Aquarium plants Plant caresheets

Growing Hydrocotyle leucocephala (Brazilian pennywort)

October 1, 2017
hydrocotyle leucocephala

Hydrocotyle leucocephala, also known as Brazilian pennywort, is one of the most popular aquarium plants in the hobby. That’s no coincidence: this plant is cheap, grows like a weed and adds a great pop of green to your tank. Its easy care makes it a great choice for beginners.

Keep reading for everything you need to know about Hydrocotyle leucocephala and growing it in your own aquarium!

Planting Hydrocotyle leucocephala

Hydrocotyle leucocephala can easily be planted by just sticking the stems into the substrate. It roots very quickly and shouldn’t have too much trouble adapting to most environments. Most aquarists prefer using it as a mid-/background plant (see the video below for an example) but if you don’t mind the light being blocked you can also leave it to float freely. Shy fish like Bettas will love the cover a floating plant provides.

Hydrocotyle leucocephala is a plant that has no issues growing out of the water. This makes it a great choice for terrariums or paludariums or if you just want the interesting look of a plant sticking out of the top of your tank. When grown emersed it will even produce small white flowers.

Min tank size 5 gal/19L
Care Easy
Location Mid/back/floating
Temperature 68-82 °F/20-28 °C
pH 6-8

Hydrocotyle leucocephala care requirements

As discussed earlier, Hydrocotyle leucocephala is not difficult to grow at all. Even beginners and those with black thumbs should be able to grow this one in their aquarium as long as its basic care requirements are met.

  • Hydrocotyle leucocephala will grow with medium lighting, but the more light you can supply the better. If light is lacking the plant will shoot towards the top of the tank and drop its lower leaves, which can make for a rather sparse and sad appearance.
  • Although added Co2 and a regular plant feeding schedule are appreciated by Hydrocotyle leucocephala, they are definitely not a necessity. This sturdy plant can fend for itself just fine.
  • If your Hydrocotyle leucocephala is doing well and growing quickly be sure to prune regularly to prevent the stems from getting all tangled up and the leaves blocking all the light. Pruning also promotes a bushy appearance, so don’t forget to do it regularly! This plant is on the list of fast growers for a reason.
  • As with many aquarium plants, propagating this one is a breeze. Just save the bits you removed while pruning and stick them back into the substrate or even just toss them back into the tank and leave them to float. They should continue to grow as before.


Problems with Hydrocotyle leucocephala

Although Hydrocotyle leucocephala is a fast grower that should do well in almost any aquarium, problems can sometimes occur.

  • If your Hydrocotyle leucocephala isn’t growing it might not be getting enough nutrients. Check whether light, Co2 and nutrients are still balanced and adjust where necessary.
  • If the plant is growing but seems extremely sparse the issue is usually your lighting. Do keep in mind that any Hydrocotyle leucocephala loses at least some of its lowers leaves while it grows to the top of the tank: they simply don’t get enough light. A good pruning can be enough to force this plant to take on a bushy appearance.
  • Hydrocotyle leucocephala is sensitive to iron deficiency. If its leaves are turning yellow and dying off this is usually the problem. Supplement its ‘diet’ with some extra iron and it should start feeling better soon.

Buying Hydrocotyle leucocephala

As discussed earlier this is a classic aquarium plant and still one of the most popular species out there. You should be able to find Hydrocotyle leucocephala at your local aquarium store and there are plenty of hobbyists out there willing to sell or trade their cuttings. There are also many online sources that sell this plant: you can buy it online from SubstrateSource here.


If you have any more questions about growing Hydrocotyle leucocephala or want to share your own experiences with this versatile aquarium plant, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!


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