Fathead Minnows
(Pimephales promelas)

The fathead  minnow is  a stubby,  heavy-bodies  fish with a  small mouth and incomplete lateral line.  It’s color is olive to gray above which shades to  straw color or  white on  the belly.  Adult fathead  minnows generally average 2-3 inches in length. They seldom exceed 3 inches.

The  fathead  minnow  occurs  in  all  watersheds  throughout  New  York, except  Long Island.   It is  a popular  bait fish and  its  distribution has undoubtedly   increased   due  to  releases   by   anglers.  The   fathead’s preferred  habitat consists of ponds and  slower streams, although it will tolerate  a  wide  range  of conditions.  The diet  of the  fathead  minnow includes algae, bottom  detritus, and zooplankton.

Fathead   minnows   spawn   from   late   May   to  August   when   water temperatures  are  in the 65 F to 80 F range. They are very prolific and will spawn  several times  over the summer.  Males set up  territories and prepare  the  nest by  sweeping  out  a  cavity  such  as the  underside of rocks, wood,  or other debris. The eggs are deposited on the underside of these  objects  by the female.  Fatheads have  been found  to nest  under discarded  lumber,  PVC pipe,  and even  empty beverage cans.  The males develop  thick fatty pads behind the top of the  head and large tubercles across  the snout during breeding season.  Sometimes small tubercles also occur on  the top of the head.  Breeding males become very dark and also exhibit dark bands or rings around the body.

Fathead minnows should be 
stocked in all ponds where 
the stocking of game fish 
is anticipated.

They  will  provide   an  excellent  food   source.  The  minnows  should  be  stocked  well  in  advance  of  the  game fish.  This   allows the  minnows  to reproduce  and  a  stable  population  to  become established. We suggest a stocking rate of 10 lbs. or roughly  3,000  fathead minnows per surface acre. Bass, walleye, perch, crappie, etc. will not grow without an  adequate  supply  of  natural  food. 
The fathead’s prolific nature
will help to produce an
abundant food supply 
for the game fish
in your pond.

Finger Lakes Aquaculture 7627 County Rd. 36 
Naples, NY 14512 
(585) 374-2974 
Phil Faber - Owner 

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