How Big Do Minnows Get? Everything You Need To Know!

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Cover How Big Do Minnows Get

Minnows come from the family of Cyprinidae. The minnow family is one of the largest freshwater species to roam the waters. They are a family of over 3000 species with 370 kinds of fish.

Since minnows are such diverse species, they are vastly misunderstood, creatures. There are many misconceptions about them. Many people who are not well aware of fishing think that every small fish is a minnow. Which, I must correct is not true.

Various kinds of minnows live in almost all freshwater bodies. Since they are so much in quantity, it is normal to consider every other small fish as a minnow. Unfortunately, this misconception can lead you to catch or eat the wrong type of fish, thinking it to be a minnow.

But once I tell you some facts about minnows and how much they can grow, you won’t confuse anyone about minnow’s identification.

How Big Do Minnows Get?

How big do these fish get? Do they keep getting bigger as time passes? Or do they reach a specific size and then stop growing? Are there any particular conditions that affect their growth or not? 

Do you also have these questions?

If yes, then you are at the right place because I will review some of these questions. Unfortunately, there is very little information out there about minnows, and that is what confuses us. But, once you read this blog till the end, you won’t be confused anymore.

The first thing you should know about minnows for identifying them is that they have an incomplete lateral line with a terminal mouth. But, some minnows’ mouths change into underslung mouths once they grow.

image of some minnows with a person's hand

Minnows also do not have teeth; instead, they have pharyngeal teeth, which means they can grind the food they eat near their throat. Apart from this, most minnows have dark spots in front of their dorsal fin and a stubby first ray on the dorsal fin.

Now, moving on to the question, how big do minnows get?

Minnows are one of the largest fish species out there (as I have already explained to you). There is no freshwater body in the world that doesn’t house one or another type of minnow.

Most minnows (not all) are expected to grow 3 to 5 inches in their lifetime, but there are also some exceptions where some minnow species grow less than 3 inches, and some grow more than 5 inches.

But, since there are so vast in numbers, it is practically impossible that they don’t interbreed. This means that we can’t 100% accurately determine the size of a specific minnow without considering the elements that contribute to their growth.

That is why I cannot pinpoint a number saying that these particular minnow species grow, say 3 inches, because every breed and every fish of that breed varies significantly.

 If you are used to catching minnows in a fish pond of budding lakes, one thing you must have noticed is that minnows, particularly the fathead minnow, will feed on anything that comes in front of them.

They are heavy eaters and will even eat algae, planktons, blood worms, shrimp flakes, tubifex, or insects if only these things are available to them. They are heavy eaters.

The rate at which the minnows grow or how much they grow is determined by the quantity and frequency of their eating.

Each minnow species grows differently. For example, some species like fatheads grow slightly over three inches. Then there are creek chubs that grow from 10 to 12 inches while species like gold shiners grow up to 7 inches and shiners grow a maximum of 6 inches.

From what I have learned, I can say that the optimum size of these tiny fish’s growth ultimately depends on their breed and other surrounding factors. But, you should also know that you can’t expect a minnow to grow up to a 6-pound fish. Their size might vary 1 or 2 inches, but that is it.

Generally, minnows are small fish, and that is why they are used as baits. Their lifespan ranges from 1 to 2 years, and during this time, they also reproduce. Reproduction also depends on their diet and environment.

How Fast Do Minnows Reproduce?

Generally, it is noted that minnows reproduce at least 6-10 times before their lifecycle ends. However, their reproduction rate is not limited to 6-10 times as it also depends on the frequency of their feed and also their environment.

In some instances, minnows also reproduce at a shocking rate of every five to six days. Some minnows lay more than 700 eggs per spawn. The number of eggs per spawning varies from species to species.

Even if minnows lay 700 eggs, not all of them are fertilized, and not all of the ones that are fertilized don’t live long enough to reach adulthood.

image of minnow fish under water

Many minnows are eaten by their own parents or other fish when they just hatch. This is one reason why minnows lay so many eggs so frequently.

If you are considering keeping pet minnows, you need to keep the fact of reproduction in mind. Because the population of minnows grows so fast, you will need a bigger aquarium tank, more food, and more time at hand.

Different species of minnows reproduce in different ways. For example, rosy red and fathead minnows are egg clusters, which means that they lay their eggs in a cluster under any overhanging covering.

However, the golden white cloud and white cloud are egg scatterers, which means they scatter their eggs all over the rocks, vegetation, and pebbles.

What Size Aquarium Do They Need?

Minnows are one of the easiest fish to keep, and their habitat is the easiest to maintain. If you want your house or any other personal space to look lively and relaxing, then keeping minnows as pets is a fantastic idea.

