White Clouds are a unique fish. Although sold next to (and indeed physically similar to) the tropical tetras, they are actually a type of minnow able to withstand cold temperatures. Their docile nature and unique adaptability make them a great fish to keep in captivity.
This caresheet was written by the lovely Scalestails, Tumblr’s favorite pet expert!
|Tank size||15 gal (57L)|
|Temperature||60-72°F (15-22 °C)|
Name: White Cloud Mountain Minnow (Tanichthys albonubes)
White Cloud Mountain Minnow lifespan: 4-5 years
White Cloud Mountain Minnow diet: Micropredators feeding on small aquatic invertebrates. They will readily accept flakes, crisps, frozen foods (bloodworms, brine shrimp, daphnia, etc.) and freeze dried foods. You can also consider live foods like brine shrimp, which you can hatch yourself.
White Cloud Mountain Minnow appearance: Typical torpedo shaped body. They have a a shine of iridescence running along their lateral line. Males have a splash of red on their slightly larger and rounder dorsal and caudal fins, and a bit on their mouth as well.
Sexing White Cloud Mountain Minnows: Females are slightly larger than males, lack the red coloration, and have rounder torsos. Males have that nicer coloration and can be seen displaying and sparring with other males.
White Cloud Mountain Minnow aggression Level and Social Characteristics: These fish are very docile when kept correctly, making them excellent for keeping with other long finned fishes. However, they truly thrive in a colder environment. They will not bother any bottom feeder, algae eater, invertebrate (unless they are shrimplets), or community fish. They can be eaten or bullied by larger more aggressive fish so they shouldn’t be readily mixed with South American cichlids, African cichlids, and large semi aggressive fish like Congo tetras.
They are decidedly schooling fish, males displaying to females by opening their colorful fins. They may display to other males and occasionally “fight”, rarely resulting in injuries. A group of 8 or more is required.
The best tank mates are others sharing the same waters. This includes Odessa barbs, Rosy barbs, Golden barbs, and Paradise fish (M. opercularis).
Tank Region: Middle
Maintenance Level: Low, these fish are tolerant of a huge range of water qualities and temperatures.
Reproductive Method and White Cloud Mountain Minnow Breeding: Egg scatterers, breeding comes easily to healthy specimens.
- To breed, get a school of 8-10 in a “conditioning” tank. This is the tank you will prepare the breeders in. You will feed them heavily, keep the tank clean and slightly warmer than usual. A 15 gallon (57L) works fine.
- Make sure you have a good amount of females (at least half of the school). Females are slightly rounder than males, and males have that red to their dorsal and caudal fin. (see above for sexing).
- Feed them high quality foods 3-5 times a day and raise the temperature to 72F (22 °C). As the conditions change, so should the fish. Females should swell with eggs. Once they do, put her and two males in the “breeding” tank.
- The breeding tank is a 5-10gal (18-38L) with a special substrate. A common method is to use ~2” (5 cm) of glass marbles or low plants like pygmy chain sword. Just something for the eggs to fall into so the parents can’t get to them and eat them. Fill the tank only about an inch above the substrate, you’ll want it very shallow. Add a small air stone.
- Add an egg heavy female and two males. By morning, they should have bred. If they don’t do a small water change every day until they do. Take the parents out and fill the tank with more water (doesn’t have to be all the way.)
In 48-60 hours the eggs will hatch and the fry will become free swimming. They are too small for conventional foods so they need to be fed infusoria when first hatched. The simplest way to supply this is by adding live plants, the infusoria should show up after a few days. However, it will be important to make sure there is some in the tank so buying some before hand is probably what you’ll have to do. As they get older feed them microworms, then baby brine shrimp, then daphnia, then brine shrimp/bloodworms/etc. and eventually flakes.
White Cloud Mountain Minnow Tank Set Up and Minimum Tank Size: These fish give us the unique chance to set up a small unheated tank. The most common fish that can go in unheated tanks are goldfish. However, their large waste output and adult size make them impossible to keep in small tanks! The minimum tank size for a school of white clouds is 15 gallons (57 L).
If you want to mimic their wild environment, think of this: A long shallow tank with a moderate water flow. A mix of sand and smooth pebbles for substrate, preferably grey-black. Large water worn (smooth) stones as your main decor, possibly a few pieces of driftwood. Plants should be “sparse” and able to withstand lower temperatures. However, they are such adaptable fish that they do perfectly well in normal aquariums. Still, a dark substrate brings out their color and dense vegetation provides them with much needed cover.
Distribution: Previously all around Mount Baiyun, north of Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China. However, because their native waters became polluted it was thought extinct until 2001. In 2007 an additional population was found on Hainan Island, a large island south of China and east of Vietnam. It is found at higher elevations in cool waters.
Conclusion: These small bright fish are perfect for indoor tanks or outdoor ponds (that are properly secured!). They can be quite efficient mosquito control. However, special care should be taken so that they do not enter native waterways. They are an underrated fish, with interesting behavior to observe and in my opinion attractive colors and finnage.
Note from Mari: Thank you so much for this wonderful caresheet, Scalestails! I, too, would definitely recommend these lovely little fish to anyone who is interested in an unheated aquarium. Their display behavior is very interesting to see and their natural habitat is easy to imitate.
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