The Brazilian Pennywort is one of the various freshwater plants recommended for newbies in the fishkeeping hobby.

As you read through this article, you’ll find that the Brazilian Pennywort is such a charm to have in tropical tanks that you’ll surely begin wondering why it isn’t as popular as other aquatic flora, like the Anacharis or Anubias. There’s a lot to tackle about this plant, so let’s dive right into it!

Brazilian Pennywort: Some Facts and Figures

The Brazilian Pennywort is also called Brazilian Water Ivy or Mushroom Pennywort. However, most fishkeepers and local fish store owners often refer to it as just Pennywort. Still, some might confuse the Pennywort with a plant named Moneywort because of the similarities in their appearance. The Pennywort can be found in almost all of the freshwater streams and tropical forests of Brazil.

This aquatic plant is excellent at adapting to almost any environment, so much so that it has developed three ways of growing. It can be grown as a rooted plant, as a floating plant, or even as a creeping plant. This opens up numerous aquascaping possibilities for fishkeepers.

Some hobbyists like keeping this plant in the background or middle ground of their aquariums, while others prefer to showcase the iconic Brazilian Pennywort leaves in the foreground of their planted tanks. Before we learn more about this versatile and beautiful type of flora, let’s take a look at the quick facts and figures shown in the table below.

Scientific Name Hydrocotyle leucocephala
Class Dicotyledonae
Order Apiales
Family Apiaceae
Dimensions Up to 24 inches in height; up to 6 inches in length
Color Bright Green
Aquarium Position Versatile; can be placed in the background, middle ground, or foreground
Care Difficulty Easy; recommended for beginners

Aside from the aforementioned facts, you should know that the Brazilian Pennywort can perform multiple functions when cared for in an aquarium setup. For instance, hobbyists who prefer designing paludariums can use the Pennywort as a carpet plant.

Aquarists who have more typical freshwater aquarium setups might be more interested in growing Brazilian Pennyworts to provide shelter and shade from harsh lighting for the fish in the tank.

Physical Features

Pennyworts are easy to recognize because of their kidney-shaped leaves. These leaves grow on slender stalks attached to a flexible but sturdy main stem. Some aquarists have been able to grow their Pennywort leaves to be as big as half-dollar coins, while others have the more typical-sized leaves that only grow to be as wide as quarters or dimes. The leaves of Brazilian Pennyworts give them their signature lush appearance.

Brazilian Pennyworts also have jointed stems. These joints appear as angular breaks that occur in several places along the main stem. Such joints in the stem are normal. This is where you will see new roots sprout, as Pennyworts grow both horizontally and laterally.

As for this plant’s roots, you will notice that Pennyworts have fine bunches of roots that are uncannily similar to those found on bean sprouts. White and hairlike, these roots are capable of anchoring the plant in the substrate, or else helping it take nutrients from deeper water while the leaves are floating on the surface.

How to Grow Brazilian Pennywort

You can plant and grow Brazilian Pennywort using three different methods. In this section, you’ll learn how to plant Pennyworts in aquarium substrate, and how to establish them as floating plants.

In addition to that, our experts will add some tips on how to properly trim and propagate them.

– Planting in Substrate

You can grow Brazilian Pennyworts as background or middle layer flora in your tank quite easily. First, clear an area in your aquarium. Apply your preferred fertilizer, iron, or CO2 supplements. Then, position your Brazilian Pennyworts with their jointed stems (or the part where you see roots sprouting) in such a way that they are in contact with — but not buried under — the substrate.

Over the next few days, the fine roots of your Pennywort should reach downwards into the substrate and anchor the rest of the plant. To prevent your Brazilian Pennywort from floating, you can use fishing string or rubber bands to secure parts of the plant’s stem to rocks or wooden debris in your tank.

– Floating Your Brazilian Pennywort

If you want to make the most of the Pennywort’s shady leaves, then your best bet would be to use it as a floating plant. A Brazilian Pennywort floating on the water’s surface is a serene sight and a highly effective shield against harsh sunlight or artificial lighting for the other inhabitants of your aquarium.

Simply rest your Pennywort on the surface of your aquarium water. Orient the plant in such a way that the roots and stem face the substrate. During the first few days, you might notice that your plant turns on its side causing the leaves to get wet or become partially submerged. Don’t fret, as this is perfectly normal. The leaves will soon grow in the direction of your light source and should orient themselves to stay afloat and spread horizontally.

