Moneywort is a popular plant for aquariums, and the reasons are obvious. This plant looks great, can improve the health of your tank, and is easy to care for!
This guide will teach you everything you need to know about caring for moneywort in an aquarium setting.
Moneywort (Bacopa monnieri) is a beginner-friendly aquatic plant that can do wonders to liven up tropical freshwater tanks. It goes by many names. In some parts of the world, it’s known as the water hyssop or coastal hyssop. Some hobbyists refer to it as the “creeping plant.”
This cultivar is one of the most popular in the aquarium trade. It’s not hard to see why. Not only is this plant beautiful, but it’s versatile and surprisingly hardy.
Moneywort grows in all corners of the world. It grows everywhere from the marshes of Asia and South America to wetlands in Africa and Australia! The widespread natural distribution of the plant makes it highly adaptable and forgiving in not-so-perfect water conditions.
The Benefits Of Having It In Your Tank
Having live plants like the moneywort in your aquarium can enrich underwater environments in many ways.
Not only do plants better replicate the natural habitats of the fish you keep, but they can improve tank conditions. Moneywort uses the nutrients produced by fish waste and organic debris. It takes advantage of the aquarium’s bioload to flourish!
Plants help keep ammonia levels under control and make it easier for you to maintain water conditions safely. Moneywort also helps stabilize pH levels and infuses the water with some much-needed oxygen.
From an enrichment standpoint, moneywort has a lot to offer. It’s a versatile plant that you can use in many ways. Whether it’s a background plant or used as a lush carpet, your fish will utilize the foliage for shelter.
It’s particularly beneficial in breeding tanks because it gives the fry a place to hide and safely grow.
Moneywort is a stemmed plant. A long, sturdy stem grows from the roots. Nodes develop along the length of the stem, sprouting thick leaves. The leaves are about an inch long and grow on both sides, making the moneywort a relatively thin two inches wide.
The leaves are thick and fleshy. They’re similar to that of land-based succulents. But despite the weight of those leaves, moneywort is known to stand tall, even in aquariums with considerable water flow.
A healthy moneywort is bright green all over. In superb lighting conditions, it can even produce blossoms!
Small white flowers bloom from the leaf nodes. Sometimes, the flowers will have splashes of pink or purple, giving the plant a soft and colorful look.
Size & Growth Rate
Moneywort can grow to the water’s surface and beyond. It grows either immersed or fully submerged.
In an aquarium setting, most moneywort grows to about 12 inches tall. However, they’re fully capable of growing longer in the right conditions. In the wild, it’s known to grow several feet tall.
Author Note: This plant does require regular pruning. It has a relatively fast growth rate of about an inch a month. Of course, the exact rate will depend on water and lighting conditions, but an inch per month is the norm.
Compared to other aquatic plants in the trade, moneywort care in an aquarium is quite easy. It’s a hardy plant that will continue to grow in most tropical freshwater conditions.
Stick to the care guidelines below, and you’ll have a lush tank filled with healthy moneywort in no time.
This plant doesn’t have strict space requirements. Remember: It’s only about two inches wide with leaves.
The most important thing to consider when it comes to tank size is what types of fish you plan to keep with your moneywort. Generally, aquarists recommend keeping the plant in an aquarium with at least 10 gallons of volume. That’s more than enough for a couple of moneywort plants and small fish.
But if you want a thriving, multi-species tank with a lush habitat, go bigger. Taller tanks will facilitate the continued vertical growth of the moneywort. However, wider tanks give you the versatility to utilize this plant in many ways.
Moneywort plants usually grow in swamps, marshes, and wetlands. You’ll most likely see the plant’s green leaves popping out of muddy lowlands or growing against rocks.
It thrives in warmer conditions, but the plant is hardier than most realize. Moneywort tolerates slight fluctuations in pH, hardiness, and temperature. However, keeping within the preferred ranges below will achieve optimal growth and color.
You’ll find that moneywort plants have similar water parameter needs to many tropical fish species. That’s a big reason why they’re so popular. Instead of prioritizing the plant’s needs, you can model your tank habitat after the fish you keep and rest easy knowing that the moneywort has what it needs to stay healthy.
