Brazilian Pennywort Care: The Beginner’s Guide

image of Brazilian Pennywort Care The Beginner’s Guide

Vibrant, rich, and plentiful, the Brazilian Pennywort makes a fantastic addition to any aquarium, no matter how big or small. It goes by many names, like Brazilian Water Ivy or often simply as Pennywort. 

Brazilian Pennywort is easy to grow, easy to care for, and versatile in its applications, making it a great starting plant for beginner freshwater tank keepers. 

We’re going to take a look at everything you need to know about this luscious aquatic plant, as well as how you should care for it. 

Read on for more. 

Purchasing a Pennywort Plant

When you are on the market for a Brazilian Pennywort, be sure to search for plants that have robust stem systems and healthy leaves. 

Healthy Pennyworts will be kidney-shaped and light green, with perfect leaves – no holes, tears, cracks, or discoloration. 

The plant’s stems are flexible, vine-like, and durable, so you should ensure that they are not browning or limp and do not have any breaks. As for the roots, those on the Pennywort are almost white in color and have a fine texture as they appear beneath stem joints.

The roots generally look like bean sprouts, provided they were planted in substrate. 

You should know that Brazilian Pennywort might not be compatible with tanks that house goldfish or cichlids. We’ll touch more on the compatibility of the Pennywort later in the article. 

Brazilian Pennywort: How to Care

As we mentioned earlier, one of the best aspects of keeping Pennywort in your tank is that they are effortless to care for. In addition, you can keep them either as a floating plant or as a rooted plant, which makes them one of the more versatile aquatic flora out there.

As a rooted plant, the Brazilian Pennywort is best used in the background or midground, though some hobbyists like to keep them near the front of the tank as well. The choice is, of course, entirely up to you, so put your Pennywort wherever you want. 

When Pennywort has been rooted, it will develop as a stem plant toward the water’s surface and its closest light source. Floating Brazilian Pennywort leaves will grow toward the surface of the water as well, creating areas of shade on the tank’s floor. 

Floating Pennywort will also offer cover for your tank inhabitants that enjoy having a place to hide or rest. Regardless of whether it’s rooted or floating, the plant’s rate of growth can be quite rapid under the right conditions. 

In fact, it can quickly take over your tank, so be sure to plan your aquascape carefully. Provide easy points of access around your decorations to trim away overgrowth. 


When it comes to leaves, those on the Brazilian Pennywort add a pleasing green color to aquariums, which helps break up the monotonous grays and blues that most beginner aquariums are filled with. 

Upon closer inspection, Pennywort leaves have a unique appearance compared to other water plants like Anacharis or Water Sprite. 

The leaves more resemble a common plant leaf that you might find in your garden. They vary in size from about the width of a quarter to the size of a dime, and sometimes, they can develop to be several inches wide.

Leaves grow from the stem and feature veins throughout. These veins’ origin is at the area where the leaf connects to the stem, and veins then extend outward from that point, branching into smaller lateral veins to provide support the further they are from the origin. 

The margins of the Pennywort leaf are rounded and can feature a slight curl, which creates a rippled effect that is both subtle and beautiful. In addition, the leaves do not grow slowly, so you generally won’t have a problem with algae building upon them. 

Roots & Stems

Another interesting feature of the Pennywort is the structure of its stems, which grow in segments. Every individual segment features visible joints at which roots and leaves connect. Stems are sturdy and can support the entire plant when in water. 

However, despite their durability, Brazilian Pennywort can easily be snapped if bent or tugged. Most of the time, stem damage will occur when trimming. 

The stems can also be damaged if you are not careful when moving decorations or the plant itself. What’s more, the Pennywort can grow toward the power filter intakes, which can result in damage to the stem when you try to untangle the ensuing mess. 

There’s good news, though:

Should the stem of your Brazilian Pennywort snap, there’s a high chance that the broken section of the plant will be able to survive and regrow on its own. 

As for the roots, the delicate, fine, string-like Pennywort roots develop from the joint of the stem both when the plant is floating, and when it is planted. If the joint of the stem is close to the bottom of your tank, the roots can grow down into the substrate to anchor the plant. 

Brazilian Pennywort roots grow into systems that are strong enough to keep them in place, where the primary root and radicals are thicker than roots of floating plants. 

Water Condition

Caring for your Brazilian Pennywort is easy, thanks to the plant’s adaptability and how it can survive in various water conditions. Here are the basic conditions your Pennywort will need to survive:

  • Temperature of water: 68°F – 82°F
  • Water pH: 6.0 – 7.0
  • Lighting: Wide community tank lighting will work fine
  • Size of tank: Any size will do, though the plant can be quick to grow and take over

Pennywort is also able to help you maintain your water quality by keeping its nitrate levels low, and it’s one of the most useful active plants for this reason. With that being said, it is essential to remember that the best method for keeping your water nitrate levels under control is to prevent organic matter from accumulating in your aquarium.

