Minnow - Phoxinus Phoxinus

About the Minnow.
The minnow is widely distributed in around the UK, mainly in England and Wales but also in some parts of Scotland and Ireland too. However, they are predominantly confined to small steams and therefore not often seen by the average river angler. They are sometimes used for dead bait in order to catch larger predatory fish.

The minnow is a freshwater fish and it belongs to the carp family. It mainly exists as food for larger species and birds such as herons and kingfishers.

Minnow Identification

The minnow is a miniscule fish that grows to only a few inches in length and reaching about an ounce in weight.

Its slender body is covered in minute scales and is olive-brown in colour with a creamy coloured underside and it has dark blotches on its sides.

The head and nose of the minnow are blunt yet it has large eyes and a half-moon shaped mouth with thick lips.

The tail is deeply forked and it possesses one dorsal fin midway along its back.

Minnow Habitat

The minnow is found across most of Europe and in some parts of Asia. It is widely distributed in the UK but is mostly absent from northern Scotland.

It favours small, clear, cold and clean fast-flowing streams and is also found in upper and middle reaches of some rivers. It is not found in polluted or poorly oxygenated waters.

Natural Minnow Food

Minnow are naturally shoaling fish and move around in large numbers. As they are small, they feed on small food items ranging from plant matter such as algae to small crustaceans and molluscs. Their diet also comprises insects and insect larvae.

Minnow Reproduction

Minnow reproduce in shallow water between the months of May and July. They gather together in large numbers for the procedure. The females lay their eggs in shallow waters with a gravel or stony bottom and the eggs adhere to the stones. They can lay up to 1,000 eggs over the space of two days. The eggs hatch in a matter of days.

Just before the breeding process the male minnow develops white, hard tubercules on its head, a black patch on its throat and its belly changes to bright red.

The Minnow's Vital Statistics

  • Average weight: 2dm (3.5g)
  • Average length: 2½ inches (5cm)
  • Life-span: up to 6 years
  • Current UK record: 13.5dm (24g), (Whitworth Lake, Co.Durham)

Waters with specimen minnows include:

  • Lake Windermere, Lake District
  • River Frome, Dorset
  • River Tweed, Scottish Borders

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