Rotala Macrandra "Mini" Butterfly "Hi Red"
- Hardiness: Difficult
- Light Needs: High
- Plant Structure: Stem
- Family: Lythraceae
- Genus: Rotala
- Region: Asia
- Location: India
- Size: Individual stem width: 2-7cm (1-3in)
- Growth Rate: Fast
- Can Be Grown Emersed: Yes
Rotala macrandra is a popular but demanding red stem plant. This plant comes from India where it can be found growing near the coast in marshy soils. Submersed growth is bright red and upright while emersed growth is prostrate and mostly green. Although it is difficult to grow, this plant is well-established in the hobby. It is not too difficult to obtain through trading or through the various internet plant stores.
R. macrandra is an excellent indicator plant in the aquarium due to its sensitivity to poor conditions and normally fast growth. Lighting should be strong (at least 2 watts per gallon with power compact bulbs for an aquarium of 40-60 U.S. gallons). When lighting is poor, the lower stems of this plant often deteriorate. CO2, although not completely necessary, is highly recommended for this plant for it to reach its full potential. NO3 and PO4 levels play a major role in the appearance of this plant. High NO3 levels (10 ppm or more) coupled with low PO4 levels (less than 0.5 ppm) lead to leggier growth and large, light orange leaves. If nitrate is pushed too high (20 ppm or more), the plant may actually stunt. Low NO3 levels (10 ppm or less) coupled with high PO4 levels (1.5 to 2 ppm) lead to very compact, lush, bright red growth. Heavy iron and micronutrient dosing is required. If the plant is looking pale red or showing white markings, then the plant is not getting enough iron.
R. macrandra should be pruned by removing the rooted portions and planting the tops. Individual stems should be spaced far enough so that light can reach the lower leaves. As it grows in, the bunch will fill in the spaces with a profusion of side shoots. To propagate, simply snip off one of the side shoots and replant into the substrate. Allowing the plant to grow up to and spread along the surface encourages each stem to produce a side shoot at each internode.
This Rotala species is popular in both Dutch and Nature Aquarium style layouts. Dense, bright red bunches are great as red accents or focal points in an aquascape.
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