Minnows 101: What Is A Minnow Fish? Can You Keep Minnows As Pets?

| Published On:
Fishingery.com is supported by its audience. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn More
Minnow fish

Looking for ways on how to breed and raise minnows?

There is no need to worry about it. I have come up with a complete guide for you in this regard. However, before we proceed to these ways and methods, we need to have a brief introduction to fish raising.

Breeding and raising fish is really a great idea. Many people love raising fish as it gives them pleasure and a feeling of calmness.

In addition, scientific researches and studies have proved that watching the fish swim is greatly helpful in relaxing the human body’s muscles.

When it comes to selecting fish you want to raise, minnows are the best option you can go for. Many of the aquarists are of the view that raising this kind of fish can be a rewarding task. So, here is all you need to know about raising Minnow fish.

What Is A Minnow Fish?

The name Minnow fish encircles a large number of freshwater species of fish. They belong to the Cyprinid family, and apart from this name, they are also known by different names in different areas of the world.

For instance, their most commonly used name in Ireland is pinkeens.

Image of Minnow fish

Some other names for different species listed under this category include bluntnose, fathead, and shiner. Some of the fishes of this category are found abundantly, while others are in small numbers and are highly valuable.

Bait is one of the most common and famous titles of these species.

As far as their size is concerned, they are generally small in size. However, at the same time, their sizes vary greatly. For example, a golden shiner may have a length reaching up to 30 cm. However, when we talk about a bluntnose minnow, it can have a length of 10 cm.

Not only this, but they can have a minimum length of 6cm as well. Fathead minnow is an example of the fish of this category having this small size.

When it comes to their weight, golden minnows have 1.5 pounds of weight. And you will be glad to know that it can be eaten and is valuable at the same time. So, it can be a preferable option for you when you are looking for this fish category for raising.

When it comes to northern Asia and Europe, the Minnow fish most frequently found here is Phoxinus. This species is especially known for its colors. Its color usually ranges between golden and green.

If we talk about the color of males of this species, they develop a red color when it is time for them to breed. Another worth considering feature of this species is that other fish and animals eat them as food.

The length of each fish belonging to the Phoxinus species is approximately 7.5 cm.

Related readings below:

Perch Fish 101: Discover How To Identify And Tips To Catch!
Trout 101: Biography, Complete Diet, And Interesting Facts!
What Is A Crappie Fish & How To Identify Them? – (2023 Updated)
Walleye 101: Fishing Tips, Biography & How To Identify Them?
Koi Fish 101: Life Span, Tips, Diet & Biography Explained!

Minnows, Shiners, And Chubs: What’s The Difference?

Although all these terms are interchangeably used while talking about or mentioning different species. But here are some of the factors that will make you understand how they differ from each other.

The first thing you need to know about them is that shiners spawn at a comparatively low rate compared with fathead minnows. Secondly, shiners have a larger size as compared to the minnows. This is what makes them slightly different from each other.

image of Shiner fish

When it comes to the raising of these fish, minnows are raised at farms. While shiners are not grown in farms, instead they are found in the wild.

If we specifically talk about shiners, they are abundantly found as compared to tiger species. And they are found most commonly in freshwater resources like streams, rivers, etc. They are of an approximate length of 10 to 13 cm.

The thing that makes shiners different from other similar species is the presence of nine rays on its body. These rays are found at its mouth as well as anal fin. This is what makes you able to distinguish them from other fish.

If we consider the color factor, they have a lovely color pattern. The color of their back is greenish-blue. In contrast, their sides have a bluish silver color shade.

Like other species, males in this species also have a color change. Males of this species develop a red color on their tales and get anal fin. The appearance of this red color is an indicator that they are in the breeding stage.

While chubs can be differentiated based on their body color, generally, their back is colored greyish green. And their lower parts are white.

Where Do They Spawn & What’s The Life Cycle?

Minnows spawn very often. The places where they are more likely to spawn include ponds and freshwater lakes. And specifically, they place their eggs under the rocks, plants, and other things that provide them safe places.

The optimum temperature for the spawning of minnows ranges between 10 and 21 degrees Celsius. So, they spawn during the months of a year, providing them with the appropriate temperature. The most commonly spawn anytime between May and September.

image of minnow fishes in water

If we talk about the life cycle of these fish, they start spawning by finding out the correct place for this process. For this purpose, the male fish start searching for the appropriate place.

And they find that place which is most commonly under the space of a rock or plant in the water.

