Finatics is a fish enthusiast and enjoys writing detailed guides on how to care for various species of aquarium fish.
White Cloud Mountain Minnows
Often overlooked as a choice in the aquarium, white cloud mountain minnows are very lively, enjoyable pets to keep. Their small size means they don't need a large aquarium, but they do need enough room for their activeness and tendency to play around. White clouds are schooling fish and therefore much happier and healthier when they are kept in a group. In the wild, they live in fast-flowing streams and, unfortunately, are practically extinct.
These lovely minnows can be kept in a species-only tank or a tropical community, but the temperature should remain at about 72 degrees Fahrenheit. This is ideal because it's in the temperature range for both white clouds and tropical fish.
Life Span: 5–8 years
Adult Size: 1.5"–2"
Tank Size: 10+ gallons as they are active schooling fish
Temperature: 65–72 degrees Fahrenheit
Scientific Name: Tanichthys albonubes
Distribution: East Asia
Temperament: Peaceful. Community fish.
These fish originate from China, where they lived in the gorges of the White Cloud Mountains. These streams are fast-flowing and have a cool temperature. The minnows used to be found amongst the aquatic vegetation, but they are now almost extinct in the wild.
- Tank Size: White cloud minnows are very small—the size of neon tetras—and are not very demanding when it comes to tank size. However, they are active, schooling fish so I recommend a 10+ gallon aquarium so there is enough room for their tank mates and swimming.
- Decor: Having hiding places in a tank is very good for fish. With it, they retreat in there if they are scared, and won’t be nearly as stressed out as fish without anywhere to hide.
- Substrate: White cloud mountain minnows thrive in a variety of substrates—sand, gravel or bare-bottom will do just fine. However, if the gravel is small enough, the fish can swallow it and choke, so rocks larger than your minnow’s mouth are better.
- Lighting: Using aquarium lights is optional for your fish, but you should provide them with some way of knowing when it’s night and day.
- Equipment: White clouds need little equipment—a filter that can run a current that can mimic their natural habitat, a heater if the temperature in your house drops below 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and some supplies to make sure the tank is in good shape. Supplies include a thermometer to watch the temperature, a gravel vacuum and bucket for weekly water changes, and test kits to keep an eye on the water quality.
White cloud mountain minnows are omnivores, and they need a diet rich in both plant and animal matter. Being omnivorous, there is a very wide diversity of what you can feed them, but here's a list with some examples:
- Algae wafers
- Bloodworms (frozen, freeze-dried, or live)
- Brine shrimp (frozen, freeze-dried, or live)
- Krill (frozen, freeze-dried, or live)
- Mosquito larvae (if you harvest them from your backyard, make sure you don't feed your minnows toxic chemicals like fertilizer along with them!)
- Fish fry
- Boiled greens like romaine lettuce and peas
- Small insects, including wingless fruit flies
Do Not Overfeed Your Fish
When it comes to feeding fish, it is better to underfeed than overfeed. In the wild, fish don't have a constant schedule of meals, and they eat as much food as they can eat if they find some. In the home aquarium, they can quickly eat themselves into obesity and poor water quality. This can result in disease and/or death. Make sure to feed them only a small pinch of food a day. It is even healthy to skip feeding every once in a while.
White cloud mountain minnows can live with tropical fish if the tank is kept at 72 degrees Fahrenheit—a higher temperature is too warm for them, and a lower temperature is too cold for warm-water fish. Here is a list of possible tankmates:
- Livebearers, such as guppies, platies, mollies, swordtails, etc.
- Some bottom-dwellers like corydoras catfish
- Many schooling tetras, including neon tetras
- Aquatic snails, like the mystery snail
- Shrimp (ghost shrimp, bamboo shrimp, etc.)
If you decide to keep your minnows with larger fish, make sure there isn't a possibility of them eating the minnows. Keeping them with fish like oscars can spell disaster.
After reading this article, if you decide you are willing to care for white cloud mountain minnows, have fun! They are an active, beautiful, and interesting choice for an aquarium. They are relatively easy to keep, as long as care is given to provide for all their needs. I hope this article has provided you with some of what you need to know about the care of white cloud mountain minnows. Happy fish-keeping!
