Fathead Minnow

By, Ms. Townsend

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Fathead Minnows live in ponds, streams, small lakes, and wetlands. Unlike most species of fish, they can live in dirty waters. Fathead Minnows lay their eggs under logs, branches or rocks in shallow water. They like to hang out in very dirty, cloudy water to protect itself from predators. Fathead Minnows are heavily populated all over North America because they are very popular bait fish.


Fathead Minnows are herbivores and will eat almost any type of food. They mainly eat organic debris, aquatic insects, and zooplankton. The Fathead Minnows main predator is the Northern Pike fish.


The Fathead Minnow is a dull, olive grey color. They have a grey stripe that goes down the middle of their back, and side. Their bellies are a lighter color grey than the rest of their bodies. Breeding males look a little different. They have a large spongy back that they use to clean their eggs. They can grow up to 4 inches long, but most are 2-3 inches.


When a Fathead Minnow feels threatened by a predator, it sends out a chemical alarm signal. This chemical alarm signal tells other nearby minnows that danger is near.

Interesting Fact

Fathead Minnows are sold at most fish stores as feeder fish. (bait) They may be called "rosy reds" at the pet stores.