White cloud mountain minnow (Tanichthys albonubes)

White cloud mountain minnow (Tanichthys albonubes) is an ideal fish for those who are just getting to know aquarium husbandry.

These small and active creatures are not just nice, but also very simple in care and keeping.



Inhabitance in the wild

Tanichthys albonubes species representatives were first found at White Cloud Mountain (also known as Baiyun Mountain) located several kilometers north of central Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China.

It gave the species its specific name – albonubes (alba nubes – from Latin is white clouds). White cloud mountain minnow habitat is the Pearl River delta area. Unfortunately, the species is extinct in its native habitat. In fact, “mountains” are made up of 3 peaks and they are a very popular place of tourism, including hotels, highways and public parks.

After the fish was discovered it’s been widely caught for aquarium trade, as a result White cloud mountain minnow became extinct in its former native habitats.

Since 1980 up to 2001 the fish species hasn’t been encountered in the wild and it was considered to be extinct. Later a small wildlife population of the fish was discovered in close proximity to its typical habitat on Hainan Island.

Ministry of Environmental Protection of China considers Tanichthys albonubes to be the species threatened with extinction and it has put the fish into the list of the endangered species of China into the second class of animals.


These are small fish, white cloud mountain minnow body length is about 4 cm (roughly 1.5 in). The fish is rather plainly colored. The upper side of its back is yellowy-brown. There is silver blue and golden stripe that goes along the fish body from its eyes to the tail.

This stripe is more pronounced on white cloud mountain minnow juveniles’ body. Their back is greenish and the abdomen is white. The fins are lemon-yellow, dorsal, anal, abdominal fins top and the middle side of the fish fluke are red colored.

The fish dorsal and fluke have two main colors: lemon-yellow and bright-red. If this species is kept in a sickly planted tank with dark bottom substrate, the fish body gains inimitable purple color.

White cloud mountain minnow school made up of species of different age looks especially spectacular.

You may see intense silver-blue coloring of the juveniles together with ruby-red coloring of the adults and this can’t leave their spectators untouched. Quite often in private tanks you may encounter long finned Tanichthys albonubes species.

Difficulties in keeping

The fish is very plain and not demanding, peaceful and good-looking. Its small size and compatibility with other fishes make it a perfect choice for the beginners.

Keeping in a tank

Tanichthys albonubes tank should be at least 30 liters (8 gal) large. Despite the fact that the fish isn’t demanding to the tank decorations, taking into account the fish coloring it looks better in a planted tank with dark bottom substrate.

It will be good to add some fluctuant, tree branches and roots, some leaves into the tank. All of these will let you recreate the fish natural habitat. There’s no need in strong filtration in the tank, however still it should create some water flow in the tank.

The water temperature in the fish natural habitat varies both during a day and during a year. In winter the temperature drops up to 14 °C (57,2 F), in summer it gets its maximum value — 26 °C (78,8). The water temperature range 20°C-25°C (68-75 F) is the best for keeping White cloud mountain minnow in a tank.

Scientific NameTanichthys albonubes
Common NameWhite Cloud Mountain Minnow, Meteor Minnow, Golden White Cloud, White Cloud Mountain Minnow, Chinese Danio
Tank size8 gallons (30L) and more
Temperature20°C-25°C (68-75 F)
Size4 cm (1.5 in)


Studies of the fish gut contents showed that the species is a micropredator. It feeds on small insects, worms, crustaceans and other kinds of zooplankton. In captivity White cloud mountain food may be any aquarium fish feed.

Nevertheless, for proper growth and intense coloring the fish diet should be diversified.

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Tanichthys albonubes is very peaceful and therefore it is an ideal fish for community tank. White cloud mountain minnow tank mates may be the following species: black skirt tetra, glowlight tetra, betta fish, dwarf gourami, harlequin rasbora.

White cloud mountain minnow are not good tank mates for golden fish, despite the fact that quite often they are recommended as the fish tank mates. In the wild Tanichthys albonubes is a schooling species, that’s why you should buy 8-10 species at once.

Large number of the fish in the school will both decrease stress level of each fish and make observing the fish in the tank more spectaculous. We should mention that Tanichthys albonubes male shows its best coloring in a company of the female fish and rivals.

Sex differences

Tanichthys albonubes reproductive female is larger, than the male fish (Tanichthys albonubes maximum body length is 1.5 in) and it has rounded abdomen. The male fish body is thin and brighter colored.


Tanichthys albonubes tank water surface should be covered with small leaved plants or with plants having developed root system. In the plants near the tank surface even in small tanks (20-30 l or 5-85 gal) some microorganisms grow, which are the food for Tanichthys albonubes juveniles. Large amount of tank plants and sufficient number of shelters in the tank are favourable conditions for White cloud mountain minnow spawning and growth.

For White cloud mountain minnow breeding you should renew 1/10 of the tank volume with fresh water once a week. In such conditions White cloud mountain minnow female starts to lay about 5-10 eggs on small leaved tank plants and it lasts for 3-4 weeks. Once White cloud mountain minnow juveniles appear in the tank it’s desirable to put some food for them into the tank – rotifers, infusorians.