Minnow Aquarium 101: Everything You Need To Know

Hi, this is your friend Clifton Ervin, the founder and chief editor of this site, Aquariumwolf. I completed my graduation in marine biology and became...Read more

If you want a unique aquarium to make your home look more aesthetic, keeping Minnows in your tank can be a great option. As an aquarium specialist, I can guarantee that Minnows make a great tank pet. But, how do you keep wild Minnows as pets?

Well, it’s simple, you set up a Minnow aquarium. Minnows, like any other aquarium fish, thrive greatly in a home environment. You can easily set up a 10-gallon aquarium and keep 6-7 Minnows in it as pets.

To keep them alive, you just need to do one simple thing. Just keep larger fishes out of the aquarium.

Now, are you interested to know more about minnows? Luckily, I have laid down everything you need to know about Minnow aquariums right below. So, stay tuned till the end.

How To Keep Minnows Alive In A Fish Tank?

A common question asked in internet forums is “can you keep wild minnows as pets?” Yes, you can definitely keep wild minnows as pets in aquariums. But, for that, you must provide a suitable environment for your pet Minnows.

Specifically, you can keep wild minnows as pets if you can maintain the following 5 steps. Here we go:

Make sure to keep a lot of Minnows:

As small fishes, Minnows keep in packs all the time. Therefore, if you want to keep wild Minnows in your home, you must stimulate a wild environment by keeping lots of Minnows in the aquarium.

Make sure to keep a lot of Minnows

Providing enough space:

The thumb rule for keeping Minnow is that you must provide at least 10 gallons of space for 6 Minnows. If you want to keep more minnows in your aquarium than this, your aquarium must be proportionately as large.

Providing enough space

Providing ample oxygen:

While providing adequate space for the Minnows to roam free, you must also make arrangements for oxygen generation in the water. For that, you can use electric bubbler motors.

Provide aquatic plants:

To stimulate a natural environment in your aquarium, you must provide some aquatic plants for your pet fishes. Specifically, you can keep plants like Java moss, Java fern, water cabbage, Brazilian pennywort, etc. in the tank.

Provide aquatic plants

Provide ample food:

Keeping an ample amount of natural vegetation will generally generate zooplanktons and phytoplankton for the minnows to eat. However, you should also provide additional fish food.

Minnows don’t need any specialized food items. Rather, general fish feed is enough to keep your Minnows healthy.

What Do Minnows Eat? (In Detail)

Minnows will generally eat small creatures such as mosquitoes, algae, crustaceans, or other insects. In addition to that, they also eat phytoplankton and zooplankton.

Moreover, minnows also like to eat the eggs of other fishes. For example, Minnows can munch on the eggs of salmon. Since the fish egg is a good source of protein and natural oil, it is extremely healthy for them.

Minnows also love to eat smaller fishes. For instance, Dwarf Goby is a type of small fish that they love to eat.

So, if you can provide such types of small fishes in your Minnow aquarium you can rest assured that your Minnows will stay healthy for a long time.

In summary, you can feed your minnows the food Items mentioned below:

  • Insects
  • Fish eggs
  • Small shrimps
  • Zooplankton
  • Phytoplankton
  • Commercial food for fishes
  • Worms (dried)
  • Larvae
  • Bread

What Should Be The Water Condition In Minnow Aquariums?

The water condition in a Minnow aquarium should be somewhat close to a real pond. For example, the water pH level should be between 6 – 8. Plus, the temperature must be below 72 degrees Fahrenheit. And, the water hardness should not be more than 15 dKH.

What Should Be The Water Condition In Minnow Aquariums

Apart from that, the oxygen level in the water must also be optimum. To be more specific, a healthy aquarium for minnows must have a Dissolved Oxygen (DO) level of above 8 PPM. To maintain this much oxygen level in your aquarium, we suggest that you use electric bubbler pumps.

How Frequently Should You Give Food To your Minnows?

