White Cloud Mountain Minnows are small, colorful fish, once termed the working man’s neon because they compared to Neon Tetras in color but were not as expensive. For over a half-century the White Cloud Mountain Minnow was the only species in the newly defined genus. However, in 2001, two additional species found in Vietnam were recognized; Tanichthys micagemmae and Tanichthys thacbaensis. Of the two, only Tanichthys micagemmae (Vietnamese White Cloud) is available in the aquarium trade.
Origin and Distribution
The area that the White Cloud Mountain Minnow originated from has undergone significant changes over the years, which has negatively impacted its habitat. The region has become a popular tourist area, with parks, hotels, and public transport. This had a deleterious effect on the habitat of the fish, and slowly the species disappeared. Beginning in 1980, the species was not seen in nature for more than 20 years, leading to the belief that it had become extinct.
Fortunately, a small number of native populations have been discovered in isolated locations within the coastal province of Guangdong and Hainan Island in China, as well as in Quảng Ninh province in Vietnam. The species is still very rare in the wild and is considered an endangered species in China. Efforts are underway to reintroduce captive-bred populations into the wild. Currently, all White Cloud Mountain Minnows sold in the aquarium trade are captive-bred.
Colors and Markings
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 edged in white. Several color variations exist, including a golden variety as well as a long-finned variant known as the Meteor Minnow.