Rotala wallichii is a delicate aquatic plant which gives an elegant finish to any aquarium. However, it can be strenuous to care for: It is fragile to handle, and needs a balance in its water parameters to remain healthy. Read this article to learn all you need to know about the Rotala wallichii’s care and habitat requirements.

An Overview of Rotala Wallichii

Carl von Linnè, also known as Carolus Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist from the 17th century, first named Rotala wallichii. The flowering amphibious plant is from the Rotala genus and Lythraceae family, but it’s pretty similar to the purple loosestrife family.

The Rotala Wallichii was first found in the tropical Asian waters all through Taiwan, Thailand, China, Vietnam, Laos and India. But aquarists have now introduced it to the USA and other countries worldwide, particularly to the Scandinavian and Dutch regions. They are popular in moist regions in southeast Asia, where they grow in rice paddies and shorelines.

The Rotala wallichii plant can flourish with its roots immersed in water and the flowering stems either above the water surface or fully submerged. However, in a home setup, your plant would mostly like to be entirely underwater. The Rotala wallichii has a more rapid growth when the aquarium water is slightly acidic yet soft and CO2 is added. It is indeed a stunning and unique red-stemmed plant.


The Rotala wallichii is a reddish tinted plant with flowering spikes on its stem. Depending on the light source, it could look brownish-red or take a red, pink, or purple shade. The Rotala wallichii has different colors and appearance depending on its care.

They are pretty fragile and need extra care; nonetheless, they look amazing when you plant them in a large group. They give a decorative effect as a background plant for mini-aquariums too, as you can easily prune them if they grow larger than you want them. The Rotala is fascinating to look at and would take your aqua-scaping skills from zilch to top-notch.

They have an attractive balance of spikes and reddish fluff. However, not everyone can handle them as they require a bit of technique to maintain.

One of its nicknames, whorly Rotala, comes from its appearance; they grow in a whorl pattern. Its leaves grow from a point then spread out in a spiral-like manner.

Rotala Wallichii Growth Rate And Size

Rotala wallichii’s stems are at least 1 inch in diameter and can grow to about 2 inches in two months. The average Rotala wallichii would grow up to a height of 14 inches or more while its leaves are 1 inch in length.

– Why Do Rotala Wallichii Change Color?

The leaves of the Rotala wallichii underwater are typically green, but as it grows outwards it looks like it has reddish-burnt orange highlights or pink-purple hues. However, the intensity of the tank’s lightning would influence the color of the Rotala wallichii shoots.

Aquarists claim the plant does manifest its pink and purple color when emersed but has the most vibrant reds and brown hues under bright light. They have a more intense color at the bottom part of the stem.

Rotala wallichii Care

The Rotala wallichii is beautiful but you may only appreciate it when it is properly cared for. The aquarium, the lightning and all water parameters are critical aspects to consider. Tank mates and decor are another essential factor because the Rotala wallichii can become a target in the wrong company.

The goal is to balance and maintain a healthy and great view while paying great attention to all important details. Below is the Rotala wallichii maintenance routine to implement.

– Pruning

There are several Rotala species: To name but a few, Rotala rotundifolia, Rotala indica and Rotala nanjenshan. However, the Rotala wallichii is the most difficult to tend, especially for a decorative home theme. The barb-like red to pinkish colored stems grow outwards of the tank and would need frequent trimmings. If you give attention to the plants as you do for the fishes in the aquarium, the soothing yet attractive view it produces would be worthwhile.

Pruning or trimming your Rotala wallichii plant often is essential, so the plant does not get dense. As the plant accumulates about 2 inches of growth, prune it. The amount you take off depends on your preference and tank size.

– Lightning

As we already mentioned, brighter light in the tank would result in a more intense color for the whorly plant. So, if colorings on the plant seem off, your lightning setup may be inappropriate. Ideally, 0.5 watts for a quarter gallon of water is adequate to properly light up your aquarium.

– Water Conditions

Soft acidic water is most suitable for the Rotala wallichii. Even though water parameters are important to most plants, this plant would react more than others to unsuitable pH and mineral values.

One way to ensure optimal parameters is the use of a moderately effective filtration system. You need one which can keep the algae growth in check while maintaining the CO2 present in the water. Other parameters to check for are the nitrates, iron and phosphate levels.

The Rotala wallichii prefers soft water. Hard water, in fact, affects the leaves and the plant stops being fluffy and becomes clogged together and stiff. The fishes in the aquarium also may not see through the cloudy water and can have difficulties breathing. Hence, monitor the parameters and the overall health of your Rotala wallichii plants often.

Rotala wallichii Water Parameters

PH levels 5 to 7
dKh 12
Water Temperature  64.4 – 82.4 F (18 – 28 C)
Carbon Dioxide  15 – 25 mg
Nitrate 1 – 15 mg
Phosphate  1 – 2 mg

– Tank Size

The Rotala wallichii would grow well in most tank sizes: nano, medium, or large. In this sense, they are flexible. However, pay attention to planting Rotala wallichii in a background or mid-ground placement so pruning can be easy, especially for a small-sized tank. For a more decorative and beautiful outcome, you can add other plant species in a big tank to give your setup an interesting view.

