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Do Tilapia Eat Minnows?

Do Tilapia Eat Minnows?

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Over the last few decades, the world has watched the evolution of aquaculture. This rapidly growing industry is responsible for nearly half of the fish that the whole world consumes. With the tilapia species cultivated in roughly more than a hundred countries, they are among the industry’s leading species. Furthermore, these fish carry specific characteristics that enable growers to combine them with other species for maximum output. If you are a novice aquarist with minnows in your fish tank, you are most likely curious if it’s safe to mix tilapia with them. And to be exact, do tilapia eat minnows?

The answer is yes, tilapia eat minnows. These small fish usually are a source of forage for other more prominent species. Although humans do not typically consume minnows due to their tiny proportion, they utilize these fish as bait when going fishing. Nonetheless, we will discover more about minnows to understand this matter. 

In this article, we will explore minnows as a fish, their role in the ecosystem, and answer the question, “do tilapia eat minnows?”

What Are Minnows?

What Are Minnows?

The minnows species belong to the Cyprinidae family. Generally, their family is the largest among the freshwater species. The fish themselves though, are modestly sized, seldom going beyond 14 inches. Then again, there are other members of this family, which you can consider on the ample side such as carp, goldfish, and koi.

Typically, one will discover the male minnows smaller than the female ones. Their species often produce exquisite colors during their breeding period. Today minnows are now found in Asia, Europe, Africa, and North America. Interestingly, in North America alone, there are 200 native minnows species.

When it comes to dietary preferences, these species are mostly planktivorous. Therefore, minnows consume tiny insects, aquatic creatures, and crustaceans they see drifting in the water

Different Varieties Of Minnows

Looking at minnows, you will find these species with thin bodies, defined mouth, and glossy scales. They also have remarkable pharyngeal teeth located near the throat, which they utilize to grind food. However, as earlier mentioned, there is a myriad of minnows species. Below are some of the types one will find in North America:

Golden Shiners

The golden shiners are typically spotted in the East of the Mississippi River. Ponds, lakes, and rivers are the places these species prefer to occupy. Their variety can surprisingly tolerate temperatures of 104°F. During springtime, these minnows start breeding when the water temperature is approximately 70°F but stops when it reaches 80°F. 

Fathead Minnows

Usually, the fathead minnows display an olive-grey hue with stripes along the side and back. Their variety favors pH levels between 7.0 to 7.5 and water temperatures between 50°F to 70°F. These types of fish can withstand extreme water quality conditions. And strangely, some fathead minnows are found in locations that can be unbearable to other species like waste drainage systems.  


Because of their form and habit, people usually confuse the mosquitofish for the guppy. The male species of this type grow up to 1.5 inches while the females reach 2.5 inches. Compared to adult mosquitofish, young ones can tolerate warm climates. Their variety can survive water temperatures roughly between 33°F to 104°F. Concerning the pH levels, they prefer 6.5 to 8.0. 



Got Tanks?

Do Tilapia Eat Minnows?

When people hear about minnows, the first thing that comes to mind is baitfish. This is often the role of these varieties of species in the ecosystem; they are a food source for other sizable fish. Growers raising large species such as Bluegill or Largemouth Bass ordinarily feed their stock with smaller minnows. 

And suppose an aggressive feeder such as tilapia will be cohabiting a fish tank with the slender minnows. In that case, inevitably, the more abundant tilapia will feed on the small ones. Important to realize is that the omnivore tilapia is possible to raise in a blended environment of species. However, remember that as omnivores, they also consume other animals. 

Hence, when raising a variety of species in one fish tank, consider segregating them by size. Otherwise, the mature species will prey on the smaller fish. Understand that tilapia as a fish have the tendency to be aggressive. The male ones especially are territorial. 


Growers planning to combine minnows and tilapia in one fish tank should consider separating the species by size. With the minnow’s proportion, tilapia as the larger fish will easily prey on them. Hence, these species, by nature, assume the role of food source in an environment setting. 

Minnows are a large group of species. They are already present in regions such as Europe, Africa, and Asia. In North America, one will discover nearly 200 native species of this kind. Not quite ready yet to implement a large scale system? Click here to know more about desktop aquaponics and the perfect fish to raise in them. 

The Campbells love finding sustainable and fun ways to increase their independence from traditional brick and motor supermarkets. Aquaponics provides a full lifecycle food source for families and a great hobby. #aquaponicslifestyle

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