White cloud mountain minnow care Guide

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.

habitat in the wild

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 white cloud minnow was discovered it’s been widely caught for aquarium trade, as a result became extinct in its former native habitats. Since 1980 up to 2001 the 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 white cloud minnow 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.

Scientific NameTanichthys albonubes
Common NamesWhite Cloud Mountain minnow; white cloud minnow; white cloud fish
Range and habitatChina
Size4 cm (1.5 in)
Lifespan2-3 years
Ease of keepingEasy
Minimum tank size8 gallons (30 liters)
Temperature18–22 °C (64–72 °F)
Water hardness5-20 dGH


These are small fish, body length is about 4 cm (roughly 1.5 in). The lifespan is about 2-3 years.

The white cloud minnow is rather plainly colored. The upper side of its back is yellowy-brown. There is silver blue and golden stripe that goes along the body from its eyes to the tail. This stripe is more pronounced on 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 fluke are red colored.

The 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 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 species.

Difficulties in keeping

The white cloud minnow 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.

Care and keeping in a tank

White Cloud Mountain minnow tank should be at least 30 liters (8 gallons) 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 floating plants, tree branches and roots, some leaves into the tank. All of these will let you recreate the 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 White Cloud minnow 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 18–22 °C (64–72 °F) is the best for keeping white cloud minnow in a tank.


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 food may be any aquarium fish feed. Nevertheless, for proper growth and intense coloring the diet should be diversified.

Tank mates

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

White cloud minnow are not good tank mates for goldfishes, despite the fact that quite often they are recommended as the fish tank mates. In the wild 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 male shows its best coloring in a company of the female and rivals.

Gender differences: male vs female

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


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 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 breeding you should renew 1/10 of the tank volume with fresh water once a week. In such conditions female starts to lay about 5-10 eggs on small leaved tank plants and it lasts for 3-4 weeks.

Once juveniles appear in the tank it’s desirable to put some food for them into the tank – rotifers, infusorians.