Project: Minnow Tank

Ron Don

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Mar 24, 2010
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This year ive become a FIRM believer in tipping all jigs with big minnows. The problem is that you cant find the size I want in any of the bait shops here. Solution... Build my own tank! Im always up for another DIY project! To keep the minnows alive for a long time you need a good size tank. Im using a 150 gallon water trough that was given to me. Then you need a filtration system along with good aeration.
I wanted to be able to roll my tank around to get it out of the way if I needed to. So I picked up some heavy duty casters and built a frame out of landscape timbers and a 2x4 I had laying around.
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I picked up an aquarium air pump rated for 150 gallons. I hooked this to a 4 inch air stone. I was surprised at how much air this puts out. It actually bubbles so much that it causes the water to roll and circulate. Building a filtration system really helps cut down on the amount water changes you have to do. Im going to try to get by with just one water change a week. Im using a 550 GPM fountain pump to circulate the water up through the filter. Heres how I built my filter.
I took a container and drilled enough holes to keep up with the flow of water from the pump. Next I cut out circles of filter material to fit the container. THis material can be found at pet stores that sell aquariums. (OR its just AC filter material.) I put one circle in the bottom of the container. Then a layer of activated carbon. Another circle, more carbon.... I did this until I had 3 layers which filled up my container 2/3 of the way.

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My minners arrived this morning. I got 3 kinds: Silver fatheads, Pink fatheads, and some BIG golden shiners. Theres around 900 minnows in all.

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Jig Man

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Out here...
quilt batting works good for filter material also. I use a 250 gal. water trough fer mine... Nice set-up RD...
 

JSC

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Are You using well water ??

Got a cool place to keep the tank in ?

Looks good .. Good Luck
 

Ron Don

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West Monroe, LA
I'm on city water. I let water sit in a separate tank for at least a day with a bubbler in it to get the chemicals out. Then I add it to the tank. Works like a charm! I have the shop AC set at 76 degrees.
 

JUNGLEJIM1

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Mar 23, 2010
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Saint Louis,Mo
Nice set up Ronnie. With all those minners you must be planning some serious trips. Shiners are big enough to fish for when it gets too hot.
 

papaperch

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Advice from a former bait shop owner. If you can find an economical way of keeping your water cooler it will help .

Colder water retain oxygen better and is less stressful on bait. Your filter system will help some because it is exposing the water to air. Air helps to cool water. I would redo your filter with smaller drain holes. Smaller droplets will cool faster and better.

Best thing I ever found for holding minnows over long periods of time. Was the old fashioned pop coolers. Where the cooler itself was a tank of water that held pop bottles up to the neck . They had a built in cooling unit than ran on 110 V and held enough water 100 + gallons when filled higher than needed for pop sales.

Trouble is they have become collector items. Especially the ones that have a name brand painted on their side. They had a double sliding top which made maintenance and cleaning easy. If I ever see one someplace at a near reasonable price I am going to jump on it with both feet. Like a dummy I sold mine when we closed the bait shop.

All in all I really appreciate the Cajun/Redneck reverse engineering. LOL
 

Bucko

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May 26, 2013
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Eau Claire, Wisconsin
I have a similar setup just smaller for keeping suckers, shiners, and bluegill. I fill a milk jug with water and freeze it then put in there too keep water cold. Rotate them and ur in business.
 

JSC

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Like Papaperch I was in the retail B&T biz for several years and I sold Retail and hauled them Wholesale.
My choice for making a tank was Marine Plywood for hauling, selling & holding tank .. held the water temp a lot better and
a double thick one with insulation would have been even better .. in the holding and selling tank I had a specailty unit for cooling
and filtering the water (charcoal for filter material .. had to clean and bake it to recharge it) and used several chemicals for water treatment.(don't know how many of them are still available but the one for treating city water was real important) The One Jig man listed should be great.

The air pump for your use should be great .. let it boil real strong .. on Your filter you might try "Sheet Sponge" for the top layer ...
Papaperch that "Coke" cooler would be worth a bunch of bucks these day .. When I was a kid worked in a store that had one and have "Loaded It" many times. :)
 

Ron Don

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I can get the water cooler but with our lake water temps in the mid 80s it would just put them in shock. In other words they wouldn't last long once on the hook. I had originally planned on building a swamp cooler "evap cooler" under the filter. But I dropped the idea seeingy tank water temp holding around 74.

A friend I fish with has been keeping minners for 30 years. He uses peroxide to treat his water.
 

Bucko

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I put drops in the water for removing chlorine do I don't have to let it sit for it to evaporate. Same drops I use for the fish tanks on the house. You can get them at any pet store or Wal-Mart.
 

Ron Don

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West Monroe, LA
Since Thursday I've lost 7 minners. Four of those decided they wanted to see what was on the other side of the tank. Just goes to show that the grass ain't always greener on the other side lol! I haven't seen one jump out yet but it looks like they are jumping out where the filtered water falls in. So far only the big jumbos have taken the leap of faith. I might need to build an extension on that end of the tank if it keeps happening.
 

Kdog

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Add a screen cover. Saves a lot of grief. I have a pen in a heavily shaded spring fed area of a small creek that has tall sides 1' above the water line. Not enough as would occasionally have a snake or 3. Snakes in the minnow pen meant no minnows or another afternoon of seining.
 

JSC

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When you get to where you are going to fish .. "Temper" the bait. dump some of your cool water and add some of the water where you are fishing .. do this a couple of times .. not to much at a time as again you will "Shock" them ... Had to educate my coustomers about that .. I all so used O2 pack and a lot of "Tempering" had to be done due to the little bit of water used. Shiners will jump at splashing water why ??
Would definatly have a cover such as a screen and another thing I found that they do a lot better in a dark enviroment .. In the Holding tanks I painted them black on the inside ..

:)
 

papaperch

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We had a separate tank for " chub " minnows. To solve the leap of faith problem we kept the entire tank covered with a seine.

Only time it was removed was for a sale or to work on tank. Nothing like opening in the morning and seeing two days of seining work lying on the floor and stinking up the place. One time that happened and made us find a solution.

Keeping the chubs was a lot of extra work. But since we were one of the few bait shops to carry them it brought in extra customers. We had some muskie and pike fishermen willing to pay a 1.00 apiece for any chub 6 inches or over.
 

Bucko

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papaperch said:
We had some muskie and pike fishermen willing to pay a 1.00 apiece for any chub 6 inches or over.

Muskie suckers around here sell for $6 and up. Anything over 10" will run you $8 or more sometimes. Catching my own is the only affordable way to go. I wish I could get em for only a dollar...
 
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