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White Cloud Mountain Minnows (Tanichthys albonubes): Complete Care Guides, Tank Mates, FAQs

White Cloud Mountain Minnows

White Cloud Mountain Minnows, scientifically known as Tanichthys albonubes, are captivating freshwater fish native to China. These shimmering beauties belong to the carp family, Cyprinidae, and are members of the Cypriniformes order. Their silver-green hue, complemented by a vibrant red caudal and dorsal fin, makes them a favorite among aquarium enthusiasts.

The rarity of these minnows gives their story a compelling bittersweet twist. Thought to be extinct in their natural habitat as a result of pollution and tourism, they astoundingly staged a remarkable comeback after a population was discovered on Hainan Island. However, the White Cloud Mountain Minnows are still considered nearly extinct in the wild, making them a precious gem in the fishkeeping world.

Variety is the spice of life, and these minnows don’t disappoint. There are various domesticated varieties available, such as those featuring vibrant light edges on their fins, a captivating golden cultivar, and a mesmerizing rosy pink kind that displays a striking hue of red on all fins. Each variant has its own charm, adding a splash of color and life to any aquarium.

In terms of habitat, these fish are top or mid-level swimmers, rarely venturing to the bottom of their aquatic homes. They’re opportunistic omnivores, feasting on a mix of sea grasses, insect larvae, and even fruits in certain conditions. Their peaceful and sociable nature makes them ideal tank mates for other non-aggressive fish.

Some quick stats for the curious mind: they grow to a length of about 4 cm and can live for five years or more. They thrive in temperatures ranging from 18 to 22 °C but can survive in waters as cold as 5 °C.

A couple of intriguing tidbits about these minnows include their nickname, the “Poor Man’s Neon Tetra,” from the 1940s and 1950s due to their affordability. Equally fascinating is their discovery story, which took place in the 1930s at White Cloud Mountain in China. It was there that a Boy Scout leader named Tan stumbled upon them, ultimately inspiring their generic name, Tanichthys.

In conclusion, White Cloud Mountain Minnows are not just another fish in the sea. They’re a testament to nature’s resilience, beauty, and mystery. Whether you’re an aquarium novice or a seasoned expert, these minnows are sure to bring joy and wonder to your aquatic adventures.

White Cloud Mountain Minnows

Key Information

FamilyCyprinidae (Carp family)
PriceVaries based on location and availability, generally affordable
Common NamesWhite Cloud, White Cloud Mountain Fish, White Cloud Minnow
VariantsGolden cultivar, rosy pink variety, bright light edges, red edges
Ideal Tank SizeMinimum of 10 gallons
Water ParametersTemperature: 18–22 °C, pH: 6.0-8.0, Hardness: 5-19 dH
LifespanUp to 5 years or longer
Full SizeApproximately 4 cm (1.5 inches)
Natural EnvironmentFreshwater streams in China
BehaviorPeaceful, shoaling fish
Habitat PreferenceTop or mid-level swimmers
Aquarium DecorationPlants, rocks, and driftwood for hiding and mimicking natural environment
Ideal Tank MatesOther non-aggressive, similarly sized fish
Fish to AvoidLarger, aggressive species that might prey on them
Best Foods/DietSea grasses, insect larvae, commercial flake or pellet food
DiseaseVulnerable to common fish diseases; genetically weak stock due to inbreeding can be more susceptible
Sex-SwitchNot applicable for this species
Gender DifferencesMales have brighter colors, slimmer bodies, and fan-shaped fins; females have triangular, wedge-shaped fins
Care LevelEasy; suitable for beginners
Breeding LevelEasy; recommended for novice breeders

Ideal Tank Mates

White Cloud Mountain Minnows are peaceful and sociable fish, making them compatible with a variety of tank mates. When selecting tank mates for these minnows, it’s essential to choose species that share similar temperaments and water parameter requirements. Aggressive or overly large fish can stress or even prey on the White Clouds, so it’s crucial to make thoughtful choices. Here’s a detailed look at ten ideal tank mates for White Cloud Mountain Minnows:

