Adding Minnows to Your Pond
Fathead minnows serve many purposes in the fishing industry. If you have recently built a new pond or renovated a current one, you may want to consider adding these hardy little fish to your pond prior to stocking any other varieties of fish. This small olive-green fish has been used as bait for sport fishing for several decades, and can be found in just about any lake, pond or small stream throughout the US. Since fathead minnows typically survive in low oxygen ecosystems that other sport fish, such as bass, may not, they are an ideal starter fish for new ponds or ponds that have recently experienced a major fish kill.
By adding fathead minnows into your pond, you are ensuring optimum growth for your sport fish population. Fathead minnows are slow movers making them easy prey for predators such as Bass and Crappie. Fathead minnows tend to spawn early and often, creating an immediate food source for your gamefish. To ensure excellent spawning rates, it is advised to provide nesting substrate to enhance the reproduction success of fathead minnows. Ideas for nesting substrate can include rock formations, plants, plastic drums, tires or pallets/boards. Fatheads prefer to spawn upside down depositing their eggs on the underside of the nesting substrate.
Spawning typically occurs when the water temps reach 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit, and may continue until the temps exceed 85 F. This would include the spring and most of the summer, with the exception of the very hottest parts of July and August.
Fry can mature and spawn within 4-8 weeks after hatching. Mature Fathead Minnow adults seldom exceed 3 inches in length and typically only live for 12-15 months. Mature males are usually larger than the females and can be distinguished from the females during breeding season by a series of breeding tubercles on the nose and forehead. Mature females may spawn weekly, depositing 200-500 eggs at a time, and some females may even lay up to 4,000 eggs per season.
The recommended stocking rate for the fathead minnows is 10# per surface acre of water. It is nearly impossible to add too many minnows into your pond, as they provide an excellent food source for your gamefish throughout the year. It is also recommended to continually add Fathead Minnows annually to ensure a healthy population, which will ensure a healthy ecosystem and exceptional growth rates among larger sport fish and younger fingerlings.
Minnows are relatively inexpensive and are well worth the initial investment to increase the survival and growth rates among your fingerling bass and all other predatory fish.