– Tankmates

The Rotala wallichii’s tank mates can be other plants or fishes, but remember that it is so fragile that it could be damaged if mishandled. Hence, you should only plant them in a tank with calm fishes, as the overly active ones may eat them or dig them out. Fishes that should not share a tank with the Rotala wallichii include: Goldfish, Scats, Buenos Aires Tetras, Silver Dollars and Oscars. Cichlids that dig up the substrates are also not a good choice.

The Rotala wallichii already fall under moderate to complex care range, so adding a destructive animal into its tank makes your care effort futile. For a small tank, the background is a good location for the whorly plant, but in a larger aquarium the mid-ground is perfect. Arrange the lights and the plants to achieve a decorative color scheme of contrast and light.

Rotala Wallichii Diet

– Nutrition

Co2 positively affects the growth rate of the Rotala wallichii plant. They would feed on the nutrients readily available in the water or the CO2 supplement. Remember that the Rotala wallichii stems would produce an attractive color under sufficient lighting, so combine Co2 supplements with extra light.

– Soil Type

Since the soil type does not influence the plant directly, you can use a gravel substrate. However, be sure it is about 2 inches deep to allow the Rotala wallichii roots to grow. Use the gravel substrates to hold the whorly stems in place without actually burying them.


We know that you may only implement the disposal option in rare cases. However, it is crucial you know a thing or two when you decide to get rid of your whorly Rotala.

In some parts of the United States, the Rotala wallichii may be considered weeds. If this is the case in your area, allow the sun to dry up the leaves before attempting to compost. As you do not want to add to the already existing weeds in your location, you may also burn them by following safety measures for controlled burning or put them in plastic bags and trash them.

Nonetheless, make sure whatever method you decide to use does not create a potential risk like a fire hazard, encourage weed growth or clog any waterway with plastic bags.

How To Propagate And Decorate Your Tank With The Rotala Wallichii Plant

– Design

Before propagating the Rotala wallichii plant, you should have a vague picture of how you want the finished decor of the tank to look like. When fully immersed in water, the Rotala wallichii leaves appear slimmer and oval-shaped, but slightly above water they are thicker and rounder. In the opinion of our experts, a small home tank would most likely look better with the narrow leaves version.

You would see both leaf types in a larger home aquarium that gives more room for water and space for the plant to emerge above the waterline. Furthermore, you may get both leaves patterns if you are utilizing an outdoor space, like a pond.

When planting Rotala wallichii, you can place them separately or in clusters. The more frequently you prune, the fuller the shoots grow. So, if you want a bushier appearance, trim your wallichii. One fun fact is that you can replant the trimmed whorly Rotala into the substrate!

In addition, put into consideration that you have more shoots close to the water. Plant three or five wallichii stems around each other for a fuller look but leave a lot of room for light to permeate through them easily. Add in another tank décor like driftwood or figurines to give it a classy finish.

– Cutting The Rotala Wallichii

Cutting stem or side shoots are primary propagation sources, although you should know that, without a proper technique, you may cut the Rotala wallichii incorrectly. For instance, if you do not leave out 1 inch as you cut, it may not regrow. In addition, take out all the leaves from the stem before planting. As you replant the pruned stems, they develop their roots with time.

– Planting The Rotala Wallichii

Growing Rotala wallichii needs certain considerations. In particular, you should leave about 1 or 2 inches in between different plants to prevent the growth of algae. As a matter of fact, they can destroy the Rotala wallichii leaves.

As the plant is quite fragile and the positioning is critical for a superb finish, hold the stems with a pair of tweezers so you can place them as close as you need to without causing any damage. Also, plant the thicker end of the stem at least 2 inches deep into the substrate.

– Nourish Your Whorly Plant

After planting, feed your plant with the best nutrients available and ensure the habitat conditions encourage growth. Fertilizers could help add enough phosphate and iron into the substrate.

The Benefits Of Planting Rotala Wallichii In Your Tank

– Increased Oxygen Content

The Rotala wallichii, like other plants, takes in carbon dioxide and gives off oxygen. To speed up the plant’s growth rate, most aquarists may add carbon dioxide injection into the tank. Hence, the excess oxygen given off is beneficial and can be consumed by the other tank mates.

– Aesthetic

At this point, we cannot overemphasize how beautiful the Rotala wallichii makes your aquarium. They add an elegant touch to it, giving it a luxurious feel. For a large tank, you can add in other plant species to increase the hiding spots for fishes. So, not only are they gorgeous, they are also highly functional and commonly used by hobbyists.


The Rotala wallichii is fragile and difficult to tend, but it has several other characteristics that make it fascinating.

  • You can easily prune and replant them if you need to because they grow fast in favorable habitat conditions.
  • Carbon dioxide injection, iron, phosphorus supplements and frequent water changes are significant factors that speed up the Rotala wallichii growth rate.
  • The intensity of light and water level can influence the appearance of the Rotala wallichii plant.

We have compiled a detailed article on the Rotala wallichii plant, and we hope it will be of help in making you an expert Rotala botanist!

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