Indian Toothcup (Rotala indica)

Green and bushy-leafed, with clusters of tiny, star-shaped white flowers, the Indian Toothcup or Rotala indica is a popular aquatic plant and aquarium favorite.

Long appreciated for its ability to thrive in and around water, Indian Toothcup is now becoming an increasingly popular choice for aquarists.

In this article, we’ll explore why this versatile plant should be part of your indoor garden.

From easy care and maintenance to its unique blend of color and texture, Indian Toothcup is a terrific option for a number of vivariums of all sizes and shapes.

Keep reading to find out why!

Quick Stats:
Scientific Name Rotala indica
Common Name Indian Toothcup
Family Name Lythraceae
Habitat Eurasia, slow- to still-moving waters
Temperature 72°F to 82°F
Height 6-20 inches
pH 6.5 to 7.5
Lighting Low to Moderate

What is Indian Toothcup?

Rotala indica, also known as Indian Toothcup, is a species of flowering plant from the family Lythraceae.

It’s native to parts of Eurasia, where it naturally grows in slow- to still-moving waters.

The plant is characterized by its unique, toothed-shaped leaves, with a distinctive red, pink, or greenish hue.

It is also known for its showy inflorescence, which greatly adds to its appearance both in the aquarium and in the wild.

Rotala indica "Indian Toothcup" Plant Care Guide

Indian Toothcup Facts

Rotala indica is a relative of the genus Rotala, which includes a variety of other species of aquatic plants.

This species is commonly found in slow-moving or still waters, such as ponds, lake margins, and ditches.

It’s also known to be able to survive in brackish water with salinity levels up to 25 ppt.

In addition, it’s also very tolerant of different levels of water hardness, able to grow on both soft and hard water substrates. 


Rotala indica can grow to a height of 20 inches tall and is easily distinguishable from other aquatic plants due to its tooth-like leaves.

Its foliage can be green, red, or pink depending on the water’s pH and hardness levels, and it’s often used in aquascaping as an accent plant or to create depth within the aquarium.

Its inflorescence, or flower, is typically white with a yellow core and is usually the most eye-catching feature of the plant.

However, it’s not something seen often in an aquarium due to the species’ tendency to flower infrequently.


Rotala indica is native to parts of Eurasia, including, India, Sri Lanka, and Southeast Asia.

It’s naturally found in slow or still waters, such as ponds, lake margins, ditches, and also brackish water with salinity levels up to 25 ppt.

pH Preference

This species prefers water with a pH ranging from 6.5-7.5 and can tolerate a wide range of water hardness levels.

Vivarium Type

The Indian Toothcup is quite an easy-going species.

With that in mind, it will not be too complicated when it comes to choosing the type of enclosure it is grown in.

It is best to try and replicate the plant’s natural habitat as much as possible.

Doing so will make it easier to provide this foliage plant with its basic needs.

The proper setup and theme of the enclosure will make a big difference to the overall look and health of the plant.

Be sure to choose setups that are moist and high in humidity.

Here are recommended vivariums it will do well in:

    • Paludariums – Half aquatic/ half terrain-based enclosure.

    • Terrariums – Fully terrain-based enclosures with little to no aquatic features.

    • Ripariums – Mostly aquatic-based enclosures with some terrain features present.

    • Aquarium– Fully aquatic-based enclosure with little to no dry terrain.

Vivarium Placement

When placing Rotala indica in your aquarium, it’s ideal to keep it in the background of the aquarium, as it can reach up to 22 inches tall and can take up a lot of space when it’s full-grown.

This plant is also well-suited to aquascaping, as it can provide a unique aesthetic alongside more known species of aquarium plants.  


Rotala indica prefers a soft aquatic substrate, such as sand or fine gravel, but can also be grown in heavier substrates like clay or rock.


Rotala indica tends to prefer medium to low aquarium light levels.

It does well in brighter setups, but will not grow quickly if the light levels are too low. 

Buy Indian Toothcup

When it comes to buying Rotala indica, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Making sure the plant is healthy when purchased is essential for its success in a vivarium or pond.

Vegetation that is already in poor conditions will have a very hard time adjusting to new environments.

Click the image below to find out more about the current price and other relative info about this plant.

Indian Toothcup Care and Propagation

Rotala indica is a relatively easy plant to care for, although it does require some maintenance.

This plant can be easily propagated by cutting and replanting the original stem or cutting off a side shoot.

With proper care, this species can reach a height of up to 20 inches in a relatively quick time.

How to Grow

Rotala indica prefers to grow on a soft substrate, like sand or fine gravel.

When planting, make sure the roots are completely submerged.

This plant is fast-growing and will spread and become bushier with regular trimming. 

Water Requirements

This plant prefers to be kept in water with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5, and a water hardness range between 10 and 20 dGH.

When it comes to water changes, this species tends to do best with regular, small water changes of around 10% weekly.

Plants Similar to Indian Toothcup

Adding diversity to an enclosure is key to an aesthetically pleasing setup.

Try mixing up the look of your vivarium with different flora that can easily co-exist in the same types of environment.

Furthermore, if for some reason you find the Indian Toothcup hard to acquire or would like to consider something similar to this aquarium plant

Here are other aquatic plants you might find will do well with or in place of Rotala indica:

Vallisneria spp. "Eelgrass" Plant Care Guide
Bucephalandra spp. "Buce Plant" Plant Care Guide
Staurogyne repens "Creeping Staurogyne" Plant Care Guide


With its attractive foliage, fastgrowing habit, and unique texture, Indian Toothcup is a great choice for any vivarium.

Its versatility and ability to thrive in both aquarium and riparium settings provide scapers with a unique way to add an array of colors and textures to their enclosures.

Whether you‘re a seasoned tank keeper looking to add a modern flair to your enclosure or a beginner looking for an easycare aquarium plant, Rotala indica could be just the thing you‘ve been looking for.

Get creative and see what kind of arrangements you can come up with and watch your plant flourish!

Frequently Asked Questions

Rotala Indica needs CO2 to thrive. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is essential for photosynthesis, providing plants with energy and allowing them to grow and flourish. As with other aquatic plant species, Rotala Indica will benefit from supplemental CO2 injections, particularly in high-light conditions. Having sufficient carbon dioxide available will result in more lush and vibrant foliage.

Yes, Rotala Indica can grow in gravel as long as it is provided with adequate lighting, water and nutrients.

Yes, Rotala indica is a stem plant. It is a popular option in freshwater aquariums and is known for its strong stem structure and bright green color.

Yes, Rotala indica is easy to grow in a variety of aquarium conditions. It does best in an aquarium with plenty of light and nutrients. With proper care, it can grow quickly and provide a beautiful display in an aquarium.

Rotala Indica typically grows to a height of 6-20 inches.

Yes, Rotala is considered an invasive species in some areas. It can multiply quickly and can outcompete native plants for resources. Rotala varieties such as Rotala rotundifolia, Rotala indica, and Rotala macranda are generally considered to be invasive.

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