How to Make a Homemade Bait Tank

How to Make a Homemade Bait Tank
Live bait is preferred by many anglers for its realistic swimming action in the water. The lively and natural movement in the water is the key to catching big fish as far as many anglers are concerned. However, bait fish are not always readily available and may be quite pricey depending on the time of year or location. For those who prefer live bait, such as minnows, a bait tank at home is the way to go. And if you are interested in saving a little money with an easy to do project, a homemade bait tank can be easily assembled in a short amount of time.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • 48 gallon or larger plastic cooler
  • Distilled water or water from bait fish source
  • Clean cloth
  • Aerator
  • Extension cord and power source
  • Bait fish such as minnows
Step 1
Wipe down the interior of a 48 gallon or larger plastic cooler. Select a cooler that will allow enough room for the number of bait fish you want to keep. Wipe the interior of the cooler with distilled water and a clean cloth.
Step 2
Place the cooler in a location that will not be in direct sunlight and will be convenient and out of reach of children and animals. Fill the cooler with water. Use distilled water or water from the source where the bait fish were obtained and fill the cooler to within 2 or 3 inches of the top.
Step 3
Connect any inlet or outlet hoses to the aerator and plug the aerator into a power source. Block the end of the inlet hose to test for suction. Place the aerator on the side of the cooler and position the inlet and outlet hoses so that there is a good source of oxygen and bubbles entering the water.
Step 4
Allow the aerator to run for several hours to ensure the set up is working properly. Add the bait fish to the cooler and monitor closely for the first few hours.
Step 5
Check on the bait fish periodically and feed as necessary to ensure they remain healthy and active for use as bait.

Tips & Warnings

Adjust the level of the water, if necessary, so that the aerator works properly.
Monitor the bait fish in the cooler to make sure there is enough room and the bait is able to move and freely swim around. This will help reduce injury and the possibility of disease.

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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