Fish Care: White Cloud Mountain Minnows

Updated on March 16, 2018

Often overlooked as a choice in the aquarium, the white cloud mountain minnows are very lively, enjoyable pets to keep. Their small size means they don't need a large aquarium, but 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.

Diet: Omnivorous

Lifespan: 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

Family: Cyprinidae

Distribution: East Asia

Temperament: Peaceful; community fish


Natural Habitat

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 are now almost extinct in the wild.

White Cloud Minnow Biotope


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 for room for their tankmates 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 is 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 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 it!)
  • Fish fry
  • Boiled greens like romaine lettuce and peas
  • Small insects, including wingless fruit flies

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 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.

Romaince lettuce is a healthy treat to feed white cloud mountain minnows.
Romaince lettuce is a healthy treat to feed white cloud mountain minnows. | Source


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:

  • Danios
  • 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.

Guppies are popular community fish that can be kept with white cloud mountain minnows.
Guppies are popular community fish that can be kept with white cloud mountain minnows. | Source

Good Luck!

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 hub has provided you with some of what you need to know about care of white cloud mountain minnows. Happy fishkeeping!


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    • profile image

      Kas36 6 months ago

      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

    • profile image

      Random Person 12 months ago

      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?

    • profile image

      Beginner1 18 months ago

      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?

    • profile image

      Foxgirlgamer 2 years ago

      Would it be fine if I had 2or3 whiye clouds in a 3.5 gallon tank.? An are White Clouds cold water of tropical.?

    • profile image

      Alli 4 years ago

      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!

    • profile image

      Anthea A. 4 years ago

      Could I keep 6 white clouds comfortably in a 10 gallon tank? I only have 3.

    • profile image

      petluvr798 4 years ago

      What live plants do you think I should put in my minnows' tank? I only have anacharis.

    • profile image

      annabeth77 4 years ago

      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?)

    • profile image

      Gayle 4 years ago

      How many white clouds could I keep in a 3 gallon tank?

    • profile image

      Annie 4 years ago

      How often can white clouds get frozen foods(i.e. bloodworms, brine shrimp)? Help would be much appreciated.

    • profile image

      'ello there! 4 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Sara 4 years ago

      #michaeel, white clouds require at least 10+ gallons as they are schooling fish. If you don't believe me, look at the article.

    • profile image

      a&b 4 years ago

      #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.

    • profile image

      che 4 years ago

      do i need to keep white cloud mountain minnows with the use of a filter

    • profile image

      154535251545321154535251545678 5 years ago

      Are platy variatus compatible with 4 white cloud mountain minnows in an unheated 10 gallon tank?

    • profile image

      #cat&fishlover 5 years ago

      Could ramshorn snails go along with MTS in a white cloud mouontain minnow species tank?

    • profile image

      guppy120978 5 years ago

      Would green cabomba and java fern attached to a rock work with white cloud mountain minnows? Please reply!

    • profile image

      vicky katerina 5 years ago

      will fantail goldfish get along with white cloud mountain minnows in a 10 gallon tank?

    • profile image

      hi 5 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Nic 5 years ago

      What do they eat duckweed or elodea or wut

    • profile image

      michaeel 5 years ago

      i just got a 3 gallon tank with a filter and air pump, is that good for 2 or 3 white clouds?

    • profile image

      simon 5 years ago

      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 :)

    • profile image

      jamess 5 years ago

      how many minons could i fit in a 18 litre tank?

    • profile image

      heather 5 years ago

      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?

    • profile image

      Ryan 5 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      SilverArcher 5 years ago

      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 profile image

      finatics 6 years ago

      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.

      @claud56, no

      @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

    • profile image

      Beck 6 years ago

      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

    • profile image

      Jake 6 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Michelle 6 years ago

      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?

    • profile image

      Hawaiianwon 6 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Cheng 6 years ago

      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).

    • profile image

      sheree 6 years ago

      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?

    • profile image

      claud56 6 years ago

      can wcmm live in a bowl without filtration

    • profile image

      Greg 6 years ago

      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

    • profile image

      Joey 6 years ago

      Im getting 5 males for my Betta community tank

    • profile image

      Sarah 6 years ago

      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??

    • profile image

      Victoria 6 years ago

      My white cloud fish died today; he was at least 14 years old! His tank mate predeceased him and he lived for 10 years.

    • profile image

      Awesomeguy 6 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Seth 6 years ago

      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?



    • profile image

      fishforme 6 years ago

      can i ceep white clouds in a bowl if i use an air pump and do frequent water changes (50% weekly)

    • finatics profile image

      finatics 6 years ago

      WCMM's being so tiny, you could get away with that many in a 15G tank. Hope this helped!

    • finatics profile image

      finatics 6 years ago

      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! :)

    • profile image

      wabi 6 years ago

      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!

    • profile image

      Tryingtoberesponsibletogetafish:) 6 years ago

      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 profile image

      finatics 6 years ago

      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!

    • profile image

      Sal 6 years ago

      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 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 profile image

      finatics 6 years ago

      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 :)

    • profile image

      Savannah Helming 6 years ago

      Thanks! I might be getting some minnows, so I'll hold on to this! Great article!

    • profile image

      AddictedToBettas 6 years ago

      How do you know if they are a boy or girl?

    • finatics profile image

      finatics 7 years ago

      Thank you, Resor Karibien!

    • profile image

      Resor Karibien 7 years ago

      These fishes are truly amazing! Thanks for a great article!

    • finatics profile image

      finatics 7 years ago

      Thank you, betta lover!

    • profile image

      betta lover 7 years ago

      thx! this is GREAT advice!

    • finatics profile image

      finatics 7 years ago

      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 profile image

      Silver Poet 7 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer

      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 profile image

      finatics 7 years ago

      You may notice a darker gravid spot in your fish, and she will obviously start to become larger as are eggs grow.

    • profile image

      julie 7 years ago

      how do i know if my white cloud is having babies?

    • finatics profile image

      finatics 7 years ago

      You're very welcome! :)

    • Golden Fins profile image

      Golden Fins 7 years ago from California

      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 profile image

      finatics 7 years ago

      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!

    • profile image

      Laura 7 years ago

      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.


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