Once they have found the needed place, they make that place more suitable and appropriate with the help of their mouth, and their respective organs are known as tubercles. After that, they start protecting that place against intruders and potential threats.

At this stage, the spawning place or nest is ready for laying of eggs. So, the male starts producing gestures and signals that attract the attention of passing females. These gestures may include random motions.

For example, whenever a female carrying egg passes by the nest, the male starts vibrating and tries to build close contact with that female.

It is also worth mentioning the fact that the males accept only the females carrying eggs. At the same time, the females without eggs are not allowed to enter or come near the nest. And then, it is time for the release of eggs.

When the male selects a female carrying an egg, he makes contact with her. Then the male pushes the body of the female against any rocky surface of the nest. This movement makes her body release eggs into the nest.

Image of Minnow fish eggs

When the female’s body is releasing eggs, a stimulation causes the release of sperm from the body of a male. Then, after the successful fertilization of eggs, they are placed at a safe place in the nest. And this safe place is generally the ceiling of the nest.

After the implantation of fertilized eggs, the female is pushed away by the male. More than one female can also be allowed to lay eggs in the nest at the same time. The female who laid the eggs in the nest may come to the next provider if she still has eggs.

Male Minnow fish do their best to take good care of the fertilized eggs. They keep these eggs ventilated. They provide proper oxygen to them by fanning them. Moreover, they remove all unfertilized eggs and others to keep the nest neat and clean.

As mentioned earlier, the males also protect the eggs against predators and any threat they are exposed to—the eggs hatch after a time span of almost seven days.

And the newborn baby fish stay in the nest for a few more days until they become capable of moving and getting food for themselves.

Various Types of Minnows

Showing the types of Minnow fishes

Bridle Shiner (Notropis bifrenatus)

Bridle shiner is also a part of the Cyprinid family. They are most commonly and abundantly found in South Carolina as well as North America. Like other members of this species, this fish also has a smaller size.

If we talk about their body shape, they have slim bodies. The average length of these fish is about 50 millimeters. However, when it comes to body texture, their skin has large scales on it.

The scales have a light brown straw color, while a silver shade can be found at the dorsal part of the body. These fish live in freshwater bodies like lakes, ponds, and rivers.

However, sometimes they can be found in murky or turbid water as well. They use plants, rocks, and similar bodies for shelter and eat some plant species and insect larvae as food.

Common Carp (Cyprinus Carpio)

Common carps are also known as European carps. This species is thought to be under the threat of being extinct. However, they like to live in large freshwater bodies like rivers and lakes when it comes to their habitat.

They are more likely to adopt and live in warm waters. However, they have the capacity to tolerate the very cold weather as well. So, they can survive under frozen lakes until or unless there is some water available where they can live.

They spawn mainly during the spring season, and a single spawn may contain up to 300K eggs. Their food includes explicitly plants, but they can also replace it with insects, crawfishes, etc.

Bigeye Chub (Notropis amblops)

These fish are also among the smallest of the minnow species. These fish have large-sized eyes as well as larger scales on their body. Their body color is silvery.

They are generally found in freshwater lakes that are small or medium size. At the same time, some of the experts found them in ponds and riffles as well.

Some of the research and studies conducted in this regard reveal that these fish are decreasing continuously due to water pollution. As far as the nature of their food is concerned, they eat mainly mayflies, insects, and tiny insect larvae, etc.

Emerald Shiner (Notropis Atherenoids)

Emerald shiner is also among the slim fish of this species. They have a slim body and can attain a length of four inches. The countries and areas where they are found include Mexico, North America, and Canada.

Their bodies have a lateral band having a silver-green color. While the back and upper sides also have a green shade. And the front of this fish is white-colored. However, there is no pigment found between the nostrils and eyes.

Emerald shiner lives commonly in large clear water reservoirs, including rivers and large lakes. At the same time, they are also capable of surviving in turbid waters as well.

The optimum temperature for their survival and reproduction is 25 degrees Celsius. It is also worth mentioning here that they can survive in low oxygen levels too.

Golden Shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas)

Golden shiner is primarily found in North America, and it is believed to have the origin from the same area. People raise this fish on a large scale in pounds as it is a bait. Therefore, it is one of the most famous and common of the Minnow fish species.

The size of this fish type is between three and five inches. The body of this fish consists of dark olive green scales. The belly of this fish has a white color.

The sides of this fish are silver for younger ones while they are golden for older fish. The places where these fish are more commonly found include Great Lakes, Lake Winnipeg, Dakota, Texas, and St Lawrence river.

