Rotala Indica Care: The Full Aquarium Plant Guide

Rotala indica is a lovely plant that is a great fit for many aquariums. It’s nice to look at, easy to maintain, and beneficial to the health of your tank.

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about Rotala indica care. This is a plant you’ll definitely want to consider getting!

Species Summary

The Rotala indica is a beautiful background plant that many aquarists use to anchor their decor. It’s part of the Lythraceae family of plants and goes by many unique nicknames. You might see it being called the “Indian Toothcup,” which is the most common.

Rotala indica up close

This plant is native to India and Southeast Asia. It’s amphibious by nature, growing along rice paddies and river banks. The plants can grow submerged and extend above the water’s surface. In the wild, they also grow on land in ultra-moist soils!

The vertical-oriented growth pattern makes the plant a welcome choice for background decor. However, the thin and fragile leaves also add tons of versatility. Whether you grow it individually or in dense clumps, the Rotala indica plant is a sight to behold.

The Benefits Of Having It In Your Tank

Beyond the obvious aesthetic perks, Rotala indica can do a lot to improve the conditions of your freshwater tank.

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Like any other live plant, Rotala indica uses nutrients in the water to flourish. The plant absorbs carbon dioxide and transforms it into usable oxygen. That oxygen disperses into the surrounding water. 

Not only that, but the plant can help get rid of some of the more harmful contaminants that come from fish waste!

Overall, it enriches the underwater environment and plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy water conditions. Your fish and tank inhabitants will have the most to gain.

Author Note: But it’s not just improved water conditions that they’ll enjoy. Rotala indica can enhance the quality of life your fish have. The long and flowing stems provide a dense forest of vegetation for shy creatures to hide.

The plant offers a wonderful form of shelter that can make your fish feel safe and at ease.


The Rotala indica is a dense plant that focuses on verticality.

It features tall, fleshy stems that continue to climb towards the light. As the plant matures, fragile leaves sprout from the stem and grow horizontally. In most cases, the leaves are round and concave.

However, some varieties also have grass-like leaves that are long and somewhat pointed.

Either way, these leaves are very delicate. They grow in small clusters on both sides of the stem, resulting in a dense clump of vegetation. 

The plant will change colors a bit based on the growing conditions. It can remain entirely green or develop splashes of pinkish-red towards the top of the stem.

Author Note: If you’re lucky, you might see a pink flower bloom on the top of the stem. This occurs pretty frequently in the wild. However, this is a rare event in a freshwater aquarium.

Size & Growth Rate

When it comes to growth rate, Rotala indica plants are moderately fast. They can shoot up quickly in the right conditions. However, adjusting the environment will keep the plant relatively stout if you prefer a stubbier look.

Rotala indica is usually sold at nurseries and pet stores when it’s only a few inches tall. However, it can flourish and climb to over a foot tall in no time. In larger tanks and ponds, this plant may even reach closer to two feet tall!

This plant can and will overtake your aquarium if you’re not careful. They require regular trimming to stay manageable (more on that later).

Rotala Indica Care

Rotala indica care is something that most aquarists should have no problem doing. It’s a beginner-friendly plant that easily adapts to most environments with little fuss. For this reason, it’s one of the more popular aquatic plants for aquariums.

As always, there are some established care guidelines for you to follow. The Rotala indica plant has its preferences like any other cultivar. Fortunately, those needs aren’t too difficult to meet.

Tank Size

To ensure that the water conditions remain stable, we recommend growing Rotala indica plants in an aquarium that’s no smaller than 10 gallons. If possible, go for a tank that’s even bigger!

This plant shines most when it’s in large aquariums. They can flourish in the background and spread to create some impressive density.

Author Note: Smaller aquariums are a no-go for Rotala indica. This particular cultivar would only overcrowd the space. Plus, the confined space would call for constant trimming.

Water Parameters

Rotala indica plants do well in a wide range of freshwater environments. They’re pretty adaptable and surprisingly hardy. As long as you have standard tropical conditions, they should do fine.

That’s one of the reasons why aquarists enjoy Rotala indica so much. They’re a relatively hands-off plant as far as water conditions go. As a result, you can focus on the more sensitive plant and animal life in your tank.

