The White Cloud Mountain minnow (Tanichthys albonubes) is a hardy species of freshwater fish and coldwater fish often kept in an aquarium. The species is a member of the carp family (family Cyprinidae) of the order Cypriniformes native to China. The White Cloud Mountain minnow is practically extinct in its native habitat, due to pollution and tourism. It was believed to be extinct for over 20 years in 1980, but an apparently native population of this fish was discovered on Hainan Island, well away from the White Cloud Mountain. They are bred in farms and are easily available through the aquarium trade.
The species was discovered at White Cloud Mountain in the city of Guǎngzhōu at the province of Guǎngdōng around the 1930s by a Boy Scout leader called Tan, hence the generic name Tanichthys (“Tan’s fish”). The specific name albonubes is from the Latin alba nubes (white cloud).
The fish are sold in the aquarium trade under a variety of names, including White Cloud, White Cloud Mountain fish, White Cloud minnow, etc.
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 and 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 tankmates, as they will be inclined to eat white cloud mountain minnows. The same is true of any aggressive species.
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 these two species in the same aquarium is not a good idea.
When kept in the right temperature range, this species of fish is very hardy and well suited for the beginner hobbyist. Although undemanding when it comes to water quality, this minnow does not deal with heat well. There is evidence that keeping white cloud mountain minnows in water that is constantly above 72 F (22 C) will shorten their lifespan.
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 all medications containing 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, however, make good companions for frogs.
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 live foods whenever possible.
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.
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 them. 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 their fry as other fish, some of the young 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 a 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 the 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 liquifry initially, followed by freshly hatched brine shrimp. The young will grow rapidly and are easy to care for.