Lake Chub (Couesius plumbeus)

Lake Chub is a fish belonging to the Cyprinid family mainly found in the water reservoirs of Canada and the United States. It has an elongated body and can grow up to length ranging between four and seven inches.

Scales on the body of this fish are although small but can be easily noticed. As far as the body color is concerned, the back of this fish is dark brown colored, while the silver shade is found on the sides. Fins of these fish consist of eight rays.

These fish prefer to live in cold water bodies like streams, lakes, and rivers. And they stay in shallow waters generally. However, in exceptional cases like high temperatures, they may go into deep waters. Their food includes insect larvae, zooplankton as well as algae.

Horny Head Chub (Nokomis biguttatus)

Horny head chub fish are found less abundant or in a relatively smaller number. They are found generally in Canada and the northern USA. The habitat they choose most commonly includes the river pools having rocks.

Unlike other small fish of this species, they have bodies of medium size. In addition, no teeth are found in these fish. Instead, they have a dark lateral strop.

The body color of these fish is brown. While sides of these fish feature a silver color. Apart from other body parts, their bellies are white.

Mimic Shiner (Notropis volucellus)

The thing that makes this fish different from others of this species is its unique body structure. The most prominent features regarding its body shape include premaxillae projectile, dorsal fin rays, and lateral lines.

If we look back into the history of these fish, they were found in the Mississippi River, Great Lake, Hudson Bay. Nowadays, it is most commonly found in Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee.

Their food mainly contains insects, crustaceans, and larvae. This species is thought to survive or live for a time span of three years.

Goldfish (Carassius auratus)

This one is another unique fish of this species. Its amazingly beautiful appearance and fascinating body color make it appealing for the people who love raising fish in their aquarium. These fish are of different types, shapes, and colors.

The colors combination this fish may have include orange, yellow, red, white, and brown. The origin of this fish links back to ancient China. People have been raising this fish as a source of food for many years.

The food this fish takes may be crustaceans, plants, and insects.

Fallfish (Semotilus corporates)

This fish is the largest of the minnow family. Its size may range somewhat between 5 and 15 inches. If we talk about appearance, its body has dark cored scales on it. At the same time, silvery shade can be observed at the sides.

When the male sofa this type of fish is at the mating stage, they develop a rose color on their faces. At the time of spawning, males build a nest made up of stones and spawned here.

Their food contains zooplankton and chironomids. However, sometimes they may eat their own babies as well. As far as their habitat is concerned, they live in freshwater bodies like lakes, rivers, and ponds.

Minnows Diet & Food

When it comes to the feeding of minnows, there are two ways they get food. One of them is natural feeding, and the other one is feeding in captivity. Here is all you need to know in this regard.

Natural Feeding

As we know that Minnow fish belong to an extensive family. So, there are different ways each member of this species adopts to gain food. Some of them rely on insects, water plants, insect larvae, and small animals.

While others also eat their babies as a source of food. Some of them also take algae, phytoplankton, and zooplankton as food. In addition to it, they may also eat dead remains of animals.

Captivity Or Aquarium Feeding

Feeding minnow fish in an aquarium or captivity is totally different from natural or wild feeding. In the case of captivity feeding, the aquarists need to be selective while determining what kind of food to be given to these fish.

Wild minnow fish inside a jar

Some of the aquarists prefer growing phytoplankton which these fish can eat like food. Therefore, not only plants but algae are also provided to these fish. In addition, phosphorus-rich fertilizers are used to boost the growth of algae.

Furthermore, high protein food supplements can also be given to these fish. However, the food given to these fish must be in small pieces; otherwise, it can be problematic. So, it is always better to grind the food into smaller particles to easily eat it.


Overfeeding is one of the leading causes of death in fish. So, the quantity of food must be compatible with their eating capacity. Therefore, instead of putting their daily diet all in once, it is always better two split it into two times.

In short, it is necessary for the person raising these fish to understand their eating behavior.

Can You Eat Minnow Fish?

Yes, you can eat Minnow fish. Apart from being used as bait, they are also consumed as food. As mentioned earlier in this article, most of these fish are small in size.

However, some of them are found in large sizes as well. Therefore, you can either cook them before eating, or you can even eat them alive as well. However, it is always better to eat these fish after properly cooking them.