The best way to do this? Avoid overfeeding your inhabitants, overstocking the tank, and make sure to perform regular partial water changes. 

If you are not meticulous about the maintenance of your tank, you shouldn’t expect your Pennywort to perform any miracles. 

Trimming & Growth

Whether you have the most sophisticated aquarium in the world or you’re working with a low-tech, low-light tank, the Brazilian Pennywort can have quite a fast growth rate. 

The more light available during the day, or the more intense your lighting is, your Pennywort can skyrocket. 

On the other hand, several liquid plant fertilizers might melt the plant away, so you should do your research regarding the effects of your particular fertilizer before adding it to your Pennywort-housing aquarium.

It might also be necessary for you to trim your plant, especially considering how quickly it can start to outgrow your tank. Given the proper conditions, Pennywort stems will sometimes reach over two feet in length. 

Trimming your Pennywort is easy:

  • Find the part of the stem that needs trimming
  • Carefully clip it using trimming shears
  • Do not tug or pull at the stems
  • Try not to tear the plant

Propagation & Reproduction

The reproduction of the Brazilian Pennywort is generally not a complex process. All you need to do is trim a few inches from the stem, making sure to keep more than enough leaves and allow the trimmed section to float in the water. 

If the stem that you have trimmed is long enough, you can plant it into the substrate. In about one week, you should notice roots starting to grow on the trimming. 

Soon enough, the plan will start its process of growth. You can even produce an entire Pennywort plant from a single healthy leaf, provided it has some stem attached. Then, simply allow the leaf to float independently in the water. 

Most of the time, the stem and leaf will grow roots on their own. 

Common Problems Encountered With Brazilian Pennywort

Though the Brazilian Pennywort is a fast grower that is more than capable of doing well in pretty much any aquarium, there are several problems that you might encounter.

No growth

If your Pennywort is not growing, that means that it is not receiving enough of the nutrients that it needs. Check whether your Co2, light, and nutrients in your tank are still balanced, and make any necessary adjustments. 

If you get it right, you should see the plant start growing again in no time.

Sparse growth

If you notice that the plant is growing, but it seems very sparse, you likely have an issue with your lighting. Remember that any Pennywort will lose at least some of its lower leaves as it makes its way to the surface of the water because of the simple fact that they don’t get enough light. 

Good pruning can be all you need to get your Pennywort to assume its characteristic bushy appearance. 

Yellow, dying leaves

One thing that many people don’t know about the Brazilian Pennywort is that it is susceptible to iron deficiency. So if you notice that your Pennywort’s leaves are turning yellow, dying, and falling off, then an iron deficiency is generally to blame. 

To mitigate this, supplement your plant’s ‘diet’ with some additional iron, and you should notice it come back to life in no time. 

Tank Placement

As an aquarium plant, the Brazilian Pennywort is an exceptionally functional specimen since it can be planted either as a floating plant or in the substratum, as we’ve already mentioned. 

When you have your Pennywort float, it provides an ideal hiding place for the young fry of your tank, as well as an excellent medium for infursonia to expand. 

It’s by no means uncommon for sections of your Pennywort that have made their way to the surface of the water to sprout small, white blossoms. These can add quite a pretty touch to your aquarium.

Of course, you can also plant your Pennywort in the substratum, where it would make a fantastic background or midground stem plant. What’s more, if you choose to weigh it down, you can trail it across driftwood or other surfaces. 

When you use the Brazilian Pennywort as a stem plant, it generally looks best in numbers. We recommend having several stems of varying heights clustered together, which will give your tank a very organic, natural look. 

No matter how you choose to grow it, your Pennywort is going to make its way to the top of your tank, with the lower leaves dying off, the taller the plant gets.

The Advantages to Growing Pennywort

As we’ve mentioned previously, the Pennywort plant is adept at reducing the nitrate levels of your tank. But, unfortunately, filters cannot remove nitrates from aquariums, and when the water has a high enough nitrate content, it can become toxic to fish. 

Pennywort uses nitrate as a kind of fertilizer, which makes them the perfect nitrate neutralizer. The plant is also able to aerate the water, which makes it highly beneficial to your fish. 

Aquarium lights are more than enough to allow your Pennywort to grow, so you don’t have to have your tank in direct sunlight. In the presence of any light, Pennywort absorbs Co2 and releases oxygen throughout the water.

Fish also enjoy natural environments, and Pennywort can provide the perfect natural look and feel to help your fish spawn. You might find that your female fish lay their eggs on the plant’s leaves or hide them in the roots. 

What’s more, adult fish have a nasty habit of eating their young, but your small fry can hide amongst the Pennywort leaves and avoid them. Baby fish also enjoy snacking on plants, and the Brazilian Pennywort produces more than enough leaves for them to enjoy a good meal.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the Brazilian Pennywort makes a fantastic addition to any aquarium, no matter how big or small. 

We hope that we were able to teach you more about this charming little aquatic plant.

image of Brazilian Pennywort Care: The Beginner’s Guide - Snugaquarium
Scroll to Top