White Cloud Mountain Minnows: Size, Care and More

White Cloud Mountain minnow (Tanichthys albonubes) is an ideal fish for those who are just getting to know aquarium husbandry. These small and active creatures are not just nice, but also very simple in care and keeping.

habitat in the wild

The White Cloud Mountain minnow, scientifically known as Tanichthys albonubes, belongs to the family Cyprinidae. This family is commonly referred to as the “minnow” family, and it includes a wide range of small to medium-sized fish species. The Cyprinidae family is one of the largest fish families and includes popular aquarium fish such as goldfish, rosy barbs, danios, and of course, the White Cloud Mountain minnow. These fish are known for their lively and hardy nature, making them a popular choice among aquarists.

Species representatives were first found at White Cloud Mountain (also known as Baiyun Mountain) located several kilometers north of central Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China.

It gave the species its specific name – albonubes (alba nubes – from Latin is white clouds). White cloud mountain minnow habitat is the Pearl River delta area. Unfortunately, the species is extinct in its native habitat. In fact, “mountains” are made up of 3 peaks and they are a very popular place of tourism, including hotels, highways and public parks.

After the white cloud minnow was discovered it’s been widely caught for aquarium trade, as a result became extinct in its former native habitats. Since 1980 up to 2001 the species hasn’t been encountered in the wild and it was considered to be extinct. Later a small wildlife population of the fish was discovered in close proximity to its typical habitat on Hainan Island.

Ministry of Environmental Protection of China considers white cloud minnow to be the species threatened with extinction and it has put the fish into the list of the endangered species of China into the second class of animals.



The White Cloud Mountain minnow is a small fish species. On average, adult White Cloud Mountain minnows typically grow to be about 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5 to 3.8 cm) in length. This small size makes them suitable for smaller aquariums and community tanks. They are popular among aquarists due to their small size, peaceful temperament, and attractive appearance, which includes a distinctive black lateral line against a silvery background.


The average lifespan of a White Cloud Mountain minnow is typically around 3 to 5 years in a well-maintained aquarium. Proper care, including providing appropriate water conditions, a balanced diet, and a stress-free environment, can help maximize the lifespan of these fish. Factors such as genetics, water quality, and overall care can influence the exact lifespan of individual fish within this range.


The white cloud minnow is rather plainly colored. The upper side of its back is yellowy-brown. There is silver blue and golden stripe that goes along the body from its eyes to the tail. This stripe is more pronounced on juveniles’ body. Their back is greenish and the abdomen is white. The fins are lemon-yellow, dorsal, anal, abdominal fins top and the middle side of the fluke are red colored.

The dorsal and fluke have two main colors: lemon-yellow and bright-red. If this species is kept in a sickly planted tank with dark bottom substrate, the body gains inimitable purple color. White cloud mountain minnow school made up of species of different age looks especially spectacular.

You may see intense silver-blue coloring of the juveniles together with ruby-red coloring of the adults and this can’t leave their spectators untouched. Quite often in private tanks you may encounter long finned species.

Scientific NameTanichthys albonubes
Common NameWhite Cloud Mountain Minnow
FamilyCyprinidae (Minnows and Carps)
OriginWhite Cloud Mountain region, Guangdong Province, China
SizeUp to 1.5 inches (3.8 cm)
Lifespan3-5 years
ColorSilver with a distinctive black lateral line
Aquarium SizeSmall, 10 gallons or larger
Water Temperature64-72°F (18-22°C)
Water pHSlightly acidic to neutral (6.0-7.5)
DietOmnivorous, eats flakes, pellets, live, and frozen food
BehaviorPeaceful, suitable for community tanks
BreedingEgg-scattering, separate adults from eggs
Conservation StatusNot considered extinct

Difficulties in keeping

The white cloud minnow is very plain and not demanding, peaceful and good-looking. Its small size and compatibility with other fishes make it a perfect choice for the beginners.

