Keeping Minnows Alive

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Joined: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 8:28pm
Keeping Minnows Alive

I usually trap my own minnows and keep them in a tank.  I like having minnows at my place, because I live out in the hills and depending on the day and lake i'm headed to it may be a  5 mile drive to one bait shop or it may be 30+ to another. 

I have a 15-20 gallon tank set up that's constantly ciruclating water.  I've got a drain in the bottom with an automatic shut off filling in the top.  I'm currently flushing around 20 gallons (well water) through it every day, so the water is always staying fresh.  I trapped about 1000 minnows 5 or 6 weeks ago and up until now I've had very little loss.  The last 2 days i've lost around 150.  I check the tank every day to pick out any death loss.  It seems like i run into this every year.  I did a google search, but didn't come up with anything.  I'm wondering if they are starting to starve.  Any advice?

fisherman25's picture
Joined: Friday, November 26, 2010 - 11:07pm

Talk to Multi species angler. I'm pretty sure you have a water quality, bacterial issue.

doublebarrelsaloon's picture
Joined: Wednesday, April 22, 2009 - 12:51pm

Hard to say what you have going on in there, when alot of us can keep a few scoops a month in a small bucket with a aerator in it you should be doing just fine. Whats the temp in the room you keep them in? During the summer i sometime throw a handful in the fishtank instead of tossing them in the back yard and they dont seem to last as long as they do in a cold bucket.

I dont go around guessing cup sizes either I just know a nice rack when I see one.

Joined: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 8:28pm

*Duplicate post.

Joined: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 8:28pm

I've checked water temp a few times and it's been about 45 degrees.  The place they are in is usually 50-55 degrees. 

Not completely ruling out water quality, but I've got my doubts.  Water quality on my farm is really good. 

multi-species-angler's picture
Joined: Sunday, April 26, 2009 - 1:37pm

 most likely an ammonia issue.  Ammonia is toxic to fish at less than 1 part per million. Cram a few hundred minnows that go to the bathroom in a 20 gallon tank and you'll have ammonia.  Try cycling more water through, adding ammo chips or blocks, keeping less minnows and don't bother feeding them. At those low temps minnows can go months without food. Adding an air stone with an air pump can also help.

Lycanthrope's picture
Joined: Tuesday, February 3, 2004 - 12:00am

If youve had them 5-6 weeks they are probably starving, its not a ammonia or water quality issue. I do the same thing in the summer and they are fine for a while, when they start to die, I release them and trap new in my pond again. Dont bother trying to feed them, in my experience that will make they die sooner usually, the dont eat well in captivity.

Joined: Saturday, March 10, 2012 - 11:27pm

 Along time ago when my uncle had a bait shop he use to give his minnow a peice of bread. When he drop that slice in the bait tank and the minnow would eat it. It also help capture minnow when we had a hard time getting them out of the tank since they would be eating off that peice of bread.

Joined: Wednesday, November 24, 2004 - 12:00am

i dont know what type of food my kid has -- but its for tropical fish --- i put that in the bucket and they went nuts like sharks eating.   Keep them in the beer fridge no airation--- but the kid replaced the water so its stays clear.    Keep them for weeks.   

The whole problem with this keeping minnows is the laws.   You can bring them to MN and the last time they check me before the stiff laws they asked where i bought the minoows----- i imagine now they probably want a receipt.

Stay thirsty my friends

svnmag's picture
Joined: Sunday, November 3, 2002 - 12:00am

A few years ago I gradually removed some water each day in the minnow tank and eventually trained a few to breathe air.  I thought this was convienient until I accidently dropped them off a bridge and they drowned.

 Nuke the Whales

jjs411's picture
Joined: Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - 12:00am


Joined: Tuesday, March 19, 2002 - 12:00am

I think the key to keeping minnows alive is to keep the temp of your water as cold as possible with out freezing(34 to 40 deg). I too trap my minnows in late fall(last of Nov) I keep them in two different container that I bought at Menards. They are plastic wash basins.I have around 20 dozen in each  basin. Holds about 10 gallons of water each. I keep my minnows in my shop and try to keep temp at 36 deg. I change water twice a week. I have my own well. I just stick a sump pump in the basin and pump the water out on the garden and then refill the tanks. As for food I throw a slice of bread in every time I change the water. When weather warms up I will freeze gallon jugs and put them in to keep water cold.When I trap them I will get more minnow with bread than I do with dog food. If you keep loseing minnow you may have wash you tank with baking soda. Also I have an areator in each basin.

johnr's picture
Joined: Wednesday, February 18, 2004 - 12:00am

I keep mine in the bait bucket in the winter time for up to a month, no work to it at all. Then either use them up or buy a new batch next month. Its a couple bucks a scoop, hardly worth all the effort, and expense. Imo

There's a whole generation of Americans that have no idea about the truth of the Clintons, particularly Hillary 

fishfinder97's picture
Joined: Monday, June 14, 2010 - 10:34pm

Add an air stone and try running a little more water through it. It would also help drain it and clean the inside of the tank with hose with a spray nossle but just clean the sides with it the water pressure will hurt the fish if you hit them with it. Keep running water through it while you are doing this

 "If you're too busy to Hunt and catch Fish, then you're too busy"

" The greatest feeling in life is doing what others say you can't"

Crackshot.'s picture
Joined: Tuesday, July 14, 2009 - 11:53pm

I agree with air stones and keeping your solids low. could be  the O2 levels are low, Nitrates are high or  H2s if you have a corner of the tank that builds up with solids.    lots of air will take care of almost any problem.   run air 24/7  or put it on a timer and run it part time.  You will be better off without all your eggs in one basket ,  If you put some of your fish in a couple 5 gallon pails along side your tank, Will take some stress off your system.   Look at the gills of the die offs and see if they are reddish color.     Lots of things to stay one step ahead of ,  air stones are a must




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