Rotala Rotundifolia Aquarium Plant| Complete Growers Guide

If you are looking for an attractive aquatic plant that will provide depth, dimension and lots of interest to your tank, Rotala rotundifolia is an excellent choice.

This simple, but visually striking plant will suit aquarium hobbyists of all abilities due to its good growth and easy maintenance, Read on for our complete grower’s guide, covering everything you need to know to succeed in cultivating Rotala rotundifolia in your aquarium.

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Species Profile

Scientific NameRotala Rotundifolia
Care LevelVery Easy
Max Size30-50 cm
Water Conditions4 - 32°C Carbonate hardness 0 - 21°dKH
General hardness 2 - 30°dGH
Light LevelsLow
OriginSouth East Asia


Rotala rotundifolia is a popular aquarium plant of the rotala genus and loosestrife family, which it shares with other well known aquatic plants. Its Latin name ‘Rotundifolia’ literally means ’round leaves’. Rotundifolia is commonly mistaken for Rotala indica, another popular aquatic plant. It is also known as:

  • Dwarf rotala
  • Round-leaf ‘toothcup’
  • Rotala ‘Ceylon’
  • Rotala ‘Pink’
  • Rotala ‘Green’
  • Rotala ‘Colorata’
  • Rotala ‘H’ra’


Rotala Rotundifolia is a stem plant that thrives in wet, marshy, and aquatic environments and is a staple of aquaculture projects. The wild variety is found semi-immersed as a vigorous growing weed of rice paddies across southern Asia including China and Taiwan and can even be found in southern Europe. Use in aquascaping has led to it being introduced in the US, wherein some regions it has an invasive character.

The plant consists of long stems with round or narrow elongated leaves which may carry a characteristic and desirable red hue. Leaves are round if grown above the waterline, otherwise, rotundifolia produces long triangular leaves with a star-shaped top. Its color ranges typically from green to a deep pink-red.

As it matures, R. rotundifolia puts out between 15 to 30 of these leafy stems to produce a shrub-like appearance. It grows well when fully immersed and is able to flower underwater for an attractive underwater appearance.

Size And Shape

Dwarf Rotala grows up to a maximum of 50cm with typical growth around the 30cm mark. Each plant typically carries 12-15 stems per bunch. Leaves can be up to 2-3cm in length.

Care & Growth

This is a hardy and low maintenance aquatic plant variety that loves to grow. To maintain its growth R. rotundifolia will demand light, carbon dioxide and nutrients.

It will carpet spread through creation of runners and also split at the stem to spread vigorously if given the right conditions. Rotundifolia can form aerial roots that can become intermingled and surface tips which can turn and grow along the ground to propagate. The plant rapidly forms a very developed root system which aids in establishing it in the aquatic plant substrate of choice.

Understandably, good light intensity and supplemental carbon dioxide will encourage the best growth which will be vertical and towards the light source. Light intensity also influences the rotundifolia’s production of the reddish coloration of its leaves. Inadequate exposure to light can cause the plant to lose its lower leaves.

Optimum Water Chemistry

Rotala rotundifolia tolerates a broad range of aquatic conditions with little truly suppressing its growth. Its water parameters are broad with a pH range of 5.5 to 7 and a water hardness GH value range of 4-15dgh.

Optimum Temperature

The optimum temperature for growth of rotundifolia is between 22-28 celsius, though it can tolerate slightly cooler water well.

rotala rotundifolia

Best Substrate For Growth

Rotundifolia is hardy and can establish itself in and on a range of aquatic plant substrates including soil, sand and clay. A substrate alone will not provide adequate nutrition for this voracious feeder and solid and liquid feeding is advised. Rotundifolia is tolerant of nitrogen and copes with cycling. It is able to thrive in nitrogen-rich aquatic soils that leach ammonia.

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We use Flourite Dark Soil for all our plants. It never needs replacement and remains effective for the life of the Aquarium. It will help provide the nutrients your plant roots need to thrive.

Aquascaping With Rotala Rotundifolia

This hardy little aqua shrub lends itself to a variety of aquascaping projects and grows readily in open and closed aquaria. Rotundifolia is a great hiding plant and can be floated as it does rely heavily on its roots. It is easy to manage for the novice aquarium owner and produces satisfying, rapid vertical growth. You can work it in different ways and it is easily trimmed and shaped.

If it reaches the surface the plant will often bend and grow back into the water producing pleasing colored cascades. Pruning is necessary to control its growth and produce dense bushes. If the color is important, the reddish hue can be provoked in the leaves by restricting nitrates. Iron also helps intensify the distinctive coloration.

Read our Aquascape Tools Guide to find suitable tools and products to help you trim and prune your aquarium plants.

Rotundifolia works best as background foliage, but can also be used as a midground and foreground plant depending on how much you are willing to prune and shape it. If you plant it too thickly, you will restrict access to light, with loss of its lower leaves.

Aquascape aquariums look incredible with the right plants

For the best results:

  • Plant individual tufts of rotundifolia at 3-4 cm intervals to avoid overcrowding.
  • Plant in small groups.
  • Maintain a 3-4cm distance between rotundifolia and neighboring plants.
  • Use a fertilized aquarium plant substrate with supplemental liquid feeding which includes iron, potassium for the vibrant red leaves.

Rotundifolia works well with marginal plants, low growing bog and other aquatic species that grow dense such as Mentha, Bacopa, Ludwigia arcuata and Hemianthus glomeratus. Use these with rotundifolia to create a healthy habitat for a range of fish, especially peaceful communities. Shrimp breeders can also use this plant as the long leaves create lots of surface area which is desirable in shrimp breeding tanks.


Stems may split or grow along the bottom of your tank with a sucker like pattern of growth. Rotundifolia is readily propagated by cutting.

Simply cut with sharp scissors at the upper portion of the stem. A 10cm portion is adequate for re-planting in the substratum where it will grow again. Make a hole in your aquatic plant substrate with your finger and plant with a 3-4cm depth covering over with substrate.


  • Does Rotala Roundifolia need C02? No, but having C02 is always an advantage for aquarium plant growth
  • How big does it grow? 30-50cm
  • Where does R.Roundifolia come from? Rotala originates from south-east Asia
  • Can it grow in a pond? Yes, it is a semi-submerged pond plant as well as an aquarium plant.
  • Does Rotala need special lights to grow? No, Moderate lighting will be fine.

Safety To Fish

Rotala rotundifolia has no reported toxicity and its soft leaves make a safe nibble for your fish while being tough and fast-growing enough to prevent being completely eaten. This plant’s fast-growing root network is also great for preventing build-up of anaerobic gasses in the substrate which can be toxic.

Conclusion: Rotala Rotundifolia

If you’re looking for a lovely colorful aquarium plant that’s easy to grow then try Rotala Rotundifolia. This aquarium plant will make any aquarium look nice. With a variety of colors and shades, it will bring color and depth to any fish tank. We hope this Rotala Rotundifolia Care Guide has given you the urge to rush out and buy some. If it has then Click this link for prices on Amazon.