How To Keep Minnows Alive Without An Aerator? 8 Best Alternatives 

Grab some minnows; these live baits attract a lot of fish, making them fantastic tools for your fishing trip. So, how to keep minnows alive without an aerator?

You may not have an aerator at hand, or it has broken down. Yet, do not worry! Minnows can still live without this tool, and we will show you how. 

How To Keep Minnows Alive Without An Aerator? 

Lengthening a minnow’s lifespan without any aerator sounds complicated. However, the following tips will get you covered. 

Add more ice

If you don’t have an aerator, think of another way to aerate. One of the simplest methods is to add ice cubes to the tank. 

Low oxygen levels in the tank’s water may result from the high temperature.

When it’s hot, water works differently than when it’s cold, losing oxygen. If you notice a drop in oxygen in the water, you must cool it.

Ice cubes can lower the temperature. Insert the ice cubes into a bag, then hang the bag over the water until the water reaches the required temperature. 

how to keep minnows alive without an aerator

Use air pump

As its name implies, an air pump can pump air into the minnow tank, giving it oxygen. Hence, you can use this tool if there isn’t any aerator. 

The air pump draws air in and uses air stones to expel it into the tank. It ensures proper aeration by dissolving in the water when the air comes out. 

Cause water disturbance

Another idea to oxygenate the water for your baits is to create disturbance in it.

As a result of the disturbance, the water reacts with its surroundings and draws in more air. There are several ways to disturb the water, such as:

  • Pour more water 

You can create a disturbance by pouring more water from above. When it hits the surface, splashes will trigger air absorption. 

  • Use a fountain

The fountain rises water from the container’s bottom and spreads it on the surface. The water reacts with its surroundings and pulls in more air due to this action.  

  • Use a spray bar

Using a spray bar is another method to stir up the water. 

This tool will distribute the water within the container, exposing more water to the air. This exposure makes the water more oxygen-rich. 

Give enough water 

There won’t be any problem with aeration if the tank has enough water. The lack of water will make minnows suffer from the harness.

As a result, pour water into the tank until it can submerge all the fish. Besides, change the water frequently to keep the container aerated. 

Large capacity water changes are ideal since more water will provide more oxygen. Minnows also like having a lot of water in their tank. 

Use filter 

Filters will also be very helpful at agitating your water. It effectively aerates and increases the oxygen content of the minnow tank. 

Moreover, the filters are compact and easy to use, allowing for efficient tank aeration.

The filter is in charge of distributing water in the tank to promote aeration. This tool will be a great alternative if you don’t have an aerator.  

Do not overcrowd

In environments with virtually little space for movement, we can’t survive. This rule applies to minnows. 

Such conditions lead to insufferable heat, waste, and a shortage of oxygen. Your minnows will die as a result. 

You should ensure your fish are not upset because of the continual exposure to intense light. Also, give them appropriate space.

Otherwise, you can store your baits in a dark, cool area. Places like your basement or cabinet will suffice. 

Put the tank in the dark.

Remember to put the minnow container in a dim location like the basement.

The sensitive minnows thrive in chilly water. If you put the cooler near a source of sunlight, the water can warm up immediately. 

Add hydrogen peroxide

If there is no aerator available, add a few drops of hydrogen peroxide to the container. Only one ounce of a 3% oxygen solution is necessary for three liters of water.

The hydrogen peroxide encourages oxygen to form in the water. The newly formed oxygen will replace the one used up by the fish. 

Read more: Can You Use Ham as Fish Bait?

How Long Can Minnows Live Without An Aerator? 

Aerators are essential for minnows, particularly when they live under unfavorable conditions. If you don’t use another method, your minnows can only live for a few hours without an aerator.

The lifespan of your minnow also depends on how many of them you keep in the same container.

Since these fish need space to swim freely, sharing a room with tank mates may be the last thing they want.

As a result, overpopulation will result in stress, shortening your fish’s lifespan.  

how to keep minnows alive without an aerator
The fish can only live for a few hours.

Why Do Minnows Require An Aerator? 

If possible, give your minnows an aerator. This tool is beneficial in many terms, such as:

  • The aerator is excellent at increasing the container’s oxygen level. 
  • If you don’t intend to change the water often or keep the minnows all day, the aeration ability of this tool will be a big help. 
  • Your minnows will thrive because the aerator reduces the stress level in the tank effectively. 

Tips For Keeping Minnows Alive While Fishing 

Aside from aeration, minnows need the proper water temperature to thrive. Hence, remember to acclimate them while fishing. 

Ignoring your bait bucket is one of the worst blunders anglers make. Some people believe they do a good job as long as the fish are still in the bucket.

However, you should carefully immerse the bait bucket in the lake or stream you are fishing to keep your live baits fresh. The interior water temperature adapts to the outside temperature in just 15 to 20 minutes.

Since the external water and minnows’ water stabilize, shock from a sudden temperature fluctuation won’t occur.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q: Can minnows live in tap water?

For minnows, tap water shouldn’t be the long-term water supply. 

Fluoride, one of the additives and chemicals found in tap water, will harm and even kill minnows. Natural water (from lakes or rivers) and distilled water will perform a better job. 

Q: Do minnows need oxygen?

Minnows, like all fish, need to breathe. They will eventually use up all of the dissolved oxygen in the water.

These species won’t have to face stress and hustles as long as enough oxygen is in the water. Otherwise, the fish will suffocate and perish without oxygen in the tank.

Q: Should I put ice in my minnow bucket?

Yes. Minnows like chilly water. So it makes sense to add ice to the tank to lower the temperature of the water.

Additionally, as water usually loses more oxygen when it’s hot, ice may help oxygenate the water,

Better aeration of the water can also aid in maintaining the water’s quality so that your minnows can live.

Q: How long will minnows live in a bag? 

The minnows can live for six to eight hours if you pick them up right before you leave, put them in an insulated bag, and go steadily. 


The aerator is important for minnows because these fish need oxygen in the water to live. If you don’t have an aerator, choose solutions to supply the right amount of oxygen for your fish. 

The two other things to bear in mind are keeping the water at a low temperature and avoiding overcrowding the tank. 

Hopefully, your fishing trip will be successful with healthy live baits like minnows. If you have any difficulties arising during your fishing, please feel free to contact us for help. Thank you for reading! 

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