Image of Deep frying the minnow fish

Owing to their small size, there is no need to remove bones or similar stuff from them. Instead, you can cook them without worrying about cutting and cleaning them. However, in the case of bigger fish, you cannot cook them this way.

When it comes to cooking, the most common way of doing so is to fry them deeply. The process of cooking them is straightforward and simple, as mentioned below.

First of all, you have to coat the fish pieces with a mixture of flour and cornmeal in an equal proportion. Then take an appropriate amount of cooking oil you use in a skillet. Then start heating the skillet on the stove. Then deep fry them and serve for eating.

Minnow Fish Facts:

  • One common thing in this whole species is that they are mostly small-sized except for very few of them.
  • Another thing is that all of them generally have a silver-colored body. However, the sides of their bodies can be different colored for different family members.
  • Almost all of these fish eat insect larvae, plants, or smaller animals.
  • Common aquarium fish; You will be surprised to know that this fish is raised in home aquariums on a large scale. No other type or species of fish can compete with them in this regard. The reason behind this is its beautiful colored body and small size.
  • Besides being raised as bait or aquarium fish, these fish are kept as a pet by a majority of the people.
  • It is the specialty of these fish that they carry out the spawning process most carefully and effectively. Unlike all other fish who don’t care for their eggs and abandon them, these fish take good care of their eggs and hatch them successfully.
  • Another unique characteristic of these fish is better survival against harsh or inappropriate environmental conditions.
  • Many other fish have gone extinct or have become endangered species. Still, Minnow fish have survived best due to their specialty of tolerating the pollution, pH changes, temperature variations, and lack of oxygen.
  • Compatibility with a wide range of habitats is also worth considering facts about this species. Not every fish can survive in all kinds of habitats. The Minnow fish can survive in various habitats, including rivers, ponds, lakes, marshes, etc.
  • Upon comparing this species with other fish families, you can easily find out that Minnow fish can eat a large variety of foods. For instance, their food ranges from animals, plants, and insects to algae. There are no other species that can do the same.

How To Catch Minnow Fish?

If you plan to get some Minnow fish from your aquarium, pond, or whatever you want, there is no need don’t worry about it. I have come up with a simple way to help you catch these fish with ease and effectiveness.

Here is a simple procedure that you can adopt in order to catch this type of fish.

Step 1

In the first step, you will have to collect all the things that you will need in the whole process of making a trap on your own. The items you will need may include plastic bottles, nails, Kite strings, etc.

Step 2

Once you have got all the things required for the process, it is time to start making the trap. For this purpose, cut one-third of one of the bottles from the bottom side.

image of Cutting a water bottle

After that, you need to cut the neck and shoulder piece of the bottle.

Step 3

After cutting both of the bottles, you have to fix them into each other. You can do so by putting the bottle, whose bottom piece was cut, into the bottle whose neck side was cut down.

While doing this process, it is necessary to keep a flame or burner or any other source of love in front of you. The flame will help you mold the bottles in shapes compatible with each other so that they may be fixed into each other.

Step 4

In this step, you are supposed to take the nails, turn the burner on, and heat the nails. You have to use pliers to hold the nails on the burner flame. After heating nails well, you can proceed to the next step, sewing the bottle parts with each other.

Step 5

After you have heated the nails well, grasp the above-said parts of the bottle in your hand firmly. And make holes along the bottom ends by pressing the nails into the bottle parts through pliers.

After successfully making nearly ten holes in the bottle parts, sew them with the thread to avoid getting untied from each other.

Then make holes through the sides of the bottle as well. Now your Minnow fish trap is ready for use. You can use a piece of bread or any similar stuff and start catching Minnows.

In this way, you can catch these fish using your homemade trap. If you need a more detailed process of doing this, you will be provided with that guide soon.

How To Identify A Minnow Fish?

It is a common perception that small fish are more likely to be Minnows. And most of the people identify them based on their small size. But, this perception is not always correct. There are some cases when a small fish is actually not a Minnow fish.

Here are some tips and tricks that can help you differentiate this species of fish from others.

The first thing that can help you identify this kind of fish accurately is that all fish of this category have naked heads. But, an exception to this rule is that males of this category of fish develop bump-like structures named tubercles during the breeding season.

Moreover, the presence of one dorsal fin into their bodies and having rays less than ten is also a specific characteristic of these fish.

Similarly, you can also differentiate them from others because these fish don’t have teeth.

