How to Keep Minnows After Catching Them

Updated July 20, 2017

Minnows are one of the best bait fish you can use to catch game fish. They aren't hard to find in small creeks and streams, and can be transported with very little problem. You can keep minnows alive for a fishing trip overnight, or even for a few days, as long as you supply oxygen, cool water and enough food.

Place a dozen minnows in a minnow bucket. Insert,the minnow bucket into a small creek. Tie the minnow bucket to a tree. Make sure to place sizeable rocks within the bucket to weigh it down. Minnows are able to survive when placed into a minnow bucket as long as they aren't packed in like canned sardines. Place your minnow bucket in secluded stream, overnight or in water as you fish. This will keep the minnows fresh and supply them with natural oxygen.

Place minnows in a 5-gallon aquarium. Add a small aerator to provide oxygen that will keep the minnows alive for an extended period. To do this, fill the tank approximately three-quarters full with pond or stream water. Release a dozen minnows into the small tank. Insert the aquarium aerator into the water. Add rocks to the aerator to keep it down. Watch the water levels within the aquarium and add fresh water when needed. Insert small plants within the tank, so the minnows will have additional oxygen.

Add fresh creek, lake or river water into the minnow bucket or tank that holds your minnows. In order to keep them alive, minnows need fresh water regularly. Every 3 hours, dip out half of the water in your minnow bucket or tank and add fresh water. Do not add tap water, as it doesn't hold enough oxygen to sustain fish.

Keep minnows from getting too hot. If you are in warm weather or a sunny location, find a shady place to sit your minnow bucket. Submerge the minnow bucket in the water. Every 10 minutes lift the bucket from the water, then push the bucket up and down in the water. This action will keep the water cool. You can place a knapsack over the bucket to create shade when it's hot.

Add ice cubes to the water. Keeping minnows cool by adding ice is very effective, because ice cubes will energise minnows in hot weather, according to the website Oyster Bay Tackle. Use a thermometer to check if the water temperature is less than 12.8 degrees Celsius. If it's higher than 12.8 degrees Celsius, add a half-dozen ice cubes.

Keep the water well-circulated with an electric pump. A battery powered water pump can keep water circulating in a minnow bucket, just as if a breeze would outside. For aquariums, an electric pump can keep the water cool and keep it from getting stagnant.

Find algae or small plants and place them inside the minnow bucket or aquarium. Minnows feed on algae, so adding fresh pond, stream or river water is important to sustain the minnows.

Add fish food every two to three days. Sprinkle fish flakes or oatmeal on top of the water. Don't feed the minnows too much flake food, because it can clutter the bottom of your minnow bucket or aquarium tank. Remove any of the uneaten flakes after two or three days.

Add brine shrimp. Live brine shrimp are a very nutritious food source for minnows, according to the website Aquatic Community. Minnows gobble these small invertebrates up. Add about 50 of them for every dozen minnows.

Things You'll Need

  • Minnow bucket
  • 5-gallon aquarium
  • Fresh creek, lake or river water
  • Plants and algae
  • Ice cubes
  • Fish flakes or oatmeal
  • Brine shrimp
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About the Author

Thomas Ganio began writing in 2006 for the "Northern Virginia Daily," a community newspaper in Richmond, Va. As a freelance writer, he has also contributed to "The Maryland Springs Gazette" and the Parks and Recreation Department of Richmond County, Md. Ganio holds a Bachelor of Arts in social science and English from James Madison University.