Rotala Indica Plant Care: Look, Size, Growth | Updated June 2024

By: Martin McAdam
Updated: February 7, 2023

Rotala Indica “Christmas” or “Bush” Rotala is an excellent aquarium plant for many reasons. It’s hardy, can handle most lighting conditions, and grows fast when provided with ample nutrients in the water column.

This makes it one of the best choices for beginners and experienced aqua scapers alike. Use this guide as a complete resource for all things Rotala!

This will be a good choice if you’re looking for a beginner low-light foreground plant. They grow well in most nutrient conditions and will do well in a wide temperature range, but they do prefer cooler waters.

If you are looking for a fast-growing, beautiful, and easy-to-care-for plant for your aquarium, then Rotala Indica is a perfect choice!

Why you should choose Rotala Indica as your next aquarium plant, what nutrients are required to optimize growth, how much light is necessary, water movement and the best substrate choices. How to achieve the best colors is all you will find in this article.

Species Summary

Scientific Name:Rotala Indica
Common Names:Christmas Bush, Bushy Rotala
Origin:South Asia
Substrate/Fertilizer needs:Prefers rich, fine environments
Lighting requirements:High-Medium to High light levels
Growth Rate:Fast
Water Temperature:72°-82° F
pH level:6.0-7.5
Hardness:Full to medium hardness water
Care Level:Easy

Rotala Indica is a beautiful plant to most hobbyists, and it’s by far one of the best choices for beginners. So why choose this beautiful flowering bush over others?

It can grow in just about any condition! Most aquarium plants need specific requirements such as perfect lighting, substrate, etc., but Rotala Indica is versatile and can thrive in many environments.

Rotala Indica Species Summary

Aquarium hobbyists should provide this plant with high levels of nutrients in the water column to ensure fast growth. The substrate should also be rich and fine to match the plant’s needs.

Light levels are acceptable, but Rotala Indica will perform best under high-medium to high lighting conditions.

High light is best; however, if your aquarium is not lit bright enough for this plant, you need to do water column dosing with CO2 (carbon dioxide) and other supplements such as Flourish Excel or Dyna-Gro All in One, etc.

It’s good to note that Rotala Indica can grow in soft and hard water, but it prefers a bit more hardness. It naturally grows in riversides, so this plant likes moving and flowing water, which also benefits aquarium hobbyists who keep fast-moving tanks.

Water temperature should be kept in the 72°-82° F range with a pH of 6.0-7.5pH for the best results. Rotala Indica is a very easy plant to care for and is one of the fastest-growing aquarium plants.

Experienced hobbyists who have successfully grown other plants before can easily care for this species without any significant issues.

Christmas Bush Rotala is a fast-growing plant, so it’s not uncommon to see speedy growth when provided with ideal conditions. If you are new to the hobby, this plant might be too hard for your experience level.

Rotala Indica, or Christmas Bush Rotala, is an aquatic plant that belongs to the family Lythraceae. It is a perennial herbaceous plant found in Asia’s tropical and subtropical areas. This plant has many common names like ‘Bushy Rotala’ and ‘Christmas Bush.’

Why should you choose Rotala Indica as your next aquarium plant?

Rotala Indica is an excellent choice for several reasons. It is one of the most demanding aquarium plants available. It can thrive in many lighting conditions, making it a perfect option for both beginners and experienced aqua scapers.

It also grows quickly, making it an excellent choice for quickly creating a lush, healthy aquarium display.

Rotala Indica is an ideal plant for all aquariums, from small Nano tanks to large aquariums with high fish loads. It is a versatile plant that can be relatively easy to care for if you provide the nutrients it needs.

It can be a beautiful plant in aquariums that have limited space or are very small.

Rotala Indica is relatively easy to grow with the correct lighting, nutrients, and water movement. It grows well under most types of lighting (including standard fluorescent bulbs), does not require CO2 injection, and typically grows rapidly when provided with adequate nutrients.

Rotala Indica is also a fast-growing plant that can help to combat algae growth in your aquarium.

