

Do you know that Rotala species of plants can be grown in "bonsai" form? They even fit small aquariums called "nano"

Rotalas can also be cultivated in vitro caps, called "in-vitro" plants. They are cultured in a 7-centimeter-tub or cap in a sterile laboratory.

The caps or tubs have nutrition jelly, and free from snails and algae. Upon purchase, they can be directly planted without the need to quarantine.

In Conclusion

Today's modern aquascape continues to innovate various scientific means to propagate and protect aquatic plants. Aquascapers can design landscape underwater with rocks, caveworks, pebbles, stone figurines, and driftwood to create a more dramatic effect to your aquarium.

The main focus of aquarists is to administer care and ensure that all living organisms in the aquarium are healthy and free from threats. They provide a conducive environment to the foliage and fauna alike.

Aquarists are responsible for the underwater displays and arrangement of all decorations in a way a particular concept is conveyed. Plant lovers like you need a proper consultation from an experienced aquarist and aquascapers.

Plant experts will always recommend a creeping herb like Rotala indica. These can be ordered online, or if you are a first-time hobbyist, you will want these plants purchased personally.

Typically, an ideal aquascape is the one that houses fish, plants, and all its splendid decorations.

The arrangement should be well-balanced, like in a movie where the lead characters are the fish, and the plants are the supporting ones. Although it doesn't look right just to have fishes in the tank, it is likewise not possible to have only plants.

In doing so, aim for simplicity and beauty by adding one of the few favorites in the aqua trade, and that is none other than the classic Rotala Indica. It grows upright and doesn't consume much space. Possibilities are endless using the plant as an ideal decoration for your aquarium.

Image by Tropica

2 comments on “Rotala Indica Beginner's Guide”

  1. Frequent trimming
    These plants under the right conditions will explode and take over the tank . They're an ideal plant for a beginner ,very tough and forgiving . After trimming the extra from my aquarium and terrarium where I have my Oregon newts ,I tried growing a little bit in my small fiberglass pond during the summer here in Washington state and it did very well. During the fall and winter the pond froze rock solid ,the temp dropped down to the teens and to as low as -10°F for a couple of weeks a few times and I thought that would be the end of this little plant but it wasn't . As soon as spring came I had new growth and it did just fine .

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