Homemade Bait Tank

Homemade Bait Tank
Live bait can provide great swimming action and motion in the water that will attract many fish and encourage a strike. However, live bait such as minnows can be expensive or even hard to find based on location or season. The solution is to make your own bait tank. A basic tank requires only a few items and a little time to assemble.


Difficulty: Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Ice chest
  • Aerator
  • Water (tap or distilled)
  • Chlorine removal solution or tablets
  • Bait fish
Step 1
Select an ice chest of appropriate size. A home based bait tank will typically be used to hold enough bait fish for several outings. A plastic ice chest in the 40 to 50 gallon range will usually work well.
Step 2
Wash the inside of the chest thoroughly with a mild soapy solution. Wipe down the interior with a clean cloth and rinse all of the soap from the interior. All of the soap must be removed so it may be necessary to rinse the chest more than one time.
Step 3
Fill the ice chest with tap water or distilled water. If tap water is used, you will also need to purchase a solution or tablets that will neutralize the chlorine in the water. Chlorine and other similar chemicals may kill bait fish. Distilled water has been purified of chlorine and other chemicals.
Step 4
Assemble a bait tank aerator that you may purchase from a sporting goods or big box store. Follow the manufacturer's directions on setting up the air intake and outlet hoses. Plug the cord of the aerator into the wall and place your finger over the end of the air intake hose. There should be a slight vacuum created against your finger if the unit is working correctly.
Step 5
Mount the aerator onto the side of the ice chest. Secure the unit in place with any included hanging brackets. Route the cord down the side of the chest and do not allow it to contact the water. Orient the hoses of the aerator as directed so that there is a maximum amount of air and resulting bubbles.
Step 6
Add the bait fish to the home made tank. Monitor the fish for several hours to make sure they continue to show signs of healthy behavior.

Tips & Warnings

Vary the size of the ice chest as needed.
Position the tank where small children cannot have access. Keep in mind that it takes only a few inches of water to drown and there will be much more than that in the tank.

Article Written By Keith Dooley

Keith Dooley has a degree in outdoor education and sports management. He has worked as an assistant athletic director, head coach and assistant coach in various sports including football, softball and golf. Dooley has worked for various websites in the past, contributing instructional articles on a wide variety of topics.

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