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© 2010 finatics
Saramoon on June 13, 2020:
I have had a small 20litre tank for a year, I had 5 minnows, 2 buenosaires tetra and 2 shrimp, which had babies. However in the last month 3 of the minnows have suddenly died without trace or health issues and the younger shrimp seem to have disappeared. I have got no idea why. Do you know what could be causing it please? I know that the tetra could have eaten some of the smaller shrimp but I had got quite a few that had grown.
Ilovefishes on March 15, 2020:
Could I keep 5 WCMMs and 2 fan tails in a 28 gallon tank
Katie on September 07, 2019:
Hi need some advice. Whats this all over my tank glass and in water
newfishowner on March 18, 2019:
what is the most attractive food to fish
kate on October 29, 2018:
Does anyone have any advice about cleaning the tank? I acquired 6 wcmms recently but today found one dead today, seemingly stuck in the filter... There are also some bits of leftover food flakes stuck in the plants and gravel, but I don't really know how to go about cleaning the tank without distressing the fish
To Random Person on October 27, 2018:
No! Never keep fish without proper air supply, in tap water in JARS!?!?
Fish need a lot of care-even small ones. Do research.
Kas36 on December 03, 2017:
Hi my son has 4 mountain minnows.
3 if them are fine but the other when ever feed no matter what it is displays odd behaviour from unbalanced Swimming to laying on the bottom. I have treated with antibiotics and tried swim bladder treatments. She seems fine for a few days but then after eating almost immediately stats to behaviour wierd
Random Person on May 28, 2017:
Can a white cloud live in a mason jar with no filter? There will be just still water. When do I have to change the water?
Beginner1 on December 22, 2016:
I got 3 mountain minnows 2 days back, and they are very happy and healthy, all exept one. Im not sure if it is sick, but this morning, its is just sitting next to the glass rather than chasing the others around. Do you have any idea?
Foxgirlgamer on December 22, 2015:
Would it be fine if I had 2or3 whiye clouds in a 3.5 gallon tank.? An are White Clouds cold water of tropical.?
Alli on May 17, 2014:
For some reason, when I started keeping six minnows about a year or so ago, since then, I've had 4 die on me. Several died because of bloating (I think it was since they were sideways), and another died of mysterious cuts (which were probably from the plastic plants I had at the time). Since, I have soaked the flake and freeze-dried food prior to feeding and have removed all but one plastic plant. One recently died-today! I don't know what to do!
Anthea A. on January 20, 2014:
Could I keep 6 white clouds comfortably in a 10 gallon tank? I only have 3.
petluvr798 on December 29, 2013:
What live plants do you think I should put in my minnows' tank? I only have anacharis.
annabeth77 on December 02, 2013:
What would you deem to be a good, daily diet for minnows? (i.e. omega one freshwater fish flakes, omega one super color, red leaf lettuce, spirulina flakes, or what?)
Gayle on December 02, 2013:
How many white clouds could I keep in a 3 gallon tank?
Annie on November 26, 2013:
How often can white clouds get frozen foods(i.e. bloodworms, brine shrimp)? Help would be much appreciated.
'ello there! on August 16, 2013:
Just saying, #Nic, but the article states clearly that they can eat algae wafers, krill, brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, bloodworms, boiled greens, and fish fry. Plus, that list is just some of what they can eat. I have minnows that thrive on goldfish food! But, you can feed them tropical food, like Omega One's Freshwater Flakes.
Sara on August 15, 2013:
#michaeel, white clouds require at least 10+ gallons as they are schooling fish. If you don't believe me, look at the article.
a&b on August 15, 2013:
#che, I believe that you do have to. All fish produce ammonia. Unless you have a 50 gallon or so that is crowded with plants covering every inch of space, all fish do need a filter.
che on July 29, 2013:
do i need to keep white cloud mountain minnows with the use of a filter
154535251545321154535251545678 on June 14, 2013:
Are platy variatus compatible with 4 white cloud mountain minnows in an unheated 10 gallon tank?
