Wild Minnows Fish in Aquarium

Michael Langerman
8 min readJan 14, 2021


On December 4th, 2020 I visit the Conservatory pond of Central Park.

The pond is already dry for the Winter.

Here is the drainage pipe that goes under Manhattan to the East river.

Let’s get closer to the pipe.

Most of the fish from this pond end up in the East River when this pond is drained.

Some of the fish may get stuck in the pipe.

Let’s see…

Oh boy, there is a lot of them!

I think those are Minnows.

And here are mystery trapdoor snails.

I don’t know how long they can live without water.

They are probably frozen to death already.

Let’s move them closer to the water.

Back to Minnows…

There are some dead fish.

This puddle is too shallow and small for this number of fish.

The water did not freeze only because running NYC chlorinated water does not freeze easily.

I want to take a closer look at the fish.

Dig a bit to get more water in the cup.

The water is so cold!

Look at these Minnows — they are swift and moving strong.

It’s impressive how these minnows survive in this puddle at freezing temperature!

How long could they last in this puddle of water…

Many of them may die before the pond gets refilled.

And usually this pond stays dry for a couple weeks.

Well, unless it rains.

Then fish may get washed down the pipe.

I cannot save all the fish… and my aquariums are too small for them.

But I can try to save these 6.

One hour later I am at home with 6 wild Minnows.

Lucky for them I always have a couple spare aquariums ready for all kinds of emergencies.

I set up this aquarium in a live stream 6 weeks ago, on October 31st, in preparation for different fish.

Well, I did not get the fish I wanted yet.

So, this nursery should do for these Minnows as a temporary house.

I put 3 Minnows here.

Look how fast they are!

And scared.

This one seems to be damaged…

These fish are accustomed to a large space of the pond that does not have aquatic plants at all.

Life in an aquarium is a totally new and hard experience for adult Minnows.

With my son, Eric’s permission, I put the other 3 Minnows in his larger 7 liters aquarium that I built in March 2019.

We moved guppies from this tank to make room for the Minnows.

This tank has more space than the first 3 liter jar.

Minnows start exploring their new dwellings.

I like the driftwood in this tank.

It seems to be cured completely — the water is crystal clear after 6 weeks.

Here you can see a time-lapse recording I made to check where fish swim and what they do while I am away.

Time-lapse recording is the best way to make observations to see patterns.

Which is important for me as it is my first time experience with Minnows.

I need to learn about these fish if I am to keep them.

Two things became obvious right away based on what I see.

Minnows swim fast and need space for it.

This aquarium is small and can do only as temporary house for them.

And another things is that my Minnows like to stay together.

They are schooling fish.

Seems that they are tasting plants, nibble duckweed on the surface and picking at whatever is on the bottom.

These wild Minnows are accustomed more to live food than plants.

Remember, there are no plants in that pond.

I let them try homemade fish food flakes.

Here you can see Minnows are tasting it.

That is a good sign!

My attempt to buy live food for them locally did not go well…

Also, I ordered some live fish food online.

Though, delivery in the Winter and during the holiday season is very questionable.

The damaged Minnow died after two days on December 6th.

I removed the dead fish from the tank.

It is 5 cm long and the back is about 1 cm wide.

The same day I went to the Central park to check if the pond was refilled.

You can see the whole trip in the live stream I did ;)

There are just a few small fish left…some dead fish.

There could be more fish hiding inside of the pipe.

I see some fish here.

Four days later, on December 10th, I come to check the pond again.

See some little Minnows swimming in freezing tap water.

Seeing fish and critters living in chlorinated water makes me wonder about what water is actually acceptable for aquariums.

Here is the fish!

But the pond is still dry.

In the meantime, minnows in my aquariums seem to be fine.

They are much more active in the larger 7 liter aquarium.

They prefer to stay in the shadow in the back of the aquarium regardless of how I turn the aquarium.

Fish in the smaller 3 liter aquarium are less active and also prefer hiding spots.

I don’t want to move them in the 7 liter tank as I’m afraid it would make the aquarium overcrowded.

So, these two Minnows are going to stay here until the pond gets refilled.

On December 21st the pond is covered with ice.

I see open water under this ramp.

It is great news for my Minnows!

Now I can release them back into their pond.

First I move them into a smaller jar for transportation.

Here they are go.

On December 22nd, I brought 2 Minnows back to the Central Park where I released them back to the Conservatory pond.

These Minnow fish lived 18 days in my 3 liter aquarium garden.

Happy returning!

They should be fine now.

The 3 Minnows in the 7 liter aquarium garden seem to do fine.

And I finally got live food for them!

So, this adventure is not over yet.

I will keep you updated on these Minnows.

And look how nicely an Inch plant grows in this aquarium garden!

Have fun and happy Minnows :)