Moneywort Guide: Care, Planting, and Propagation

One of the most common stem plants, Moneywort is a great addition to many types of aquarium. Care is basic, but if you keep a few things in mind the plant will create dense thickets of growth, perfect for some tanks.

Ready to learn about Moneywort care? Let’s dive right in!

Moneywort

Moneywort Fast Facts

Common Name: Moneywort

Other Common Names: Water Hyssop, Creeping Jenny, Indian Moneywort

Scientific Name: Bacopa monnieri

Plant Type: Stem

Natural Habitat: Wetlands, Widely Distributed

Care Level: Beginner

What is Moneywort?

Moneywort is used to refer to many plants, but when we’re talking about aquariums the species is Bacopa monnieri. This stemmed herb grows in marshy regions across a wide distribution. It’s found in Africa, India, across Asia, and some regions of the southern United States.

This wide distribution range means that it’s highly adaptable. That’s a huge bonus for those who want to keep it in aquariums since it’s suitable for a wide range of different tanks.

Moneywort is a stem plant with tightly bunched ovoid leaves. The leaves emerge from the stem and create a compact plant that naturally reaches for the top of the tank. Bacopa monnieri can actually grow emersed as well.

When you’re researching the plant you need to be careful to pay attention to the Latin name of the plant described. There is another plant that also goes by the common names of Creeping Jenny or Moneywort, which can make things confusing for the uninitiated.

The plant in question is a small creeper that goes by Lysimachia nummularia. It’s considered invasive in many states across the US but it’s also a common ornamental plant. It’s a good example of why knowing the “proper” names of our plants is so important.

If that wasn’t enough to confuse you, you’ll also be pleased to know that Lysimachia nummularia is also used as a terrarium plant and sometimes sold for aquarium use. The latter may be due to some confusion, I’ve never seen any success with Lysimachia nummularia growing when submerged.

Moneywort is considered invasive in some countries, including Japan and Singapore. While unfortunate for those areas, it again shows what an adaptable plant Moneywort is. This adaptability makes it an easy plant for the aquarist.

The big takeaway is that Bacopa monnieri is an adaptable, hardy plant that tolerates a wide variety of conditions. You don’t need a green thumb and thousands of dollars in light to keep it, but it still presents some unique aspects for the would-be aquascaper.

Moneywort is actually a part of Ayurvedic medicine in India, where it’s reputed to be a medicine for memory and some health conditions. It’s available as a supplement these days, usually marketed as improving cognition, and sold as Bacopa.

What Kind of Aquaria is Moneywort Right For?

Most aquariums will support Moneywort. The only thing to consider is that some herbivorous fish find it tasty, but I’ve never seen fish do more than superficial damage eating the leaves.

Bacopa monnieri can be grown in a few different ways, but I’ve found it to be a great plant for both jungle tanks and Dutch tanks.

For Dutch-style tanks, it’s usually kept trimmed into a bush and makes an excellent choice for rows in the mid-ground. In jungle aquaria, it can be allowed to grow along the top, where the emersed form of the plant will emerge.

It’s also a good plant for general community tanks, thriving in the same conditions as most tropical fish.

On that note, I feel that it’s a bit large for tanks under 10 gallons, but it will grow fine in smaller spaces.

In short, Moneywort can be placed in most planted aquaria. It’s just a matter of whether you believe it adds to your aquascaping.

One nice bit of trivia: Moneywort can grow in mildly brackish tanks. It’s one of the few true stem plants that do, and it’s a good replacement for plants like Elodea densa that aren’t true stem plants.

It’s also a solid choice for vivariums, where it can be trained to grow above the waterline and create a smooth transition from water to land. This requires a bit of skill at both creating the transition and maintaining humidity but the effect is stunning.

Bacopa stems tend to snap easily, and I’d avoid keeping it with very boisterous fish. They have a tendency to snap off stray stems, which just creates more work for the aquarium keeper.

Care Overview

Bacopa monnieri has no serious problems for the most part, but you still need to know the basics to make it thrive. The following aspects of care can be combined to help grow and maintain a high density of foliage.

Lights and CO2

Light is the big one that you need to pay attention to.

You’ll want to run roughly 2W per gallon (100 lumens per gallon) to create dense growth. Bacopa monnieri will grow in lower light conditions, but it will be much more spindly and sparse.

Be careful if your lighting is higher than 2.5W per gallon or so. Moneywort has a bad habit of picking up algae if the tank isn’t balanced properly, which can eventually choke the plant out. It also looks unsightly, diatomic algae is never a good look in an aquarium.

Carbon dioxide can often fix problems with brown algae, causing the plants to take up more nutrients. That said, it’s unnecessary for the plant to thrive and it can cause rapid growth that requires more maintenance.

Moderate lighting is best in this case, but it will grow very quickly in a high-light, CO2-enriched environment. Moneywort grows easily under most conditions, but you should be aware of the changes the environment will produce in its growth.

Substrate and Fertilizers

Moneywort requires a substrate with nutrients. It’s not going to take in standard gravel or inert sand since it has to pull in nutrients from the roots.