#cat&fishlover on June 06, 2013:
Could ramshorn snails go along with MTS in a white cloud mouontain minnow species tank?
guppy120978 on May 20, 2013:
Would green cabomba and java fern attached to a rock work with white cloud mountain minnows? Please reply!
vicky katerina on May 18, 2013:
will fantail goldfish get along with white cloud mountain minnows in a 10 gallon tank?
hi on May 18, 2013:
I have 4 white cloud minnows in a 10 gallon tank. Most of the plants in there are fake, although there is one live plant. Could I add more minnows? And, also, would platies be suitable for this tank? I'm afraid that I can't upgrade the tank.
Nic on February 28, 2013:
What do they eat duckweed or elodea or wut
michaeel on February 19, 2013:
i just got a 3 gallon tank with a filter and air pump, is that good for 2 or 3 white clouds?
simon on November 07, 2012:
i just got 4 white clouds and they are swimming around with my comet wich is about 5cm long in a 21 litre tank, they are doing jut fine. i also have afew live plants to keep them all happy :)
jamess on September 10, 2012:
how many minons could i fit in a 18 litre tank?
heather on September 06, 2012:
Hi I have a 10 gallon tank with 6 WCMM kept at 70F and I want to add some platies, what type and how many can I add?
Ryan on July 07, 2012:
I have six white clouds with three comets. The comets are almost 1-1 1/4'. Everyone gets aling fine. At first my big comet chased a few coluds. The clouds made a tight group at the top of the tank. After 48 hours everyrhing went to normal. Each fish is swimming in peace. Out of the clouds i have two males and four females. The tank is 29gal. I have all real plant life and river rocks as substrate. I have a matineland biowheel and do a 25% water change weekly or biweekly. I measure everyday for nitrites and other harmful levels. The tank is 9 months old on cycle. The clouds were added after the first nine months. I like to use comets during cycle. I always do a fishless cycle for the first month. The comets are strong fish that can live in anything. These guys will let you know exactly what you need to fix. Get your tank PERFECT before adding any clouds. If all is well everyone will get along.
SilverArcher on June 24, 2012:
I have a 1gallon tank that has 2 WC's, a ghost shrimp and a snail. They are living very happily. I think one is pregnant. Belly is big and getting lumpy.
finatics (author) on June 02, 2012:
Sorry for such a delay in response, guys!
@fishforme, unfortunately no, if you read my article on why fish bowls aren't humane, you will know that there are several other reasons why fish should not be kept in bowls.
@wabi, thank you, and it is not strictly necessary that they have plants, but there should be nooks and crannies in the tank that they can hide in if they get scared.
@Seth, it wouldn't be advisable not only for the reasons you've given, but because that tank is already pretty overcrowded, and no more fish should be put in that tank.
@Victoria, wow! You must have taken very good care of your fish :)
@Sarah, yes it would be, but as a temporary solution hopefully until you can find them a better home :)
@Greg, yes you could, but I find it rather inhumane to keep them living with a predator waiting to snatch them up at any moment, with nowhere else to go.
@sheree, that is a very likely occurrence. If you think that your betta is aggressive you may want to rehome your WCMM's
@HawaiinWon, I appreciate the feedback, and thank you for taking such good care of your minnows!
@Michelle, unfortunately no, as there is a strong likelihood the older fish will eat them. And snails are generally harmless, unless they overpopulate the tank and cause nitrate levels to skyrocket
@Jake, betta food is generally carnivorous, so it's recommended you feed them a diet that has greens in it too.
@Beck, unfortunately, that is a very overpopulated tank you've got there. The comet will grow to a very large size if given enough room and will need a much bigger tank than a 5 or even 10 gallon
Beck on May 12, 2012:
Hi I'm getting. Three minnows and I'm going to put them in my aquarium with a comet ( very small) and a sucking loach. My tank is a cold water and a 5 gallon. Will they survive if not I will properly be able to pick up a ten gallon from my freeing for a very very cheap price
Jake on May 11, 2012:
I got a 10g with 4 cory catfish and 1 male betta. planning to add 5 white clouds. good filtration and water heater keeping it 68-72 degrees F. not sure what type of food they actually eat.. will they eat betta food or the shrimppellet i've around have or is a more specific type of flake or pellet for white clouds.
