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Care Guide for White Cloud Mountain Minnows – Underrated Beginner Fish

When beginners start their first aquarium, many of them choose popular fish like fancy guppies and neon tetras that can sometimes come with unexpected health issues. If you come to our retail store, we might steer you towards one of our favorite beginner fish – the white cloud mountain minnow (WCMM). The “poor man’s neon tetra” is one of our best-selling species because they are so easy to care for, always lively, and capable of breeding without a lot of work. In fact, our CEO Cory McElroy used to run the “White Cloud Race” to see who could breed the most minnows in outdoor ponds each year. Whether you’ve been keeping fish for one month or 50 years, find out why everyone loves this underrated fish.

What is a White Cloud Mountain Minnow?

Tanichthys albonubes gets its common name from White Cloud Mountain in southern China where it was first discovered. This 1.5-inch (4 cm) minnow has a darker body with a white horizontal stripe and reddish fins. In nature, it feeds on plankton and insect larvae in slow-moving streams filled with thick aquatic plant growth. The species is endangered in the wild, so the white clouds sold in stores are all bred in captivity.

Regular or wild type white cloud mountain minnow

Regular or wild type white cloud mountain minnow

What are the different types of white cloud fish? The most common variations include regular type, gold, and long fin. Your fish store may also sell the Vietnamese white cloud or Vietnamese cardinal minnow (Tanichthys micagemmae), which is a different species but looks similar to the WCMM.

How to Set Up an Aquarium for White Cloud Minnows

White clouds are extremely hardy and can live in a wide range of pH from 6.5-8.5 and temperatures from 65-77°F (18-25°C). They may get stressed if the water gets too warm but can readily live in a fish tank with no heater. In Washington state, we have even overwintered them outside in ponds covered with 2 inches (5 cm) of ice.

How many white cloud minnows should I get? As a schooling fish, they feel most comfortable if you get a group of at least six and keep them in a 10-gallon tank or larger. Fortunately, white clouds are pretty inexpensive, so buying a huge group of them won't break the bank.

Are white cloud mountain minnows aggressive? Not usually. If you see them “sparring” with each other, this is normal breeding behavior where the males show off their finnage and hope to attract the females. Increasing the size of the school and adding aquarium plants to block line of sight can help minimize any squabbling.

Gold white cloud minnows in a community tank

Gold white cloud minnows in a community tank

What fish can you put with white cloud minnows? They get along with peaceful community fish that are similarly sized and live in similar conditions. Consider pairing them with other species that enjoy cooler waters, such as shrimp, danios, and smaller killifish. See our top 10 list of coldwater fish for more ideas.

What do White Cloud Mountain Minnows Eat?

WCMMs are happy to eat almost any fish food that is small enough to fit in their mouths. We feed them flakes, nano pellets, and Easy Fry and Small Fish Food. They also enjoy small frozen foods, such as daphnia, cyclops, and baby brine shrimp. If you really want to spoil them, give them live micro worms and baby brine shrimp. The main thing is to offer a variety of foods so they get all the essential nutrients needed to live long and healthy lives.

Long fin white cloud mountain minnow in a planted aquarium

Long fin white cloud mountain minnow in a planted aquarium

How to Breed White Cloud Mountain Minnows

These minnows are very easy to breed as long as you have at least one male and one female. Sexing white clouds can be a bit tricky, but generally, males are more colorful and females are slightly bigger. All you have to do is provide clean water and good food, and they will continually spawn all throughout the spring to fall breeding season. The adults do not tend to predate on their own babies, but you can increase their survival rate by providing plenty of cover and dense plants, like water sprite and water wisteria. You can also make a DIY spawning mop out of yarn for them to lay their eggs on and then remove the eggs to put in a separate grow-out tank. Raise the newborn fry with tiny foods like infusoria and powdered food, and then graduate them to baby brine shrimp when they are big enough. To get your own school of white cloud mountain minnows, check out our list of recommended fish retailers.

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