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Bait or Pets: Danios and Minnows

Danios and minnows have often been used as bait; however, many aquarists keep Danios and Minnows in their tanks. Used often as transition fish, Danios and Minnows are hardy fish and can tolerate water changes.

Danios and minnows are schooling fish. Purchase at least five when adding these fish to your aquarium. They are also passive and perfect for the populated aquarium. Originally from India, danios and minnows bred for captivity are often found in Hong Kong, Singapore and Florida.



Danios can grow up to two inches and have a life span of five years. Requiring a pH of 6.5 to 7.0, the Danios are still used as transition fish.

Popular species of Danios include the:

  • Zebra Danio,
  • Long-finned pearl Danio,
  • Spotted Danio,
  • Leopard Danio
  • Pearl Danio.

The zebra Danio has distinct horizontal stripes. It is also one of the most easily found Danios. Albino, golden, veil-tailed and long-finned are some of the varieties of zebra Danios.

Like other Danios, the pearl Danio is an omnivore and will eat most foods. Recommended for a 20-gallon tank, pearl Danios need plenty of swimming room. This species was originally imported to Europe in 1911. They are of a blue-violet hue with a red-orange stripe that runs from mid-body to their tails.

Danios and minnows are perfect fish for beginners. They are low-maintenance and feed on a high-quality flake food diet.
Rosy Red Minnow

Minnows range in habitat from fresh water to salt water. Minnow is a general term that describes these small bait fish belonging to the carp family. Although they are commonly used as bait for salt and fresh-water fishermen, they are often used by aquarists as transition fish. Minnows are tolerant of many different conditions and easily adapt to changes. Common types of minnows include the bluntnose minnow, the top minnow, the common shiner, the common emerald shiner and the common mosquito fish.


The bluntnose minnow has a snout that hangs over its mouth, giving it the namesake “bluntnose”. A dark line spans from the opercle to the base of the tail, where the bluntnose minnow has a large black spot. The bluntnose minnow will grow to four centimeters.

The top minnow is an endangered species. They grow to five centimeters. Female top minnows tend to be larger than their male counterparts.  The diet includes bottom debris, vegetation and small crustaceans.


White Cloud Minnow
White Cloud Minnow


The common shiners only live in streams. They have nine rays on their anal fin and terminal mouth. Typically a silver shade on its sides, the common shiner has a greenish-blue black. Like most minnows, the common shiner changes colors during breeding seasons. Color changes vary depending on the breed and sex of the minnow.

Danios and minnows are common bait fish; however, they are perfect to bring out shy fish in your aquarium. A schooling fish, it is important to give your Danios and minnows plenty of friends to swim with. Like most fish, Danios and minnows appreciate places to hide as well as wide open swimming space.

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