Michelle on May 06, 2012:
I have six minnow,got them 1 month ago. I knew 1 was female not long after i got them,due to the size of her belly . Just noticed some fry in the tank today, at least 6 on the side of the tank.Will they survive if they are left in the tank with the adults? Have a feeling there could be more and the female is still being chased. Feel quite worried. I am a novice at fish breeding and only have the 1 tank. I feed my fish flakes that I grind up. Can the fry eat flakes or should i put something different in for them?There is a snail in the tank 2. It must have been on the plant we put in when we got the fish. Should I leave it in the tank? I feed the fish every other day. Is this ok?
Hawaiianwon on May 05, 2012:
I have 40 approx White Clouds exclusively in a 55 gal tank
I just love them. they are so active and beautiful. I keep only this species in this tank but I plan to increase the water flow today after learning from you that they like fast moving water and will give lettuce too.
Thank You for sharing this information.
Cheng on May 03, 2012:
Lol. I've got like 15 White Clouds. Bought them as feeder so they were only .15 cents each. They were only a few mm long & now they're about an inch. I think they're ready to breed, what plants would be the best to add in the tank as breeding objects? I know they prefer floating plants, but I'm not sure if baby tears are good enough. ANYWAY, they're in a 29 gal set up. I have a 65gal set up but it's for my baby Serrasalmus Rhombeus(black piranha).
sheree on May 02, 2012:
i have 3 minnows with a Siamese fighting fish (male) only had then for less than a week, it seems that one of the minnow has lost part of his tail, do you think the SFF has gone for it?
claud56 on April 28, 2012:
can wcmm live in a bowl without filtration
Greg on April 05, 2012:
I have a school full of white clouds. I have a 10 gallon tank and have a very small crayfish too. We tested him out with 4 white clouds orginally. He did get a hold of one but there was one that sat in the back of the tank for 2 weeks and did not eat at all. They were sick. But the other 3 we left for 2 weeks afterwards and they did well and did not disappear. So test yours out first but crayfish only eat sick or dead fish. They are not swimmers and only really go fast backwards. I not have 15 little tiny white clouds and are done with my tank. They are great and you could try a crayfish small though for a 10 gallon tank
Joey on April 05, 2012:
Im getting 5 males for my Betta community tank
Sarah on March 21, 2012:
Hi, I got 8 white cloud mountain minnows from Petco a few days ago. The saleswoman told me since they are cold water they could go in with my goldfish. I keep the tank very clean with regular changes.
1 minnow just died and another is missing. I think my goldfish are trying to/succeeding at eating them. This really upsets me that I would be told they would be okay. My only option is to put them in a round base or bowl. I know it's too small, but wouldn't that be better than being eaten??
Victoria on March 02, 2012:
My white cloud fish died today; he was at least 14 years old! His tank mate predeceased him and he lived for 10 years.
Awesomeguy on February 22, 2012:
Dear Seth, I tried getting them in with goldfish however they bite them alot and kill them so I wouldn't recommend but you can try it and see what happens if the goldfish dies then change it to tropical like me they live better with that type of fish.
Seth on February 18, 2012:
Hello, I was told that white clouds were compatible with goldfish. I currently have a 10 gallon tank with 3 thin bodied goldfish (a comet, shubunkin, and sarassa). The temperature in the tank stays at around 68-70 degrees. Would it be plausible to keep them together with white clouds? The main issue I would see happening is the inability to make sure both the clouds and goldfish are fed their own food. The goldfish would probably eat anything I put in the tank. Should I just avoid the combination altogether? If so, are there any fish which would be compatible in the same tank as thin-bodied goldfish?
fishforme on February 10, 2012:
can i ceep white clouds in a bowl if i use an air pump and do frequent water changes (50% weekly)
finatics (author) on January 31, 2012:
WCMM's being so tiny, you could get away with that many in a 15G tank. Hope this helped!
finatics (author) on January 31, 2012:
Fish enjoy having places to hide, and I'm sure it doesn't matter much to the minnows if they are rocks or plants. Besides, in their natural habitat it is very pure water, with few plants and more rocks and rushing water. As long as they have objects in their tank they can hide from things with, then they'll be good! :)
wabi on January 16, 2012:
Thank you for such a complete article.
