Environmental Concerns Involving the White Cloud Mountain Minnow (Tanichthys albonubes)

The White Cloud Mountain Minnow, Tanichthys albonubes, is a popular aquarium fish that originally comes from mountain streams in Guangdong province, China.White Cloud Mountain Minnow

There have been no confirmed records of this fish in its natural habitat in the last few decades (Fellowes et al., 2001). However, it has invaded other areas of the province, probably from aquarium stocks, so there are feral stocks in China (Fellowes et al., 2001). The situation is complicated by taxonomic arguments over whether a similar fish from Hong Kong is a separate species or a color form of this one. I haven’t managed to determine exactly what is going on here, which makes it hard to say anything useful about the conservation status of this fish in the wild.

It prefers cooler water than most tropical aquarium fishes which means it can be invasive in some temperate areas where most tropical fish cannot survive. There are feral populations of Tanichthys albonubes established in Columbia and Madegascar, and some not as yet firmly established populations in Canada, the Phillipines, and the USA (Fishbase). There is also a feral population in Australia, and some scientists are concerned about the potential for survival of escaped fish in New Zealand (McDowall, 2004).
This fish is easy to breed in captivity, and is recommended for beginning breeders of egg laying fishes, but precautions should be taken not to let it escape into the wild.
Fellowes, J., Wong, L., Lau, M., Sai-Chit, N., Chan, B., Siu, G. (2001) Report of a rapid biodiversity assessment at Wutongshan national forest park, Shenzen special economic zone China, 16th-17th May, 2001. http://www.kfbg.org.hk/download/No11_Wutongshan0501_Web.pdf

McDowall, R. (2004) Shoot first and then ask questions: a look at aquarium fish imports and invasiveness in New Zealand New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, – rsnz.org

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