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Rosy Red Minnow Facts

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Rosy red minnows are the golden strain of fathead minnows, a freshwater fish native to North America. Although fathead minnows are most commonly used as bait, the rosy red variety is becoming more popular as an aquarium fish. These pale orange fish are hardy enough to survive in many different environments.


Rosy red minnows are typically 5 to 8 cm long and have a very compressed head and snout. They are golden or orange in color, with nearly translucent fins. Unlike other fathead minnows, the rosy red variety does not have a stripe down its side.


Rosy red minnows are native to Canada and the United States, although they have been introduced to other regions because of their use as bait. The fish prefer to live in small ponds, rivers and lakes. They can survive in environments that would be challenging for other freshwater fish, such as water with low oxygenation, variable pH or high levels of silt. They do well with a wide range of water temperatures also.


Wild rosy red minnows are omnivores. Their diet consists of plant matter, zooplankton, algae, insect larvae and small invertebrates. One of the reasons that fathead minnows are successful in a variety of habitats is that they can survive on so many different food sources.


Fathead minnows spawn from May through August, and breed well in captivity. In this species, it is the male that builds a nest and protects the eggs. When a male is ready to mate, he will claim a cave or overhang where he can protect the eggs. He will attempt to attract a female into his nest using body vibrations and swimming back and forth. The female rosy red minnow will deposit the eggs and leave the male to fertilize and guard them. However, once the eggs begin to hatch, the male will leave and ignore the new fish, known as fry.

Caring for Rosy Red Minnows

If you are planning to keep rosy red minnows, purchase them from a shop that sells them as aquarium fish and not as feeder fish. Rosy red minnows thrive when they are in schools of at least five or six fish. They prefer a temperature between 70 and 80 degrees F, but are a very hardy fish that can survive in a variety of conditions. The tank should hold at least 10 gallons of water and have several caves or rocky structures available for the fish. Although rosy red minnows are omnivores, they tend to prefer a plant-based diet when they are kept in home aquariums.