Raising Minnows For Bait: A Step-By-Step Guide To Growing Your Own Live Bait

Fishing is a popular pastime for many people worldwide, and using live bait can significantly increase your chances of success. Minnows are a popular choice of live bait for various fish species.

Growing your own minnows can save you money and provide readily available live bait for your fishing trips. In this article, we’ll take you through the step-by-step process of raising minnows for bait, ensuring that you have a constant supply for your fishing needs.

Raising minnows for bait at home is not as complicated as it may seem. With a few essential steps and proper care, you can have a thriving colony of minnows in no time. So let’s dive into the process and learn what it takes to become your own minnow bait supplier.

This guide will cover everything from selecting your minnow species and setting up their habitat to caring for your minnows efficiently. By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to providing your own sustainable live bait source.

Selecting Your Minnow Species

Fathead Minnows

The fathead minnow is a popular choice to raise for bait due to its hardiness, ability to reproduce quickly, and acceptance by various fish species. Fathead minnows are adaptable to various water conditions, making them a suitable option for beginners.

See also  Top 10 White Bass Lures To Make Your Next Fishing Trip Unforgettable

Golden Shiners

Golden shiners are larger baitfish, which can grow up to 5 inches in length. They are often used to target bass and other larger fish. Golden shiners are slightly more difficult to raise due to their sensitivity to water quality.

Rosy Red Minnows

Rosy red minnows are a color variant of the fathead minnow, known for their bright orange coloration. These minnows are equally as hardy as fathead minnows and make a visually appealing option for live bait.

Setting Up the Minnow Habitat

Choosing the Right Tank or Pond

For raising minnows, a large tank or pond is necessary to provide ample space for growth and reproduction. An outdoor pond is ideal, but a large aquarium or stock tank can also suffice indoors. A minimum of 50 gallons is recommended for a small minnow colony.

Filtration and Aeration

Proper filtration is essential to maintain water quality and ensure your minnows stay healthy. A sponge filter or power filter can help remove waste and maintain water clarity. Additionally, adding an air pump to provide oxygen to the water will help support the minnows’ respiration.

Temperature and Lighting

Minnows are cold-water fish and generally prefer temperatures between 65-75°F. It’s important to maintain a stable temperature in the range, either by providing shade outdoors or utilizing a heater in an indoor setup.

Providing Cover and Substrate

Providing ample cover and hiding spots in your minnow habitat will help mimic their natural environment and minimize stress. Adding aquatic plants, rocks, or PVC pipes will create hiding places for your fish. A sandy or gravel substrate at the bottom of the tank will provide a natural feel for the minnows.

See also  Are Fishing Worms Good for Gardens? [A Comprehensive Guide]

Caring for Your Minnows

Feeding Your Minnows

High-quality fish food, such as flakes or pellets, should be provided to your minnows to ensure proper nutrition. Supplement their diet with live or frozen foods, such as brine shrimp or bloodworms, for added protein.

Maintaining Water Quality

Regular water changes are crucial to maintaining good water quality for your minnows. 10-20% water changes every week will help prevent ammonia and nitrate build-up. Testing your water chemistry regularly will help monitor water quality and make adjustments if necessary.

Breeding Your Minnows

Spawning Set-Up

To encourage breeding, provide suitable spawning sites for your minnows. This can include spawning mops, mesh, or PVC pipes. Spawning typically occurs in the early morning at temperatures around 70°F.

Caring for Fry

Once the minnows have spawned, the eggs will hatch in 3-7 days. The fry will need to be fed high-quality fry food, such as powdered fish flakes or baby brine shrimp, to ensure proper growth and development.

Harvesting Your Minnows for Bait

Netting Your Minnows

Use a fine mesh net to gently scoop out the desired number of minnows. Be sure to avoid catching any eggs or fry during this process. Once collected, the minnows can be stored in a smaller container with fresh water and an aerator until it’s time to use them as bait.


Raising minnows for bait might seem like a daunting task, but it can be a rewarding and cost-effective way to supply live bait for your fishing trips. With proper care and attention, you’ll have a thriving colony of minnows ready to catch those fish. Happy fishing!

See also  6 Irresistible Crappie Flies Every Angler Needs In Their Tackle Box


1. Can I raise different species of minnows in the same tank?
Yes, but it’s important to research each species’ specific needs and ensure that they are compatible in water conditions and temperature preferences.

2. How long does it take for my minnows to be ready for use as bait?
Minnows can be used as bait once they reach a size of approximately 1.5-2 inches, which typically takes 2-3 months.

3. What should I do if my minnows are not breeding?
Double-check your water quality, temperature, and spawning set-up. Make any necessary adjustments and ensure that your minnows are receiving proper nutrition.

4. How can I increase the growth rate of my minnows?
Provide a high-quality diet and maintain optimal water conditions. Increased water changes can also help provide a cleaner environment, promoting growth.

5. How many minnows can my tank or pond support?
In general, a 50-gallon tank or pond can support a colony of 50-100 minnows. Always monitor your water quality and adjust stocking levels if needed.

Leave a Comment