White Cloud Mountain Minnow Care Guide

White Cloud Mountain Minnow Care Guide

Hi! This article will teach you all you need to know about caring for your White Cloud Mountain Minnows!

Basic Information:

Care Level
: Very easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Lifespan: ~5 years in the right conditions
Size: ~1 1/2 inches
Temperature: 60 - 75F, but can survive as low as 40F
Diet: Carnivore
Schooling Fish: Yes! Groups of 6+ are highly recommended.
Bioload/Waste Level: Low
Family: Cyprinidae
Scientific Name: Tanichthys albonubes
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
Tank Mates: Small, fairly peaceful fish

White Cloud Mountain Minnows are a small species of freshwater minnows that is native to China. It was discovered in 1932 and lives in temperate streams. They are becoming very popular fish in the aquarium hobby since they are very easy to keep especially if you are a beginner. They can survive a fish-in cycle (though it is not recommended so please research cycling your tank without fish) and live around 5 years. They are very common and easy to breed so you can find them at every shop that has fish for $1-3 depending on where you live. Though these fish are cheap and common, they are some of the prettiest fish in my opinion.

Appearance and Types:
White Cloud Mountain Minnows are slim fish that only reach about 1 and a half inches when fully grown. Their dart-like body shape allows them to be good, fast swimmers. In general, males tend to be slimmer and have a more intense coloration.

Common White Cloud Mountain Minnows have mostly red tails with white or clear tips. At the base of the tail fin there is a black dot. White Cloud Mountain Minnow's scales are grey and green and they have a black stripe running down the center of their body. The underside of these minnows is normally white.

There are three other types that are somewhat common:
  • Golden White Cloud: This type features a cream-colored pattern and is missing the black dot at the base of the tail
  • Meteor Minnows: These minnows sport the same colors as the common White Cloud Mountain Minnows, but through selective breeding have acquired long, trailing fins
  • Hong Kong: This form has pale gold scales with a blue line and lacks the white/clear tips at the ends of the fins
White Cloud Mountain Minnows in the Wild:
In the wild, White Cloud Mountain Minnows live in streams with smooth rocks and a sandy substrate. These streams generally have low to medium flow and are clear. Despite the fact that White Clouds are easy to breed in the home aquarium, their wild populations are on the verge of extinction. The reasons for this decline in their population is tourism and pollution.

Tank Setup:
If you are trying to set up the ideal set up for White Cloud Mountain Minnows, then it is important to create an aquarium that resembles their natural habitat. In the wild, the streams that White Cloud Mountain Minnows reside in have many large, smooth rocks and a sandy substrate. Rocks provide places for your fish to hide and play to make them feel more comfortable. Another thing that is found in nature is plants. Plants, live rocks, make your fish feel safe and let them hide and play. You can do some more research into exactly what plants you would like to keep. White Clouds have the ability to jump and sometimes will so a tight lid is ideal.

Water Parameters:

60-75 F (16-24 C)
pH: 6.8-7.5
GH: 5-15 dGH or 90-270 ppm (not a big concern)
KH: 5-15 dKH or 90-270 ppm (not a big concern)
Flow Rate: Low to medium

Flow rate is how fast your water is flowing in your aquarium. pH is a scale to tell how acidic or alkaline water is (0 is the most acidic and 14 is the most alkaline). GH is the concentration of dissolved magnesium and calcium in your tank. KH is the carbonate hardness of the water and shows how much bicarbonates and carbonates are in your water. GH is measured in dGH, and KH is measured in dKH, but those can be roughly converted to ppm (parts per million) or mg/L (milligrams per liter) by multiplying by 17.9.

In the wild, these micro predators eat insect larvae, zooplankton, and brine shrimp out of the water column. They will also occasionally feast on green algae around the tank. To best mimic this, feeding live or frozen baby brine shrimp (BBS) along with a flake food high in protein and vegetables is ideal. The BBS will act like zooplankton and brine shrimp and the flakes will provide a second source of protein. Though these fish will not eat plants in your tank they will eat the algae off of them. One thing to keep in mind is despite their small size, these fish eat a lot.