– Trimming and Propagation

As your Brazilian Pennywort grows, you’ll want to trim it occasionally to prevent it from overcrowding your tank. Prune dead, dried, or sick leaves from the stem by gently pulling such leaves away from the plant.

Use plant scissors to remove cuttings that have several healthy leaves and are at least five inches in length. You can use these cuttings to propagate your Brazilian Pennywort to use in the same tank or other aquarium setups.

Brazilian Pennywort Care

Now that you know the basic facts about the Brazilian Pennywort, we can zoom in on how to care for these wonderful plants. In this section, you’ll learn about how to prepare your aquarium for new Pennyworts, and how to grow these plants using different methods. Plus, you’ll have access to care tips that our experts have used themselves when including Brazilian Pennyworts in their aquariums.

Check out the reference table below to jumpstart your knowledge on how to care for the Pennywort aquarium plant.

Temperature 68 to 82°F; 20 to 30 °C
Light Level Low to High Brightness
pH Level 6.0 – 8.0
Water Hardness 2 to 30 dGH
Substrate Aquarium gravel; can also be grown as a floating or creeping plant
Fertilizer/Chemical Additives Substrate fertilizers should be used only when necessary or to treat nutrient deficiencies
Tank Size 10 to 20 gallons

– Setting up the Aquarium

If this is the only plant you want to include in your aquarium for the time being, then you might want to consider setting up your fish tank in a way that will encourage faster and stronger growth in your Brazilian Pennywort.

On the other hand, if you already have other established plants in your tank, you can look at the factors you might have to adjust or compromise if you want to focus on growing your Pennyworts well. Here are some tips you can use when you prepare the aquarium for your new Pennyworts.

– Warmer Water Works Best

Brazilian Pennyworts grow faster and healthier in warmer temperatures. This is usually not a problem for tropical or freshwater tanks containing fish that, likewise, prefer warm water. Keep your tank water in a warmer temperature range, ideally around 78 to 83 °F, and you’re sure to see your Brazilian Pennyworts grow at a fast rate.

– Ample Lighting Is Key

Pennyworts are highly dependent on the amount of light they receive from their surroundings. The multiple kidney-shaped leaves of the Brazilian Pennywort have more surface area than aquatic plants with elongated or blade-like leaves. This means that the Pennywort is more efficient than other flora at absorbing light that is crucial for its health and growth.

That said, if your aquarium is in a dim place in your house or does not have access to sunlight, consider installing LED bulbs around your fish tank. This will help you provide your Brazilian Pennywort with enough light for it to grow.

– Provide Supplements if Possible

Your Brazilian Pennywort will grow with or without nutritional supplements. However, if you want to support a young Pennywort’s growth, or if you are concerned that your Pennyworts might be showing signs of nutrient deficiencies, then you should definitely provide them with supplements.

You can use substrate fertilizers and add CO2 to your tank every week to keep your Brazilian Pennyworts happy and healthy. In return for a minimal investment in supplements, your tank water will be much more oxygenated and your fish will be happier for being able to take shelter under the beautiful, lush leaves of your Pennyworts.

– Keep Them Away From Rowdy Fish

Brazilian Pennyworts are usually recommended as an aquarium plant that can be paired with almost any freshwater fish. However, there is a caveat to this statement. Pennyworts have delicate stalks and leaves. They are especially prone to damage from fish that like to nip or bite leaves as snacks.

That said, if you aim to keep Brazilian Pennyworts as the main plant in your aquarium, you should avoid pairing them with aggressive or boisterous fish like cichlids and goldfish. This will keep them alive for longer and will help you easily propagate them later on.

Closing Thoughts

As you have just discovered, the Brazilian Pennywort is more than just a pretty little aquarium plant. When given an ideal environment and enough care, it can provide both functionality and aesthetics for your aquascapes. Here’s a look back at the key points of this article:

  • The Brazilian Pennywort is a freshwater plant that can be found in streams and flooded forests in Brazil.
  • This plant goes by many names, including Brazilian Water Ivy and Mushroom Pennywort.
  • This plant is versatile: It can be planted in the substrate or as a floating plant, and even thrive as a creeping plant.
  • Pennyworts fare best in aquariums with a lot of exposure to light.
  • These plants are easy to propagate and maintain. Simply keep them trimmed and away from rowdy fish.

Now that you know the basics of caring for the Brazilian Pennywort, you should be able to plant and nurture this aquatic beauty in your fish tank.

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