Where Do Minnows Live?

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Minnows live throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Africa, in cold, glacial lakes and warm tropical areas. Learn about the diverse habitats of minnows with information from a science teacher in this free video on animal habitats.

Part of the Video Series: Animal Habitats
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Video Transcript

It's a beautiful sunny day, and a lot of people who live in Florida where I live are going to be off fishing. I'm Janice Creneti. I've been teaching animal science and environmental science for about twenty years, and I'm here to answer the question "Where do minnows live?" Minnows are a very common bait fish. A lot of people use the term minnow to apply to just about anything they use for bait. And minnow species are very numerous, but there are some specific things that you're going to look for if you're actually going to know that you're looking at a minnow. Minnow bodies tend to be kind of round, a little bit chunky. Minnows tend to live in areas where there's a little bit more cover. Their bodies are built more for hiding than they are built for speed. They don't have that forked tail like you'd see on a tuna fish, something that lives in the open ocean. Minnows are an incredibly diverse species of fish. There's over 1,600 in North America alone. Minnows are also found in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Their habitats are incredibly diverse. They can be found in ice cold glacier lakes, and they can also be found in warmer tropical areas. We also have a number of species of minnow that live in brackish water, which is a combination of fresh and salt, like in Tampa Bay where I live. Those minnows tend to be a little bit brownish or gray because they're blending in with the sandy bottom and the slightly murky water. Other species of minnow are more colorful. They might live in an area where there's bright green vegetation, in the bottom of a brook, or the bottom of a pond, and so their color will reflect that. Because remember as I said, minnows want to blend in with the environment. That's their predominant way of hiding. Now one of the ways that you can tell minnows from other fish that somebody might just call a minnow is that minnows, like guppies, are live bearers. What that means is that the females actually get fertilized inside of her body, and the egg hatches inside of her body. And so by the time she is laying her eggs she actually seems to be giving birth to fish that were never in an egg to begin with. Well they were in an egg, it's just that they hatched inside the mother's body. You'll see these minnows, the male minnows, will make little tiny nests out of small stones or pebbles, or whatever happens to be nearby, and the females will actually be able to put their babies inside that so that there's a place for them to be protected. If you've ever had guppies or mollies as a pet you might see that they give live birth, and they're going to be related to the minnow species. They've got that same body shape that we've talked about. Now because these fish are small and so numerous they're an incredibly important food source in a lot of ecosystems. So while there's plenty for the fishermen, there also needs to be plenty left behind for all the numerous animals that are going to feed off of the minnows. I'm Janice Creneti, and this is "Where do minnows live?"


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