Rotala Macrandra Planting and Propogating Guide

Rotala Macrandra is an aquarium plant that is very popular in the aquarium trade for its beautiful coloration and it has widely been used in aquarium decoration. He plant is native to India known to thrive in marshy areas. This is one aquarium plant that can be tempting for even the novice aquarist due to its coloration but can be very demanding. The plant is known to require intensive care for it to thrive. It requires soft water, a substrate that is nutrient rich, intense lighting, and CO₂ injection. When placing Rotala Macrandra in the aquarium it is best to have it planted in the middle center of the aquarium.

Appearance of Rotala Macrandra

Rotala Macrandra

The plant has got small leaves that may appear green, tan to red, something that usually makes it a favorite plant for aquarium decoration. Indeed it is perfect choice for mid-ground in an aquarium setting to bring about vibrant coloration as well as contrast to the aquarium.

The plant has faster growth rate and with all the necessary micronutrients provided it is known to grow dense leaves which need to be regularly pruned. When the plant is in top condition, it is usually exhibits some of the best coloration you can find in aquarium plants.


The plant was originally discovered in India where it is native to and is usually found growing in marshy areas. Basically the plant is native to four isolated localities of the four South Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and Maharashtra. The plant is considered as a least concern plant species with no threats to continued existence recorded.

The plant is commonly found in lagoons, streams, flooded paddy fields and temporary ponds. It has been found to grow in submerged conditions where it grows thin leaves that are more or less translucent. Sometimes the color in submerged conditions may be pale green, pink or red. The plant is only known to grow in softer freshwater and thus if you are planting it in an aquarium setting ensure the water is fresh and soft.


Rotala Macrandra is not one of the easiest aquarium plants to care for. It need the special care of experienced aquarists. The water parameters for growing this plant should be of a pH of between 6.0 and 7.0. For supplementation you better use iron, trace elements and also some little bit of CO₂. Lighting needs to be intensive as the plant needs high to very high light intensity in order to grow well and give the radiant colors it is known to exhibit. The plant is known to do better in aquariums that have high-intensity lighting. The plant doesn’t do well in areas with lots of shades as it will simply die without proper lighting!

When planting, each stem should be given good spacing to ensure that the lower regions of the plant can get sufficient light. If this is not done, the lower portions of the main stem will simply just die off leaving the top part to break loose.

Carbon Dioxide Needed?

Performing carbon dioxide supplementation is not a must but will greatly help to improve the plant condition. Even though the plant is highly demanding when it is still being established in the aquarium, once it gets started and perfect conditions are offered to it, it is a very rewarding plant. Under great optimum conditions it is known to grow even up to 3 or 4 inches every week.

Appropriate nutrient levels are needed to help keep the plant in great form. If you wish to achieve an intense deep-red coloration from the plant, you may need to keep the phosphate levels in the aquarium relatively high.

While keeping the levels of phosphate high, ensure that you keep nitrates to low levels as much as possible. With high nitrate levels, the plant is known to experience stunted growth with a kind of orange-like coloration. Just be sure not to deny the plant a good share of nitrate as nitrates deficiency may also cause similar symptoms to when there is insufficient light for the plant.

Cultivation/ Propagation

Rotala Macrandra is usually propagated by way of the stem that is stem cuttings can be inserted in a nutrient rich substrate and new plant will grow. The ‘parent stem’ will grow very fast in soft with a nutrient rich substrate. Just ensure that the water is well checked and is not clogged with lots of nitrates as this will gravely affect the growth of the new plant. The roots of the cutting will grow quickly and the shoot will also grow up fast as well. Within no time as long as the conditions are kept optimum in the tank, the new plan will grow into a lush bushy plant!

Use in Aquarium

Due to the plant’s interesting coloration it most commonly used in aquarium beautification. It is best used in the mid areas of the aquarium for it to bring out color dominance at the center. It is best to plant it sparingly due to its strong coloration may overshadow an otherwise well balanced aquarium.  A few stems of the plant can be planted in between other plants that are light-green in color. This may help to bring about a strong point of visual interest that can be captivating. It is also one of the main features of a Dutch aquascaping style.

Bottom line

Rotala Macrandra is a popular aquarium plant that is most commonly used in aquarium scaping. It is known to grow relatively fast when the conditions in the tank are made favorable for it with sufficient nutrients provided to it. It is a fresh water plant that is native to the Asian Nation of India particularly to its Southern states. The plant is known to grow in streams, ponds and small rivers as well flooded paddy fields. It is a very demanding aquarium plant that is not an ideal choice for beginners and is best left for experienced aquarists. Just ensure that you provide it with sufficient nutrients and it will reward you handsomely!

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