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Tips to keep minnows alive

July 14th 2014 00:16
When it comes to minnows, keeping them alive, even 24 hours, is, too often, a losing proposition.

On the other hand, there's no denying they're pretty expensive so, it's nothing to be ashamed of no matter how it turns out.

The biggest problem most anglers have is trying to keep too many minnows in too little water. The typical minnow bucket is good for maybe two or three dozen minnows and that's going from the bait shop to your favorite fishing hole. Chances are, no matter how big that bucket is, you only have enough water for two or three minnows--maybe a few more if the fish are really small but, you get the drift. So, if you're going to try and keep them overnight, the first thing to do is take them from the bucket and keep them in a larger container.


Another big problem is trying to keep minnows in water that is too warm. Granted, when it's the middle of summer and eggs are frying up and down the sidewalk, water straight from the tap may seem pretty cool but, it's still way too warm for long term minnow storage. Strive to make the minnow water as cool as possible. 45F or 7C is a good target but, that's impossible for some. Still, the cold keeps the water oxygenated and keeps algae and other nasties at bay. At least, go for 65F/18C or lower and you'll be better off!

Municipal water supplies are usually deadly for fish! Water softeners may or may not remove impurities so, you'll be better off with some of the commercial products on the market aimed at aquarium buffs. If you go that route, read labels carefully. Some water only has chlorine added to it. If that's the case, many people just let the water set idle for a day or two until the chlorine evaporates.


Some municipalities use something called chloramine which is a combination of chlorine and ammonia. Unfortunately, chloramine does not evaporate like regular chlorine so, it's still going to be deadly to fish even if you let it set in an empty tank for a week or more. Short of talking to the head of the water board, there's not much the average person can do because if you call city hall and start asking questions, they're probably not going to know or even care. Worse yet, you may get someone on the phone who wants to sound like a genius and tells you anything you want to hear!

The topic of chloramine brings up another dangerous chemical facing minnows--ammonia. Granted, nobody in their right mind is going to pour ammonia into their minnows but, remember chloramine is made from ammonia. On top of that, remember, although they're in water, fish gotta pee and that's ammonia. So...

If you've done all this and gotten by with living minnows, you'll face another task. You'll have to keep the water clean. With a small tank, frequent water changes will work. For larger tanks, that may not be practical. This is where you may want to invest in a filter. Again, something aimed at the aquarium crowd will usually fill the bill. Remember this, fish are pretty dirty so you need all the filter you can afford. Generally speaking, figure the size tank you have, double that number, and you'll know how much filter to get. For instance, if you have a 10 gallon tank, you should get a filter to handle 20 gallons. However, don't think you can escape the drudgery of changing water just because you have a filter! Remember, fish thrive in clean water. A filter will buy you a couple extra days but, changing water every week is the norm!

If your minnows are still alive, it's time to think about feeding them. Three words--Purina Fish Chow. That was a joke--I don't know if Purina makes fish food or not. However, someone makes fish pellets and those things seem to work. Another avenue is to use the little fish flakes like you feed aquarium fish. A third solution is to take dry dog or cat food, grind it up in a food processor, and feed that to the fish. Again, like aquarium fish, just a pinch of food and it should all be consumed in around five minutes.

Lets see--a filter, chemicals, fish food...maybe it's just easier to shell out a few bucks at the tackle shop?




Remember to take the hooks outta yer pocket before ya sit down!




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