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  • Species: White Cloud Mountain Minnow

The White Cloud Mountain Minnow

The White Cloud Mountain Minnow (Tanichthys albonubes)

Order Cypriniformes, Family Cyprinidae

Common names
Chinese danio, Poor man’s neon

Aphyocypris pooni


The white cloud minnow is an active schooling fish suited to temperate aquaria. They are striking fish, not seen to their best when feeling stressed or kept alone. A dark brown base colour is enlivened by a bright red tail and fin edges, plus a horizontal stripe which appears white or pale yellow in bright light, but becomes almost luminous if the fish are kept on a dark substrate.


These schooling fish are peaceful and undemanding; they have no flowing fins to be nipped and are quite speedy, so will happily share with any fish of similar size and requirements. Like most minnows, they are very active, and will appreciate a good filter outflow for them to play in.

Aquarium requirements

The minnows were first found in Kwangtung, South China, from the streams of the White Cloud mountain, although they have since been found in other streams and in Hong Kong, and have been introduced to South America and Madagascar. They were found on the White Cloud mountain by a boy named Tan, leading to the genus name of Tanichthys. Albonubes simply means ‘white cloud’. Coming from flowing Chinese streams, the fish is unable to tolerate high temperatures, and is much happier in an unheated tank in most households. They can survive water temperatures as low as 5C, although they wouldn’t be very active or happy kept at this temperature permanently. Although often sold in the tropical section of aquarium shops, they are not tropical fish. They are undemanding in terms of water requirements and will be happy in most people’s (dechlorinated) tap water. The small (one and a half inch) fish need to be kept in a small school, but even so a sixteen inch tank is adequate. The edges of the tank should be planted, with an open swimming area. A dark fine gravel substrate will show them to best advantage.


The omnivorous minnows enjoy flake foods, live foods, and frozen live foods, and have no special requirements. Prepackaged fish food for a balanced diet is ideal as their main food. They do enjoy live food, and are seen at their best chasing after daphnia or mosquito larvae. As the minnows prefer to feed at the surface or in midwater these creatures are better as food than the sinking bloodworm or tubifex.


White Clouds are often bred in the aquarium, but the water needs to be cool – between 68F and 72F. They are best spawned by introducing a single pair to a spawning aquarium; the males are much thinner than the females, who become conspicuously fatter when ready to spawn. The spawning tank should be heavily planted, and a layer of marbles on the bottom is a good idea. This décor is not particularly for the benefit of the fish, but to ensure that at least a few eggs fall in a safe hiding place from the parents depredations, who will be hungry after spawning; they should be removed as soon as possible to ensure that some eggs remain! As up to three hundred eggs can be scattered by the parents, enough should survive for the aquarist to rear. The tiny fry will hatch 36 hours later, and can be fed on fine food – infusoria or green water is good as a first food, or a proprietary egg-layers fry food.

Diseases and disorders

This is a hardy little fish, who will suffer few ailments if not overheated and kept in clean water.


A variation of the white cloud called the ‘long-finned’ or ‘veil tail’ has been developed by breeders. Although this variation shares the characteristics of the natural short-finned fish, it is slightly slower and more delicate, but still a good choice for a small peaceful temperate aquarium.

This article has been kindly provided by Kathy Jinkings and cannot be reproduced without her permission.

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