White Cloud Mountain Minnow | Ultimate Care Guide


White Cloud Mountain Minnows (Tanichthys albonubes) are small aquarium fish that originate in China. They are hardy fish that are adaptable to various environment, including water with relatively cooler temperatures. These characteristics makes these fish great for beginners in the aquarium hobby. In the aquarium hobby, White Cloud Mountain Minnows are also known as White Cloud Mountain Fish, White White Cloud Minnows, or White Cloud.

White Cloud Mountain Minnows are small fish that reach only 1.5 inches in length on average. They prefer to be kept in schools of at least five.

While they originated in rivers of China, they are now available in local fish stores worldwide. They are a very popular aquarium fish.

With their shimmering scales reflecting a range of bright colors, these active fish can certainly liven up an aquarium. They are especially great for river tank setups.

White Cloud Mountain Minnows Facts

  • White cloud minnows were first discovered in the 1930s on White Cloud Mountain by a scout leader called Tan. The species name tanicthys albonubes translates as ‘Tan’s fish, white cloud’.
  • White cloud mountain minnows are common in the aquarium hobby, but rare in the wild. They were considered extinct for approximately 20 years. However, a new population was found on Hainan Island to the south of China recently.
  • Breeders have developed different variants of this fish. The most common variants include Gold White Cloud Mountain Minnows and Longfin White Cloud Mountain Minnows.
  • If one of these fish ends up living alone, they can become anxious and their bright colors will get dimmer. They prefer to live in groups.
  • Some people refer to them as the “poor man’s neon tetra.” This is because they’re usually cheaper than Neon Tetras. The horizontal markings may resemble Neon Tetras to some extent.
  • White Cloud Mountain Minnows belong to the Cyprinid family which includes carp and goldfish.
White Cloud Mountain Minnow
White Cloud Mountain Minnow (Tanichthys albonubes)

White Cloud Mountain Minnow Care           

Caring for White Cloud Mountain Minnows is not difficult, since they are hardy fish that are adaptable. They are resilient to some changes in temperature and water parameters. While they are hardy fish, it is important to provide a suitable habitat for them.

Here are the specifics on how to take care of White Cloud Mountain Minnows:

Temperature

Wild colonies of white cloud minnows are usually found in waters with temperatures of between 64–72 °F (18-22℃). The provinces where they originate are considered to be sub-tropical, but water temperature can get as low as 41°F (5℃) in winter.

Although temperature drops like this are not ideal, white cloud mountain minnows have adapted to survive in these environments. Therefore, if you live in a warm climate, you may be able to keep them in an unheated tank. Otherwise, an aquarium heater is recommended, especially during the winter season.

Water pH

The pH of surface water and rivers in southern China, where white cloud mountain minnows used to live, ranges from 6.0 to 9.0. In your home aquarium setup, you should aim for a neutral pH of between 6.5 and 7.5.

Even if you get the pH correct to begin with, it’s essential that you continue to monitor because fish waste, plants, rocks and substrate can cause the pH to change over time. In most cases your minnows will adapt to these changes but if they appear distressed or inactive, overly acidic water may be a contributing factor.

Size

White cloud mountain minnows are small in size and adults will only grow to about 1.5 inches. There is some difference between different varieties and some can reach up to 2.5 inches.

Tank Size

The general rule of thumb for white cloud mountain minnows is 2 gallons of water for each fish. This means for a school of 5 you’ll need at least a 10-gallon aquarium.

However, because they’re used to living in rivers and streams if you can give them more space or want to introduce other fish, it’s always worth going for the biggest tank you can afford.

Food & Diet

White cloud mountain minnows are omnivorous micro-predators. In their natural environment, they prefer to eat insect larvae, shrimp and green algae. In an aquarium, they’re still voracious feeders and need to be fed 2 to 3 times a day with live food and fish flakes.

Most of your minnow’s food should come from live prey that you can add to the tank, such as water fleas (daphnia) and brine shrimp. The rest can be made up of a balanced dried flake and algae wafers.

For an occasional treat, it’s ok to add small amounts of fruit or vegetables. These should be peeled and blanched in boiling water for 1 to 3 minutes then plunged into ice-cold water. This ensures that any toxins or contaminants are destroyed without damaging the nutrients.

Lifespan

Most white cloud mountain minnows kept in aquariums will live for at least 3 years, but they can reach 6 or 7 years if you carefully maintain their environment and keep them healthy and disease-free.

