How to Raise Fish for Bait

How to Raise Fish for Bait
Anglers fishing for bass, trout and similar fish often find that live bait performs best. While baitfish such as minnows can be purchased at many fishing stores, it is typically cheaper to raise baitfish on your own. Learn how to raise fish for bait in your own home for a cheap and ready supply for your next fishing trip.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Bait fish (e.g. minnows)
  • Two 50-gallon fish tanks
  • Large clay pots
  • Water
  • Filtration and aeration system
  • Fish food
  • Fish net
Step 1
Select the fish species. Typically, hobbyists choose to raise minnows because they are hardy and breed readily. Live minnows are available at most bait shops, as well as at specialty pet stores or local aquaculture farms.
Step 2
Set up the fish tanks. Place each fish tank adjacent to each other on a sturdy surface that is out of direct sunlight and away from direct heat or cold. Fill with water.
Step 3
Set up the aeration and filtration system. Most hobbyists use a waterfall-type filtration system that pulls water from the tank, sends it through a filtration substrate, and returns the water to the tank from an elevated position. This simultaneously aerates the water. Example products include Marineland Penguin and the Tetra Whisper. However, individuals can also use separate filtration and aeration systems, such as an underwater filter and an air stone.
Step 4
Submerge the clay pots on their side. Minnows and most other types of baitfish like to lay their eggs on the underside of objects. Clay pots provide the perfect environment for this, and are also easy to remove when you wish to transfer the eggs out of the fish tank.
Step 5
Run the filter and aerator for 48 hours. This allows gases to naturally dissipate from the water and ensures that the water is purified. Failure to do this may result in your fish dying, especially if you live in a municipality that uses high levels of dissolved chemicals such as fluoride and chlorine.
Step 6
Release the fish into one of the fish tanks. Feed them twice daily with commercially prepared fish flakes supplemented with live feed such as brine shrimp. Some individuals also feed their baitfish vegetable matter such as spirulina chips and small pieces of washed lettuce.
Step 7
Remove the clay pots once the minnows have laid eggs in them. Typically, minnows may start breeding as soon as they become accustomed to your fish tank. Place the pots in the second fish tank. This allows the baby minnows to hatch and grow without being eaten by the adult fish. When they have reached an inch long, you may use your fish net to put them into the main tank.

Tips & Warnings

Some hobbyists keep more than two tanks running at once and move each batch of newly-hatched fish into a new tank. This helps them keep track of the fishes' age and allows them to use the oldest fish as bait, circulating the fish population for optimum health.


Article Written By Josh Duvauchelle

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.

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