Now, after seeing the video of the biotope, i can't help but wonder, how do these fish do without plants? I've been reading that they love a thoroughly planted tank and the tank from the video has none. Do they really need plants or are they happy without them? Because I wanted to use no real plants or maybe a few fake ones, and rocks. And i can't find a single article mentioning fake plants or no plants. thanks!
Tryingtoberesponsibletogetafish:) on January 01, 2012:
If I wanted around 14 of the wcmm's, how many gallons should I get? I keep getting differen5 answers which is expected but you seem like an expert.
finatics (author) on October 18, 2011:
Hi Sal, the problem with the vase you are describing is that it's more deep than wide, and for most fish this can be difficult to swim in, and also the bowl-shaped doesn't allow great gas exchange between the water and the outer atmosphere, so not a lot of oxygen can get in the water and into the water. However, that problem would be solved if you had a filter that can attach to your vase. The other problem is that vases generally have an opening that fish can jump out of, to their demise. Covering it with netting or mesh or similar material could keep them in their tank. Now, I wouldn't recommend these minnows for the vase you are describing, because they are very active fish and probably should have at least a 10 gallon tank to swim around in. Hope I helped!
Sal on October 12, 2011:
I am not a big fan of the rectangular aquariums so i have a 5-6 gal LONG glass vase. Its 1.5 ft deep and its about a foot wide..do you think I should get the minnows?Or are there bowl shaped aquariums these days. I just cant get over the rectangular aquariums...not sure why..
finatics (author) on October 11, 2011:
AddictedToBettas: It can be tricky to tell them apart, but when they are ready to spawn, male white clouds will have more intense coloration while females with generally be very plump with eggs.
Savannah Helming: Thank you! Glad I could help :)
Savannah Helming on September 30, 2011:
Thanks! I might be getting some minnows, so I'll hold on to this! Great article!
AddictedToBettas on September 25, 2011:
How do you know if they are a boy or girl?
finatics (author) on May 30, 2011:
Thank you, Resor Karibien!
Resor Karibien on May 25, 2011:
These fishes are truly amazing! Thanks for a great article!
finatics (author) on May 17, 2011:
Thank you, betta lover!
betta lover on May 15, 2011:
thx! this is GREAT advice!
finatics (author) on January 02, 2011:
Neon tetras are pretty small fish and are touchy about their water quality being in tip-top shape. Make sure you cycle the tank before you buy any fish, so the beneficical bacteria can convert the toxic ammonia into the less-poisonous nitrate. Also, weekly water changes of about 25% are recommended to keep your aquarium healthy.
Silver Poet from the computer of a midwestern American writer on December 31, 2010:
You mentioned they get along with neon tetras. When I was a kid I tried to keep neons, and they never lived. Got any advice?
finatics (author) on December 19, 2010:
You may notice a darker gravid spot in your fish, and she will obviously start to become larger as are eggs grow.
julie on December 17, 2010:
how do i know if my white cloud is having babies?
finatics (author) on November 30, 2010:
You're very welcome! :)
Golden Fins from California on November 29, 2010:
White Clouds seem like a great fish to enjoy in an aquarium. I really like active fish. I have a pair of Zebra Danios that are constantly on the move. Thanks for the tips about White Clouds!
finatics (author) on November 25, 2010:
That is good advice. However, even if you have snails you will still need to perform regular water changes as the snails produce waste that can build up in the tank, as well as the fish. Also, guppies are normally peaceful fish- maybe you had some uncommonly aggressive ones? Thank you, Laura!
Laura on October 20, 2010:
I have white cloud minnows and they get bullied by guppies so we had to give the guppies back to the pet shop. But they do fine in a baby bath filled with water but give the tank live plants planted in gravel/sand/dirt. Also feed them tetra fish flakes and get snails to clean the tank if you don't want to. The minnows will come in a bag with water in it so float this in the tank for ten minutes then very slowly let them out.