Care and keeping in a tank

Tank size

A tank size of at least 10 gallons (approximately 38 liters) is generally recommended for a small group of White Cloud Mountain Minnows. This size allows for sufficient swimming space and provides a stable environment for these fish. However, larger tanks are even better, as they provide more room for the fish to explore and create a more stable ecosystem.

Keep in mind that the tank size should also consider the number of fish you plan to keep. It’s essential to avoid overcrowding, which can lead to stress, poor water quality, and health issues for the fish. Aim for a reasonable stocking density, and provide appropriate filtration, regular water changes, and proper maintenance to ensure a healthy and thriving aquarium for your White Cloud Mountain Minnows.

Water parameters

White Cloud Mountain Minnows (Tanichthys albonubes) are hardy fish that can tolerate a range of water parameters. However, providing them with suitable conditions will help ensure their health and longevity.

Here are the recommended water parameters for White Cloud Mountain minnows:

  1. Water Temperature: 64-72°F (18-22°C). They can handle slightly cooler temperatures, making them suitable for unheated aquariums in some cases. The water temperature in the White Cloud minnow natural habitat varies both during a day and during a year. In winter the temperature drops up to 14 °C (57,2 F), in summer it gets its maximum value — 26 °C (78,8). The water temperature range 18–22 °C (64–72 °F) is the best for keeping white cloud minnow in a tank.
  2. pH: Slightly acidic to neutral, preferably in the range of 6.0-7.5. They can tolerate a moderate pH range, but try to avoid extremes.
  3. Water Hardness (dGH): 5-20 degrees of general hardness. They are adaptable to a range of hardness levels.
  4. Ammonia and Nitrite: Keep ammonia and nitrite levels at zero. These substances are toxic to fish and can lead to health problems or even death.
  5. Nitrate: Keep nitrate levels below 20-40 ppm. Regular water changes help control nitrate accumulation.
  6. Aquarium Size: White Cloud Mountain Minnows can do well in small aquariums, but providing them with more space is always beneficial. A 10-gallon (38-liter) tank or larger is suitable for a small group of minnows.
  7. Filtration: Adequate filtration is essential to maintain water quality. A gentle filter is preferable since these fish are not strong swimmers and don’t like strong currents.

Remember to monitor water parameters regularly, especially when setting up a new tank or introducing new fish. Consistent water quality checks and regular maintenance will help keep your White Cloud Mountain Minnows healthy and happy.


Despite the fact that the fish isn’t demanding to the tank decorations, taking into account the fish coloring it looks better in a planted tank with dark bottom substrate. A fine-grained substrate, such as sand or gravel, is suitable for these fish. It allows them to sift through it in search of food while mimicking their natural environment.

It will be good to add some floating plants, tree branches and roots, some leaves into the tank. All of these will let you recreate the natural habitat. Natural driftwood pieces can create a more natural look in the aquarium and provide hiding places for the minnows. Some fish also graze on the microorganisms that grow on driftwood.

There’s no need in strong filtration in the tank, however still it should create some water flow in the tank.


White Cloud Mountain minnows are omnivorous fish that have a relatively diverse diet. Studies of the fish gut contents showed that the species is a micropredator. It feeds on small insects, worms, crustaceans and other kinds of zooplankton. In captivity food may be any aquarium fish feed. Nevertheless, for proper growth and intense coloring the diet should be diversified.

Here’s a list of suitable foods for these minnows:

  1. High-Quality Flakes: A staple in their diet, high-quality tropical fish flakes formulated for omnivorous fish are readily accepted by White Cloud Mountain minnows.
  2. Pellets: Similar to flakes, specialized pellets designed for small tropical fish can be a good dietary option. Look for pellets that sink slowly to ensure all fish get a chance to eat.
  3. Live Foods: These fish enjoy live or frozen foods, such as brine shrimp, daphnia, bloodworms, and small insects. These foods provide essential nutrients and mimic their natural diet.

Remember to provide a balanced diet and avoid overfeeding, as excess food can lead to water quality issues. A varied diet will help ensure that your White Cloud Mountain minnows receive the necessary nutrients for good health and vibrant colors.