To help your minnows make it to the ripe old age of 7, there are several things you can do:

  • Ensure they have a large enough tank with at least 2 gallons per fish.
  • Include a bubbler or pump to create some movement that keeps the water oxygenated and replicates their natural habitat.
  • Feed them a varied diet including life food, dried flakes and algae wafers.
  • Prevent them from being exposed to warmer temperatures as this can rapidly decrease their lifespan.
  • Only buy them from reputable dealers who stock healthy colonies. Decades of inbreeding among captive populations have increased instances of poor health and deformities.

Tank Mates for White Cloud Mountain Minnows

White cloud mountain minnows are best kept in schools and work well in community tanks with a variety of other species.

Compatible Tank Mates

When choosing tank mates for your white clouds you’ll need to look for those that will thrive in cooler waters and aren’t likely to eat them. Examples of excellent choices include bloodfin tetras, celestial pearl danios, swordtails, zebra danios and odessa barbs.

Incompatible Tank Mates

White cloud mountain minnows are unlikely to harm other fish, but their small size can make them look like a tasty snack to other species. It’s best to avoid larger fish like clown loaches or tiger barbs as they will likely destroy the entire school in one meal.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that the ideal temperature for your white clouds is between 64–72 °F (18-22℃) and they don’t like to be too warm. Fish that need heated tanks are not suitable for the same aquarium as your minnows; for this reason, it’s best to avoid angelfish, Australian rainbowfish, bala sharks, banjo catfish, black neon tetras and black phantom tetras.

Betta fish and White Cloud Mountain Minnow

Betta fish and white cloud minnow are not compatible as tanks mates. Betta fish prefer a temperature between 75°F and 80°F whereas white clouds thrive at 64–72 °F (18-22℃).

Even if you were to find a suitable temperature for both species, Betta fish can occasionally be aggressive and you would run the risk of it attacking and killing your much smaller minnows.

Goldfish and White Cloud Mountain Minnow

Goldfish and white cloud mountain minnows are not compatible as tank mates. While they both prefer similarly cool temperatures, adult goldfish can reach a large size and will likely see your white clouds as a tasty meal.

Shrimp and White Cloud Mountain Minnow

In some cases, shrimp and white cloud mountain minnow will make compatible tank mates. Both prefer cooler temperatures and will be comfortable in a room temperature tank with no heater. Larger shrimp species will likely be fine but any that are too small may be eaten.

It’s also likely that any baby shrimp will become food too, but some aquarium owners will see that as a useful additional food source.

Guppy and White Cloud Mountain Minnow

White cloud mountain minnows and guppies should make compatible tank mates, but you’ll need to find a temperature to suit them both. Guppies prefer between 70°F and 80°F (21℃ and 26.6℃) but white clouds like between 64°F and 72 °F (18-22℃). Close to 70°F should work well for both species.

Tank Setup

If you’ve never kept fish before you may be worried about getting the tank setup correct. But white cloud mountain minnows are exceptionally forgiving and are well-suited for your first aquarium:

How to Setup a Tank for White Cloud Mountain Minnows

The hardy nature of white cloud mountain minnows means that you can experiment with their tank setup. However, it’s best to start with a gravel substrate, an aquarium filter, a few large rocks and a variety of plants. A lid is also a must-have as these tiny fish will likely try to jump out of their tank.

White cloud fish originated in freshwater rivers and streams so they will thrive in spacious tanks with several plants and an under gravel pump or bubbler. Because they like to move together in a school, make sure that there is a large space free of obstruction towards the center of the tank.

Around the edges, you can arrange the rocks or other ornaments to make the tank look more interesting and to give your minnows somewhere to hide. Plants like dwarf rotala and water sprite are ideal for this type of setup and if you like you can also add some floating species like duckweed.

Once your tank is ready you must cycle it completely. This prepares the ecosystem to deal with fish waste and prevent dangerous levels of nitrogen to build up. You can do this with or without your fish in the tank, but we recommend doing it before you add your white cloud mountain minnows.

Can White Cloud Mountain Minnows be kept in ponds?

In some climates, white cloud mountain minnows will likely survive in a pond, but we don’t’ recommend it. This is because it’s unlikely that you’ll live in an area that has both a cool enough summer period and warm enough in winter.

