How to Breed Rosy Red Minnows


Breeding rosy red minnows (Pimephales promelas or fathead minnow) can be an exciting and rewarding experience. In addition to the fun of seeing your hatchlings grow and reproduce generation by generation, these common feeder fish can be a great introduction into the breeding of more complex and difficult to keep species. Provided basic care and conditions, rosy reds are happy to breed and easy to raise in numbers. According to Dale Speirs of Calgary Aquarium Society, conditioned females can lay 200 to 700 eggs in a single spawning.

Things You'll Need

  • 10-gallon or larger fish tanks, several
  • Clay pots, rocks or PVC
  • Rosy red minnows

Breeding Rosy Red Minnows

  • Set up your tanks. Two 10-gallon tanks is the minimum (one for the adults and one to grow out the fry), though several larger tanks will work better and hold more fish. Rosy red minnows like temperatures in the 72- to 74-degree Fahrenheit range. Keeping a light on the tank for 14 to 16 hours per day will encourage breeding.

  • Provide egg-laying sites. Clay pots, rocks or even PVC pipe will work. Rosy red minnows like to have an overhang or small cave to lay their eggs under. Your tank can literally be as simple as this, though the addition of gravel and live plants can sometimes make your fish feel more secure.

  • Add your fish. Ratios of one male to every three or four females will work best for numbers (as multiple females will spawn with the same male), though single pairs work as well. Choose fish that are alert, active and brightly colored.

  • Wait for spawning. A few weeks settling into the new tank should be all your rosy red minnows need to get going, provided basic conditions are met. Once the eggs are laid, you can remove the rock, pots or other egg sites, moving them into the separate grow-out tank.

  • Care for the young once they hatch by providing daily water changes of 20 percent and feeding infusoria or finely crushed fish flakes. Eggs will hatch five to six days after being laid.

Tips & Warnings

  • While plants, substrate and hiding places may lead to better spawns, keep in mind that the addition of all this clutter makes it much more difficult to remove all of the eggs effectively. You may have better luck keeping a bare-bottomed tank with just a few egg-laying sites.
  • Adding brine shrimp, bloodworms and other live or frozen food to your fish's flake diet can vastly improve your spawns along with the overall health of your rosy red minnows.
  • If your fish seem hesitant to spawn after a few weeks in the tank, try encouraging them with a large (30 to 60 percent) water change.
  • Always remember that water should be aged in open containers overnight or treated with de-chlorinating products intended for fish.
  • Always remember that you are dealing with live animals and not toys. If you allow children to help you in the breeding process, make sure to explain proper handling and safety tips.

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