One of the most critical things about Minnows is that they can die if you overfeed them. That means, rather than being worried about starving them, you should be more careful about avoiding overfeeding them.

If you overfeed your Minnows, they will get sluggish and lazy. Consequently, they won’t move around a lot and suffer from premature death. That’s why it’s important to provide food to your Minnows in a balanced way.

To be specific, you should provide about 5 grams of food to 10 Minnows every 2 to 3 days. If you have more Minnows in your aquarium, you should scale up the amount of food according to the above-mentioned proportion.

How Frequently Should You Change The Aquarium water?

Generally, you should change 1/4 of the water of your aquarium every couple of weeks. But, if you have a really large aquarium compared to the number of fishes, you can also follow the water-changing routine less frequently. It’s because Minnows are not such a type of fish that pollute the water very fast.

However, I do suggest that you do a thorough clean-up in your aquarium every 2 months. This process will make sure that unhealthy contaminants and parasites do not grow in your aquarium. Resultantly, your Minnows will be healthy as ever.

Do Minnows Breed In Minnow Aquarium?

If your Minnow population consists of multiple males and females, you can be certain that they will breed.

However, in case you want to breed your minnows faster, you must create an environment in your aquarium that stimulates the actual natural environment. To do that, you must provide enough vegetation and healthy food to your Minnows.

Do Minnows Breed In Minnow Aquarium

You should also note that Minnows lay eggs in such locations where there’s enough shade available. So, you have to provide a certain “cave-like” structure in the tank for your Minnows, so they can freely lay eggs in the “cave”.

There’s another key thing to note here that some animals eat the eggs of other Minnows. This occurs especially when there’s a shortage of food and space.

In addition to healthy food, Minnows also need adequate space to stay in the healthy breeding process. That’s why I suggest that you provide at least 10 gallons of volume for 6 Minnows in an aquarium.

Remember, if there’s more space in your aquarium, your fishes will be able to roam around more freely. In turn, they will breed more frequently.

Some Bad Health Symptoms Of Aquarium Minnows

When your aquarium Minnows get sick, they will show symptoms such as below:

  • Bloated belly
  • Roaming around separated from the group
  • Extremely slow movement
  • Irregularities in eating

If you notice these symptoms when your Minnows are old, it’s not actually very abnormal. It simply means, your fishes are reaching the end of their lifetime.

But, if you notice these traits when your fishes are young, you should be concerned. So, I suggest you immediately seek attention from an aquarium professional to save your fish from dying.

What Kinds Of Minnows Can I Keep As Pets In Minnow Aquariums?

Here are the types of Minnows that people commonly keep as pets in their aquariums;

  • Stone roller Minnows
  • Fall fish
  • Carps
  • Fathead Minnows
  • Shiners
  • Chubs
  • Daces

You should understand that large-sized Minnows can tend to eat small-sized Minnows. So, you had better keep the larger family of Minnows together in a tank. And keep smaller Minnows in a separate aquarium.

Can I Keep Minnows With Other Fishes In Aquarium?

You can definitely keep Minnows and other fishes in a single aquarium together. However, this doesn’t mean that all fishes are compatible to be living together with Minnows. Especially, Minnows are not compatible with larger fishes at all.

Rather, you should keep Minnows with other small fishes such as Angelfish, Mollies, or Tetras. If kept with other small fishes, Minnows will get along very quickly and they won’t cause any trouble for other fishes.

However, if there’s a shortage of food in the aquarium, it is possible that Minnows might eat the eggs of other fishes from time to time. So, if you want your Minnow to live peacefully with other types of small fishes, you should provide enough food in the aquarium.

Can I keep Wild-caught Minnows In the Aquarium?

Theoretically speaking, it is possible to keep wild Minnows in an aquarium. However, there’s no guarantee that they would survive in the tank. It’s because, to survive inside an aquarium, wild Minnows will have to go through massive adjustments.

