How cool are fish? Each species is different and has biological differences that control so much about where they live and why. Knowing these facts will help dial in the location and patterns of the fish you seek to catch. Fish identification is just the start. Learning the biological aspects helps us catch and preserve this amazing natural creature. Please bear with me and my poindexter excerpts of “Let’s get to know…”.
Let’s get to know the Fathead Minnow
There are so many different fish species in Colorado but for some reason we as anglers tend to focus mainly on the sport fish. When you consider fish species of Colorado most automatically think of trout. Sure we have great trout but an ecosystem is only as good as the quality of its layers. Each organism has an affect good or bad and the result plays up the entire food the chain. Taking a look at the lower links gives me a better understanding of the whole chain. The fathead minnow is fairly common making this species a possible factor wherever I cast.
Pimephales promelas or better known as the fathead minnow is one of those fish species that gets very little or no fanfare whatsoever from the angling public. Most are unaware of its existence even though it thrives in so many states across the country. The natural territory for the fathead minnow ranges across most of the country and central Canada. This species is quite hardy and able to tolerate poor water quality conditions completely inhospitable to other species. Often used as a baitfish in ponds and lakes this species continues to distribute itself in watersheds, canals and more. The fathead minnow has recently made its way into the aquarium business through the discovery of a color morph in some breeding farms. This variety of the fathead minnow is marketed as a “rosy-red minnow” for fish tanks and ornamental ponds.
The fathead minnow is generally a dull gray color in appearance with a single dark stripe running down both sides of its body. A small spot or blotch of dark coloring is located on the front of the dorsal fin. Male fathead minnows will develop a large growth on the nape and also exhibit 16 white tubercles on the snout. The fathead minnow is not as thick in the body as a mosquito fish but look very similar in shallow water. A great pattern that mimics the fathead minnow is the Countdown Rapala in silver. When I see fathead minnows in the shallows this lure will almost always get a toss.
Fatheads eat primarily plant material but will consume some of the small creatures such as mosquito larvae. Not able to beat out the competition in a physical sense, the fathead minnow tends to thrive best where competition is substantially less. This relegates the fathead minnow to the bottom of the food chain in almost any viable habitat. What this fish species lacks in aggressive tactics it more than makes up for it in reproduction. Spawning occurs from mid spring to mid summer and eggs are deposited over submerged objects. Nests may contain up to 12,000 eggs with females spawning up to 12 times in a single season.
Low aggressive behavior, high reproduction rates make this fish species a prime candidate as a forage base in some waters as well as home aquarium use. Bait shops may also sell fathead minnows to anglers looking for a live bait presentation. It is crucial to the balance of all ecosystems that humans greatly limit the accidental and deliberate introduction of fathead minnows into natural areas. Private property owners should consult with local wildlife and biology experts prior to release to ensure all environmental factors have been considered. Besides, they probably have fathead minnows in there already and simply need to look harder.
Once again, thank you for putting up with me and these excerpts of “Let’s get to know…”