- Water temperature: 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
- pH levels: 6.0 to 7.5 (Near neutral is ideal)
- Water hardness: 5 to 20 KH
Plants need light to thrive, and moneywort in an aquarium is no different. This specimen can do well in moderate lighting but does best when it has 10 to 12 hours of light per day.
Low lighting conditions will cause the moneywort to stretch to the surface. Instead of focusing on compact, bushy growth, it’ll grow towards the surface and may look a little thin for your liking.
Moneywort flourishes when it gets about two to three watts of light per gallon of tank volume. Set your lighting rig on a timer, and you can take a hands-off approach to care for your plant.
Author Note: You don’t have to invest in a fancy lighting system. Standard LED lighting works just fine.
The moneywort plant doesn’t have strict requirements when it comes to aquarium substrate. However, the best choice is aquarium-safe plant soil. Sand and gravel work well, too.
Most aquarists will use a combination of those materials. The ideal setup is about two to three inches of soil. On top of that, you can add a thin layer of sand and gravel to keep the buoyant plant anchored.
How To Plant It
Planting moneywort in an aquarium is a breeze! This plant is one of the most forgiving in the hobby. Plus, you have many options!
Money does well virtually anywhere in the tank. You can use it as a decorative background item, plant it in the middle of the tank for fish to swim through, and even as a foreground bush. Believe it or not, the plant is often used as a carpet-like ground cover!
How it grows depends on your placement and trimming. More on that in a bit.
To establish the plant, place a single stem about an inch into the soil. Tweezers work best for this job. The plant is tough, but be delicate to avoid damaging the root system and stem.
You’ll notice that the moneywort wants to float to the surface. Use gravel or small pebbles to anchor it in place. Over time, the roots will develop and spread, creating a firmer grip on the substrate.
Author Note: It’s best to plant moneywort about two inches apart to avoid overcrowding.
If you don’t want to deal with anchoring, consider using moneywort as a floating plant! The leaves are naturally buoyant, and the roots don’t need soil to suck up nutrients. When it floats, it’s closer to the light and can reduce the exposure below.
Trimming & Pruning
The fast-growing nature of the moneywort will require frequent trims. That’s especially true if you have the right lighting that facilitates growth and good health.
However, how often you trim depends on where you put the plant and what you want out of it. For carpet or bushy arrangements, you’ll likely need to trim the plant every two weeks to maintain its shape.
For a background placement, you can allow the moneywort to grow to the surface. Once it reaches the top, it will continue to grow horizontally. Trim the plant down to keep it just below the surface level, creating a curtain of foliage at the back of your tank.
The best way to trim moneywort is to use sharp pruning shears. Position the shears on the stem between leaf nodes. The plant will continue to grow, but it may put its energy toward healing the cut first. As a result, you may notice slower growth after trimming.
Moneywort is an excellent plant for most freshwater tanks. Many fish and invertebrates love it!
The most important thing to avoid is known plant-eaters. For example, the Buenos Aires tetra and some larger uprooting species may be too much for the moneywort.
Interestingly enough, most types of goldfish usually leave this species alone. The leaves are too thick and fleshy, so they go for other plants instead.
Here are some good tank mates to consider for the moneywort plant:
Moneywort may or may not produce blooms, but that’s alright. You don’t need them to propagate this plant!
Like other aquatic plant species, it’s as easy as using cuttings. Cuttings will develop root systems over time, creating brand-new plants. You can utilize cuttings that are at least an inch long.
Anchor them into the soil, and the plant will start growing.
If you want to be more strategic, wait until your mature moneywort produces side shoots. The side shoots grow from leaf nodes and emerge horizontally. Allow those shoots to grow to at least an inch long before cutting them off close to the node.
Moneywort care is quite simple for aquarists of any skill level. If you’re looking for a plant to add some life to your tank, this is definitely one to consider!
If you have any experiences with this plant that you’d like to share, let us know! We love hearing from our readers.