Tank mates

It is very peaceful and therefore it is an ideal fish for community tank. White cloud minnow tank mates may be the following species: black skirt tetra, glowlight tetra, betta fish, dwarf gourami, harlequin rasbora.

White cloud minnow are not good tank mates for goldfishes, despite the fact that quite often they are recommended as the fish tank mates. In the wild is a schooling species, that’s why you should buy 8-10 species at once.

Large number of the fish in the school will both decrease stress level of each fish and make observing the fish in the tank more spectaculous. We should mention that male shows its best coloring in a company of the female and rivals.

Here are some suitable tank mates for White Cloud Minnows:

Gender differences: male vs female

It’s challenging to visually distinguish between male and female White Cloud Mountain minnows without close observation or specific breeding behaviors. However, there are some general differences that might help you identify males and females:

  1. Body Shape: Males are often slimmer and more streamlined, especially during the breeding season when they may become slightly more colorful. Females might appear slightly rounder, particularly when carrying eggs.
  2. Coloration: During the breeding season, males may display more intense coloration, with brighter and more vibrant colors, especially in the fins. However, this difference in coloration can be subtle.
  3. Fins: Some hobbyists suggest that males may have slightly more extended dorsal and anal fins compared to females. Again, this can be subtle and is not a foolproof method of identification.
  4. Egg Carrying: Females might show a more pronounced “gravid spot” near the rear vent when they are carrying eggs. This spot is darker and more noticeable when the female is ready to lay eggs.
  5. Behavior: During breeding, males may exhibit more intense courtship behaviors, such as chasing females and displaying to show off their colors. However, these behaviors are temporary and may not always be easy to observe.

The best way to definitively determine the sex of individual fish is to observe them closely during breeding or consult with experienced aquarists who have experience with this particular species. Keep in mind that individual variation exists, and it might not always be possible to differentiate between males and females with certainty based solely on external characteristics.


Breeding White Cloud Mountain minnows can be a rewarding experience. These fish are relatively easy to breed in a well-maintained aquarium. Here’s a basic overview of the breeding process:

1. Separate Breeding Tank: Set up a separate breeding tank (smaller than the main aquarium) with fine-leaved plants like Java moss or spawning mops. Provide gentle filtration to keep the water clean, and add a heater to maintain a stable temperature. Tank water surface should be covered with small leaved plants or with plants having developed root system. In the plants near the tank surface even in small tanks (20-30 l or 5-85 gal) some microorganisms grow, which are the food for juveniles.

2. Condition the Fish: Feed the adult minnows high-quality, protein-rich foods such as live or frozen daphnia, brine shrimp, and quality flake foods for a couple of weeks before breeding. This helps them get into optimal breeding condition.

3. Introduce Males and Females: Add a few females (often more than males) to the breeding tank. The males are usually more colorful and have elongated fins.

4. Courtship and Spawning: White Cloud Minnows are egg scatterers. They do not have a complex mating ritual. The fish may engage in chasing and displaying, with the males trying to impress the females. When the females are ready, they’ll release adhesive eggs among the plants or spawning material. In such conditions female starts to lay about 5-10 eggs on small leaved tank plants and it lasts for 3-4 weeks.

5. Remove Adult Fish: After spawning, it’s essential to remove the adult fish from the breeding tank to prevent them from eating the eggs. You can return them to the main tank.

6. Egg Incubation: The eggs will hatch in a few days, depending on the water temperature. The newly hatched fry will initially feed on their yolk sacs, and then you can start feeding them very fine foods like liquid fry food, infusoria, or commercial fry foods.

7. Gradual Growth: Once juveniles appear in the tank it’s desirable to put some food for them into the tank – rotifers, infusorians. As the fry grow, you can start introducing larger foods like baby brine shrimp and crushed flakes.

8. Maintain Water Quality: Frequent water changes, stable water parameters, and maintaining good water quality are essential for the health and growth of the fry.

Remember that while White Cloud Mountain minnows are relatively easy to breed, there might be variations in their breeding behavior based on the specific conditions in your tank. It’s essential to monitor the process and adjust your approach as needed. Patience and observation are key to successful breeding.