For instance, wild Minnows generally live on an extremely huge variety of food items when they are in a wild pond. But, when you keep them in an aquarium, you cannot provide such a diverse dietary list.

As a result, wild-caught Minnows must go through extreme dietary adjustments to survive. This is exactly why the wild minnows have a high chance of dying.

On top of that, Minnows in the wild have large spaces to swim in. On the other hand, aquariums don’t have that much space for them to roam around. So, the change in the physical environment takes a heavy toll on wild-caught Minnows when you keep them in an aquarium.

Hence, I don’t recommend you try to keep wild Minnows in an aquarium. Rather, you should buy the Minnows that are raised in captivity and have gotten accustomed to the aquarium environment.

Where Can I Buy Minnows To Keep In Aquariums?

To buy Minnows for your aquarium, you should look in your local pet store. Or, you can also check out your local grocery market where live fish are sold.

Mind you, if you can buy Minnows from a grocery market, they will be very cheap to buy. On the other hand, it might be a bit costlier to buy Minnows from pet stores.

Lastly, if you cannot find Minnows in a pet shop or grocery shop, consider looking for Minnows in bait shops, too. Sometimes, bait shops keep Minnows as live bait. These “bait” Minnows can also be ideal to be kept as pets in aquariums.

How Long Do Minnows Live In An Aquarium?

While keeping minnows as pets, you should understand that Minnows can get sick sometimes due to disease or unexpected contaminations in the water. That’s why You should not expect your pet fish to survive in the aquarium for more than 2 years.

How Long Do Minnows Live In An Aquarium

Generally, Minnows live for up to 6 years if they thrive in a wild environment. However, the average lifespan for wild Minnows is much lower because they are often hunted down by larger fish or animals.

With that being said, aquarium Minnows only have an average lifetime of 2 years. It’s because aquarium Minnows live shorter lives. After all, these fishes are mainly small fishes which normally have a smaller life cycle.

Remember that, compared to wild Minnows which are much larger than aquarium Minnows, small Minnows live way less long. It’s because they don’t have as good an immune system as the wild ones.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here, I have listed down some of the most commonly asked questions on the internet. Take a brief look at them to have a clearer understanding of minnow aquariums.

How big do minnows get in an aquarium?

When you breed Minnows in an aquarium, they can be anything from 20 to 80 cm in length. However, on average, Minnows will grow around 40 cm if they are given a healthy diet.

Are commercial minnow tanks available in the USA?

Usually, any dedicated tank for Minnows is not commercially available. Rather, any type of fish tank that has enough space is suited for breeding Minnows.

What to do if my minnows keep dying?

If you are failing to keep your Minnows alive, you should understand that there’s something wrong with your aquarium environment. And, there’s no DIY solution to fix this problem. In that case, I suggest seeking help from a professional aquarium expert as early as possible.

Final Words

Well, that’s all there’s to it, people. Take a deep breath and pat your back as you’ve just finished reading a 2000-plus-word article on minnow aquarium. It was fun, right?

As you can already guess, keeping Minnows in an aquarium is not a difficult job at all. To keep your Minnows alive, all you have to do is just maintain a healthy environment in the aquarium.

How to do that? Providing enough aquatic vegetation and an adequate amount of food will do the job. Plus, you should also provide enough oxygen in the aquarium. If you can manage these steps, your Minnows in the aquarium will live long lives.

Thank you so much for putting lots of time and effort into it. Peace out!!!

Hi, this is your friend Clifton Ervin, the founder and chief editor of this site, Aquariumwolf. I completed my graduation in marine biology and became an Ichthyologist. One of my favorite hobbies is aquarium keeping; therefore, I love to talk about fish keeping, breeding, food behavior, etc., and much more relevant to aquarium maintenance. I have created this site Aquariumwolf, to share my 20 years+ of experience and knowledge with all new to this journey.

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