Get a good aerated bucket and keep the water good and cold. The best way I've found to keep the water cold is to freeze a small bottle of water and float it in the bucket. I have kept minnows for weeks this way, if you're keeping them that long you also need to feed them fish food that you can get at the pet store. Fatheads are by far the easiest minnows to keep alive, shiners are a little more difficult but can be kept healthy by keeping the water oxygenated and cold. Just in case anybody doesn't know, Gander Mountain has fatheads, shiners, and rosy reds for sale. Hope this helps you!
I had problems with keeping shiners alive for very long, especially when i would take them to the lake, even with an arerator, and ice in the bucket. I did find that if i put the bucket in the basement on the cold concrete floor, kept the arerator running and put ice in the bucket they stayed alive longer that way, at least a couple days. We would go ahead and use them even if they were dead for catfishing.
One thing I also pay attention to is the amount of water. If I know that I'm going to keep them for a longer time such as over night to a day or two, I keep them in a cooler (used strictly for minnows). Maybe something like a 10 gallon cooler with the frozen ice bottle and areator with some water conditioner. When I feel ready to head for the lake, I'll scoop them out with a net and put them in a smaller bucket with the same water from the cooler.
My only reason for keeping them in a cooler is because it doesn't take long for the water in a usual minnow bucket to start getting dirty which I think could start killing the minnows early, especially while being stored for another day.
I often buy 5 or six dozen minnows at a time. Its too much hassle to drive to the closest shop that have minnows everytime I want to hit the water. Its great to decide to go out at the drop of a hat and just hitch the boat and be gone.
I put my minnows, in a refridgerator in my garage. as long as thye keep around 40 degrees I have had them last a couple of weeks. As long as the outside temp does not drop below the mid 20's for an extended period of time all I get on the surface is half an inch of ice. I break that every couple of days to keep it oxygenated. If have had them in the fridge for more than a week I remove some of the water and put in fresh. I have a gallon jug that i fill and keep setting in the garage. The chlorine is gone in a day or so and the water does not harm the minnows.
When on the lake, keeping them in the lake is always helpful, but the block of ice and fresh water and keeping them out of the sun is the key when I am off the water and have no access to a fridge.
Try not to use tap water use distilled water. I use a old fish tank air pump as an arerator and it seems to work fine. Everyone above is pretty correct on what they said, but I personally feel distilled water seems to help out alot.
I too keep an aquarium in the garage running. I agree on shiners, I can never seem to keep them alive more than a week. It seems buying leeches out here is tough because they are either microscopic in size or frozen from the fridge at the bait shop. I buy leeches in bulk from a place in Minnesota and toss them in the tank as well. They eat the dead minnows and I've even found the leeches I bought last August have been laying eggs and replenishing my supply for the spring.
One of the best container's that I have found by accident was one of the new coolers (the ones that say they keep ice for 5 days)...I had one that I had a heck of a time getting the top off because they fit really tight...well they dont leak when you drive for the most part and since they are extra insulated they keep the water cooler longer which is a big deal when it comes to minnows...
Another item that I have found very effective for storing, transporting of leeches and night crawlers is tupperware...no not the new stuff...but peoples old stuff they almost give away at garage sales...there is not a better product for keeping this kind of bait fresh...have also used the little ones for mealworms and waxies during the winter season...the stuff doesnt spill or leak in a back pack or food cooler even when riding your bike around to the back side of aurora reservoir...and you can get it in all different sizes based on the application...
One more thing you might want to do is ask the bait shop you buy from how long they've had the minnows in. I also only buy from shops that let me pick my own bait out not ones that say "wait right here i'll be right back" when you get them make sure they are schooling in their tanks. If they are in packs it means they are healthy which is good, when they start soloing off or all doing their own thing this is a sign they are weaking and wont last long.
I'd recommend the bubble thing. Most importantly, I recommend you freeze some water bottles and throw em in there to keep the water cold throughout the drive. The bigger the water to minnow ratio, the better. I usually like keeping them in a small cooler on the drive there. If I go with like 6 to 10 dozen minnows on hand, I keep em in a small 10 gallon cooler with it 3/4 full of water. Add a couple of frozen water bottles and the bubble thing (which sometimes) you can buy from tackle shops and you're good to go. If you decide to put ice directly in the water, I suggest you don't use tap water.
My firend set up a fish tank and put in some minnows. he kept them for a few weeks before all fo them died overnight. does anyone have any tips on keeping minnows alive? i am looking to start my own tank. does anyone have any tips on setting up a tank?
If you want to keep minnows alive you need three things
1. Fresh Water
2. Oxygenated Water
3. Cool Water.
If you have these 3 elements minnows will keep a long time.
If you want to use an aquarium, place it in a cool, shady spot. Too much sun and heat will kill the minnows very fast. An aerator is a very good idea, in fact probably required to keep the minnows going more than just overnight. Adding fresh de-chlorinated water daily will help keep them going too. For your own tank, be sure to put something on the bottom, rock or gravel. Grab a bucketful from the lake next time you are out. Be sure to get gravel from the lake, the gravel is full of stuff that will reproduce in your tank and help provide food for the minnows. It also contains bacteria that will help bread down fish waste. Supplemental feeding with tiny fish food every couple of days is good too. Keeps them fat and lively!
I don't use an aquarium but keep minnows for weeks with maybe a 10 percent mortality. (unless i forget to take care of the minnows properly)
This is how I keep mine alive.
I buy several dozen at a time, when at the lake I drop the inner bucket (I use a frabill 2 section type bucket) into the lake, the minnows stay cool, eat planton or whatever they eat and have oxygenated water.
When i leave I put fresh water from the lake in the bucket. At home I have a fridge in my garage. I put the minnows in the fridge, set at around 40 degrees. If they are kept for more than a couple of days I take out about half the water and add fresh. You can use tap water, put it in an open jug for about 12 hours then add to the bucket. By letting the new water set out the chlorine disapates naturally and does not affect the fish.
Before you go to the lake with your refridgerated minnows I find its a good idea to let them sit out for about an hour. Otherwise they die of shock when placed on a hook and then dropped in water that is more than 5 - 10 degrees different from the water they were stored in.
Right now I have about a dozen minnows in my fridge from a bunch I bought at the beginning of the month.
I think in addition to oxygen...the biggest thing is keeping them cool...the reason heat hurts them other than metabolism...I believe cool water holds oxygen better than warm water...one of the best ideas I have seen for keeping minnows if you have the room and can find one...one of those small chest freezers with the top removed...the bass shop on Sheridan used to keep their minnows that way...I thought it was pretty smart...
Filter should be ok, when you clean it rinse it in water you took out of the tank. If you use chlorinated water it will kill any of the bacteria in the filter that is beneficial. I learned this from having a pond in my back yard. You actually develope what is called a "biological filter" after time from the active bacteria that break down the waste.