White Cloud Mountain Minnow Fish Species Profile

Characteristics, Origin, and Helpful Information for Hobbyists

White cloud mountain minnow fish with gray scales and orange fins closeup

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

White cloud mountain minnows are small, colorful fish, once termed "the working man's neon" because they compared to neon tetras in color but were not as expensive. For over a half-century the white cloud mountain minnow (Tanichthys albonubes) was the only species in the genus. However, in 2001, two additional species found in Vietnam were recognized; Tanichthys micagemmae and Tanichthys thacbaensis. Of those two, only Tanichthys micagemmae (Vietnamese white cloud) is available in the aquarium trade.

Species Overview

Common Names: Canton danio, Chinese danio, white cloud, white cloud mountain fish, white cloud mountain minnow

Scientific Name: Tanichthys albonubes

Adult Size: 1 1/2 inches

Life Expectancy: 3 to 5 years


Family Cyprinidae
Origin White Cloud Mountains of China
Social Peaceful and sociable
Tank Level Top to middle
Minimum Tank Size 10 gallons
Diet Omnivore
Breeding Egg scatterers; easy to breed
Care Easy; good fish for beginners
pH 6.0 to 8.0
Hardness 5 to 19 dGH
Temperature 60 F (15 C) - 72 F (22 C)
Long-fin variety of White cloud mountain minnow

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

White cloud mountain minnow fish with gray and red-orange scales

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

White cloud mountain minnow fish with orange fins

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

White cloud mountain minnow fish with gray and blue scales closeup

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

Origin and Distribution

The geographic origins of this fish in China and Vietnam have undergone significant changes, which have negatively impacted its habitat. This has had a deleterious effect on the habitat, and slowly the species has disappeared. Beginning in 1980, the Tanichthys albonubes species had not been seen in nature, leading to the belief that it had become extinct in the wild.

Fortunately, a small number of native populations have been discovered in isolated locations within the coastal province of Guangdong and Hainan Island in China, as well as in Quảng Ninh province in Vietnam. The species is still very rare in the wild and is considered an endangered species in China. Efforts are underway to reintroduce captive-bred populations into the wild, but currently, all-white cloud mountain minnows sold in the aquarium trade are captive-bred.

Colors and Markings

White clouds grow to an adult length of 1 1/2 inches (4 cm), the males being more slender and colorful than the females. They are top- or middle-dwelling fish and are rarely seen in the bottom region of the aquarium.

The mouth of the white cloud mountain minnow slants upward, with the lower jaw slightly protruding. They possess no barbells, and the dorsal fin is positioned past the mid-line of the body, in line with the anal fin. The body is a shimmering bronze-brown, with a fluorescent line running from eye to tail, where it ends in a dark spot surrounded by brilliant red. The belly is whiter than the body, and the anal and dorsal fins are both splashed with red and edged in white. Several color variations exist, including a golden variety as well as a long-finned variant known as the meteor minnow.


White cloud mountain minnows should be kept in good-sized schools, preferably of a half dozen or more. When kept singly, they tend to lose color and hide most of the time. They are peaceful and fit well with other small peaceful fish. Avoid larger tankmates, as they will be inclined to eat white cloud mountain minnows. The same is true of any aggressive species.

Often they are sold as companions for goldfish, due to both species preferring colder water temperatures. However, goldfish can and often do eat fish the size of white cloud mountain minnows. Therefore, combining these two species in the same aquarium is not a good idea.

White Cloud Mountain Minnow Habitat and Care

When kept in the right temperature range, this species of fish is very hardy and well suited for the beginner hobbyist. Although undemanding when it comes to water quality, this minnow does not deal with heat well. There is evidence that keeping white cloud mountain minnows in water that is constantly above 72 F (22 C) will shorten their lifespan.

Substrate for the white cloud mountain minnow tank should be fine and darker in color, with plenty of vegetation as well as some rocks and driftwood. Leave an open area for swimming and offer subdued lighting to bring out the colors of this fish.​ Water hardness and pH are not critical, but it is wise to avoid extremes. Avoid the use of all medications containing copper, as white cloud mountain minnows are very sensitive to copper.

White cloud mountain minnows are sometimes kept as a pond fish to help control the breeding of mosquitoes. Keep in mind that they cannot be kept with large pond fish, as they will be eaten. They do, however, make good companions for African dwarf frogs. While they tolerate cool water, they cannot be left in outdoor ponds in the winter in areas where the water freezes.

White Cloud Mountain Minnow Diet and Feeding

White cloud mountain minnows eat all types of food, including live, frozen, and flake food. In their native habitat, they are voracious insect eaters. They particularly relish mosquito larvae, daphnia, and brine shrimp. Feed a good variety of dry and frozen foods, including live foods whenever possible.

White Cloud Mountain Minnows as Pets

The Spruce / Jo Zixuan Zhou

Gender Differences

Sexual differences are slight, and determining the gender accurately can be difficult. Males are more slender and brilliantly colored than females. Females that are ready to spawn have a fuller abdomen.

White clouds reach sexual maturity between six months and one year of age. When mature enough to spawn, males display against each other, spreading their fins and displaying their most vibrant colors, in the hopes of attracting a female.

Breeding the White Cloud Mountain Minnow

White cloud mountain minnows are easy to breed and are a good choice for first-time breeders. They are egg-scatterers that breed year-round. The mating pair provides no parental care to the young.

You may take two approaches to breeding them. One is to keep a large school of white clouds (and only white clouds) in their original tank and allow them to breed there. Because these fish are not as aggressive about eating their eggs and their fry as other fish, some of the young will survive if there are plants and other hiding areas near the bottom of the tank.

Another option is to set up a small breeding tank of five to 10 gallons in size and add a couple of the most colorful males and twice as many females. The tank should be equipped with a spawning mop and/or clumps of plants where the fish can deposit eggs. For spawning, the water should be soft, with pH in the range of 6.5 to 7.5, and the water temperature of 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. No substrate is necessary if setting up a separate breeding tank. Gentle filtration, such as a sponge filter, is recommended.

Regardless of the method used, the fish should be conditioned with live foods before spawning. Live foods are ideal for conditioning, particularly the brine shrimp, daphnia, and mosquito larvae. High-quality frozen foods can be used if live food is not available.

Once spawning begins, eggs will be scattered over the plants or spawning mop for up to 24 hours. The eggs will hatch in 36 to 48 hours. Remove the parents once the eggs begin to hatch out. Fry should be fed very fine micro-foods or liquid fry food initially, followed by freshly hatched brine shrimp. The young will grow rapidly and are easy to care for.

More Pet Fish Species and Further Research

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Check out additional fish breed profiles for more information on other freshwater fish.