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Brazilian Pennywort

Posted by Jennifer Escobar on

Brazilian Pennywort

A famous plant for aquarium scientifically called Hydrocotyle leucocephala and commonly as Brazilian Pennywort and Brazilian Water Ivy is best for beginner hobbyists. It is easy to grow and maintain. It can be adapted to many types of aquarium environments from bog to aquatic setups.

It is found in areas from Southern Mexico to Northern Argentina. It is named pennywort because of the shape of leaves which are like a penny. In the wild, it is mostly found in marshes, wetlands, and flooded areas.

This plant is adaptable because you can plant it as a floating plant or in a substrate as a rooted plant. As a floating plant, it can provide a place for infusoria growth and a hiding playground for young fry fish. In substrate, it can be a great background plant, in the middle or back of the aquarium. When pushed down it can climb up on driftwood or any other thing nearby. When adapted as a stem plant it looks alluring like an assemblage of a dozen stems of different lengths. It can also be planted as a flowering bog plant in paludariums.


This plant can add considerable contrast to your aquarium. It contains rounded leaves and a creeping vine-like stems. Leaves grow alternatively from the stem and tiny white root shoots originate from each leaf joint. It's leaves can be found in various sizes; some are of dime size, some are about a quarter size and some even grow to a half dollar size. The margins of leaves are curled and rounded giving a sophisticated ripple or flutter effect. The stem of this plant is very interesting, it grows in segments. You can see the joints from which leaves and roots are attached. The stem is strong and gives support to the plant in water but if bent it can easily break in half. In a home aquarium, it can grow up to 24 inches in height and 6 inches in width. These shoots grow and give out white blossoming buds when reaching the water surface. It is easy to manage and grows rapidly, reaching up to 8 inches in height. You can also have this plant in any kind of aquarium. The roots of this plant are fragile and thread-like and grow outwards from the stem joint. If you place the plant close to any substrate the roots will grow and anchor themselves into that substrate.


In a healthy environment, Brazilian Pennywort grows a few inches every week, specifically when provided with sufficient lighting and ample amount of nitrogen in aquarium water. If the conditions are not sufficient its growth will be slow. You can easily propagate it by cutting small parts from the plant and grow them. Trim a small piece of stem with some leaves and let it float, it will grow into a new plant. A single leaf can also be used for propagation but that said leaf should be healthy.


How to Care for and maintain:

Brazilian Pennywort is a low-maintenance. As a rooted plant, it can be placed anywhere in the tank but most aquarists prefer to have it in the middle or back of the tank. Only some of the aquarist plant it in the front of the aquarium. When rooted it's stems will always grow towards the source of light and as a floating plant, it's leaves will make a cover mat on the water surface. This plant can handle a broad range of temperature, lighting settings, and water hardiness. Although intense lighting and warm temperature are best for excellent growth otherwise growth will be slow. Low iron can cause the yellowing of the leaves' edges. Other nutrients in insufficient amounts can block the healthy growth of the plant. Hard water can boost growth whereas in soft water growth will be slow. However, whatever the conditions are it will keep growing. Only the growth speed depends on the conditions, make sure you have proper access inside the tank to trim the plant because its stems can get damaged in the process. They can be easily hurt when  you are trying to move things around. The good thing is that the damaged stem can live on its own so you do not have to panic, just be careful beforehand. 

Tank requirement

You can plant it in any size of tank but be considerable because the plant can grow fast, by taking this into account we can say a minimum of 19 liters of tank capacity should be required. An ample amount of humidity should be maintained for the plant so that it can flower frequently. pH should be between 6 to 7.8 and temperature should be from 68 – 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Lighting should be intense if you want quick growth but if not, then low intense lights are great. 

Reason to have it in the aquarium

Many aquarists believe that when health conditions are maintained in the tank Brazilian pennywort can help in keeping the Nitrogen level down.

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