White Cloud Mountain minnow

The White Cloud Mountain minnow (Tanichthys albonubes) is a very hardy species of freshwater aquarium fish. It is a member of the carp family (family Cyprinidae) of order Cypriniformes, native to China and Vietnam.

The species was discovered at White Cloud Mountain in GuÇŽngdōng in the 1930s by a Boy Scout leader called Tan””hence the generic name Tanichthys (“Tan’s fish”). The specific name albonubes is from the Latin alba nubes (white cloud).

This species grows to approximately 1.5 in (roughly 4 cm) in overall length, and is silver-green in color with a bright red caudal fin. Several varieties are known, one with bright light edges to the dorsal and anal fins and one with red edges to those fins. In addition, there is a long-finned variety. Sexual dimorphism is slight, the male generally possessing more brilliant coloration and having a slightly slimmer body.

The fish are sold in the aquarium trade under a variety of similar names, including White Cloud, White Cloud Mountain fish, White Cloud minnow, etc. The names Canton or China Danio (although it is not actually a Danio, scientifically speaking) and Cardinal fish are also encountered.

In the aquarium

White Cloud Mountain minnows are considered good fish for beginners, as they are extremely forgiving with regard to aquarium temperature or water quality, and make an ideal “starter fish” for cycling a new aquarium. They are schooling fish, and feel most comfortable in a shoal of at least five minnows. An individual one of these minnows kept alone may become timid and lose its bright color. Generally, White Cloud Mountain minnows are peaceful and happy to coexist with other fish, as long as they are not put in a tank with larger fish that may eat them. The minnows are usually top or middle-level swimmers and rarely swim close to the bottom of a tank.

While normal temperature range of the species in the wild is 64″“72 °F (18″“26 °C), it can survive water temperatures down to 41°F (5°C); this makes it an ideal fish for keeping in an unheated aquarium in cold climates.

In earlier times (the 1940s and 1950s) White Cloud Mountain minnows, as aquarium fish, had been nicknamed the “Poor Man’s Neon” or “Working Man’s Neon” because back then, they were more affordable in price than the more colorful Neon Tetras.

There are two variants currently in common cultivation; the “Golden Cloud” and the longer-finned “Meteor Minnow”. The Golden Cloud is a relatively new variety as compared to the Meteor Minnow. The Meteor Minnow first made its appearance in the 1950s and the Golden Cloud in the 1990s. Breeding between the two varieties has recently resulted in another attractive fish, the “Golden Meteor Minnow”


The White Cloud Mountain minnow is easy to breed and is recommended for novice breeders. It may be conditioned for breeding with live foods such as brine shrimp and daphnia. White Clouds are egg-scatterers, dropping their eggs freely amongst the vegetation, but may cannibalize their offspring.