Rotala Indica is an ideal low-maintenance plant that can be used in modern or traditional planted aquariums. It works well as a background or accent plant and can create beautiful displays with other aquatic plants.

If you are looking for a hardy, attractive, and low-maintenance plant for your aquarium, Rotala Indica is a great choice.

What nutrients are required to optimize growth?

Rotala Indica requires adequate nutrients in the water column to grow optimally. A nutrient-rich substrate is ideal for this requirement.

Specific nutrient requirements will vary by location and growth stage. Still, as a general rule of thumb, an all-purpose liquid fertilizer such as Seachem Flourish Comprehensive Supplement is the best option for growth.

The Best Time to Plant Rotala Indica

Like most plants, the best time to plant Rotala Indica is when the water temperature is stable and consistent for a few days. You can plant it in the substrate or attach it to rocks or driftwood with aquarium-safe silicone or fishing line.

For those new to planting aquatic plants, it may be a good idea to wait a few days after you have set up your tank before adding it, as plants can become stressed during the transition from bag to aquarium.

Naming And Growing Rotala Indica

Many often get confused when identifying this aquatic plant because it is also known as Red Rotala and Rotala Macrandra. However, this plant’s proper botanical name is Rotala Indica, sometimes Rotala Rotundifolia.

Rotala Indica Appearance

Rotala Indica is a beautiful plant. Its emerald green leaves are accented by light red stems that give the overall appearance of dark burgundy leaves, mainly when grown in medium-high lighting conditions.

Rotala Indica Appearance

This coloration distinguishes it from other aquarium plants and makes for great contrast.

Rotala Indica is an aquarium plant with bright green leaves with red and pink highlights. It will remain mostly green in low light conditions, but it will develop more red and pink colors in high light. It can grow up to 10 inches in height and be used as a background or midground plant.

Rotala Indica Size And Growth Rate

When provided with a wide array of nutrients in the water column, Rotala Indica can grow up to 10 inches in height during one month. It does not need special lighting conditions or fertilizers to do this, but if given these things, it will grow even faster.

Rotala Indica Size And Growth Rate

In low-light aquariums and/or poor substrate conditions, it will grow at a much slower rate and may not reach its full potential size.

Rotala Indica grows quickly, mainly when provided with adequate lighting. It can easily double the size of its leaves every few days. When first introduced to your aquarium, it will appear as a small bush about 1-2 inches tall.

After a little under one month in your tank, you can expect that same plant to have grown over 6 inches tall, so make sure you have enough room!

How To Plant Rotala Indica?

If you want to be a pro at planting aquarium plants, I recommend purchasing a bag of fine substrate from your local fish store. This method will allow you to achieve the best and easy results.

If you have already added some substrate or gravel to your aquarium floor, rinse it well before adding your new plants.

Once you have your substrate, remove the plant from its pot and gently loosen the roots. You will then want to spread the substrate around the plant’s roots until it is completely covered. Gently tamp it down so that the plant is secure.

If there are any large clumps of the substrate, you can use a fork or your fingers to break them up.

Remove the plant from its pot and gently loosen the roots. Spread substrate around the roots until it is completely covered. Gently tamp it down so that the plant is secure.

  • The first step is to remove the plant from its pot or container. You may need to use a spoon, fork, or fingers.
  • The next step is to untangle the roots of the plant gently. Gently loosen any dirt matted around the roots, then cut off any dead or damaged roots.
  • Next, you will want to plant the Rotala Indica in your aquarium. The best way to do this is to hold the plant and the stem faces down, and the roots point up. This will allow the roots to anchor themselves quickly in the substrate.
  • Finally, add some substrate around the plant roots and pat them down, so the sources are secure. Now you can place your Rotala Indica where desired in your aquarium and decorate as desired.

Rotala Indica Trimming And Pruning

Trimming and pruning your Rotala Indica is essential to ensuring the plant’s health. This will also allow you to shape it into any desired layout. All you need for this is a good pair of aqua-scaping tools. I prefer small scissors or fine-toothed forceps (aka tweezers).

