White Cloud Mountain Minnow: Caring For These Colorful Community Fish

Tropical fish are well known for their beauty, but there are plenty of temperate species that can be just as lovely.

The White Cloud Mountain Minnow is a striking little fish from the rivers of China. Its’ scales reflect a stunning array of colors.

These Minnows are wonderful beginner fish. They are easy to care for, not too messy and work very well in community tanks.

A school of these fish will make a great addition to a nano tank or a freshwater biotope.

White Cloud Mountain Minnows make great alternatives to higher maintenance tropical fish. Read on to discover how to care for, feed and breed these beautiful mountain dwellers.

Care Level:Easy
Color Form:Various depending on variety
Lifespan:5-7 Years
Size:1.5 inches
Minimum Tank Size:10-12 gallon
Tank Set-Up:Temperate stream biotope
Compatibility:Like-sized peaceful nano fish


White Cloud Mountain Minnow Overview
White Cloud Mountain Minnow Overview by Engineer111 (Wiki)

The White Cloud Mountain Minnow (Tanichthys albonubes) is a freshwater Minnow that belongs to the Cyprinidae family.

They are a relatively new species, discovered in China in 1932.

In the aquarium hobby, it is also known as the Cardinal Fish, or Canton Minnow. Sometimes, they are mistakenly labeled as Danios.

They can live for anywhere from 5 to 7 years and are very popular, especially for first time keepers. They can be found at just about any aquarium supplier or pet shop, including major chain stores.

You should expect to pay $4 to $6 for a school of 5 White Cloud Mountain Minnows.

Typical Behavior

White Clouds are very peaceful outside of mating season. When competing for mates, the males will become aggressive and territorial. They are usually very cooperative and will swim and feed in coordinated shoals.

These fish like to be in schools of at least 5 or 6 individuals. The larger their school is, the less timid the fish will be.

They will not harass or compete with their tank mates, so they make great community fish. They are not particularly shy so long as they feel safe and comfortable in their group.

You will find them showing off their bright colors at the middle levels of your tank.

In spite of their small size, they will show themselves happily if they are in a large enough group. They are not particularly keen on hiding, although they will appreciate rocks and plants for extra shelter.

White Cloud Mountain Minnow Appearance

White Cloud Mountain Minnow Appearance

White Cloud Mountain Minnows are very small, reaching a maximum of only 1.5 inches.

They are shaped like darts, with pointed snouts and slim streamlined bodies. Their dorsal and ventral fins are almost triangular and point towards the back of their bodies.

The common White Cloud Mountain Minnow variety features silver and green scales with iridescent pink and black stripes along the lateral lines. They have red-tipped snouts and caudal fins, with a black dot at the base of their tails. The dorsal and ventral fins are red with white tips.

There are three other common varieties:

  • Hong Kong: This color form features pale gold scales with a blue band on the lateral lines. Their fins lack the white tips.
  • Golden Cloud: This color form is cream-colored with a white band along the lateral lines. Their fins are the same as the standard White Cloud form, but they lack the red dot on the snout.
  • Meteor Minnows: These are selectively bred for long, trailing fins. Their body colors are the same as the standard form, but the fins may be yellow or deeper shades of red.

Habitat and Tank Conditions

White Cloud Mountain Minnow Tank Conditions

In the wild these fish inhabit the streams of Guangzhou’s Baiyun (White Cloud) Mountain. These streams are clear, slightly acidic with a low to moderate flow.

They are very hardy fish that can tolerate a wide range of temperature and water quality fluctuations. Their ideal temperature is 64 to 72°F, but they can survive temperatures as low as 41°F.

These mountain streams have a very rocky substrate. In areas with slower flow, large boulders and cobbles can mix in with a fine gravel layer. These fish live in areas packed with aquatic plants and algae. They will shelter and breed in underwater weeds, mosses and floating plants.

Tank Setup

Your tank should be kept between 64-72°F. Fluctuations above and below this range are tolerable, but the temperature should never exceed 80°F.

The pH can range from 6.0 to 8.0, however you should aim for 6.8-7.5.

A small internal filter or an undergravel filter works just fine for these fish. Undergravel filters in general can generate small currents that simulate the moderate flow in their native streams.

You should use a rocky gravel substrate, with large pebbles. Larger boulders and cobbles should be included as part of your décor. These rocks provide extra shelter and security when your fish feel the need to hide.

Your tank should be cycled completely before you add any fish. Improper cycling can expose your fish to toxic buildups of ammonia and nitrogen.

White Cloud Mountain Minnows are known to get a little curious about the world outside of their tanks, so your aquarium should be covered with a hood to stop them from jumping out.

Underwater plants are a must for any White Cloud tank. Good plants include Dwarf Rotala, Water Sprite and Hornwort.

Floating plants like Duckweed and Pondweed help to create a more natural look for your tank. Just make sure that they do not shade out your fish or your other plants.

What Size Aquarium Do They Need?

A White Cloud Mountain Minnow should be kept in at least a 10 gallon aquarium. This would be suitable for up to 5 Cloud Minnows.

You will need 2 gallons of water for each White Cloud in your tank.

