White Cloud Mountain Minnow, Perfact for the Comunity Aquarium

TANICHTHYS ALBONUBES – The White Cloud, Active and Indestructible

white cloud mountain minnow
Thomas R. Reich PhD

The White Cloud Mountain Minnow is the answer to the beginning aquarists dreams. It is a fish that has everything: great color with distinct and unique markings and accents, and a hardy disposition.  The White Cloud is also able to withstand a large range of temperatures and water conditions and is a graceful swimmer. This little fish has no aggressive tendencies, yet stands up for itself, breeds easily and does not usually eat either its eggs or its young, yet the adults happily eat almost anything daily or once a week on occasion without complaint. The White Cloud seems to have utterly no fault for the beginning fish keeper!

Somewhat like the Neon Tetra, this fish has a fascinating history. The White Cloud Mountain Minnow was discovered in 1932 by a Chinese boy scout named Tan, in the White Cloud Mountains near Canton, China. It is from this Scout that the species takes its generic name of Tanichthys. Similar to the Spotted Danio in size and shape, it was originally classified as a Brachydanio species. Lin Shu-Yen, head of the Fisheries Experiment Station, at Canton,   named the fish Tanichthys albonubes. Lin, gave it a name that was self-explanatory; Tan, discoverer; ichthys, Tan’s fish; Albonubes, meaning White Cloud.

The Chinese aquarists were so enthusiastic about the beauty of the fish that they fished out the streams where it had been found to the extent that the species was in danger of extinction. Happily, it bred in captivity like flies, and interested persons were enabled to restock the White Cloud Mountain streams with domestically bred fish!

Dr. William T. Innes has justified in writing that this fish is “the guppy among the egg-layers.” The White Cloud Mountain minnows were once known as the “poor man’s Neon” because the young specimens are so brightly colored, though this Neon-like color fades with age and maturity. The fish got this nickname at a time when Neons were not yet commercially bred and when the price of a Neon could approach the price of the tank itself.

The easy to breed White Cloud was a mere fraction of the price of a Neon in those days, and much less demanding to keep, since it needed no heater, and was so forgiving with water conditions. This unique fish can even be kept, and will sometimes reproduce, in a goldfish bowl!

The genus of this fish includes no other species. The White Cloud is about one and one-quarter inches in length, though it can grow to 2 inches in nature or a large backyard pond. The White Cloud has a near-silver body with bright horizontal stripes of blue and gold from eye to tail, at the set-on of which is a distinct dark spot. The dorsal fin of the male is vivid red, margined first with gold and above that with blue.

The female is somewhat less colorful. In recent years a gold version with much fins of a very rich red and a body that glistens completely gold has been made available. The gold version breeds true and is similarly easy to keep and breed. Bear in mind that this fish is a jumper, you should always, especially when breeding this fish, keep the tank covered at all times.

In its natural habitat, this little fish traverses waterfalls, rapids and jumps from pool to pool as a natural course.  It is not unusual at all to introduce 10 fine specimens into an uncovered tank, observe how happy and healthy they are, only to come in the room the next morning to find 7 or 8 of them have jumped out to the floor! It is probably not your fault, they are prone to jump out of a pool in nature; to them, the new tank is a pool. Cover their quarters or you will lose these highly active little fish!

It has never been conclusively determined just how wide a range of temperature the White Cloud Mountain Carp (for it is a carp, not a minnow) can endure. It flourishes equally well at 40F and 90F, and breeds freely from 70F to 80F. It has vast numbers of young which hatch about 24 hours after the spawn is dropped. Stranger still for carp, neither parent eats eggs or fry!

Young and old complacently eat anything fine enough for them to get in their small mouths and swallow. The White Cloud seems to thrive equally well in a bare tank or a planted community aquarium.

The Fry develop the bright colors of the mature fish when they are only a month old and reach a breeding age at six months or less. The fish is lively,   never shy, and never attacks or injures members of its own kind or other species, is even an ideal tankmate for guppies and their fry!  If there are other virtues not mentioned here, the White Cloud probably displays them. Quite simply, this is an ideal species of fish for any community aquarium!