White Cloud Mountain Minnow | An Awesome Fish for Nano Tanks

Breeding White Cloud Mountain Minnows

Breeding white cloud mountain minnows is a relatively simple process and is even accessible for complete novices:

Male vs Female White Cloud Mountain Minnows

Male white cloud mountain minnows have hints of red around their fins and mouth. In general, the males are more colorful and will likely exhibit slightly aggressive behavior. Females are usually larger and have a slightly rounder shape but no red coloring.

How long do eggs take to hatch?

Once white cloud mountain minnow eggs have been spawned, they can take between 36 and 48 hours to hatch.

At this point, you can begin to feed them with any type of micro fish food designed for fry or microspecies. As they develop you can introduce small live foods like micro worms and then baby brine shrimp.

How fast does the White Cloud Mountain Minnow fry grow?

The fry of white cloud mountain minnows grow fast if they get enough to eat. By about two months they’re considered as large juveniles and from 6 months to a year, they’ll be at full maturity.

Will the parents eat the fry?

White cloud mountain minnow parents rarely eat their own fry, but it does happen occasionally. To be on the safe side it’s best to remove the parents from the breeding tank when the eggs start to hatch.

When the young minnows are two months old, they will be large enough to be added to a tank with their parents.

Common Disease for White Cloud Mountain Minnows

White cloud mountain minnows are hardy species and are less likely to contract illness and disease than other species. However, there are some diseases that they are known to be at risk of developing these include, streptococcus, ich, dropsy and fin rot.

You can significantly decrease the likelihood of your white clouds becoming ill if you keep their tank clean and install an effective filter. If you notice any strange swimming patterns, discoloration or unexplained residue on scales it’s important for you to isolate the fish immediately. This will protect your other fish and allow you to investigate how to proceed with any necessary treatment.

White cloud mountain minnows are also known to suffer from diseases and deformities because of inbreeding. Consequently, you must only stock your aquarium from a reputable breeder and conduct a thorough visual inspection of each fish before adding them to your tank.

Where can I find White Cloud Mountain Minnow for sale?

White cloud mountain minnows are stocked in most pet stores and aquatic retailers. You’ll likely find some in your local pet store, but we recommend the following online breeders.

Both these stores have excellent reputations with their customers and your new fish will be safely delivered to your door by mail.

White Cloud Mountain Minnow Price

White cloud mountain minnows are among the most affordable aquarium fish available. You can expect to pay between $5 and $10 for 5 fish.

Long Finned White Cloud Mountain Minnow

Long Finned White Cloud Mountain Minnow is a variety of White Cloud Mountain Minnows. Therefore, they are considered to be the same species under the scientific name Tanichthys albonubes.

Here are some facts about Long Finned White Cloud Mountain Minnow:

  • Long finned white cloud mountain minnows are a variant of the standard white cloud mountain minnows. The adults have noticeably longer fins that flow slightly behind them as they swim.
  • This variety is also more striking in appearance and shows a greater contrast between their metallic scales and colorful fin patches.
  • Other than the visual differences, these fish are nearly identical to standard white clouds and are just as easy to care for.
  • Because long finned white cloud mountain minnows are considered as more desirable you can expect to pay up to $20 for 5 fish.

Gold White Cloud Mountain Minnow

Gold White Cloud Mountain Minnow is a variety of White Cloud Mountain Minnows. Therefore, they are considered to be the same species under the scientific name Tanichthys albonubes.

Here are some facts about Gold White Cloud Mountain Minnows:

  • Gold white cloud mountain minnows are another variant of white cloud mountain minnows. They’re recognizable for their incredibly deep gold color.
  • Most gold white cloud mountain minnows also have red patches on their fins that add to the impressiveness of their appearance.
  • The females also have a pale patch of white on their bellies.
  • This type of white cloud mountain minnows is also more sought after than their standard cousins so will reach prices of $20 to $25 for 5.

Conclusion

White cloud mountain minnows are the ultimate fish for anyone looking to set up their first aquarium. They’re typically overlooked by many fish enthusiasts but have an impressive appearance and will require very little ongoing maintenance.

Most people who start with white cloud mountain minnows continue to keep them for many years and often include them in their list of favorite aquarium fish.

Fish Laboratory

With decades of collective fishkeeping experience, we are happy to share the fish care tips that we've picked up along the way. Our goal at Fish Laboratory is to keep publishing accurate content to help fishkeepers keep their fish and aquarium healthy.

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