What Do Minnows Eat? – Some Tips on Caring for Our Shiny Fish Friend

Minnows are a relatively small breed of fish. They can adapt well to their surroundings, given that the habitat offers the appropriate food for them to survive. But what do minnows eat? As an omnivore, they can feed on both plants and other, smaller animals. This adaptability helps minnows thrive in habitats that can be considered not ideal for this fish.

Minnows prefer fresh and clean water like rivers, lakes, and ponds. But they can also be found in bogs and swamps which are considered not to be the cleanest bodies of water. Some breeds can also thrive in waters with some salinity. As for temperature, minnows are not that choosy as they can live in both warm and cool areas as long as they have enough sustenance.

Minnow and Their Preferred Habitat

As stated earlier, minnows prefer clean and fresh water streams. Because they are relatively small they often prey themselves. You can find minnows hiding under rocks or underwater plants to avoid predators.

Minnows Natural Habitat...

They also use debris to camouflage themselves while waiting for food to pass by. It is also not uncommon for you to find different types of minnows living within the same body of water.

Minnow’s Natural Diet

Almost all species of minnows are omnivores but prefer plants and moss. However, there are a few select species of minnows that are purely carnivorous. The omnivore minnows have a wide range of diet from plant life to smaller water-based organisms. The carnivore minnows on the other hand primarily prey on arthropods and smaller organisms.

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In terms of their place in the ecosystem, minnows are considered to be an ecological importance as they are also a food source for other species such as fish and birds. Minnows are also popular for fishermen as they are often used as bait.

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There was an interesting shift in minnow’s behavior during the past couple of decades though. If the temperature in their habitat starts to decrease, minnow becomes more nocturnal. This is believed to be their way of adapting to the changes in their environment and their way of avoiding predators as certain predators become less active at night.

Different Types of Minnows

1. Bigeye Chub

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Via: Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

This species of minnow mostly prefers fresh clean water and cannot survive murky or salty water. It is defined by its shiny silver body, transparent fins, and a dark line that streaks across its face towards to its tail. The Bigeye Chub is strictly a carnivore and eats invertebrates. It can grow up to 4 inches as an adult.

2. Bigmouth Shiner

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Via: Konrad P.Schmidt

The Bigmouth has a rather long upper jaw, hence its name, and transparent fins. It has a grainy silver color and has a dark-colored dorsal line at its back. The Bigmouth is a nocturnal hunter and preys primarily on invertebrates. It mostly avoids bodies of water that contain moderate traces of algae.

3. Bluntnose Minnow

This is the most common type of minnow and can grow up to 40 inches in length. It is defined by the black spots found on its dorsal fin and an olive colored body. It is an omnivore and eats both small aquatic animals and algae.

4. Comely Shiner

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This minnow is characterized by its pointy nose and slender frame. The dorsal fin is also located further back compared to other minnow species. It has a shiny silver appearance and is commonly found in clean fresh water streams. Its diet consists mostly of smaller aquatic animals and it prefers to hunt in areas with gravel.

What to Feed Minnows?

The recommended food for you minnows is freeze dried bloodworms. You can buy one at your local pet shop and I recommend you look for Omega One Freeze Dried Bloodworms as it contains a decent amount of protein and has low ash content.

You can also feed minnows your standard fish flakes. There are cases, depending on the breed of minnow, wherein they become picky eaters. They would sometimes ignore fish flakes altogether. If this happens try mixing in brine shrimp into the flakes until your minnows adapt to a fish flake diet.

Caring for Your Minnows

If you have minnows in your aquarium then you should be aware of that common cause of death for this fish is overfeeding. You have to be aware of how much pellets you feed and also make sure that the pellets are small enough for the minnows to eat properly.

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To know how much pellets, you need to put in the aquarium, first put a small dose and wait for 5 minutes. All pellets should be gone by now. If you see still see pellets floating around the aquarium then you should cut back for the next feeding session. If the minnows are able to clean up within 3 minutes then you should add a pinch more.

You should feed your minnows two times per day, every day. Just remember to feed them in moderation to avoid overfeeding. Minnows tend to eat as long as there is food available which is why most minnows in captivity die due to overeating. Being mindful of this will allow your minnows to survive a long healthy life.

Here’s a quick little video about proper care for minnows:

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Setting Up Your Aquarium to House Minnows

There are 5 steps for you to set up the house for our Beloved Shiny Friends:

  1. Clean up Your Aquarium
  2. Neccessary Volume of Water & Place for the Aquarium
  3. Filter Installation
  4. Decorate the House for Your Friends
  5. Add the Minnows

1 - Clean Your Aquarium

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Minnows, or most types of minnows, require a clean and fresh water to thrive. You should regularly clean your aquarium to ensure that your minnows will be able to survive without any hitch. If your aquarium housed a previous fish that had died then I suggest you first clean it thoroughly before placing a minnow in it.

2 - Volume of Water & Where to Place the Aquarium

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The recommend aquarium to house minnows should be at least be able to contain 10 gallons of water. Remember to place the aquarium in an area where you will be keeping it for a long duration as it will be extremely difficult to move once filled with water.

3 - Filter Installation

Install an under-gravel filter at the bottom of the aquarium. Fill it to at least one-inch high with gravel. You should place the pot/cave before putting in the gravel. This makeshift clay cave will be a great place for minnows to lay eggs.

4 - Decorations

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Fill your tank with water. You can place your decorations during this step as well. If you are using real plants then make sure that the plant you will place inside the aquarium is suited for freshwater environments.

5 - Add the Minnows

Add the minnows into the aquarium. Be mindful of other fish that will be placed inside the aquarium. Larger fish breeds will most likely eat the minnows. You can install an aquarium light on top of the tank but minnows are actually quite durable in terms of temperature changes.

The preferred temperature within the tank for your minnows is around 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The light should also be on for at least 15 hours a day as minnows thrive during the summer season.

Final Thoughts

Minnows are extremely easy to take care of. The main problem you will need to avoid is overfeeding them which shouldn’t be a problem as long as you are well-informed in this matter. I highly recommend Omega One Freeze Dried Bloodworms as feeds for you minnows as the pellets are quite small and it is packed with protein as well.

As always leave a comment down below if you have anything to add. Maybe some tidbits of helpful tips I missed here and there. Share this to other fish enthusiasts and spread the love for our aquatic based friends.

Kevin Smith

About the Author

Kevin Smith

Ahoy there! The name’s Kevin Smith, the proprietor of this little travel and outdoors blog. The outdoors has always been a passion of mine since I was a kid as my parents were avid campers themselves. They taught me everything I know when it comes to camping, hiking etc. and I would like to do my part by imparting my know-how to like-minded individuals who enjoy the same hobby as me. I started this website in the hopes of helping other people when it comes to answering questions, giving tips and recommendations focusing on the camping niche. Along with some close friends of mine, we are here to help you make the most out of your outdoor experience. Enjoy your stay and enjoy the wild side!

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