Betta Trading

White Cloud Mountain Minnow Fact Sheet

The "White Cloud Mountain Minnow", "Tanichthys albonubes", was discovered on the White Cloud Mountain in Southern China by Tan Kan Fei, a Boy Scout leader in about 1930.  The generic name, Tanichthys, means 'Tan's fish' and the specific name, albonubes means 'White Cloud'.

Extinct in the Wild?
The White Cloud Mountain Minnow is practically extinct in its native habitat.  It was believed to be extinct for some years, but an apparently native population of this fish was discovered on Hainan Island, well away from the White Cloud Mountain.

Water Conditions
This fish is very hardy.  It will survive in temperatures ranging from 4̊ C (39̊F) to 32̊ C (90̊ F) but the extremes of this range are not recommended.  It is more comfortable at about 14-24 °C (57-75 °F).  This is a lower temperature than some tropical tanks although, like most 'cold water' fish it can be kept in tropical aquariums, so it can be kept in either a tropical or an unheated aquarium.

The fish prefer clean water, and will grow and breed over a wide range of ph and hardness.  I avoid extremes of pH or very hard water. Make sure all the Chlorine or Chloramine is removed.

The White Cloud Mountain Minnow is intolerant of Copper in the water, and great care needs to be exercised if Copper is used for treatments. The fry are even more susceptible to Copper poisoning than the adults.

This fish is an omnivore and will eat most things in the wild, and is easy to feed in an Aquarium, taking normal fish foods readily.  Be aware that it is a small fish.  Do not overfeed.
Although the White Cloud Mountain Minnow is a small fish with a small mouth they eat mosquito larvae, and benefit from some as a treat.  They also like Daphnia .
The White Cloud Mountain Minnow is a schooling fish and will appear much happier in a group of at least six.
This fish is usually a very peaceful one, growing to about 4 cm (1.5 inches).  I have kept it successfully with a wide range of other small fish including: Siamese Fighting Fish, Guppies, Endlers Guppies, PristellaTetras, Rummy Nose Tetras, Harlequin Rasboras, Scissortail Rasboras, Lemon Tetras, Black Widow Tetras, Emperor Tetras, Head and Tail Light Tetras, Glass Bloodfin Tetras, Swordtails, Platies, Mollies, Zebra Danios, Glowlight Tetras and Cherry Barbs as well as the Corydoras catfish like the Peppered Catfish.

I would be cautious about putting them with fish like Rosy Barbs, Tiger Barbs, Paraguay Tetras, Buenos Aires Tetras and Colombian Tetras, as these fish have been known to be more aggressive.

Avoid putting it with larger fish.  I am often asked about keeping White Clouds with Goldfish.  I do not recommend it although I know of plenty of people who have kept them successfully with small goldfish.  There is always some danger that the White Cloud might get swallowed.

Mosquito Control
Although the White Cloud Mountain Minnow is not necessarily the best fish for controlling mosquitoes, they are sometimes used for this in South Australia because they do not eat frog eggs or tadpoles.  This means that they are one possible fish for frog ponds.
If these fish are used in this way, care needs to be exercised to prevent them escaping into the wild.


According to the Tropical Fish Hobbyist of November 1975, there are two distinct colour varieties White Cloud depending on where they come from.

The northern race, collected in the area of the White Cloud Mountain in southern China, in the foothills of the Himalayas, basically blue. Their dorsal and anal fins are red at the base and white at the tip. The southern, Cantonese form, bred in Hong Kong, are more brownish in the body and their dorsal and anal fins are whitish at the base and red at the tip.

Apart from this several varieties of this fish, varying in colour and fin length have been developed.

Gold White Clouds

Several varieties of this extremely popular fish have been bred.  These include long finned types called by several different names, including the Meteor Minnow, as well as so called 'gold' White Clouds, shown below.


Meteor Minnow

In the early 1950’s in Perth, Western Australia, a very colourful, long-finned form of the White Cloud Mountain Minnow was developed, and the name “Meteor Minnow” was chosen for this beautiful fish.

Apparently independently the long-finned mutation occurred in fish kept by Edward Sollory in Toronto in Canada.

This fish has disappeared and reappeared in the fish keeping hobby several times. Currently long finned White clouds are generally available, but not always referred to as Meteor Minnows.

The White Cloud is one of the easiest egg laying fish to breed.  When I was a teenager I bred White Clouds through several Generations in a single two foot Aquarium.  Usually all that is necessary to breed a few is an aquarium with no other fish.
The Males are brighter in colour than the females which become noticeable plumper than the males.
White Clouds benefit from live plants, both for keeping and breeding.  They are an egg scatterer and usually drop their eggs over plants.
White Clouds often do not eat all their fry, but do eat some.  This is why it is possible to raise the babies with the parents.  I have observed no parental care in this species.


Pest Fish
In some areas this fish is considered a pest.  If it is sold in your area, I suggest you ask in the shop about any regulations.  With any fish, do not release them into the wild and do not keep them in ponds that could overflow and allow the fish to escape into the wild.

Common Names

In English Tanichthys albonubes is called the White Cloud Mountain Minnow, the White Cloud, the Canton Danio, the Chinese Danio, the White Cloud Minnow, the White Cloud Mountain Fish and the Kardinal Fish.

It is called 唐魚 ,     广 东细鲫 ( 潘氏 细鲫 ) or 廣東細鯽 ( 潘氏細鯽 ) i n Mandarin Chinese

In cantonese it is Bak wan gam si,   Bak wan san ue or Hung mei ue.

In Czech, it’s called Hung mei ue, Kardinálka čínská, Nepravá neonka, Tanova rybka and Venušina rybka.

In Danish, it is Skybjergfisk.

I Estonian, it is called Kardinal-tanikala.

In Finnish, it is known as Kardinaalikala.

In German, it is Kardinalfisch.

In Polish, it’s Kardinalfisch.

In Swedish Tanichthys albonubes is called Kardinalfisk.


Scientific Names

The accepted senior scientific name is Tanichthys albonubes,s (Lin 1932). Aphyocypris poori, (Here 1939) has also been used but has never been accepted as a correct scientific name for this fish.

Sources and Picture Credits

I am grateful to the following sources of information: Phil of Aquarium Industries; personal communication, Threatened fishes of the world, That Fish Place, the Queensland Government and Aquatic Hobbyist.

The picture of the Bettas with the Gold White Clouds is from Fishnet Aquariums and Pets.

The school above the section about companions is from the Aquatic Pet and Reptile Centre. The picture of the 3 White Clouds under the varieties section is from Sunflower Pet, Manhattan KS. The second picture under the Gold White cloud section is by Andrew Devonshire. The single Gold White cloud in the second line of pictures is by Ian Melvin. The large school of gold White Clouds is from Maidenhead Aquatics.

The first picture of a Meteor Minnow is from Dorset Aquatics.


Steve Challis