White Cloud Mountain Minnow

The "Working Man's Neon"

Tanichthys alboneubes known as White Cloud Mountain Minnow
Michael B

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 was the only species in the newly defined genus. However, in 2001, two additional species found in Vietnam were recognized; Tanichthys micagemmae and Tanichthys thacbaensis. Of the two, only Tanichthys micagemmae (Vietnamese White Cloud) is available in the aquarium trade.

Breed Overview

Common Names: Canton Danio, Chinese Danio, White Cloud, White Cloud Mountain Fish, White Cloud Mountain Minnow

Scientific Name: Tanichthys micagemmae

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 6.0–8.0
Hardness 5–19 dGH


60 F (15 1/2 C)

Origin and Distribution

The area that the White Cloud Mountain Minnow originated from has undergone significant changes over the years, which has negatively impacted its habitat. The region has become a popular tourist area, with parks, hotels, and public transport. This had a deleterious effect on the habitat of the fish, and slowly the species disappeared. Beginning in 1980, the species was not seen in nature for more than 20 years, leading to the belief that it had become extinct.

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. 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 tank.

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 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 fish, as they will be inclined to eat White Cloud Mountain Minnows. The same is true of any aggressive species of fish.

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 those two species in the same aquarium is not a good idea.

White Cloud Mountain Minnow Habitat and Care

This species of fish is very hardy and well suited for the beginner aquarist. Although undemanding when it comes to water quality, this minnow does not deal with heat well, preferring water in the 64–72 degrees Fahrenheit (18–22 degrees Celsius) range. There is evidence that keeping White Cloud Mountain Minnows in warmer water (constantly above 72 F [22 C]) will shorten their lifespan. It is well known that they display richer colors when kept in water that is a bit cooler than the typical tropical aquarium temperature of 78 F.

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 medications with 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 make good companions for frogs.

White Cloud Mountain Minnow Diet

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 shrimp. Feed a good variety of dry and frozen foods, including some live foods whenever possible.

white cloud mountain minnows as pets
The Spruce / Jo Zixuan Zhou

Sexual Differences

Sexual differences are slight, and determining the sex 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 of White Cloud Mountain Minnows

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. 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 young as other fish, some of the fry will survive.

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 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 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 liquify initially, followed by freshly hatched brine shrimp. The young will grow rapidly and are easy to care for.

More Pet Fish Breeds and Further Research

If you’re interested in the White Cloud Mountain Minnow or similar species, check out:

Otherwise, check out all of our other pet fish freshwater breed profiles.