Minnow ©Jack Perks


Scientific name: Phoxinus phoxinus
A common and diminutive fish, the minnow can be found in freshwater streams, rivers and lakes across the country. Look out for the dark stripe along its flank and the red bellies of the males.

Species information


Length: 4-10cm
Weight: 8-16g
Average Lifespan: 2-5 years

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


The minnow is a small fish that is found in freshwater streams and rivers and, less frequently, in lakes. Often gathering in large shoals, minnows feed on insects, molluscs, crustaceans, plant debris and fish eggs. They spawn several times between April and June, making short migrations upstream to shallow, gravelly beds. Predators of the minnow include the brown trout and various birds.

How to identify

The minnow is olive-brown above, with dark bars along its back and a dark stripe down its side. Females have silver bellies, but the males' bellies turn pinky-red in the summer. The minnow lacks the dorsal spines of sticklebacks.



Did you know?

Female minnows produce up to 1,000 eggs during each breeding season. The males fertilise the eggs before they stick to the gravelly bed of the waterbody.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts work with planners, water companies, landowners, statutory bodies and anglers to help make our waterways and waterbodies as good for wildlife as they are for people. By working together, we can create Living Landscapes: networks of habitats stretching across town and country that allow wildlife to move about freely and people to enjoy the benefits of nature. Support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.