Brazilian Pennywort (Hydrocotyle leucocephala): Ultimate Care Guide

Common Name(s)Brazilian Pennywort
Scientific NameHydrocotyle leucocephala
OriginCentral and South America
Ease of GrowingEasy
PlacementMidground or background
HeightMax 24 inches
Temperature22-28 °C (72-82°F)
Growth RateModerate to fast
Light RequirementModerate to High
CO2 RequirementNot necessary but recommended
Brazilian Pennywort (Hydrocotyle leucocephala)
Brazilian Pennywort (Hydrocotyle leucocephala)

Brazilian pennywort, otherwise known as hydrocotyle leucocephala, is a fast growing stem plant that comes from Central and South America.  The Brazilian pennywort has become very popular due to its versatility in all kinds of tanks and easily adapts to varying tank conditions.  The Brazilian pennywort is an extremely easy plant to adapt to underwater conditions.  The plant is rather delicate, especially when growing.  The leaves of the Brazilian pennywort are a luscious green and adds a good color to the medium or background of your aquarium.  They look more like a plant leaf in a yard.  The leaves vary in size but generally come out to be about the size of a quarter or smaller.  The leaves grow off the stem and spread out wide.  The stem structure of the Brazilian pennywort grows in segments with each segment having visible joints where the leaves and roots connect. 

The Brazilian pennywort, like all plants and animals, must be cared for and while the plant does have versatility on its side, the conditions of the tank must be respected and maintained.  By following this guide, you should be able to keep your Brazilian pennywort healthy and colorful.

Brazilian Pennywort Care

The Brazilian pennywort is easy to grow and keep in a tank.  The plant can grow anywhere and does not develop an extensive root system.  In fact, the Brazilian pennywort prefers to just float with its leaves growing immersed.  It can even grow on sand and driftwood and does not require a nutrient-rich substrate.  Therefore, you can just leave it at the surface of the water or anchor it to some part of the tank. 

Lighting Requirement

In order for your Brazilian pennywort to survive, it will need moderate to intense lighting in order to maintain its typical fats growth habit and robust appearance, although the plant can survive in dimmer light.  It just won’t grow very well.  A high-quality LED light shone upon the Brazilian pennywort about eight hours a day should be enough to keep the growth moving.  The Brazilian pennywort is used to its natural habitat of Central and South America where there is a lot of natural sunlight. 


This natural habitat also makes the Brazilian pennywort needing slightly warmer water.  A water temperature between 72-82 °F (22-28°C) should keep it warm enough to thrive properly.  Anything lower will likely stunt the growth of the plant and anything hotter than that will boil the plant up.  Therefore, keep the water warm, but not too warm. 

Water pH Level

For the optimal pH levels, it is best to stick between 6.0 and 8.0 to encourage the best growth and health for the Brazilian pennywort.  The plant is a freshwater plant and is adaptable to a range of water hardness values.

Brazilian Pennywort (Hydrocotyle leucocephala)
Brazilian Pennywort (Hydrocotyle leucocephala)

Growth Rate

The Brazilian pennywort growth is very fast, but it generally depends on the lighting and water conditions.  The larger the light source, the more the plant will be inspired to grow.  There is also the factor of the tank size.  A larger tank size will obviously have a larger surface area and therefore can allow for more growth.  You can also supplement with plant fertilizers, but be careful how much you add because they will grow like crazy with it. The Brazilian pennywort will grow in height up to 24 inches and about six inches in width under optimal conditions. 

Co2 Requirement

When supplemented with pressurized or liquid carbon, the Brazilian pennywort can do without CO2 supplementation.  As a predominately floating plant, the Brazilian pennywort does not need additional CO2 dosing as it gets enough from the air.  The Brazilian pennywort loves to eat and the addition of the CO2 will make the plant grow bushier and quicker. 


To propagate the Brazilian pennywort is actually quite easy.  All you have to do is take the cutting from a healthy and mature stem or one of the lateral shoots and replant them in the substrate or let them float on the water’s surface.  Within a week or two, the stem cuttings will sprout out plenty of roots and their growth will explode onto the tank scene. 

Brazilian Pennywort Melting

Melting is something that occurs often in stem plants after their physical transfer from an immersed to submersed environment.  During that time, the Brazilian pennywort will die back and shed some of the leaves.  This is why it is called melting because the plant leaves look like they are regressing and melting off the plant.  This usually happens when it is grown in a terrestrial environment.  Once the Brazilian pennywort adapts to the new environment, it will grow new leaves. 

The Brazilian pennywort is a water-column feeder plant, as its roots system is pretty weak.

Where to Find Brazilian Pennywort for Sale

If you are looking to buy some Brazilian pennywort for the middle or background of your tank, then you can always go to online shops like Buceplant, Etsy, or Ebay.  You can also find these plants at any general aquatic shop.  The Brazilian pennywort is not very expensive and one plant can run as low as $5 and as high as $30.  Most stores will sell them in bulk as well for special deals, but be careful for what you buy.  Be sure to do some due diligence before you purchase anything to make sure you are getting good quality plants, which mean reading reviews and calling the store to ask relevant questions.