White Cloud Mountain Minnow 101: The Full Care Guide

White Cloud Mountain Minnows are a freshwater fish that we highly recommend. They’re peaceful, low-maintenance, and a lot of fun to watch!

But it’s important to understand their fundamental requirements before rushing out to buy one. You see, these fish need some pretty unique requirements in order to thrive.

This guide will cover everything you need to know about White Cloud Mountain Minnow care. By the time you’re done reading it, you’ll be ready to get some for yourself!

Species Summary

Discovered in 1932, the White Cloud Mountain Minnow (scientific name: Tanichthys albonubes) has quickly become a staple in the fish trade. Affordable and easy to find, these freshwater fish are a popular choice for beginners and those who want a species that’s easy to take care of.

Originally, this species was discovered on White Cloud Mountain in China (hence the name). They are part of the Carp family and are often used to control mosquito populations in ponds.

Unfortunately, the natural habitat of the White Cloud Mountain Minnow has been destroyed thanks to pollution and tourism.

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Author Note: For several decades, the species was thought to be extinct in the wild. However, some native populations have survived in regions far away from White Cloud Mountain.

In captivity, these fish thrive. They’re also quite easy to breed, resulting in wide availability for aquarists!


The average White Cloud Mountain Minnow lifespan is anywhere between five and seven years. This is assuming they’re receiving proper care and are kept in good water conditions.

They require optimal conditions to stay healthy, and many new aquarists miss one important detail. Unlike many other popular freshwater fish, this species requires cooler water temperatures. Keeping the fish in warmer environments will decrease their lifespan significantly.


White Cloud Mountain Minnows are small fish with a lot of unique physical details. Their bodies are dart-shape. The upper part of the body is much wider than the tail. Even the snout has a soft point.

Tanichthys albonubes exploring the aquarium substrate

The dorsal, ventral, and anal fins take on a triangular shape. For most fish, the fins have splashes of red. The fins often have a hint of white on the edges as well. Parts of the fin that aren’t colored are completely transparent.

The most common coloration you’ll find is soft brown. The main color looks like a shimmering bronze. You might also see tinges of green depending on the lighting.

On the center of the body, these fish have a prominent horizontal stripe. This stripe follows the lateral line and is usually iridescent pink or white. A stripe of thin black shadows the iridescent color. It stretches to a large black dot on the caudal fin.

Author Note: Differences between males and females are subtle. Typically, males have a more slender profile. They often have more vivid coloration, too.

There are a few different color variants available. You can find golden specimens with cream-colored stripes and fish with a vibrant blue stripe. There’s even a long-finned variant with a deeper red color on the body.

Average Size

The typical size of a White Cloud Mountain Minnow is only around an inch and a half in length when fully grown. These fish are very small, meaning they can thrive in smaller tank sizes (we cover that in more detail further down).

While you can sometimes use size as a gauge for health when buying fish from a breeder, it’s a lot harder when you’re dealing with such small species! This means you need to ask more questions about breeding practices and early care conditions.

White Cloud Mountain Minnow Care

White Cloud Mountain Minnow care is fairly straightforward. However, these fish do have some distinct needs you need to be aware of. But once you have those covered, these fish are pretty low-maintenance.

They adapt well to life in captivity and aren’t fussy when it comes to minor details. As long as you have the fundamentals covered, this species can thrive.

Water Parameters

The biggest challenge you’re going to encounter is providing the right water conditions. Most freshwater fish sold in the pet trade are tropical. This means they require warmer waters to stay healthy.

But that’s not the case with White Cloud Mountain Minnows!

These are cold water aquarium fish that originally came from cool ponds and streams up in the mountains. Sometimes owners choose to keep these fish in warmer tanks or outdoor ponds for the sake of convenience.

However, doing so puts them at risk for disease and premature death. For the best care possible, stick to the following water parameters.

  • Water temperature: 57°F to 72°F (aim for 64°F if possible)
  • pH level: 6.0 to 8.5 (somewhere between 6.8 and 7.5 is best)
  • Water hardness: Low hardness around 10 to 15 KH

Author Note: We highly recommend getting a high-quality water test kit if you plan on owning these fish. Maintaining the recommended water parameters is crucial when it comes to White Cloud Mountain Minnow care, and a good test kit is necessary in order to do this.

There’s a big difference between the cheap test kits and the good ones. Trust us, this will be money well-spent!

White Cloud Mountain Minnow Tank Size

The minimum tank size for White Cloud Mountain Minnows is around 10 to 12 gallons! This makes them a great fish to keep if you’re operating with limited space.

This tank size can work for a group of up to five fish without any issues.

Of course, if you plan on keeping a larger school or want to set up a community tank, bigger is always better. These fish don’t mind having a lot of excess space, so feel free to use a larger tank.

