Brazilian Pennywort (Hydrocotyle Leucocephala) Care In Aquariums

Brazilian Pennywort is the perfect beginner plant for budding aquarists, thanks to its low maintenance requirements. It features a beautiful ivy-like creeping stem and dime-sized leaves that have small white shoots at each joining that later develop into nano white blossoms when the stem finally reaches the surface of the water. 

It has the advantages of being a fast grower and adaptable to most aquariums, adding plenty of color and character to even the dullest tanks. Continue reading this care guide to find out how you can incorporate this beautiful plant into your aquarium!

Brazilian Pennywort Overview

Brazilian pennywort unpackaged on white background

This lush green plant has some fascinating scientific facts; read on to explore more about them. 

  • Scientific Name: Hydrocotyle leucocephala
  • Family: Umbelliferae
  • Order: Apiales
  • Genus: Hydrocotyle L.
  • Care Level: Low to moderate level
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Maximum Size: 24 inches
  • Water Conditions: Soft or hard water at room temperature with a neutral pH level
  • Lighting: Low to medium lighting levels
  • Propagation: Cuttings
  • Tank Placement: Foreground or free-floating 

Brazilian Pennywort (Hydrocotyle leucocephala), also known as Pennywort, is native to wetlands and slow-flowing rivers in South America, Mexico, and Argentina. 

It features round leaves and a single slim, robust stem that connects the leaves through veins of ivy, the veins serving as support for the leaves to stay strong and upright. 

It can grow up to a maximum of 24 inches in height and produce tiny white flowers as it reaches up to the surface of the water.

Caring & Growing Brazilian Pennywort In Your Aquarium

Brazilian pennywort floating in aquarium on surface

The guidelines below outline what steps to take to suitably care for your Brazilian Pennywort. 

Tank Requirements

Brazilian Pennywort tends to grow quickly, so you would need a minimum tank size of 10 gallons. Anything smaller would be unsuitable as the plant will soon overrun the tank.

Personally, I don’t like to keep it in a tank under 40 gallons, but that’s only because I don’t want to do frequent trimmings.

You can use it in a smaller tank, it just requires more maintenance.

Water Parameters

Follow the water parameters below to ensure your Brazilian Pennywort thrives in your tank.

  • Temperature: 68-82° F
  • pH: 6.0-8.0 
  • dGH: 0-30 dGH

Lighting Conditions

Brazilian Pennywort can thrive in medium intensity lighting, but if there is more lighting, that’s even better. 

The absence of enough light will dampen the maximum growth of Brazilian Pennywort. If you can’t provide adequate natural lighting, you can purchase LED lights to supplement what’s needed for this plant to thrive.

Maintenance & Trimming

Adding in fertilizers to your tank can maintain growth rates of Brazilian Pennywort, but be wary of the side effects of certain fertilizers on other aquatic creatures present in your tank, as well as their long-term impact on the plant itself. 

After a while, you may find your Brazilian Pennywort outgrowing its space in the tank. You may need to trim it carefully to keep growth under control.

Identify the part of the stem that needs to be trimmed and carefully trim with scissors. Be cautious, though, not to pull at the stem too much as it can tear the plant.

How to Plant Brazilian Pennywort In Aquarium

Adding Brazilian pennywort to aquarium

You can either plant Pennywort in your tank’s substrate or let it float. When planted, you can trail it across driftwood and other surfaces to give an attractive look to your tank, or you can grow it in separate bunches of varying heights to create a unique aquascape. 

Select nutrient-rich soil for your substrate and proceed by creating a hole in the substrate and placing the roots inside.

The roots should begin budding within a few days, and eventually, the plant will reach the water’s surface and develop tiny white flowers.

Brazilian Pennywort’s Stems & Roots

Brazilian Pennywort has a unique growth pattern as its stems grow in sections. Each section has a visible connection where the roots and leaves join. The plant’s stems are durable and support the rest of the plant in water, but the stems can break easily if mishandled. This commonly occurs when trimming the plant or moving it to another part of the tank. 

Another essential factor to watch out for is the power filter in your tank. The plant can grow into the filter, and stems can be damaged when you try to untangle the plant.

Pennywort’s roots are fragile and string-like. They’re produced from the stem’s joint, and when planted in the substrate, the fine roots will anchor themselves into the substrate to secure the plant.

How to Propagate Brazilian Pennywort

Reproducing Brazilian Pennywort is pretty straightforward. All you need to do is trim a few inches of the parent stem, making sure there are lots of leaves present, and then leave it to float in the water. If you wish to plant it into the substrate, trim a long stem off the parent plant and place it into the substrate. 

Aquascaping with Brazilian Pennywort

Pennywort can be paired with other aquatic plants to create a beautiful mélange of colors in your tank. It can also serve as a convenient hiding place for shy or breeding fish thanks to its dense structure and can block some light for creatures that prefer dark conditions. 

Brazilian Pennywort can conveniently keep the water in your tank clean and maintain nitrates to a healthy level.

Tank Mates for Brazilian Pennywort

Brazilian Pennywort can help create a fabulous aquatic environment. Marine creatures that are peaceful would make good tank mates for this plant. Examples would be:

Tankmates to avoid are those that have tendencies to feed on plants. Examples would be:

How to Choose Healthy Brazilian Pennywort

Brazilian pennywort packaged on white background

When choosing your Brazilian Pennywort, keep an eye out for plants with healthy leaves and strong stems. Leaves shouldn’t have holes or discoloration, and stems should be sturdy and vine-like, without brownness and breaks. Look for healthy roots that are white and resemble bean sprouts. 

Will You Pick Pennywort?

I love this plant so much. I’ve kept it for years. It grows as a long, skinny, vine-like stem that sprouts leaves every few inches. When the leaves float at the surface, they look like a string of miniature lily pads. A cluster of roots trails down into the water below each leaf.

And not to mention they do an excellent job at sucking up excess nutrients in your water column and helping you keep algae at bay.

As long as you don’t mind frequent trimmings for smaller tanks, brazilian pennywort is an excellent, easy to care for plant.

Christopher Adams
Christopher Adams

Hey there, my name is Christopher, and I've successfully ran freshwater aquariums for the past few decades. The mission of this site is to make it simple for anyone to run their own freshwater aquarium.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.