what minnows eat

What Do Minnows Eat
4 Min Read
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Minnows are small fish that are primarily found in freshwater sources.

If you’re curious to discover the diet of a minnow, you’re in the right place.

In this article, I will cover the various foods that minnows eat, as well as some key information about minnows in captivity and the wild.

Let’s get into it.

What Are Minnows food?

A Minnow is a small fish that is often used as a baitfish. They are popularly used for catching a variety of fish, including game fish and smaller sized fish.-

These include but are not limited to:

  • You don’t need to worry about losing your net if you lose it when fishing.
  • They’re easy to set up and take back down.
  • You can use them in saltwater and freshwater environments.

Minnows can also be kept in captivity as pets. However, they are primarily caught to be used as baitfish.

What Minnows Eat?

Minnow food is very diverse and can include many different types of organisms. Some minnows are carnivores while others are herbivores, meaning that these small fishes can eat both plant and animal matter.

It’s important to note that their diet ranges based on their location and the habitat surrounding them. Bearing this in mind, their diets can vary significantly.

Some of the foods that minnows eat include but are not limited to:


Algae is one of the most important food sources for a minnow and plays a fundamental role in a young minnow’s diet.

The young fish eat other foods, but this is one source that is never scarce like the others.

As a soft and easy to choose food source, minnows eat any type of algae they come across.


Insects are an important food source for minnows. Aquatic insects are found around almost every body of water including the freshwater streams, lakes, ponds, and rivers that minnows inhabit.

In terms of the insects that they consume, they eat a variety including flies and mosquitos that are often found on the surface of the water.


Minnows also eat plankton. Plankton includes all of the microscopic life forms that are found in freshwater as well as saltwater.

Small Fish

Some minnows eat small fish and even other minnows – they’re not fussy! After all, it’s a dog-eat-dog world. Or should I say fish-eat-fish world?

It is also thought that minnows eat fish eggs, larvae, crustaceans, and protozoans.

Fish Flakes

When we’re referencing minnows kept as pets or captive minnows kept for baiting, minnows eat fish flakes that you can find at your local pet store.

When choosing the fish flakes to feed to your minnows, you will need to opt for either goldfish food or tropical fish flakes.

For a balanced diet and to mimic their natural feeding habits, you will also want to incorporate brine shrimp flakes into their food throughout their meals.

Mixing the fish flakes with some brine shrimp will also help you to encourage wild minnows to eat them while also providing them with all their energy needs that they’d achieve from their natural diet in the wild.


You can also incorporate bloodworms into your minnows diet as they make an excellent source of nutrition.

Whatever you decide to feed your minnows, make sure that you do your research and that you are feeding them in accordance with their size and the quantity of fish that you have.

How Much Should You Feed Minnows?

Whether they live in the wild or are kept in captivity, minnows must eat the right nutrients to survive. This entirely depends on the size of your minnows alongside the number of fish in your tank.

After all, the more fish there are, the more mouths there are to feed.

However, it’s important to note that a common cause of death for minnows that are kept as pets is overeating.
Wild-caught minnows can go for weeks without feeding, however, this isn’t recommended.

Generally speaking, you should try to feed your minnows twice a day. That being said, some may only eat every 2 to 3 days.

How To Feed Minnows

As I’ve mentioned, a common cause of death for minnows that are kept in captivity is eating too much. When you place food into your aquarium, the fish flake should be on the smaller side.

Begin by feeding your minnows only a small amount of food.

Once five minutes has passed, all of the fish food should be gone from the surface of the water, and there shouldn’t be any food floating to the bottom of the tank as this will just dirty the tank water at a quicker rate.

If there is still food on the surface of the water after five minutes has passed, then you will need to reduce the amount of food that you offer your fish.

If the minnows are able to eat the food in less than two to three minutes, then they likely need more food.

That being said, you will need to experiment with how much food you feed your minnows depending on the size and quantity of minnows that you own.

How Long Do Minnows Live?

what minnows eat
what minnows eat

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When kept in captivity, smaller minnows live for about 3 years while larger minnows live for about 7 years.

However, when it comes to keeping minnows for bait in a bucket, the stress and living conditions are what causes such a short lifespan.

You will also need to bear in mind that there are a variety of different factors that can affect the lifespan of a minnow, including predators in the wild as well as their environment when kept in captivity.

What Eats Minnows In The Wild?

Minnows are small fish, meaning that there are a variety of predators that minnows need to be wary of. They are preyed upon by other fish, birds, and reptiles.

Like many other small fish, it is thought that minnows release an “alarm substance” when they feel threatened.

This alarm substances attract a variety of predators, and can cause other predatory fish to scare off the first predator, allowing the minnow to escape.

In Summary

Minnows rely on a variety of natural food sources which can differ depending on the environment that they live in.
Hopefully, this article has provided you with a better idea of what minnows eat.

Good luck feeding your minnows!

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