How to Raise Minnows for Bait

How to Raise Minnows for BaitMinnows are one of the most versatile baits for a fisherman. They can be hooked to catch almost anything. Best of all, they are easy to raise. Minnows are hardy fish that can tolerate temperatures from below freezing to above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. They are also prolific breeders. A single minnow tank can sustain the hobby of a prolific fisherman, along with a few occasional fishing buddies.


Difficulty: Moderate


Things You’ll Need:
  • Dechlorination drops
  • Terra cotta pots
  • Wood
  • Rocks
  • Aerator
  • Feed flakes
  • Starter feed
  • Net
Step 1
Select a tank for your minnows. A 50-gallon tank can yield more than 100 minnows in six months.
Step 2
Add objects for the minnows to lay eggs on. Broken terra cotta pots, rocks or chunks of wood are all good choices, particularly if they have overhangs.
Step 3
Add non-chlorinated water to the minnow tank. If you are using tap water, treat it with chlorine removal drops as directed.
Step 4
Add an aerator sized to your tank. Minnows are used to fast-flowing water, and require good aeration to live.
Step 5
Buy at least one male and two female minnows. Rosy red, fathead and golden shiners all make excellent baitfish.
Step 6
Condition the fish to the temperature of your tank. One way to do this is to place the bags they come in inside the tank for 10 minutes or so to allow the temperature to equalize, then dump the fish in the water.

Feeding and Harvesting

Step 1
Feed the minnows with commercial flakes every morning. Put in enough so that all the fish eat, but not enough food so that it settles to the bottom.
Step 2
Feed the fry a starter feed for the first three weeks after the minnows spawn. Continue to feed the adults a normal feed. If you prefer, feed the fry brine shrimp.
Step 3
Harvest the minnows with a fine net. Place them in a bucket filled with dechlorinated room-temperature water. Leave some minnows behind to keep a breeding population.

Tips & Warnings

Minnows can be grown in a fresh-water pond instead of a tank. If you are using a pond in an area with freezing winters, make sure that it is 8 feet or deeper, or else the minnows will be killed off when the water freezes.

Article Written By Isaiah David

Isaiah David is a freelance writer and musician living in Portland, Ore. He has over five years experience as a professional writer and has been published on various online outlets. He holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Michigan.

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