Behavior, Temperament, and Tank Mates:


White Cloud Mountain Minnows, when kept in a school, are not very shy once they get used to you. It is important to keep these fish in a school of at least 6. If they do not have a school, they will be very shy and timid and will rarely be seen. The larger the school, the less shy the fish will be.
For most of the year, White Cloud Mountain Minnows are peaceful, but during the breeding season, opposing males may become aggressive and territorial towards other males. Usually, these fish are very peaceful and will feed and hangout in their school.
Tank Mates:
What I find great about White Cloud Mountain Minnows is that even though they are fast and strong swimmers they will not harass or out-compete their tank mates. So long as the fish isn't much larger than the White Clouds or has different requirements, it will probably work as a tank mate. In the wild, White Cloud Mountain Minnows share their streams with Gold Barbs, Weather Loaches, and Paradise fish, making all of these fish great tank mates for them. Both Zebra Danios and Bronze Cory Catfish will work well with White Cloud Mountain Minnows. Try to avoid large fish like Goldfish as they will eat the minnows. If you are keeping Meteor minnows, try to avoid Barbs since they will nip at their fins.

Breeding White Clouds:
White Cloud Mountain Minnows are widely regarded as one of the easiest fish to breed in the hobby. Many times, people have their White Clouds breed by accident. They have a very long breeding season (March-October, but they can be bred at any time of the year). If you have a good ratio of males to females then they will pair off and spawn many times throughout the year. While pairing off, males will act like bullies and have flashy colors to get chosen by females. Once they pair off the female will scatter her eggs in the moss or mop. To prevent the parents from eating the eggs remove the mop or the parents after they spawn or have enough cover for the fry to hide from the adults.
Now, some notes from Kribensis27:

You don’t need to do any of this stuff to get them to breed, this is just what I’ve found produces bigger loads of fry. It works best in outdoor tubs, but if it gets hot in your area, I would go with indoors. I try to use tubs that are black on the inside as it replicates a more natural setting.

You’re going to want both long and short rooted floaters in there for breeding (I use Water Hyacinth, Water Lettuce, Frogbit, and Salvinia, and this summer I’m going to add in some Red Roots).

The extra cover allows them to feel less stressed for breeding, and the short root floaters leave more space for swimming and hunting. The longer floaters provide a habitat for any fry living there, along with providing a spot for the females to escape from nippy males in breeding mode. Floaters also keep the water cooler by blocking a lot of the sunlight that hits the surface. I only use low light plants such as moss, Hornwort, Guppy Grass (my personal favorite), and Anacharis under the surface for this reason.

Try to frequently top off the tubs with cooler water. I find that this causes better spawning in tanks, and works great in tubs as well.

White Clouds like a lot of movement in some areas, and very little in others. To avoid the floaters being harmed, I use ain one part of the tub. That way, they get plenty of current, but the floaters don’t melt.

Try to use either oxygenating plants or a small airstone as well to keep the water oxygen levels up. Low oxygen isn’t good for breeding.

If you want do this indoors, they need a very strict photoperiod. Just use a timer for the light. Otherwise they might be stressed by inconsistent day lengths and not breed as much.

As for feeding, I like to stock the tubs with live cyclops, blackworms, and daphnia in the beginning of the season. They breed and eat dead plant leaves, and provide a very natural hunting opportunity for the fish. I also allow a bit of mulm to form to encourage detritus worms. As I keep mine outside, they also have a fairly constant source of mosquito larvae.

If you have dragonflies or damselflies in your area, watch out for them. If you have them, there will be some losses. I don’t really know how to keep them out other than covering the whole thing in mesh, but I’m lazy, so I just hope the white clouds out-breed the dragon/damselflies. They always do.

I never do anything special to ensure fry survival, they do fine as long as there’s plenty of hiding spots.

TLDR: Basically, just make sure you have dense vegetation, a bit of flow, cool water, live food, and a good photoperiod, and they should breed like crazy. Parameters aren’t very important. Good water quality and a stable ph is really all they want, just like in a normal tank.

If you are in search of a fish that can survive in your house without a heater, but still have stunning colors, consider White Cloud Mountain Minnows.
Good luck!

White Cloud Mountain minnow - Wikipedia
How to set up a White Cloud biotope


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Nice job! I plan on getting these fish eventually and this was a great overview, very complete and detailed.
Well written and detailed. I think it's a great care guide for WCMM.
Well written with very good tips. Well done!
Thank you so much!
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