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Rotala macrandra is native to India and is a fast growing species found in marshy soils. Rotala macrandra has small leaves that can have a green, tan, to red color form; which make it an excellent choice for a mid-ground plant as it will bring vibrant color and contrast to the aquarium.
Because its small leaf size and fast rate of growth, thriving Rotala macrandra colonies will form a dense grouping that will need regular pruning. Rotala macrandra is also available in ‘Green’ (lime-green leaf tops with pink undersides) and ‘Variegated’ (a mix of the original and ‘Green’); all of them can be found in ‘Narrow Leaf’ versions.
Due to its sensitivity to changing water conditions and usual fast growth, the Rotala macrandrea can be an excellent “indicator” plant that will alert the hobbyist to changes with the aquarium water chemistry.
Light intensity should be high to very high at 3.5 to 5 or more watts per gallon provided by full spectrum (5000-7000°K) bulbs. Under inadequate lighting, the lower stems of Rotala macrandrea have been known to disintegrate. NO3 (nitrate) and PO4 (phosphate) levels have a great effect on the appearance of this species.
High NO3 levels (10 ppm or more) in conjunction with low PO4 levels (less than 0.5 ppm) lead to lower growth and large, light orange leaves. If nitrate is pushed too high (20 ppm or more), the plants growth can be stunted. Low NO3 levels (10 ppm or less) in conjunction with high PO4 levels (1.5 to 2 ppm) will produce very compact, lush, bright-red growth.
Heavy, regular dosing of iron trace elements are essential. If Rotala macrandra start to transform to a pale red or shows white markings, then there is an iron deficiency. CO2 injection is recommended for Rotala macrandra to show its true beauty.
Propagation of Rotala macrandra can be achieved from cuttings; simply cut the top half of a strong stem and gently replant it in the substrate after removing any leaves from the last node of the stem. The “parent” stem will quickly develop new shoots and the newly planted cutting will quickly develop a root system. Over time, this “Topping” process will develop lush, bushy plants.