How to Raise Golden Shiner Minnows

Updated February 21, 2017

Golden Shiner minnows are among the most plentiful species of fish in North America. This small species of bony fish can be found from the southern United States through Canada and is a staple food source for larger species of freshwater fish. Easily identified by their vibrant reflective scales, Golden Shiner minnows are hardy and thrive in even the most basic water conditions. Raising Golden Shiner minnows is not difficult and can be accomplished with some basic supplies.

Wash your aquarium thoroughly. Golden Shiner minnows are a hardy species of fish but can be easily sickened or killed if any oils or chemicals are present in your tank. Rinse with plenty of clean water and allow to sit for 24 hours to air dry.

Fill your aquarium with an inch of clean gravel. Rinse the gravel under running water to remove any dirt or debris that may be clinging to the rocks before placing them in your tank. Smooth the gravel out so you have an even base on the bottom of your tank.

Scatter a few larger rocks and natural cover around your tank. Natural cover can be items such as driftwood, plants and grasses that occur in the natural habitat of the Golden Shiner minnow. These items can be harvested from streams and ponds near your home or you can purchase them from most aquarium supply stores. Thick grasses are an important part of raising minnows as Golden Shiners will spawn among the grasses once they reach maturity at approximately one year of age.

Add enough water to your aquarium to fill it within an inch of the top. Let the aquarium sit for a few days to allow the chlorine and other chemicals present in most tap water to evaporate and prevent sickening your fish. You can fill your aquarium with bottled water if you wish to skip this waiting period.

Attach the aerator to your tank along with your heater and thermometer. The aerator will help add oxygen to the water and closely mimic natural water conditions while the heater will regulate the temperature so your Golden Shiner minnows do not get too cold. Adjust the thermometer until your tank is at a stable 23.9 degrees Celsius to keep your minnows at an optimal temperature. Golden Shiners will spawn when water temperatures are between 21.1 and 26.6 degrees C, so setting your tank within this range will maximise the number of eggs laid by your fish.

Catch or purchase your Golden Shiner minnows. You can catch them with a minnow trap from local streams or ponds or purchase them from nearby bait shops or hatcheries.

Introduce your minnows to the tank and allow them to rest for a full day before feeding them. Feed your Golden Shiner minnows a commercially-prepared fish food supplemented with small worms such as fly larvae or mealworms. This mixture will mimic the natural diet of the Golden Shiner minnow and will allow your fish to grow and thrive in their new environment.

Leave your fish undisturbed once they have spawned. Golden Shiners do not provide any parental care for their eggs and the fry will hatch and begin to feed with the adult fish within a few days of hatching. Once your minnows reach two to three inches in length they are ready to be harvested and used as bait.


Keep a close eye on the condition of your water. If it is extremely dirty or clouded, drain out one-quarter of the dirty water and replace it with clean water. This change will help remove bacteria and algae from the water that might sicken your fish.


Never add other species of fish in with your Golden Shiner minnows. They are a popular bait fish and will be consumed quickly by larger, more aggressive fish.

Things You'll Need

  • 50 gallon aquarium
  • Gravel
  • Larger rocks
  • Natural coverage such as wood, plants or grasses
  • Aerator
  • Aquarium heater
  • Thermometer
  • Minnow trap
  • Fish food
  • Small worms
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About the Author

Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.