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Robyn's White Cloud Mountain Minnow Page

Last Updated: 2/19/14

White cloud mountain minnows in my 50 gallon tank on 7/17/01.

Quick Information
Description and Varieties
Setup and Water Preferences
Sexing
Breeding
My White Clouds and Photos
Links and Pictures

NOTE: This page was altered due to computer glitches somewhere between 9/25/01 and 4/29/02. I just found out that the bottom half of this page was replaced with snail information from my snail page, and a large hunk was missing. This was the case on-line as well, and no one bothered to tell me!! The most recent back up I could find was from 9/25/01 so there is a year of information that is missing. If anyone happened to print out my page during the missing time, please let me know so I can add back the changes and additions I have made. Thanks.

Quick Information

Common name: White cloud mountain minnow, white cloud, meteor minnow (one longfinned strain)
Scientific/Latin name: Tanichthys albonubes
Maximum length: 1 to 1.5 inches
Colors: brown, green, yellow, red, neon blue, and black
Temperature preference: 65 to 75 degrees F, can withstand 50 to 90 degrees F for short periods
pH preference: 6 to 7
Hardness preference: Soft
Salinity preference: Low to 1 Tablespoon per 10 to 30 gallons
Compatibility: Excellent with each other and all other species that I have kept; males may fight a little with each other
Life span: 3 to 10 years
Ease of keeping: Easy
Ease of breeding: Easy

Description and Varieties

Close-up of a white cloud in my 50 gallon tank in April of 2003.

Tanichthys albonubes, or the white cloud mountain minnow, is a great fish. The picture above looks like a white cloud. White clouds are very docile, small, cooler water fish. They grow to 1- 1.5 inches long and need a few gallons per fish. They are a melange of brown, green, yellow, red, neon blue, and black. Their red can be particularly striking on their lips and caudal fins. White clouds are native to streams in Southern China where they are now thought to be extinct. They live for 3-10 years. I had a pair that I bought in August, 1995. The female was still active and breeding until her death in 2000. The male developed cataracts before his death in 1999. The female always looked like she is ready to burst with eggs. A rare long-finned version of the white cloud is absolutely gorgeous. One strain is called the meteor minnow. I bought a male meteor minnow but he died in quarantine. Of course, the store had sold out by then. Meteor minnows may also be called red rocket minnows. Annette alerted me to a new variety of white clouds called "gold clouds." She says they are gold to light orange with red fins and red eyes. I finally saw some on 12/8/02 at my local fish store. I did not buy any because, to me, they just looked like sick, washed out regular white clouds. Half of them also had bent spines (possible tuberculosis or genetic problems). I am sure that properly cared for though, they must be beauties.

A report issued in the summer of 1999 indicated that white cloud mountain minnows were extinct in their native habitat in China. A copy of this report could be found at this site but may be removed at any time.

Because they are semi-hardy, white cloud mountain minnows may be banned in some of the warmer states in the USA. If anyone has a list for me to include here, let me know.

Here is one site selling meteor minnows so you can see what they look like: meteor minnows.

Live Aquaria sells golden (albino) white clouds and longfin white clouds (meteor minnows). Click on the photos below for more information.

Setup and Water Preferences

Be sure that you have at least a male and female with more fish being better. They prefer to school and also breed better in larger groups. These are also slightly acid, soft water fish. White clouds do best between about 60 and 75 degrees but can take about 10 degrees cooler or hotter for short periods of time. Thus, like most of the fish on my webpages, they can live in unheated tanks and even ponds during the warm months or in warm climates. Give them lots of plants to hide around. They also sleep suspended in the plants. They eat most anything. Baby brine shrimp are a favorite food throughout life.

Gary informed me on 3/19/05, that he had white cloud mountain minnows overwinter in his pond in Southampton, New York. I am a little too chicken to test this idea out on my ponds. I worry they would not survive. No one else has told me that they have (if they have in your pond, let me know!) but others have told me that they did not.

Sexing

The male is thinner and more brightly colored. His red is much more intense. The female has a full abdomen, looking like she ate too much. Males will display against other males and to females by erecting their fins and wiggling. A displaying white cloud mountain minnow male is one of the most gorgeous views of a fish in my opinion. Len has e-mailed me that his female white clouds actually display against each other as well. I have not seen my females doing so. Stressed white clouds lose their intense colors and become "washed-out." See the section on washed out fish for more information. White clouds reach sexual maturity, can be sexed, and breed anywhere from 6 to 12 months of age. They reach 0.5 inches at about 3 months of age in my tanks. White clouds continue to increase in size until about a year old (~1 inch long) at which time their growth slows but they continue to slowly get larger throughout their lives.

Breeding

Place either a mature pair or a few males and 4-6 females that are young together in a five gallon tank with plants, java moss, or "spawning mops." The latter mix in a quarantine tank yielded an unexpected brood of hundreds from fish from parents that I thought too young to breed. The water should be between pH 6.5 and 7.5, slightly soft, and near 68-75 degrees F.

