Rotala macrandra

Rotala macrandra is a plant which has been long been considered by aquatic plant enthusiast to be the most beautiful red plant you could add to your aquascape, but it is also considered one of the more difficult plant to keep. The delicate red wavy leaves of this plant can add a strong focal point to an aquascape. The red leaves help in drawing attention into the aquascape , while the beautiful wavy leaves helps to give a soft impression to the aquascape when used with other delicate looking plants.

R.macrandra can be used as a background plant in medium to large aquariums. When provided the right conditions for growth the stems tend to grow fast towards the light and then form floating leaves along the surface. These top leaves are always redder than the leaves lower down the stem. Rotala macrandra originates from India. This plant needs a lot of light to show its beautiful red color supplemented with good CO2 and a proper fertilization regime. Over the years a lot of people have speculated what causes the plant to turn red. The oldest and the most widely believed claim recommends adding enough chelated iron combined with good lighting to bring out the best in this plant. Some people have claimed that limiting the NO3, while maintaining relatively high levels of P would produce large, deep red leaves. Iron and micro-nutrient dosing will also need to be sufficient. I cannot confirm the validity of the above claims as I never measure the water parameters in my tank but in my experience taking care of major factors like light, fertile substrate and CO2 should solve 80% of the problems associated with cultivating this plant.

R. macrandra is available through a lot of online plant dealers and is also regularly available at most LFS. In my opinion there is a small trick when selecting R.macrandra stems. When selecting R.macrandra stems always select a bunch in which stems show some inter nodal roots. My observation has lead me to believe that when we select stems which do not have inter-nodal roots , the stem rot off faster than the plant can form new roots. R.macrandra has a tendency to lose leaves on the lower part of the stem like other stem plants as time progresses. Proper placement of mid-ground plants should help to cover this unsightly section of the plant. R.macrandra can be propagated by cutting the tops of the stem and replanting them in place of the old ones or you could just leave the cut sections of the stem in place which will develop new shoots. Consistent trimming can produce beautiful bushy look. R. macrandra has been widely used in both Nature Aquarium and Dutch aquascapes for a long time.R macrandra can be a great addition to any aquascape but is certainly not a plant for novice.

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