The Shocking Facts To The Question: What Do Fathead Minnows Eat?

Minnows are small fish and one popular to raise in fish tanks.  Read this article to find out how to raise fathead minnows and learn what do fathead minnows eat.

These fish only grow up to 3 inches maximum and have short lives.  In fact, on average, they only live up to 1 year.  One main reason people raise minnows is because their small size makes them convenient to use as food for other larger fish.

They are very easy to raise, so if you notice the population is getting low, you can add more into your tank.  

If you do your research carefully, you can create a beautiful ecosystem in your fish tank that supports many different kinds of fish.  In nature, minnows are a popular food for many.  But what do fathead minnows eat?  They are relatively low on the food chain.  Read this article to find out all you need to know!

Getting To Know Fathead Minnows

The scientific name for the fathead minnow is Pimephales promelas.  It is a common fish found in freshwater bodies located in North America. 

According to the University of New Brunswick, the Colour is a brownish olive with silversides.  The underbelly is white in color.  

They can be found in lakes and rivers.  But they prefer to be in shallow, more stagnant waters.   These waters often have weeds, brush, and rocks which provide plenty of hiding space for them.  

Another reason they like this environment is that not many larger fish can live there.  That means they are safe from predators.  These areas also do not have large amounts of oxygen.

So Fathead minnows are a good fish that doesn’t require high amounts of Dissolved Oxygen.  This is why some people raise minnows in a small glass fish tank!  Other fish would not be able to survive in that condition.  

Typically fathead minnows prefer a cooler water temperature.  But they can tolerate a pretty wide range of temperatures.  The normal range is from 50 degrees Fahrenheit to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  

They like a neutral PH level of between 7-7.5. 

Minnows create babies in the months of May to June.  At this time, the water temperature has reached 60 degrees Fahrenheit.   Fathead minnows’ mating habits are very interesting.

About a month before the spawning season, the males change their outside appearance to attract a mate.  They grow small horns out of the top of their head during mating season.  

The male fish looks for a place to build the nest.  Commonly, they choose a place under a larger object like a rock, log, or debris build-up.  Once the nest is made, the male protects it from other fathead minnows.  

Eggs typically hatch within 6 days.  There can be up to 400 eggs or more per nest!

fathead minnows

Fathead Minnow Diet

Whenever thinking about a fishes’ diet, you can start by considering the size.  Fathead minnows are very small fish, so they are unable to eat anything larger than them.  

Aside from that limitation, fathead minnows are not very picky with their diets.  Some typical foods they eat in nature are algae, tiny bugs, copepods, and various protozoans.  

They are pretty balanced omnivores.  The “meat” comes from the various insects they prey on.  

This diet makes fathead minnows a nice addition to a tank.  They can eat algae, which helps you keep your tank clean and keep your ecosystem balanced.  

When a tank has a large algal bloom, it can take over the area quickly.  It is suggested that you clean your fish tank every week to prevent this problem.  However, another way to manage the algae is to use certain species of fish that like it.

Fathead minnows could be a suitable choice.  Whenever you want to raise two different fish species together, make sure to do your research.  Many fish are not compatible to be raised in the same tank.

What Eats Minnows?

The best fishes to pair with fathead minnows are bass or bluegill.  This is because, as mentioned earlier, minnows can be a great forage food for larger fish.  Bass and Bluegills are among the species that eat minnows.

If you plan on doing this, make sure to stock your tank properly.  You want to make sure that you have enough minnows to maintain the population as they are getting eaten.  

As with every aquaponics design, you have to be considerate of the tank size.  Your tank size will be determined by the area you have available, financial constraints, and commitment.  Larger and more diverse tanks often mean more work.  

Once you know your tank size, you can figure out how many fish can healthily live together in one ecosystem.  If you are using Fathead Minnows as forage, the tank reservoir is likely to be large.  

Avoid Overcrowding

Overcrowding is one of the easiest ways to ruin your tank’s ecosystem and have to start over.  Another thing to keep in mind is the spawning habits of the minnows.  If you keep males and females together, they will breed throughout the year.  

The best thing you can do to control the environment is to observe and interact with it.  This means, learn about your particular fishes’ eating patterns.  Make necessary adjustments as you see fit. 

Every single fish is different from one another regardless of if it is the same species.  Paying attention to details is the best way to ensure success.  You can easily research to find out which fish are compatible together. 

In general, fathead minnows are easy fish to raise.  Their small size makes them convenient to raise in many different settings.  You can raise them in a larger tank alongside other big fish or in a small jar that sits on your kitchen table.  

Hopefully, you leave this article feeling confident to answer the important question: What do fathead minnows eat?  If you follow this guide, you are ready to introduce fathead minnows into your aquaponics system. 

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