Minnows are not big fish, but they reproduce very quickly, and because of this reason, it is essential that you buy a bigger aquarium.

You should at least buy a 10-gallon aquarium to keep your minnows (you can buy a bigger one but not an aquarium smaller than 10 gallons) and place it in a place that receives a moderate amount of sunlight.

The tank you choose for your fish should be at least 2 to 4 ft. deep and at least 6 to 8 ft. long so that your fish doesn’t suffocate in a small space.

Another thing that you should keep in mind is that once your minnow lays eggs, you will have to remove the adult minnows from the tank because minnows are known to eat their own fry, especially the rosy head and fathead.

Separating your minnows from their fry will prevent them from accidentally getting eaten. If other types of minnows don’t display such behavior, you can let the adults and fry live in the same tank. However, you need to have a spare tank ready for transfer for species like fathead and rosy red.

What To Put In Their Tank

Now that you have learned enough about minnows, it is time to learn about what things you should put in their aquarium when you decide to keep minnows as pets.

Things you should add to your minnow aquarium:

  • Minnows
  • Water
  • Gravel
  • A small house or clay pot
  • Aquarium light
  • Aquatic plants (real or fake)

Once you have bought a 10-gallon aquarium, the next thing to do is get gravel for scattering at the bottom of the aquarium. It would be best to spread the gravel at least 1 inch thick.

But when you are doing so, you should place a clay pot in one corner of the tank and put the gravel around it. Doing this will ensure that the minnows properly lay eggs.

Next, you should add aquatic plants in the aquarium, especially near the clay pot. You can add real or fake plants, but if you decide to put real plants, you should ensure that they are suitable for freshwater.

Now, it is time to fill the tank with water. First, fill your tank until it is nearly full and then put your pet minnows in the tank. It is important to note that minnows can survive well with other small fish but not big fish; they might get eaten.

Next, place your aquarium light on top of the tank. Ideally, your water temperature should range from 70F to 75F, but minnows can also survive a wide range of temperatures, so you won’t need to put a water thermometer in the tank.

What Do Shiner Minnows Turn Into?

Shiner minnows are just like other species of minnows. They are one of the most common types of minnows available in the streams. Another name of shiner minnows is Genera Notemigonus.

image of a Shiner Minnow

They are thin and deep-bodied minnows with tiny upturned mouths and only grow up to 5-6 inches in 6 months. When it is the breeding season, the male shiner minnows turn deep golden.

All the shiner minnows have a curved lateral line on their bodies, distinguishing them from other species.

The Final Conclusion:

We are almost at the end of the guide to minnows. I’m sure that hopefully, you would have learned a great deal about minnows and how big do minnows get.

So, if you have completely made up your mind to keep pet minnows, then you should ensure that you regularly keep a check on the tank’s maintenance, clean it and change the water.

Feed the minnows regularly with their favorite food like flakes, insects, algae, planktons, mosquito larvae, etc. Apart from this, you should also keep the light on for 15 hours a day because minnows are fans of summers.

Try to keep only six minnows in your 10-gallon water tank to give the little fellows enough oxygen and space to roam around easily. I can say with surety that you are absolutely going to love your new pets.

Frequently Asked Questions

#1 – How Do Minnows Get Into Ponds?

There are a number of ways how minnows can get into ponds. If a pond is near another pond, the fish or fry can be transferred by a passing bird.

It can also get into ponds by local animals that might sit in a water body to get a minnow egg wash off in its fur or feet and keep damp in it for some time. Another way is that ponds naturally get a population of fish because of staying damp.

#2 – Do Minnows Eat Algae?

Yes, minnows do eat algae. However, these fish are opportunist feeders and will feed on anything that comes in front of them, be it algae, worms, larvae, etc.

#3 – How big do fathead minnows get?

Minnows are generally small fish. They don’t drastically grow up to become 5-pound fish. Instead, they can only grow a few inches in their lifetime. Similarly, fathead minnows only grow up to 65-70 mm or 2.6 to 2.8 inches.

Male fatheads grow more than female fatheads but only with a slight difference. These fish also don’t have a very long life; they only live up to 1 to 1.5 years.

#4 – How big do rosy red minnows get?

Many aquarists think that rosy red minnows will be really small because of their name. But, instead, these fish grow between the sizes of 2 to 3 inches. It takes them almost 6 months to fully grow.

They also don’t reproduce unless they are fully grown and 1-2 years old. Their lifespan is longer than fathead minnows as they live up to 4 years.

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  • Since 2009 I've been writing on different media portals about fishing. Here on this website, it's time to share those experiences I've witnessed in my entire life so far. Let me help you get the best stuff you need while fishing.

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