I suggest starting with a fine-grained fertilized substrate to hold the stems in place. You can grow Moneywort in substrates that are more gravel-like, but it’s harder to keep the stems from floating off before they get rooted.

That said, there are no specific nutrient needs required to keep the plant healthy.

A standard broad-spectrum fertilizer on a normal dosing schedule will work well. If combined with other plants that have no specific nutritional needs you have nothing to worry about on this end.

Planting

Since Moneywort collects most of its nutrients through the roots, you’ll want to space the stems out a little bit. Theoretically, placing stems too close could cause the root systems to tangle.

As a practical matter, it just makes working with the plant more convenient.

Aim for ¾-1” between stems for the best results. Proper trimming and replanting cuttings will help you round out the bunch.

Some people have trouble keeping Bacopa monnieri rooted at the bottom of the tank. It’s most common with chunky substrates, but you can fix the problem by using aquarium weights to hold them down.

Maintenance and Propagation

You just need to trim the plant back to where you feel it fits best. You can also allow it to run across the surface in smaller aquaria, creating emersed growth with small white flowers.

Always trim stem plants directly above the growth node. This results in a second stem emerging and when repeated over time can cause your stem plants to create large bushes. When you have the desired amount of stems you can trim a bit higher above the node and the plant will retain a single stem.

If your bush is too thick, you can thin it out with a pair of scissors. I’ve only had this happen in high-light tanks with CO2, but Bacopa monnieri can grow thick in more modest tanks as well.

There’s a simple trick to getting better Moneywort cuttings. After a few inches of growth, the stems will begin to release roots into the water. Wait until these are 1 ½” to 2” long and then trim the growth node directly below them.

With roots already growing from them, these cuttings will establish a bit more quickly when placed in the soil.

Maintenance isn’t needed frequently. This plant grows slowly for a stem plant even in ideal conditions, mostly owing to the dense growth.

Take Care Handling

If you’re not careful with your plants regularly, you may have problems when handling Bacopa. It’s a bit delicate, and stems have a tendency to snap off if you don’t use a light touch.

Any stems that snap off can be trimmed to a clean cut on the bottom with scissors and then replanted in the substrate if desired.

I recommend a pair of long tweezers for planting individual stems. This helps keep you from breaking off leaves on the lower portion as you put the plant in its place.

Use in Aquascaping

While a simple stem plant, Bacopa monnieri is surprisingly versatile. There are a few ways to approach the plant’s growth for the best visual effect.

Like most plants, you’ll find your own way to grow it but the following suggestions will get you pointed in the right direction.

Creating Bunches or Rows

Dutch-style tanks are defined by their orderly rows of plants, creating a look that mimics a well-kept garden. Moneywort does well in this role, and when trimmed it can take on a hedge-like look over time.

Dutch-style tanks have their own set of rules. Most people only draw inspiration from the style rather than rigidly adhering to them, unless they’re planning on entering the tank into a competition.

It’s also common for new aquascapers to grow plants in a more orderly fashion without mimicking the style. It’s easy, fast, and helps keep the tank organized.

The basic idea is just to plant the stems at even intervals, covering the area of the tank where you want it to grow. I use a circular pattern for bunches and pay special attention to even spacing. 

The bottoms of the stems can be easily “lost” when the plant is trimmed for additional stems. Even spacing makes it easier to remove excess stems since I know roughly where each is without needing to see it.

These bunches are usually trimmed at 6” or around ¾ of the tank’s height depending on the tank style. This plant is good for both midground and background use, depending on how you decide to keep it.

Use in Jungle Tanks

Bacopa monnieri is one of my favorite plants for use in jungle tanks. After some initial trimming, you can allow the plants to flow along the surface.

The emersed form of Moneywort has small flowers and denser leaf growth. For tanks with an open-top, it’s an eye-catching feature that few other aquatic plants can match. The flowers vary in color with white and pink being the predominant shades.

Allowing the plant to grow thick in the back of the tank is ideal. Just remember to control any surface growth to prevent it from shading plants that may require high lighting. 

You can use the shade to grow more light-sensitive plants in the back if you’d like. It’s a good opportunity to put an attractive Anubias or Java Fern in a higher position in the tank. Those species usually need to be placed low and in the shade of a hardscape element to succeed in a high-light tank.

Brackish Tank Use

Brackish tanks require careful plant selection, and Moneywort is still on the table in most brackish tanks. It can handle the upper end of what’s considered a brackish tank in most cases, but somewhere in the middle is a better bet unless you have fauna that requires a higher salinity.

In my experience, I’ve found that most plants grow a bit more slowly in brackish water and Moneywort is no exception. It will take some time to fill in.

As long as it can stand the water conditions, however, you can use the plant in the same way you would any other.

Moneywort, the Perfect Beginner Plant

Moneywort care is easier than you’d think, but knowing the plant’s unique features will make it easier on you. It works well in a wide variety of tanks and it’s suitable for people with any level of aquatic gardening experience.

It’s a great, low-stress addition to most planted tanks. Why not use it to fill in a blank spot in the back?