Minnow Fish Fishing Tips

If you want to make your fishing experience effective and fruitful, you must choose the correct ways and techniques. Here are some of the tips and tricks that will help you make your fishing experience great.

image of a person holding small fish in hand

Temperature factor

First that you need to keep in mind while fishing this type of fish is the temperature factor. These fish are sensitive to the temperature change of the water they are living in. Any negligence in this regard can even kill your fish.

Therefore, keep this factor in mind and don’t forget to maintain the water temperature where these fish are residing. You must put these fish in water having temperatures similar to that of the lake, pond, or river from where they were caught.

In this way, you can avoid loss you might get otherwise in the form of the death of your fish.

Water Replacement

The water your fish are residing in must be changed it replaced after regular intervals. Failure to do this may also kill your fish—the reason behind which can be the pollution.

So, don’t forget to replace the aquarium’s water or any other vessel having fish in it. It will keep them safe from pollution.


Implantation of the aerator is also necessary to keep your fish alive. The replacement of water lessens the pollution, but oxygen nee dogfish cannot be met without an aerator.

An aerator rules out the chances of lack of oxygen and the suffocation of fish by meeting their oxygen needs. Therefore l, don’t forget to implant an aerator in your fish vessel or aquarium.

Fishing techniques

The way or technique you adopt for fishing also matters a lot. An improper or inappropriate way of fishing can reduce its effect on one hand and can cause the death of fish.

The process of fishing given above is one of the best methods available in this regard. Therefore, it would be better for you to go for the above-given method.

Final Verdict:

If you are a fish lover and want to breed any of the members of Minnows species, it would be necessary for you to know-how about its lifestyle, reproductive cycle, and other similar factors.

Furthermore, you must also be aware of the different types of these fish and methods to differentiate them from one another.

In addition to it, it must be in your knowledge that what type of food is good for the fish of your choice and what kind of environment is appropriate for it.

If you are new to the field of raising Minnows and want to do this, stop worrying about it. The information related to Minnows given in this article will enable you to raise Minnows fish in a better way and take good care of them.

Therefore, before you get any of the fish belonging to this species, give a read to this article. It will undoubtedly be helpful for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

#1 – What kind of fish do Minnows grow up to be?

Commonly it is thought that Minnow fish are always small-sized fish. But it is so. Some of these fish can grow larger than usual. These fish are used for various purposes. For instance, they can be used as bait, food, pet, etc.

#2 – Are minnows just baby fish?

Most people think that minnows are baby fish, but this perception is totally wrong. Some of these fish grow larger enough to be used as food or diet. Therefore, you can not specify the word baby fish to this category of fish only.

#3 – Can you eat minnow fish?

Yes, you can eat minnow fish without any hesitation. Some of the people eat these fish without cooking them. At the same time, others prefer to eat it after cooking

So, it is up to which one of these methods you choose. However, eating cooked fish is thought to be a safer option.

#4 – Are minnows aggressive?

No, generally, the fish are not aggressive in their nature. They are very peaceful, and you can easily place them in water vessels or aquariums in your house.

However, in some cases, aggression is seen. For example, at the mating stage, they show aggressive behavior.

#5 – Can I put a minnow in my fish tank?

Yes, you can put them in your fish tank. They are very beautiful, friendly and peaceful. So, there is no need it hesitate while putting them in your fish tank.

#6 – Can you keep minnows in a pond?

The habitats these prefer to live or reside including rivers, lakes, and ponds. So, it is ok to put these fish in a pond. However, it would be necessary for you to take care of them by providing a pollution-free, oxygenated environment and food to them.

#7 – Is it safe to eat a minnow raw?

Some of the people like to eat this fish without cooking it. And most commonly, it is thought to be safe to eat this fish raw.

However, in very few cases, eating fish like this can be harmful because of the probability of internal bleeding if the body results from their bones or the danger of Anisakis worm is also there.

#8 – How do you tell the difference between a male and a female minnow?

Differentiating between a male and a female minnow is not a big deal. You can easily differentiate between them by looking at their bodies.

Generally, females have silver-colored bellies. While males develop a rose-red color on their belly during spawning season.

#9 – Can I put minnows with my goldfish?

Yes, it is okay to put your goldfish and minnows together. The reason behind it is that they both belong to the same species. And they are accustomed to living in the same environment.

So, don’t hesitate to put your goldfish with a minnow.

#10 – What is the difference between minnows and fish?

No, there is no difference between these both. Because minnow is just the name of a species of fish, in simple words, we can say that minnows are a type of fish, so there can be no difference between them.

Your Author

  • 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.

Leave a Comment