Setting Up The Inside Of Their Tank

For a stress-free life, create a natural environment that resembles the fish’s natural habitat. In general, these fish are used to living in clear bodies of water filled with plants and vegetation.

White Cloud Mountain Minnows usually stick to the top half of the aquarium. However, you still need to pay attention to the substrate!

A group of White Cloud Mountain Minnows

We recommend going with dark-colored sand or fine gravel mix. You can add some larger pebbles or rocks to create a more natural look.

Then, introduce live plants into the aquarium. The plants will act as a form of shelter for the fish. They enjoy cultivars like Hornwort, Pondweed, Water Sprite, Duckweed, and Dwarf Rotalia. To complement the plants, add some driftwood, rocks, and caves.

Author Note: If you plan on experimenting with different kinds of floating plants make sure they don’t prevent your White Cloud Mountain Minnows from swimming near the top of the tank.

Try to keep some open swimming space towards the center of the tank. These fish like to group up and swim in large schools.

For lighting, keep things subdued. This species isn’t particularly sensitive to light, but dimmer lighting will help the color of the fish pop.

Common Potential Diseases

Like any other fish, White Cloud Mountain Minnows can experience their fair share of health problems. This species is susceptible to all of the most common fish diseases. This includes ich, dropsy, and fin rot.

They also have a high risk of experiencing streptococcal infections. This is a bacterial infection that causes the fish to swim erratically. Infected fish can’t hold themselves up towards the surface, causing them to sink down to the bottom where they are more vulnerable.

Strep infections, as well as all other major diseases, are usually caused by poor living conditions. Perform water changes regularly and make sure that your filtration system is up to snuff. Check conditions to ensure that the water is always within the accepted parameter ranges.

Keeping the tank clean is your best bet at avoiding disease altogether. For the most part, White Cloud Mountain Minnows are hardy and healthy fish.

It’s worth pointing out that some stocks are a result of inbreeding. In this situation it makes the fish more prone to disease.

Food & Diet

You won’t have any trouble getting White Cloud Mountain Minnows to eat. They are opportunistic omnivores that will eat anything they can! In the wild, mosquito larvae are their snack of choice.

You can provide the same in captivity. They enjoy micro worms and brine shrimp, too. They’ll also feed on microscopic prey and algae in the tank.

To supplement everything we listed above, provide balanced flake or pellet food. Make sure to go with a reputable company and high-quality product to avoid potential health complications that suboptimal food can lead to.

Behavior & Temperament

White Cloud Mountain Minnows are peaceful shoaling fish that do best in groups of at least six. Throughout the day, you’ll find the fish grouping up and exploring the tank together.

Author Note: They even eat as a group! This makes feeding time very fun to observe as an owner since there will be a high level of activity.

When a White Cloud Mountain Minnow is kept alone, it usually loses its color. It may also spend most of its time hiding. A large group is needed to make your fish feel safe and confident. These fish live longest when in a group as well.

Aggression is only an issue during times of spawning when males can sometimes exhibit territorial behavior. When this occurs you might witness some fighting. Luckily, those scuffles don’t usually result in any major injuries.

Tank Mates

Finding suitable tank mates for the White Cloud Mountain Minnow is tough. You have to find fish that can live in the cooler environments these fish prefer. Not only that, but you have to choose small fish!

Larger fish will quickly eat White Cloud Mountain Minnows. All species should be small and peaceful to avoid any problems.

Here are some good tank mates that can cohabitate with the White Cloud Mountain Minnow:


White Cloud Mountain Minnow breeding is a very doable process in captivity. These fish make an excellent introduction to the hobby because they tend to breed multiple times throughout the year!

You can breed fish in a larger community tank. However, creating a separate breeding tank will provide better survival rates for the fry.

Raise the temperature closer to 72 degrees Fahrenheit in the breeding tank. Add plants or a spawning mop. Then, introduce a couple of males and several females. Condition the fish with live protein-rich foods.

When they breed, the female will scatter eggs all over the plants or spawning mops. The fish don’t exhibit any parental behavior, but they are less inclined to eat the eggs than other species. You can keep them in the tank until the eggs hatch, which takes up to 48 hours.

After the fry emerge, remove the adult fish. Feed the babies liquid food or infusoria. When they’re big enough, transition their diet to baby brine shrimp. The fry will reach maturity at about six months of age.


White Cloud Mountain Minnow care is really quite simple. Once you have stable water parameters with a suitable temperature for them, there’s not much else to worry about!

In our opinion, these fish aren’t talked about enough in the aquarium scene. They’re a pleasure to keep and we know many owners who list them among their favorite freshwater species!

If there’s anything we didn’t address in this guide that you still need help with we’re more than happy to chat. Just reach out to us with your question and we’ll do our best to give you a hand.

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