The male(s) will flash their fins and do a dance to attract females. You can see a photo of a male displaying at this site (you will have to search the site). As the male sticks out his fins and puts on his best colors, other white clouds will come to investigate. Other males will display alongside him (head to tail) to compare themselves and occasionally take a passing nip at each other. If a female comes up and sees what she likes, he will lead her into some soft vegetation. Then, they will spawn against plants. I witnessed my two year old pair spawning deep in java moss on 9/23/97. Usually, there are only a few dozen eggs but sometimes hundreds. Remove the parents (optional). The eggs hatch in about two days. After a few days more once fry are free-swimming (up to a week from egg laying), feed small microorganisms like infusuria (paramecium, etc.), liquifry, and soon after, baby brine shrimp.

White clouds, unlike most other fish, do not eat their eggs and fry with relish. They will eat some but in tanks with just white clouds, some fry should reach adulthood. Thus, you do not have to remove the parents. Fry have extraordinary blue eyes and a blue stripe on their side, resembling neon tetras. They used to be called the poor man's neon tetra but now they usually cost more! Once the fry can take brine shrimp, they are very easy to care for. In the summer of 1998, I placed some eggs in my 50 gallon pond. By October, I retrieved eight survivors to bring inside to join their nine possible parents.

By December 1998, I had 17 white clouds in my 20 gallon tank. I noticed that in these larger numbers, males will compete more. A few of the males have slightly tattered fins from fighting. This was never the case when I only had a few white clouds together. None of the injuries are serious but be aware that males may tear each other slightly.

For more information on how to care for fry, visit my breeding and fry care page.

My White Clouds and Photos

One of my male white cloud mountain minnows in my 20 gallon tank on 4/22/01.

Update 9/24/05: I am pretty sure that there are no white clouds left in my 50 gallon tank. They appear to have all died (and never been found for many of them). The information below is thus incorrect and out-of-date.

I have at most 20 White Cloud Mountain Minnows (13 female, 6 male, 1 grown-up baby) in my 50 gallon tank. Moved from the 20 gallon tank on 6/16/01 were 5 females and 9 males. Moved from the basement were 11 females and 4 males on 5/17/01. They were properly sexed during the moves. After the move, on 7/17/01, a small male white cloud was found dead. A female died on 7/23/01 as well and a male on 7/24/01. Four more males (?) died on 11/29/01, 10/26/02, 12/14/02, and 1/8/03. One of unknown sex (degraded) guessed to be female died on 7/24/04. A female (?) was removed on 11/29/04. On looking at the tank on 9/23/01, I discovered a baby swimming around. Not a newborn, this was a month-old baby that was large enough that I know he/she will make it to adulthood! This had only happened a few times before that a baby made it on its own so it was a surprise. What follows is a convoluted attempt at their histories and relationships as it relates to the 20 gallon tank and basement and outdoor ponds from whence they came.

There were four fish born May 2000 in the 20 gallon tank plus a baby fish born on 1/13/01 (turned into a female) that survived. Tons of newborn fry are always present in 2000. Truthfully, I am losing count! Two of my adult white clouds vanished sometime in late Fall 2000, and an adult male died on 2/24/01. Another adult male died of tuberculosis on 5/2/01.

My first pair I bought on 8/10/95 when they were full grown. They were noticeably larger than the other fish. The female was very fat, and the male had eye problems and died on 3/16/99 at the age of more than four. The old female died on 7/22/00 at over five years old. In July, 1997, I bought a bunch more white clouds. Many died in quarantine. Three females and two males survived and thrived. Two of those females later died on 7/4/99 and 7/29/00 (see below for those dates). Two of the offspring from the previous fish were raised in early 1998. I believe they turned into males. Eight more of the above fishes' young were raised in the 50 gallon pond over the summer of 1998 and later in a 5 gallon tank for the fall. These four females and four males were moved into the 20 gallon in Fall 1998 to join the others. One of the females died on 7/4/99 after much detritus was stirred up during the tank's weekly cleaning on 7/3/99 (hydrogen sulfide poisoning?). Another female died on 12/29/99 from fish tuberculosis. A female with a kinked spine died on 7/29/00.

A baby was raised in the 5 gallon tank during the early months of 1999 and released on 5/15/99 to join his or her parents. On 6/3/99, a decomposed white cloud was found, and it is unknown which fish it was that died or even the sex. The baby released on 5/15/99 vanished about a month later. It is assumed that despite its size (~1/2 inch), it was eaten or sucked into the filter. In my 20 gallon tank, a baby born in early 8/99 managed to grow up. As of 10/8/99, he was doing well and made it past the "don't eat me or suck me into the filter" stage. By early 2000, this baby was sexable as a male. This was the first baby white cloud to have been born in my aquarium and grow up in the same aquarium with no protection from its parents or the other animals in the tank (in this case, only a female fathead minnow of advanced age and a few rainbow shrimp). Another white cloud born in mid-March of 2000 made it from newborn to adolescent and was noticeably a female by June of 2000. Four more babies made it beyond the get-eaten stage that were born in May of 2000. Tons of newborns are always present. Whereas all were eaten in the past, now some are maturing safely on their own. I am overrun with white clouds! They never let their babies grow up before and now they keep coming! Two adult white clouds vanished (no bodies, I do not know which fish they were) in the fall of 2000. I should have 17 white clouds in the 20 gallon tank but only count 15. An adult male died on 2/24/01 so as of 2/28/01, there are 14 white clouds in my 20 gallon tank.