The best time to trim and prune your Rotala Indica is when it is actively growing, typically in the late spring or early summer. You will want to remove dead or unhealthy leaves, stems, and unwanted branches. Doing this will help promote healthy, bushy growth.

Rotala Indica can be a bit temperamental and difficult to trim. If the plant is not trimmed often, it will grow very quickly and may take over your tank. You should make sure you trim it at least once every few weeks.

If your Rotala Indica starts growing upward instead of outward, you should pinch off the top of the stem. This will help to keep it growing in the right direction. If your Rotala Indica becomes covered in mold, you should cut off the affected parts of the plant and discard them.

You may also need to prune your Rotala Indica if it fills your tank too much. This can be done by cutting the plant off at the base and discarding it.

How To Propagate Rotala Indica?

Rotala Indica can be propagated by dividing the clump of plants or by taking stem cuttings.

Propagating by stem cuttings is very easy. It would be best if you waited for the plant species to grow out of its pot, then carefully separate it into two or more pots with fresh soil. Planting Rotala Indica this way will result in a much fuller appearance in your aquarium.

When propagating by dividing the clump of plants, you will want to use a sharp knife or scissors to cut the plant into several pieces. Make sure each piece has at least one healthy root system before planting it into the soil.

Rooting these cuttings can be tricky so you may consult an aquarium expert or online guide for more information.

Once you have propagated your Rotala Indica, it will take a few weeks for the plants to become established and start growing. Be patient and watch them to ensure they are doing well.

If you notice any signs of distress, such as wilting or mold, then take action immediately to save the plant.

Rotala Indica Care Guide

Rotala Indica may be the perfect plant species for your tank if you are new to keeping freshwater aquariums. This species is beautiful and easy to care for, so it can add sophistication and color to your tank.

When you are planning on growing some Rotala Indica, here are a few things you should know before getting started:

Tank Size

Rotala Indica is a very hardy and easy-to-grow aquatic plant. It can be grown in small aquarium tanks as well as large aquarium tanks. A healthy Rotala Indica plant should thrive in a 10-gallon tank, but it can also be grown in 20-gallon tanks or more oversized.

I recommend using a few plants to create a fuller look when using smaller tanks. When using larger tanks, you can use more plants to create a lush and thick underwater garden. This will give your plant plenty of room to grow and spread.

Tank Mates

Rotala Indica can be placed in many areas in the tank, but it does best when planted in the background. This will help anchor the plant and keep it from floating away.

You can also use Rotala Indica to create a beautiful aquascape by planting it in the foreground or the midground. Rotala Indica can also add a stunning red or pink tint to the tank when placed around your other plants.

Fish will generally leave Rotala Indica alone, though large and/or aggressive fish may try to eat it. If you do not want your plant to be eaten, keep it away from the areas where the fish live.

The following are friendly fishes to the plant:

Snails & Shrimp Snails and shrimp do not harm the Rotala Indica plant, but they may be eaten by snails, shrimp, or fish that like to eat plants. So placing it in an area where shrimp and snails are not present is recommended.


Rotala Indica does not require additional nutrients or CO2 injection to grow and thrive. However, if you want to achieve the best coloration, CO2 injection can help. If you decide to use CO2 injection, I recommend pressurized CO2 injection because it is much easier than DIY systems.

However, Rotala Indica requires moderate nutrients to grow and thrive. Nitrogen and phosphorus are this plant’s two most essential nutrients, followed by potassium.

A balanced liquid fertilizer containing all three nutrients is the best choice for keeping your Rotala Indica healthy.

  • Nitrogen: Nitrogen is an essential nutrient required to produce amino acids and proteins for healthy growth and reproduction. It plays a crucial role in many essential plant processes, such as photosynthesis and chlorophyll production.
  • Phosphorus: Phosphorus is another essential nutrient that is required by plants for healthy growth. It involves various biochemical processes, including photosynthesis, energy storage, and root development. It helps the plant to produce flowers and seeds.
  • Potassium: Potassium is the third most important nutrient required by aquatic plants. It is involved in many essential plant functions, including photosynthesis, energy transfer within the plant, and regulating how much water the plant takes in. It helps the plant to stay healthy and resist disease.

