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How to grow Hydrocotyle tripartita (Hydrocotyle Japan)

July 08, 2021 2 min read

Hydrocotyle tripartita


Hydrocotyle tripartita, also known in the aquarium trade as Hydrocotyle Japan, has been in the hobby for a number of years and is popular among the aquascaping crowd due to its attractive foliage and easy upkeep. It has green lobed leaves that make it look similar to terrestrial clover plants. Hydrocotyle triparta propagates very quickly through runners. Trimming or allowing the plant to bunch up allows it to form dense mats. It can be used as a carpeting plant, but is more commonly used as a midground bush.

Hydrocotyle tripartita is very easy to grow in CO2 injected tanks. In most cases, its fast grow rates and that its runners will spread anywhere they can, makes it a troublesome plant to keep in place. It can be grown in non CO2 injected tanks but will generally be thinner and form less dense clumps. The plant can be planted onto the substrate, but it grows very well being attached onto hardscape as well. It can be glued or tangled into cracks in rocks, and the roots will entangle onto the hardscape over time. The advantage of using it on hardscape is that it will grow a bit more slowly, which makes it easier to control.

Hydrocotyle tripartita lining the sides of the cave entrance are planted directly onto the rock. 

Hydrocotyle tripartita grows on bare rock on the extreme left and right sides. It is also used on the top part of the middle tree trunk - planted onto the wood directly.

Key success factors

  • At least medium light levels
  • Regular all round fertilization - as a fast grower, it can get pale leaves if fertilization is inadequate
  • CO2 injection makes this plant much easier to grow, without CO2 injection, the leaves are smaller and the clumps tend to be less dense
  • Not picky about water parameters

Propagation & pruning

Hydrocotyle tripartita spreads quickly through runners once growth conditions are favourable. Runners should be cut once they appear if the aquarist does not want the plant to spread to a certain area. 

Each leaf stalk with root can be separated and planted as a separate plant. It is important to preserve the entire stem, leaf and root portions during propagation.

As the clump grows, older leaves may deteriorate, yellowing or being attacked by algae - these should be cut away during trimming. Due to the fast propagation rate of the plant as a whole - doing deep pruning; removing old growth while replanting the top fresh shoots can be done easily.