White Cloud Mountain Minnow
The White Cloud Mountain minnow (Tanichthys albonubes) is a hardy species of freshwater fish and coldwater fish often kept in an aquarium. The species is a member of the carp family (family Cyprinidae) of the order Cypriniformes, native to China. The White Cloud Mountain minnow is practically extinct in its native habitat, due to pollution and tourism. It was believed to be extinct for over 20 years in 1980, but an apparently native population of this fish was discovered on Hainan Island, well away from the White Cloud Mountain. They are bred in farms and are easily available through the aquarium trade. However, inbreeding in farms has led to genetically weak stock that is vulnerable to disease and prone to physical deformities.
The White Cloud Mountain minnow is an opportunistic omnivore. It will commonly feed on a variety of sea grasses and insect larvae. They particularly relish mosquito and shrimp. In times of extreme ecological pressure, such as drought or sunlight infiltration, the minnow often overlooks the simple vegetation for more nutritious food sources including fruits, nuts, and in extreme cases mountain minnows have been observed scavenging off carcasses of fellow pond dwelling organisms.
White Cloud Mountain minnows are considered good fish for beginners, as they are extremely forgiving with regard to aquarium temperature and water quality. Standard flake or pellet food is accepted readily. They are often sold as ideal "starter fish" for cycling a new aquarium, however, this process can be stressful or even fatal, and it is advisable to introduce the fish to an already cycled tank. They are shoaling fish, and feel most comfortable in a group of at least five. An individual of these minnows kept alone may become timid and lose its bright color. White Clouds are generally peaceful and happy to coexist with other fish, as long as they are not put in a tank with larger fish that may eat them. The minnows are usually top or middle-level swimmers and rarely swim close to the bottom of a tank. A typical lifespan can last for five years or longer.
Although the nominal temperature range for the species in the wild is 18–22 °C (64–72 °F), it can survive water temperatures down to 5 °C (41 °F). This makes it an ideal fish for keeping in an unheated aquarium in cold climates. In fact, White Clouds are more active and healthier when kept at temperatures lower than those at which most tropical tanks are kept. Water hardness (dH) should be from 5 to 19, and pH levels should range between 6.0 and 8.0. Also, the aquarium should have a top. White Clouds have been known to jump out on rare occasions.