Name: Tanichthys albonubes
Apparently once upon a time back in the 1950's White Clouds were very expensive fish, back then people would pay a small fortune for such colourful little fish. In a way they have become a victim of their own popularity and hardiness and now they are so cheap and readily available that people use them for 'cycling' new tanks (which is totally unneccessary and cruel) or even as 'feeders' for big predators (again unneccessary and cruel!).
I have had 4 regular types and 4 golden types for 3 years now in my unheated 200 L tank, along with 5 swamp darters. The tank varies in temperature from 20 to 22°C all year long. I find these fish very active and they are underrated fish. Their colors are great and the males in particular display very nicely.
White clouds are spectacular fishes, they are beautiful, social, and this is the perfect pet for people who have a small budget because they are cheap, tolerant to temperture changes, extremely unpicky on what foods they are feed, low maintenance and they don't require a pump or a heater. But if you don't use a pump and a heater, it is a must that you do more frequent water changes like 25% of the water twice a week and remove everything out of the bowl, including 75% of the water once a month to get rid of the dirt on the bottom of the bowl. I 've been raising them for about two years now. Originally I noticed them at a fish store that sells them as feeders. At that time I didn't know that this fish was so popular. I am still shocked to see them in stores as feeders because I think that this fish is under rated. I was immediately attracted by the beautiful stripes on their bodies. Since I didn't have much money and love fish, I thought that this would be a perfect opportunity for me. Out of 16 feeders, amazingly only a few of them died. Since feeders are known carriers of parasites, I treated them with fish chemicals when I first bought them. They were so skinny when I bought them, they were literally sticks. So I put my fish flakes in a plastic bag and grinded them up by rolling a wooden pencil back and fourth over the bag. The amazing thing is that I use no heater or filter and keep 3 in a 7 liter fish bowl, I have dwarf frogs, ghost shrimps, one Betta and a snail. They do extremely well in a fish bowl with some plants that are also hardy. I use low maintanense plants like java fern and java moss (plants also provide fish with shade and a hiding place). Finally, this fish is extremely hardy and has high tolerance for temperature changes. One winter it got really cold and almost everything died in my bowl except for the frogs and my white clouds. Ever since I bought my first set, I would ocassionally go back to the pet store, buy more white cloud feeders, rehabilitate them and give them to friends as gifts. I no longer grind whole flakes, instead I feed them Hikari fry food for the first month and hope to restore some nutrition that they missed out on when they were fry even though some of the feeders are fry. I do this until they plump up. Then I slowly introduce Hikari mini pellets to them. This has become a hobby for me and I am dedicated to showing people how wonderful this fish is.
White Cloud Mountain Minnows are cute little fish. Kept in the optimal conditions, they colour up quite nicely. They are active and quite curious. Mine often come up to the front panel and hover whenever I come near the tank. Periodically they will make a trip down to the bottom of the tank and check out what the cories are doing. Due to their hardiness and small size, they are often recommended for smaller tanks, however my experience suggests otherwise. I originally kept 6 WCMM's in a 30 liter tank (by themselves). After a week I was dismayed to see the dominant male chasing the others excessively. It was non-stop, whenever the tank lights were on. He was particularly bad during feeding time, he would patrol the top and prevent the smaller fish from eating. I added a lot more plants to the tank and it helped somewhat, as it created more spaces within the tank, but it did not reduce the chasing altogether. After a couple more weeks the chasing was as bad as ever, and the dominant male was now nipping the other fish as well. The only way I could stop the chasing was to buy a bigger tank, which allowed the smaller fish to finally get some peace. The other thing I noticed in the small tank was swimming room. These guys need a lot. Six WCMM's in a 30 L was not overstocked in terms of bioload, but when I looked at the tank it just seemed overcrowded. They are quite fast swimmers and really need a good space, like any torpedo-shaped fish. Contrary to popular opinion, I don't think they are ideal for small tanks. You need to get a larger tank for them if you really want to appreciate them at their best (like any fish).
It's easy to see the White Clouds as good starter fish because of their size, price and hardiness, but don't forget how cute they are. I've been in the hobby for 2 years now and have several tanks full of fish and plants that I really enjoy and these little guys are among my very favorites. Mine have a bit more color than the ones in the above photo, which the males display in very dramatic fashion.
White Cloud Mountain Minnows, in my experience, are the easiest egglayers to take care of. They like to be in groups, not by themselves. Just feed them tropical flake food (like I do), have some plants (real or plastic - I use Elodea and some plastic, bushy plants), and keep the temperature at 20°C. I keep seven White Clouds in a 40 L tank and they are doing great! They spawn every two weeks, and now I have at least one hundred! I separate each batch of fry because the bigger fry may eat the smaller fry; the adults will not go after the fry if you keep them (the adults) well fed. Feed the baby fry infusoria at first, then microfood, then crushed tropical fish flakes, then small tropical fish flakes (small enough for their little mouths to swallow - as adults). Along with Platies, Guppies, and Zebra Danios, White Clouds are definitely for the beginner.