I tossed a few white cloud fry in one of my tub ponds during the summer of 1999, and began moving them into my 20 gallon indoor-for-the-winter pond. By 10/20/99, I caught nine large fry (almost mature) and two smaller fry for the basement pond. One large fry jumped out and dried up on the cement floor on 10/18/99. Two more were found dried up on 11/13/99. I covered the area they seemed to jump from with some hardware cloth ("rabbit wire"). On 4/29/00, seven surviving adults and seven of their babies were moved outside to the new 50 gallon lotus tub pond for the summer of 2000. By 11/27/00, 9 babies and 8 adults had been retrieved to spend the winter indoors in the 20 gallon tub pond. They are fast!

After my goldfish in my 50 gallon tank all died, I disinfected it and reset it up. The white clouds in the basement were moved there on 5/17/01. Of the 9 babies and 8 adults put in 6 months earlier, there were 2 adult males, 6 adult females, 2 younger males, and 5 younger females for a total of 15 fish. Two must have died and been eaten by the fish and tadpoles in the pond. These 15 white clouds love their "new" 50 gallon tank! The 14 white clouds (5 female, 9 male) from the 20 gallon tank (their parents, aunts, uncles, and younger siblings) joined them on 6/16/01.

On 1/13/01, I put a few white cloud fry in with some danio fry in a net breeder in my 40 gallon tank. One white cloud fry survived to be released with his/her parents on 3/10/01. So, it took two months for the baby to be large enough to not be eaten (although the adults did chase the baby somewhat at first.).

On 7/17/01, a small, male white cloud died in the 50 gallon tank. On 7/23/01, a female white cloud died as well. Her tuberculosis tumors ruptured her body wall. It looks like white cheese coming out. The next day, a male white cloud died as well. It is unusual for me to lose so many at one time.

A male white cloud was many years old and had trouble swimming. Then, he got tangled in a pile of hair algae, and I thought he died on 11/21/01 but he recovered a little. In fact, he died around 11/29/01.

A small, old, male white cloud was removed dead on 10/26/02. He seemed to have wasted away which could be due to old age and/or tuberculosis. Another tiny, perhaps male, white cloud was removed on 12/14/02. Yet another tiny, emaciated white cloud died on 1/8/03 perhaps from old age. The white clouds are no longer self-replicating since the rosy barbs moved in and now are dying from old age as well as tuberculosis. I am sad. :-(

A male missing an eye and with a bent spine but no obvious tumors or injuries was found dead on 8/16/03.

It has been a while since I found a dead white cloud (although some may have died and never been found before degradation). I removed one on 7/24/04 that had been dead for a few days.

On 11/27/04, a white cloud was sucked into the Python. I only noticed later due to a slow flow and freed her (not sure if female). I thought the fish was dead but she then started to breathe. I found her dead on 11/29/04 and removed her. While it says above that I could have 20, 21, or 22 white clouds or whatever, that was at their peak. Many have died, never to be found. There are probably only about six white clouds or so left in my 50 gallon tank.

On 4/23/05, I found a decomposing white cloud in my 50 gallon tank. As of 9/24/05, I do not see any white clouds left.

For more information on the 50 gallon tank where my 22 white clouds thrived and their former 20 gallon home, visit my tank descriptions page. For more information on my 20 gallon indoor pond and 50 gallon lotus tub pond, visit my pond descriptions page.

Photos of my white clouds:

Here are three photos taken in April of 2003 with white clouds in them (the first two have LOTS of rosy barbs but few white clouds: 4 white clouds, 2 white clouds, and 2 white clouds close-up.
White clouds in 50 gallon tank on 7/14/01.
Male white cloud in 20 gallon tank on 4/22/01.
White clouds in 20 gallon tank on 1/16/00. The sexes are marked. I know it is not in focus but I have a lousy camera.

Links and Pictures

These links were last checked on 2/9/06.

White Clouds - information on white cloud mountain minnows and a nice photo of a beautiful displaying male white cloud mountain minnow; you will have to search the site.

White Cloud Mt. Minnows - Greater Seattle Aquarium Society information on white clouds.

White Cloud Mountain Minnows - breeding white clouds. This is an archived version as the original is gone.

White Clouds - used to have breeding information but all I see is a photo of a pair of longfins spawning that looks like it came from a book (it looks familiar). This is an archived version as the original site is gone.

White Cloud Mountain Minnows - photo of a regular one and a semi-albino and a tiny bit of information.

Wikipedia page on white clouds

There are photos of my white clouds above under "photos of my white clouds."

Photos of Other People's White Cloud Mountain Minnows:

On 6/27/08 and 6/28/08, John sent these photos of his white cloud mountain minnows.
A white cloud mountain minnow
About 8 white cloud mountain minnows

On 5/10/08, Mary sent these photos of her long fin white cloud mountain minnows.
A male longfin white cloud mountain minnow
About six longfin white cloud mountain minnows


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