  • Water temperature: 72°F to 82°F
  • pH levels: 6.0 to 7.5
  • Water hardness: 3 to 8 KH

Make sure to test water parameters regularly (make sure you get an accurate test kit). Keep the conditions within the covered ranges above and make sure that the plant doesn’t cause any major fluctuations that could harm your fish.


Just like with the water parameters, Rotala indica plants are flexible when it comes to lighting.

They still need plenty of light on a standard day/night cycle, but you can choose the amount of light you provide based on your desired growth.

A Rotala indica aquarium plant

Less light exposure will keep the plant more compact. It won’t climb towards the surface as fast, which can do wonders to reduce trimming. Furthermore, the leaves get bigger to capture as much light as possible.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, high light exposure increases the growth rate. The plant will shoot up and continually develop more leaves. 

Author Note: You may also witness a color change. More light tends to make the tips of the stem and leaves turn red.


Rotala indica plants require fine substrate material. Sand works well. However, specialty aquatic plant substrate is even better.

Plant-focused substrate looks like fine sand, but it’s infused with minerals and nutrients to encourage growth. Think of it as potting soil for your freshwater aquarium!

With a good amount of fertilizer, Rotala indica plants will prosper. The plant will experience a boom in growth. Plus, you’ll see that subtle hint of red coloration we went over earlier.

Author Note: For the best results, provide a bed of substrate that’s at least two inches deep. Two inches is perfect for letting the roots spread and anchor the plant down.

How To Plant Rotala Indica

Planting Rotala indica is a straightforward process. However, it can be a little tricky given the verticality of the plant.

Usually, aquarists buy young plants that are around six inches tall. The root system is pretty fragile and sparse. They don’t have the sprawling network of tendrils to keep the plant down.

Clean off any dying bits and prepare a spot in the substrate. Then, use long tweezers to carefully embed the bottom of the stem into the substrate material. Do so at a slight angle so that the substrate applies a bit of weight onto the stem.

Straight up-and-down planting doesn’t offer much grip. The plant will easily dislodge and float to the surface. 

Author Note: It takes a little trial and error, but take your time and do your best to anchor the plant down. We recommend giving your plant a little bit of time to develop new roots before adding fish that could accidentally dislodge it.

Trimming & Pruning

Trimming is one of the most important parts of Rotala indica care, because preventing overgrowth is essential.

How often you’ll bring out the pruning shears will depend on the growth rate. As we mentioned earlier, the amount of light and fertilizer you use will significantly impact how the plant grows.

Author Note: Regardless of the growth pattern, you can trim the plant back anytime it gets unruly. Some aquarists like to wait until it gets close to the surface of the water. Others will allow it to grow beyond the confines of the tank! It’s up to you!

To trim the Rotala indica plant back, just use some shears to snip off the top of the stem. Cut just above a node where two leaves emerge.

Be gentle with pruning, and make sure to clean up any remnants. Leftovers will muddy up the aquarium or make way for a new plant to grow.

Tank Mates

Rotala indica plants do best with more docile and easy-going fish.

While many aquarists gravitate towards active swimmers that put on a show, these species can ruin the Rotala indica plant! The leaves are far too delicate for energetic inhabitants!

It’s important to avoid any known uprooters as well. This plant already has a hard time staying anchored down when it’s young. The last thing you want is to pair it with a fish that constantly dislodges the roots from the substrate.

Stick to slow-moving fish. Species with flowing fins work great. The same goes for smaller species that won’t do any damage.

Here are a few good Rotala indica tank mates for you to choose from:

How To Propagate It

Occasionally, Rotala indica will spread seed and reproduce naturally. However, this is an infrequent occurrence in an aquarium setting.

The easiest way to spread the plant’s growth is through propagation. Propagating Rotala indica is very easy. You can even do it after pruning and trimming!

All you have to do is cut off at least one inch of stem. Cut the original plant above a growth node and strip off any leaves. Then, implant it into the soil.

The freshly cut stem should start to develop roots and grow into a brand-new plant.

Wrapping Up

Rotala indica care can be done by anyone, no matter how much experience they have. That’s why it’s such a popular plant for aquariums, and why we recommend it so often!

If you have the right tank mates, we highly encourage you to give this plant a try. The difference it can make is incredible.

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