Minnow tank water conditioning

  • avatariowabucks
    Participant
    SE Iowa
    Posts: 20
    #1266547

    Hey everyone. We’re getting ready to set up the deep freeze for a minnow tank. I have found alot of good stuff through the internet on this subject.

    What i didn’t find much about was the different levels the ph, ammonia, nitrates, and such are supposed to be at.

    I did find a site with alot of good info like that but it was for keeping shad in 70 degree water. I think the difference in 70 (for the shiners) to 50 degree water (for the minnows) would need much different test levels. So if anyone knows what these levels should be for minnows in 50 degree water, i would love to know.

    I plan on getting a good test kit and learning how to keep the minnows in the best shape i can with chemicals and regular water changes. Alot of people are just pointing me to Sure Life minnow formula, which is all good and well, but i want to know what levels these different things should be at.

    Thanks, Jerry.

    avatarjonny p
    Participant
    Waskish, MN
    Posts: 669
    #851546

    I am actually a licensed bait dealer that traps and transports Spottail shiners and before I even finished reading your post I thought “Shiner Life” or “Sure Life” treatment for sure.

    As for your PH levels they will be handled by your treatments. I handle truckloads of shiners and massive tanks full of them and have never had to touch the ph levels or do I truly know the exact levels. What are you using for a water supply? Well or city? If you are trying to use city water you have a HUGE chore getting rid of all the additives put into public water. Another thing to make sure is your water does not go through a softener before hand, that will mess with the works if the brine does not cleanly purge. Cheaper softener systems turn your tanks into saltwater units.

    As for shiners and most other species of native minnows they will keep better in very cool water and do not crowd them. In Minnesota a non commercial licensed person may not posses more than 12 dozen minnows at any time so that should not be a problem in a big freezer. Not sure how other states write possession laws for bait.

    What will get you in trouble is ammonia. Minnows do their duty in the water and create high amounts of ammonia. Best remedy is to have a turbine style agitator that bubbles the water and releases the bad stuff along with a lot of flow leaving the tank. To give you an idea our smaller 500 gallon tanks have a stream of water the size the pencil feeding into them 24/7 to keep it cool and keep it clean. And never ever close the top off. Another thing you will have a heck of time with is tank cleaning. That scum line that builds up is the bad stuff that has dried on the tank; the underwater version you do not see is even worse as it rots and raises heck with your water condition. We have to clean our tanks every four- five days for shiners.

    And the number one thing that will knock out your supply is dead ones. If you have a few floaters they need to come out ASAP as once they die they turn into tank poison.

    Shiners are a pain in the butt. Emeralds are the worst, Spottails are a close second, goldies are a little tougher and river shiners could live in a toilet…as could fatheads and creek chubs. What species are you looking to hold mostly as they each have bad habits? Suckers rub their face off, creek chubs hit their mouth on the tank and get sick, fatheads get fungus, bullheads and Mad Toms secrete some type of bad stuff etc etc.

    avatarhawkeye27
    Participant
    Posts: 327
    #851568

    This is an interesting post!!! I am curious to know where you found your info. I have been pondering the thought of using a deep freeze for my bait that I trap out of a couple of ponds! Right now I leave them in the pond in the traps! If you are willing to share I would like to see some pics and some of your do and dont when building one

    avataroldrat
    Participant
    Upper Midwest
    Posts: 1,466
    #851580

    and as a former bait shop owner.. the only filter we used was a charcoal filter from a soft water company.. and it only needed to be changed every 90 days or so..

    and if you have a well, you probably don’t even need that..

    avatarjoshbjork
    Participant
    Center of Iowa
    Posts: 723
    #851581

    Jerry, put basic fishkeeping in google. Lots of stuff to cover.

