NON-ADHESIVE EGG SCATTERER PROJECT – TANICHTHYS ALBONUBES – WHITE CLOUD MOUNTAIN MINNOW
By Thomas R. Reich PhD
The White Cloud Mountain minnow is the answer to the beginning breeders dreams. It is a fish that has everything: great color with distinct and unique markings and accents, hardy disposition. The White Cloud Mountain Minnow is able to withstand a large range of temperatures and water conditions, graceful swimmer and has no aggressive tendencies. However it stands up for itself, breeds easily yet does not usually eat either its eggs or its young, happily eats almost anything, it seems to have utterly no fault for the beginning breeder!
Somewhat like the Neon Tetra, this fish has a fascinating history. It was discovered in 1932 by a Chinese boy scout named Tan, in the White Cloud Mountains near Canton, China. It is from this Scout that the species takes its generic name of Tanichthys. Similar to the spotted Danio in size and shape, it was originally classified as a Brachydanio species. Lin Shu-Yen, head of the Fisheries Experiment Station, at Canton, named the fish Tanichthys aalbonubes. Lin, gave it a name that was self-explanatory; Tan, discoverer; ichthys, Tan’s fish; Albonubes, meaning White Cloud.
The Chinese aquarists were so enthustic about the beauty of the fish that they fished out the streams where it had been found to the extent that the species was in danger of extinction. Happily it bred in captivity like flies, and interested persons were enabled to restock the White Cloud Mountain streams with domestically bred fish! Dr. William T. Innes was justified in writing that this fish is “the Guppy among the egg-layers.”
The White Cloud Mountain minnows were once known as the “poor mans Neon” because the young specimens are so brightly colored, though this Neon-like color fades with age and maturity. The fish got this nickname at a time when Neons were not yet commercially bred and when the price of a Neon could approach the price of the tank itself. The easy to breed White Cloud was a mere fraction of the price, and much less demanding to keep, since it needed no heater, and was so forgiving with water conditions. This unique fish can even be kept, and will sometimes reproduce, in a goldfish bowl!
The genus of this fish includes no other species. The White Cloud is about one and one quarter inches in length, though it can grow to 2 inches in nature or a large backyard pond, has a near-silver body with bright horizontal stripes of blue and gold from eye to tail, at the set-on of which is a distinct dark spot. The dorsal fin of the male is vivid red, margined first with gold and above that with blue. The female is somewhat less colorful.
In recent years a gold version with much fins of a very rich red and a body that glistens completely gold has been made available, breeds true and is similarly easy to keep and breed. Bare in mind that this fish is a jumper, you should always, especially when breeding this fish, keep the tank covered at all times. In its natural habitat, this little fish traverses waterfalls, rapids and jumps from pool to pool as a natural course, it is not unusual at all to introduce 10 fine specimens into an uncovered tank, observe how happy and healthy they are, only to come in the room the next morning to find 7 or 8 of them have jumped out to the floor! It is probably not your fault, they prone to jump out of a pool; to them the new tank is a pool. Cover their quarters or you will lose these highly active little fish!
It has never been conclusively determined just how wide a range of temperature the White Cloud Mountain carp (for it is a carp, not a minnow) can endure. It flourishes equally well at 40F and 90F, and breeds freely from 70F to 80F. It has vast numbers of young which hatch about 24 hours after the spawn is dropped. Stranger still for carp, neither parent eats eggs or fry! Young and old complacently eat anything fine enough for them to get in their small mouths and swallow. It seems to thrive equally well in a bare tank or a planted one. The young develop the bright colors of the mature fish when they are only a month old and reach a breeding age at six months or less. The fish is lively, never shy, and never attacks or injures members of its own kind or other species, is even an ideal tank mate for guppies and their fry! If there are other virtues not mentioned here, the White Cloud probably displays them. Quite simply, this is an ideal species of fish!
As if this were not enough, the White Cloud is a prolific breeder in the Danio fashion, yet they do even better with a well planted tank. To determine sex, mature fish must be used. The males have larger more colorful fins, while the female is paler and full round around the body. Myriophyllum is suggested as the ideal plant, and you should place 2 or 3 clumps in the breeding tank.
A 5 or 10 gallon tank may be used with newly aged water which is slightly alkaline, and heated to about 78F-80F. Marbles are un-necessary but ok as a substrate; as is sand, gravel, pebbles or a completely bare bottom, as the White Cloud does not actively eat their eggs or fry. It is best to use 2 males and 1 female or 3 males and 2 females. The breeders should be condition separately on live and frozen foods for 7 to 10 days, and here is the difference from other species, in water about 68F-72F. When the female or females are fully plump, introduce them into the warmer breeding tank about 1 hour before the males in the evening. Breeding will take place starting the next morning, and continue for 3 to 5 days!
The courtship is not nearly as active as most species. The males do not chase after the females, but appear calm about the whole affair. After trembling heavily, the female distributes a few extremely tiny eggs at a time and these remain hanging on the fine leaved plants. The male swims close to the female, but there is no embrace or hook attachment, he just fertilizes the eggs as they come out of the female, and then moves on. This will continue off and on for days.
If you chose to have the breeding in a fully set up tank, you can leave the breeders in the tank, and the whole process will repeat in about 2 weeks, by this time fry from the first batch will be free swimming and well along, soon you will have 2 or 3 distinct sizes of thriving fry, and the breeders just keep on breeding!
If all are well fed, the tank may well soon become over crowded. Commercial breeders often favor spawning these fish communally. This is best done using a thickly planted large tank or an old tub or sink, the surface of the water being covered with a 1 inch thick layer of Riccia. Then with an enamel soup-ladle the Riccia is pressed down each morning, and the tiny fry scooped up by the hundreds and transferred to small tanks to growing out.