by Francine Bethea
The White Cloud comes from the White Cloud Mountains in Canton, China. Probably all of the White Clouds available today are from fish farms in the United States. I have heard that it is now illegal to import this fish, but unfortunately, I cannot verify this statement.
This fish can survive in temperatures ranging from 50 to 80°F. For example, a few winters ago during a power outage, my apartment was without electricity because of a huge snowstorm. With 99 percent of my tanks housing Apistogrammas, I was delirious. The temperature in that apartment got down to 65°F. I used every blanket and comforter I had to shroud the tanks, in hopes of keeping the tank water warm for as long as possible. I was unable to use the pop-bottles-filled-with-hot-water method because the house was on a well and, you know, the pump was electric. After the second night, I dared to take a peek into one of the tanks. Expecting to see lifeless bodies, I was taken aback by the White Clouds’ flurry of activity. The frigid temperatures had not affected them at all. After the third day, the electricity was restored and the temperatures began to rise. Fortunately, I had not lost a single Apisto either, but it took them a few days to get back to normal.
Breeding the White Cloud is the easy part and pretty straightforward. Start with a group consisting of more males than females. In my case, I had 3 females and 3 males. In the breeding tank, be sure to have a large clump of Java Moss or some other bushy plant. Drop the pH to about 5.5. Then feed them plenty of live foods. The female will soon fill with roe. The males will then coerce the females over a spawning site and embrace her for the egg release. The eggs will hatch within 24 hours. Within a few days, there will be hundreds of miniscule fry hanging from the glass of the four corners of the tank. Surprisingly, well-fed White Clouds will neither eat their eggs nor fry.
Spawning the White Cloud is easy; raising the fry is the hard part. As I mentioned, the fry are miniscule. They are hard to see, unless the light hits them right. Therefore, a lot of them can and do get siphoned out with a water change. Checking the surface through the glass or taking the cover off the tank and looking straight down is another way of spying these little slivers. Another factor to consider is that, because the fry are so small, their mouths are not that big. Can you imagine fry so small that microworms would be considered huge? Alternatives for feeding would be infusoria or egg yolk pressed through a sieve, such as a handkerchief. The trick is to add a little water to the handkerchief, press a piece of egg yolk in the wet spot, and then squeeze the drops of water into the tank. The droplets will contain the nourishment. A good idea is to have floating plants, like Hornwort or Wisteria, and squeeze the juice over the plants. That way, a lot of the food will adhere to the plants, where the fry hang out. One must constantly check that their little stomachs are round. Full stomachs are an indication that your feeding method is successful.
One of my most successful spawns was fed some of David Snell´s worm food concoction, mixed with liquid from an egg yolk paste. I mixed a very small amount with distilled water in an empty film container. I used a test tube as a grinder and made a watery juice. Using an eye dropper, I dispensed the food into the group of fry. I would stay there and make sure they were eating. It looked like they were chasing nothing, but their stomachs were filling. The surplus was refrigerated and used until it was time to make more.
Each time I spawned the White Cloud, out of 100 or so fry, I would always end up with 9. This last time, I had 100 get to 1/4" in a 20 gallon tank that housed an Anomala female with fry. For days, I kept telling myself to move them. But I didn’t listen. I came home from work one day and found that the Anomala had eaten all the fry except 13. I was disappointed, but at least I had a few over the required amount for my breeders’ points.
This article first appeared in PVAS’s Delta Tale, Vol 31, # 3-4