Common Possible Diseases

Rotala Indica is generally not susceptible to many diseases. However, an over-fertilized tank may cause the leaves to turn brown and decay. To prevent this, do not fertilize your plant more than once every two weeks.

Treatment Of Diseases

  • Cut away affected areas and remove the plant from the tank immediately.
  • Allow the cut areas to dry for 1-3 days before putting them back in your aquarium.
  • Quarantine all other plants and wait until the Rotala Indica has recovered fully before adding them back into your main tank (if they are also not diseased).
  • If the entire plant dies, discard it and replace it with a new one.


Rotala Indica is a very hardy plant that can easily handle most lighting and water conditions. However, keeping it in medium-high light aquariums is recommended for the best growth rate and coloration. The plant will also need to be provided with nutrients for healthy growth.

You can achieve these conditions by using a liquid fertilizer or adding fish waste products to the tank.


Rotala Indica can grow in various lighting conditions, from low light to extremely bright. The lower the light, the more green and red your plant will be. The higher the light, the more red and pink your leaves will become.

Rotala Indica requires around 3 watts per gallon of full-spectrum T5 or LED lighting to thrive. Alternatively, you can use 2 watts per gallon of fluorescent lighting and a 10K bulb to achieve the same results.

Rotala Indica requires medium to high lighting conditions. Lighting should be anywhere from 2 watts per gallon to 5 watts per gallon for optimal growth. CO2 is also recommended but not necessary for Rotala Indica plants.

High light and CO2 cause this plant to develop more of its burgundy colors rather than green. When provided with high light and CO2, it also grows quite fast.


Rotala Indica can be grown in various substrates, but I’ve found that the best choices are fluorite or sand. For fluorite, I recommend using a 1 to 2-inch layer at your tank’s bottom. This will give your plant plenty of nutrients to grow and spread.

I recommend using fine-grain sand that is 2 to 3 inches deep. This will help anchor your plants and keep them from floating away. Rotala Indica will grow best on a medium to coarse substrate.

A good option is to use a blend of natural and artificial substrates, such as gravel and fluorite. This will help to provide a good balance of nutrients for the plant.

Water Temperature

Rotala Indica can withstand a wide range of water temperatures, from 72° to 82° F. However, I have found that the best growth rates and coloration occur when the water temperature is in the 76° to 82°F range.

pH Level

The ideal pH level for Rotala Indica is 6.0 to 7.5, but it can survive in a pH level as low as 5 and as high as 8.0. The plant will do best in a slightly acidic tank with soft or slightly hard water.


Rotala Indica can be fed a wide range of chemicals and nutrients. The plant does not have high nutrient demands, so regular fertilization with a balanced chemical solution or an aquarium plant fertilizer should supply all the nutrients it needs to grow.


Rotala Indica can withstand a wide range of water temperatures, from 65° to 86°F. However, I have found that the best growth rates and coloration occur when the water temperature is in the 76° to 82°F range.


Rotala Indica is a very hardy plant that can easily handle most water conditions. However, I recommend using a filter to help keep the water clean and clear. A sound filtration system will help remove any excess waste or debris that may accumulate in the tank and cause problems for your plants.


Rotala Indica can be placed in many areas in the tank, but it does best when planted in the background. This will help anchor the plant and keep it from floating away.

You can also use Rotala Indica to create a beautiful aquascape by planting it in the foreground or the midground. Rotala Indica can also add a stunning red or pink tint to the tank when placed around your other plants.

Water Movement

Rotala Indica requires moderate water movement to grow and thrive. A good rule of thumb is to ensure that your water movement equals your plant’s height. So, if you have a 10-inch tall Rotala Indica, you need at least 10 inches of water movement.

It’s not a fussy plant and will grow well in low and high water movement conditions; this is one reason it makes such a great beginner plant. However, high water movement is recommended to achieve the best coloration.

