How to Keep Minnows Alive

How to Keep Minnows Alive

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Minnows are known by fishermen to be one of the best fish baits around. They are relatively inexpensive to buy and easy to transport. You simply place them in a minnow bucket and you're ready to go. Nothing special is need when transporting minnows because the movement of the water adds oxygenation and keeps the minnows alive. Once on location you may notice your minnows beginning to die. Here are some tips on how to keep minnows alive.

Maintain the water in your minnow bucket. Minnows are a hardy fish that are able to live in low oxygenated water in the wild but when they are crowded into a minnow bucket that is just sitting there they will start to die. In order to keep them alive when fishing they must have fresh water added regularly. If you are fishing in an area where you can place the minnow bucket directly into the water to keep them fresh that is recommended. If not, periodically dip out about half of the water in your minnow bucket and add fresh lake or river water.

Keep the minnows from getting too hot. Submersing the minnow bucket in the water near you will help keep the water cooler. If you are in an area where it is not possible to place the bucket in the water sit the bucket in a shaded area or create a shade over the container.

Place some plant material inside the minnow bucket. Minnows mainly feed on plant material so adding a few plants to the bucket will provide the minnows something to feed on. This will also provide shade from direct sunlight for the minnows.

Add an aerator if you want to keep minnows alive over an extended period of time. To do this you will have to place the minnows in a larger container. An old ice chest or a five gallon bucket works nicely for this purpose. Fill the container about three fourths of the way full with fresh, non-chlorinated water. Gently release the minnows into the water. Place the aerator into the water and secure it to the container. Maintain the water level in the container by adding fresh water as needed. It is a good idea to add plant material to the container so the minnows will have something to feed on. Fish flakes or oatmeal will work as well.


  • Do not put the minnows in chlorinated water. Chlorine will kill them.


  • Electric aerators are not very expensive.
  • Solar aerators are available for those remote areas when you do not have access to electricity.
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