Rotala rotundifolia

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Rotala rotundifolia

Rotala rotundifolia is probably one of the easiest Rotala sp. we encounter in our hobby. It may also most probably be the first stem plant a new comer to the planted tank hobby generally walks out with from a local fish store due to its ease of availability. Aspiring aquascapers are attracted to the beautiful small pinkish red leaves of this plant. Even tough it’s an easy plant to grow and maintain in an aquascape it requires a good amount of light and proper fertilization to show its true beauty.

R. rotundifolia is a common marsh plant found through out Southeast Asia from India all the way to Japan. Recently there have been reports of its introduction in Florida and Alabama. Emergent growth of R. rotundifolia is distinctly different than the underwater foliage. Some times in an open top aquarium when periodic trimming is neglected R. rotundifolia starts putting out thick round leaves on stems over the water. These round leaves give this plant its common name “Roundleaf Toothcup”. If one is lucky enough these emergent stems will also bear beautiful pink inflorescence at the tip. When observed closely this inflorescence is actually a group of tiny pink flower. The inflorescence can be used to differentiate between R. rotundifolia and R. indica which looks very similar. R. rotundifolia is commonly mislabeled as R. indica in aquarium shops, but both are actually different species.

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Underwater R. rotundifolia has small lanceolate leaves. The color of leaves can vary from green to deep red. When grown in medium light, the leaves will remain green. For the plant to show its beautiful red leaves it requires a lot of light along with a good amount of iron dosing. Under high light R. rotundifolia stems grow at a slant angle instead of growing vertically up. This particular habit of the plant can be used to a great advantage while aquascaping creating dense beautiful hedge creeping over some rocks. Consistent trimming must be done to shape the hedge. Leaving the stem bottoms in the substrate instead of replanting the stem tops helps to achieve the required plant density. After trimming, new buds emerge from the nodes between the petiole and the stem.

R. rotundifolia does well in a variety of water conditions ranging from soft to slightly hard. It is also quiet undemanding compared to other species from this genus. Even though it can be grown in inert substrate like sand with adequate water column fertilization, fertile substrates like ADA Amazonia benefit the plant significantly.

Finally R.rotundifolia is a good beginner plant which can be used to a great advantage in an aquascape.

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