Some Special Points To Be Kept In Mind

  • If your plant is turning green, it may need more nutrients added to the water column. Fertilizers can vary, but a good all-purpose fertilizer with an N: P: K ratio of 10:10:10 should do the trick.
  • The leaves should be bright red or pink, not green. If the color of your plant matches this description, but it’s still growing very tall and thin, then your lighting conditions may be too low for healthy growth. Try increasing the intensity and duration of your lighting to see if this fixes the problem.

Advantages Of Having Rotala Indica In Your Tank

Rotala Indica is a very versatile plant that can benefit your fish. First of all, it provides excellent cover for fry and slow-moving fish. Many fish will feel protected among its leaves, providing them with places to hide if other tank inhabitants are bullying them.

It has been shown that Rotala Indica can remove nitrates from the water, which will help to reduce algae growth. It has also been said that adding Rotala Indica is good for the health of your aquarium; however, this cannot be proven (or disproven) without testing.

Finally, it provides food for some species of fish and shrimp. They will nibble on the plant leaves, which is an excellent nutrition source.

  • Growth: Rotala Indica is a fast-growing plant and will quickly fill up any space in your tank.
  • Beauty: This plant adds a lot of beauty to any aquarium with its bright red and pink leaves.
  • Health: Rotala Indica helps to purify the water and remove any toxins that may be present. It also provides a hiding place for fish and helps to reduce stress levels.
  • Easy To Care For: This plant is very easy to care for and does not require much special attention.
  • Low Maintenance: Rotala Indica is a low-maintenance plant that will thrive in most aquarium conditions.
  • Helps Balance The Aquarium: Rotala Indica helps to balance the aquarium by removing toxins and adding oxygen. It also provides a hiding place for fish.
  • Fun To Watch: This plant is beautiful and fun to watch as it grows. It will quickly fill up any space in your tank.
  • Suitable For Beginners: Rotala Indica is a good plant for beginners as it is easy to care for and does not require much special attention.
  • Provides Food: Rotala Indica offers a good source of nutrition for some species of fish and shrimp. It will help them to grow while giving them food at the same time.
  • Helps Remove Nitrates: Rotala Indica is often referred to as a “nitrate sucker” because it can remove nitrates from the water. This helps to reduce algae growth and keeps the water healthy for your fish.

If you are looking for a fast-growing, low-maintenance plant to add to your aquarium, then Rotala Indica is a perfect choice. This plant is beautiful and provides many benefits for your fish and your tank. It is easy to care for and does not require much special attention to thrive.

Disadvantages Of Having Rotala Indica In Your Tank

  • Temperamental: Rotala Indica can be temperamental and may not do well in some aquariums.
  • Algae Growth: This plant can promote algae growth in the aquarium.
  • Needs Moderate Lighting: Rotala Indica needs moderate lighting to thrive. If placed in too much light, it may become leggy.
  • Needs CO2: Rotala Indica needs CO2 to grow and thrive. Without it, the plant may not do well.
  • Requires Frequent Trimming: Rotala Indica will quickly fill up any space in your tank and must be trimmed often.
  • Prone To Mold: This plant is prone to mold if the conditions are not right.
  • Can Be Pricey: This plant can be a bit pricey, so it may not be affordable for everyone.
  • Don’t Eat It: This plant is not edible, so you should never try to eat it.
  • May Take Over Your Aquarium: Rotala Indica will grow quickly and take over your aquarium if the conditions are right.
  • Can Be Difficult To Plant: This can be challenging to plant into your tank without it falling apart or floating around.


As you can see, Rotala Indica (also known as “Red Rotala”) is a hardy and beautiful plant that will look great in any freshwater aquarium. If you have a green thumb and want to add Rotala Indica to your aquarium, then be patient and spend some time researching the best way to plant it.

You don’t want to spend a lot of money on this plant only to have it die in your tank. If you take the time now, it will pay off later with a gorgeous-looking aquarium.

This plant will quickly fill up any gaps or spaces in your aquarium. Overall, Rotala Indica is a great plant in your aquarium and provides many benefits for you and your fish. Make sure to trim and prune it often to keep it healthy and looking its best!

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