How to Take Care of Minnows in an Aquarium

Besides goldfish, minnows are one of the best aquarium fish for beginners, and with their red fins and shiny arrow-shaped bodies, they look good in any home aquarium.

Both experienced and new aquarium owners love to keep these small-sized freshwater fish because they are inexpensive and thrive on basic care.

Although they are generally peaceful, they may get agitated if the tank is too small or the temperature is too high.

Therefore, getting the fundamental care and aquarium setup right is important, regardless of their low maintenance.

What does it take to properly care for your minnow?

It’s important to get the right aquarium size, set up the tank to mimic their natural habitat, maintain proper water conditions, and choose the correct tank mates.

Can You Keep Minnows in a Fish Tank?

White cloud mountain minnows have been bred for life in the fish tank, and you can keep them as pets because they are resilient and accustomed to home aquarium conditions.

How to Take Care of Minnows in an Aquarium

However, certain freshwater minnows, such as the rosy red, otherwise known as a fathead minnow, are more suitable for a pond.

How Large Should the Tank Be?

A 10-gallon tank is an optimal size for five minnows.

Minnows in an Aquarium

Preferably, that should be a long-shaped tank that mimics the minnow’s natural habitat—streams and rivers.

Adult minnows rarely surpass 1.5 inches, and you’ll not limit their growth with a smaller tank. But they are active fish and need space for swimming.

The size of the tank also depends on additional equipment you can add to the aquarium.

You’ll need more space for these optional components:

When buying the equipment, don’t forget to get the lid. 

A covering for the fish tank prevents fish from jumping out of the aquarium. You can buy one at the pet store or improvise one yourself.

How to Decorate the Fish Tank for Minnows?

Leave the minnows enough space to swim around freely, but add gravel, dark substrate, live plants, and decorative driftwood to form some hiding spaces.

You can decorate with artificial plants, but live plants:

  • Create hiding places for eggs during breeding
  • Keep the tank clean (by preventing algae growth)
  • Mimic the minnow’s natural environment

Pro tip: make sure decorations are safe for the aquarium, i.e., aren’t coated with toxic colors that may get released into the water. Even store-bought substrates can alter water pH.

Purchase safe ornaments from the pet store. If you want to add natural decorations, boil driftwood for at least 20 minutes to get rid of bacteria.

Water Conditions for Minnows

You can put minnows in tap water after treating it with a water conditioner to neutralize chemicals such as ammonia and chlorine.

Even though these hard tap water components are not harmful to humans, they can poison your fish and even burn their sensitive gills.

Refer to this cheat sheet when checking the water perimeters:

Ideal Temperature64–72 °F
Water Hardness2–15 dKH

You won’t need a heater because they are coldwater fish, and their ideal temperature ranges between64–72 °F.

The optimal pH for white cloud mountain minnows is between six and eight. This one is easy to check by using a mechanical or simple litmus paper pH test—available in a pet store.

Universal pH Test Paper Strips pH Test Strips Roll, pH Measure Full Range 0-14,16.4 ft/Roll (2 Rolls)

Mechanical tests are more on the expensive side, but both accurately show if the water is overly acidic. Litmus strips change color to show the pH.

Also, make sure that the oxygen levels are high. Cool water does generally hold more oxygen, but getting an oxygen pump ensures there’s always enough oxygen in the water.

If your minnows are swimming near the top, that indicates a lack of oxygen in the tank.

How Often Should You Change Their Water?

Change 25% of their water every two weeks to prevent parasites and bacterial infections.

Unlike goldfish that produce a lot of waste, minnows will not pollute the tank as much.

Using a water filter and adding live plants to the tank will decrease the cleaning frequency.

Clean the filter once a month, as well as the entire fish tank, and you’ll have happy minnows in your tank.

What Can You Feed Your Minnows?

Besides commercial fish food, flakes, pellets, frozen cyclops plankton, and even catfish food, you can also feed them various small-sized fruits and vegetables.

In the wild, minnows are omnivores that will eat everything they find—insect larvae, plants, fish eggs, and algae.

In aquariums, they still munch on everything—even the algae built up on the walls of the tank.

Therefore, minnows tend to overeat, and their owners have to be cautious not to overfeed them.

Feeding them a small amount of food 2–3 times a day is sufficient for their needs, but be careful with the portions. Every school is different and you’ll have to start small.

If there is still food floating on the surface five minutes after you feed them, you’re giving them too much.

Less than two minutes have passed and the food is gone? They need more.

What Are the Best Tank Mates for Minnows?

These are great tank mates for your minnows:

  • Other minnows
  • Mollies
  • Neon tetras
  • Barbs

White cloud mountain minnows love company. Some minnows become timid and lose color if kept alone.

They’re adapted for life in the community so well that they developed a unique ability to send off and recognize the smell of an injured minnow, which warns them to flee from predators.

Considering that minnows are inexpensive, most people get an entire school for an aquarium right away.

Pair them with fish that:

  • Are similar in size
  • Require similar living conditions
  • Aren’t aggressive

It’s also okay to keep male and female minnows together. But keep in mind that they breed easily and you’ll have additions to your school in no time.

Is Something Wrong With Your Minnows?

Keeping your minnows healthy has a lot to do with the proper size of the tank, water quality, and meeting their dietary needs.

If you do not meet their needs, you might notice signs that the minnows are sick:

  • Refusing to eat
  • Bloating of their abdomen
  • Slowing down in the tank
  • Separating from the group

Observe these symptoms with their age in mind. Older minnows will slow down and be less excited about feeding time.

Also, does the same behavior affect the entire school or only some fish in the tank? In case all fish show similar symptoms, check the water parameters.

Nowadays, more and more vets specialize in small ornamental fish. If you notice some of these signs, contact a fish vet near you.

If you have a hard time discerning normal and odd behavior, here’s a little help.

Regular minnow behavior includes:

  • Swimming in the middle of the tank in shoals
  • Flaring fins (mating behavior)
  • Chasing each other (breeding behavior)

Why Should You Get a White Cloud Mountain Minnow?

With minimum care feeding and cleaning-wise, you’ll have peaceful and healthy minnows that will live up to 7 years.

They are inexpensive and require fewer gallons of water per fish.

Considering they aren’t large polluters, their tanks require less maintenance, especially if you buy a water filter and live plants to keep it clean.

They love the shoal life and thrive in communities, and watching them swim in groups is relaxing.

Since breeding them is as easy as putting males and females in the same tank, you’ll have multiple generations of minnows as well.

For those who have had little luck with keeping their previous fish or seek undemanding ones as first-time fish pet owners, hardy White Cloud Mountain minnows are just the right fit.

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