How to grow: Green rotala

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Aquascaping guru George Farmer explains how you can grow the very easy Green rotala, an undescribed plant from Asia which is perfect for the smaller aquarium.

Scientific name: Rotala sp. ‘Green’.

Common name: Rotala green.

Family: Lythraceae.

Origin: Asia.

Size: 50cm/20” x 3cm/1.2” wide per stem.

Temperature: 18-30C, pH 5-8, very soft to very hard.

Lighting: Medium. Low with CO2 injection and good nutrients.

Growth rate: Medium to very fast depending on set-up.

Difficult to grow? Easy.

How to grow it

Rotala sp. ‘green’ is a very popular stem plant suitable for most beginners. It is adaptable to most water conditions and will tolerate lower lighting levels if good nutrients are available.

Use tweezers to split the pot into individual stems and plant separately or in groups of two to three stems.

A nutrient-rich substrate will be of benefit, but is not essential, especially if you dose regularly with a comprehensive liquid fertiliser. CO2 injection will boost growth considerably, as will liquid carbon additives.

In most aquariums it will grow with a minimum of two T8 tubes and reflectors. More light will be required in tanks over 45cm/18” in height. An eight-hour photoperiod is plenty.

Prune stems by cutting between leaf nodes with scissors. Two new shoots will sprout from between the leaf nodes. Repeating this process will result in a bushy effect. If the plant becomes too top heavy then remove the original stem and re-plant cuttings. Aerial roots are common and can be pruned off if you wish.

In aquariums with high lighting, CO2 and good nutrients, the leaves will produce visible oxygen bubbles (pearling). In these higher-tech set-ups pruning is needed weekly.

The plant will grow emerged in open-topped aquaria, where the leaves adopt a much rounder shape. It is a close relative to the popular Rotala rotundifolia.

This item was first published in the September 2009 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine. It may not be reproduced without written permission.