    Profile photo of t-ellist-ellis
    Participant
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Posts: 1,318
    #851674

    Here is an article with some good info to get you started: http://www.in-fisherman.com/content/baitfish-biology-0/1

    I’ve found heavy aeration by pumping the water from the bottom of the tank and having it spray down into the water from above with provides more than enough oxygen and exposes ammonia gas to the air to dissipate. The next best advice I’ve ever been given was by a bait wholesaler was to add 1 cup of non-iodized rock salt for every 20 gallons of water. It is sold at Mills Fleet Farm under the name Louisianna rock salt and is $6 for 50 lbs bag. It does wonders by helping provide a slime coat and keeps fish stress down. I have no problem keeping 100 shiners for months with a 55 gallon setup. Luckily I now have a 5 acre pond in my backyard that serves as a perfect place to keep a bait tank but had kept large minnows in bait tanks for years.

    avatariowabucks
    Participant
    SE Iowa
    Posts: 20
    #851684

    We plan on using city water for the minnows. I will make sure and use some solution for the clorine. Anything else to worry about in city water.

    We will be keeping fathead minnows and rosey reds. I plan on buying a big aerator along with a couple longer stones and good size pump to pull water through a homemade filter with charcoal and filter material. Haven’t built it yet but it looks like it would work well.

    I do have a couple links to these threads which use tanks (deepfreeze or 55 gallon barrel). I’m not sure of the site rules for linking to other websites but i will give it a try.

    Hope you can see the pictures or you may need to register.

    filter thread

    thread

    avataroldrat
    Participant
    Upper Midwest
    Posts: 1,466
    #851697

    I used city water as well.. an the charcoal filter from Culligan was all I needed.. and I had the best bait around..

    it also depends upon where and who your bait dealer is.. and where and how he stores his bait.. and that business is smaller and smaller each and every year..

    there were two wholesale bait dealers in the LaCrosse area.. none I believe both have closed..

    avatariowabucks
    Participant
    SE Iowa
    Posts: 20
    #851718

    Thats exactly the reason we want to keep our own minnows. We lost a big bait shop around here and there is only one other smalltime bait shop closeby. We wanted to make sure we would have the minnows when we needed them. Not having to count on them will help alot.

    A bait shop 15 miles from here said he will sell tous by the pound. He raises his own rosey reds. He says he is the only one in the state that even sells the rosey reds to his knowledge.

    Profile photo of t-ellist-ellis
    Participant
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Posts: 1,318
    #851724

    Seining minnows is also a good time and saves big $$ not having to buy shiners, suckers, chubs at retail. I found them for $32 a gallon wholesale which I utilize most often but it’s still fun to hit the creeks with the seine nets sometimes.

    Profile photo of b-robinsonb-robinson
    Participant
    central Neb
    Posts: 3,842
    #851787

    My bait guy told me the best thing I could do was put salt in the tank. Does that sound ok, Jonny?

    Right now I’m having trouble remembering what he said though….because he was very specific about it being iodized, or not iodized….

    avatarjonny p
    Participant
    Waskish, MN
    Posts: 669
    #851895

    I know some guys add salt to their tanks, I myself wouldn’t even think of it. Basically the way I look at it minnows survive best in their environment, the closest you can come to matching that the better. As for the slime factor that is one of the many things your additives such as Shiner life and Sure life do for you; they have a small amount of salt as one of the ingredients. I did ask the old pro about this and he said some guys try it but it is tricky and can bite you in the butt. I normally take his word for it as he was along for the first few loads in 1936 when my great grandfather started this gig. I do use salt in my brine tank for freezing large amounts of minnows. The salt is placed in the water to instantly kill the minnows and mortify the body before flash freezing. In my way of thinking it is a poison.

    I was thinking about this and began to recall many deals that did not work through the years. Such as replacing the agitators with strictly O2 injection; that was a kill off. Replacing the good old agitator plug-ins for fancy new illuminated switches on the haul trucks; that was a kill off when the switches failed. I even remember the first time I was put in charge of the treatment addition. I added so mach it turned everything green. The tanks, nets, sides of the truck and even minnows where a nice forest green color before everything died. I’m sure you will have a few problems or hiccups before you fine tune your system. Just remember to keep things cool, natural and minimize the handling of any bait species and it should work out.

    Profile photo of b-robinsonb-robinson
    Participant
    central Neb
    Posts: 3,842
    #852015

    Thanks for the info Jonny.

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