Tank Mates

White Cloud Mountain Minnow Tank Mates

These fish are native to the Pearl River, which is the most bio-diverse river in China.

They share their native habitat with Gold Barbs, Weather Loaches and a type of Gourami known as the Paradise Fish.

Their wild river-mates make for the best aquarium tank mates.

They can live with Cherry and Rosy Barbs, as well as the Gold Barb. They can also be kept with Dojo and Horseface Loaches.

The Paradise Fish and other Gouramis are other good choices. The Dwarf Gourami is ideal due to its peaceful personality and suitability for community tanks. Zebra Danios and Corydoras Catfish will fit right in to a White Cloud tank. A school of Harlequin Rasboras will also make a nice addition.

These fish will not harass or prey on any invertebrates, so you will be fine adding in a couple of shrimp or snails.

If you are keeping the Meteor Minnow variety, you should avoid pairing them with Barbs. Barbs are known for nipping and biting at the fins of long finned fish.

Do not include the more aggressive Loaches and Barbs, such as the Tiger Barb or the Clown Loach. Cichlids should also be avoided because of their pushy personalities.

Some pet shops market this fish as a tank mate for Goldfish, however this is not recommended – goldfish grow too large to be kept with them safely.

Keeping White Cloud Mountain Minnow Together

These fish must be kept together in schools of at least 6. They feel safer in larger schools, up to a maximum of about 10.

What To Feed Them

White Cloud Mountain Minnow Diet
White Cloud Mountain Minnow Diet by Engineer111 (Wiki)

White Clouds are micro-predators – this means they feed on tiny invertebrates found in the water column.

In the wild they eat insect larvae, zooplankton and brine shrimp. They also have a big appetite for green algae.

Natural zooplankton colonies do not form as easily in an aquarium as they do in the wild. The microscopic prey that your fish crave must be introduced to the tank.

The best diet includes an equal balance of live prey, greenery and flake or pellet foods.

Water fleas and brine shrimp will mimic the natural zooplankton colonies that these fish would find in the wild. They will also eat tubifex and other micro-worms for protein.

They will not eat your plants, but will help clean up any extra algae that build up in your tank.

Any crushed flake or pellet foods you give them should be high in protein and vegetable content. In tanks with little algae, alginate tablets will help make sure they get enough greens. You can give them garden fruits and vegetables as an occasional treat. They may nibble a bit on fruits and veggies, but these don’t make up a large part of their diet.

These tiny fish have very big appetites and must be fed 2 or 3 times per day.

White Cloud Mountain Minnow Care

White Cloud Mountain Minnow

This is a very hardy species that rarely gets sick. However, they are susceptible to streptococcal infections.

Streptococcus is a bacterial infection that can occur in dirty and poorly maintained tanks. Once one fish has it, it can quickly spread to other fish and it can be fatal.

Fish infected with streptococcus may have trouble holding themselves up in the water column. They will swim very erratically, in a spinning or tumbling pattern.

Any fish with suspected strep should be removed from the tank immediately and taken to a veterinarian that specializes in aquarium fish. Cleaning the tank and filter at least once a month can prevent strep, other bacterial infections and fish parasites. Ideally though, the water should be changed every two weeks.

Watch your fish for erratic or uncoordinated swimming. This could indicate that too much ammonia and nitrite is building up in your tank.

How To Breed White Cloud Mountain Minnow

White Clouds are very easy to breed. They have a very lengthy breeding season that lasts from March to October.

In a school with a nice balance of males and females, they will pair off and spawn several times throughout the year.

During mating, the males in the school will behave aggressively in an attempt to dominate each another. This is the only time you will see your minnows act like bullies. Once a female selects a mate they will pair off.

If you want to breed them separately, you can do so in a 7 gallon tank with clusters of moss and aquatic plants. The temperature should be between 64-72°F.

Condition your pair with 3 daily feedings of live invertebrates, including tubifex worms and brine shrimp.

Males that are ready to mate will have brighter, flashier colors. The females will grow larger and rounder.

When ready, she will scatter her eggs around plants and mosses. Once the eggs are laid, the parents must be removed from the tank in order to prevent egg cannibalism. The eggs will hatch in about 2 days.

Newly hatched larvae must be fed infusoria-based food after they lose their yolk sacs. When they get a little bigger, they can be given micro-worms and larval brine shrimp.

Are White Cloud Mountain Minnows Suitable For Your Aquarium? (Summary)

If you are a first time keeper, the White Cloud Mountain Minnow is a great choice to start with.

They are easy to care for, easy to breed and will get along very well in a community tank. If you enjoy aquascaping, these little guys make a wonderful addition and won’t eat your plants.

These fish have all the personality and color of many tropical fish, but can tolerate a wider range of environmental conditions.

Their hardiness makes them a better choice for beginners than many other higher maintenance nano fish.

If you don’t feel ready for tropical fish just yet, but you would like something just as lovely, the White Cloud Mountain Minnow may be just what you are looking for.

Would you keep a few White Clouds in your own nano tank? Let us know in the comments section below…

About Robert 255 Articles
Robert Woods is the creator of FishKeeping World, a third generation fish keeper and a graduate in animal welfare and behavior. He is also a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America and the Nature Conservancy.


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