  1. Neon Tetras (Paracheirodon innesi)
    These small, brightly colored fish are peaceful and thrive in similar water conditions as White Clouds. Their vibrant blue and red stripes make them a visually appealing companion.
  2. Harlequin Rasboras (Trigonostigma heteromorpha)
    Known for their distinctive orange bodies with a black triangular patch, these fish are peaceful and prefer to swim in schools, making them a great match for White Clouds.
  3. Guppies (Poecilia reticulata)
    These livebearers are popular in the aquarium hobby due to their vibrant colors and patterns. They are peaceful and can coexist harmoniously with White Clouds.
  4. Cherry Barbs (Puntius titteya)
    With their bright red coloration, Cherry Barbs are not only attractive but also peaceful. They thrive in community tanks and get along well with White Clouds.
  5. Corydoras Catfish
    These bottom-dwelling fish are peaceful scavengers. They help keep the tank clean by consuming leftover food and are non-aggressive towards other tank inhabitants.
  6. Danios (e.g., Zebra Danio)
    Active swimmers, Danios are hardy and can adapt to a range of water conditions. Their peaceful nature makes them suitable companions for White Clouds.
  7. Platies (Xiphophorus maculatus)
    These colorful livebearers are peaceful and easy to care for. Their calm demeanor makes them a good match for White Cloud Mountain Minnows.
  8. Bristlenose Plecos (Ancistrus spp.)
    A smaller species of plecostomus, they are efficient algae eaters and are non-aggressive, making them suitable for community tanks with White Clouds.
  9. Endler’s Livebearers (Poecilia wingei)
    Similar to guppies but smaller, Endler’s are vibrant and active. They are peaceful and can coexist well with White Clouds.
  10. Otocinclus Catfish
    These are small, algae-eating catfish that are peaceful and thrive in community tanks. They are often seen clinging to the sides of the tank or on plant leaves, cleaning algae.


Can they coexist with shrimp or snails?

Yes, White Cloud Mountain Minnows can coexist peacefully with most freshwater shrimp and snails, making them suitable for diverse community tanks.

What are the signs of a healthy White Cloud Mountain Minnow?

A healthy minnow will have vibrant colors, clear eyes, and an active swimming pattern. They should also have a good appetite and show no signs of physical abnormalities or injuries.

How do I acclimate them to a new tank?

When introducing White Cloud Mountain Minnows to a new tank, it’s essential to acclimate them slowly. This can be done by floating the bag they came in on the tank’s surface for about 30 minutes, then gradually adding small amounts of tank water to the bag over another 30 minutes before releasing them.

Do they have any specific lighting requirements?

While they don’t have strict lighting requirements, a moderate level of lighting that mimics a natural day-night cycle is ideal. This not only showcases their colors but also supports any live plants in the tank.

How do I ensure their environment is stress-free?

Provide them with a stable environment, including consistent water parameters, plenty of hiding spots, and a peaceful tank community. Avoid sudden changes in temperature or water conditions and minimize loud noises or disturbances around the tank.

Can they be kept in outdoor ponds?

Yes, they can be kept in outdoor ponds, especially in temperate climates. However, ensure the pond doesn’t freeze in winter and that there are no predators that might harm them.

What are the signs of stress or illness in White Cloud Mountain Minnows?

Signs of stress or illness include faded colors, lethargy, loss of appetite, erratic swimming, clamped fins, or visible spots/lesions on their body.

How do I treat sick White Cloud Mountain Minnows?

First, identify the cause or type of illness. Quarantine the sick fish to prevent the spread of disease. Depending on the ailment, treatments can range from adjusting water parameters, using specific medications, or consulting with an aquatic veterinarian.

Are there any specific plants they prefer in their habitat?

While they don’t have strict plant preferences, they do enjoy plants like Java Moss, Anubias, and Water Sprite, which provide good cover and mimic their natural environment.

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A long-time freshwater fish enthusiast with a passion for sharing knowledge about this fascinating hobby. Over the years, Michelle has dedicated countless hours to studying, learning, and experiencing firsthand the joys and challenges of fish-keeping.

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