Rosy Red Minnow Care: Tank Setup, Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases & More

Rosy Red Minnows, also known as Pimephales promelas, are a popular freshwater fish species that are commonly kept as pets. These small, colorful fish are native to North America and are known for their vibrant red coloration, which ranges from a deep crimson to a bright, rosy pink.

While they are relatively easy to care for, it is important to provide them with the right environment and diet to ensure their health and happiness.

Rosy Red Minnows require a tank size of at least 10 gallons, with a temperature range of 65-75°F and a pH range of 6.5-8.0. They are omnivores and need a varied diet of high-quality pellets or flakes, as well as occasional live or frozen foods. They also require a well-planted aquarium with plenty of open swimming space. Regular water changes and tank maintenance are important for their health.

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about Rosy Red Minnow care, including their habitat requirements, feeding habits, and common health issues.

Species Summary


The Rosy Red Minnow, also known as the Fathead Minnow, is native to North America. They are commonly found in streams, ponds, and lakes throughout the United States and parts of Canada.


These hardy fish typically have a lifespan of 2-3 years in the wild. With proper care in a home aquarium, they can live up to 4 years.


Rosy Red Minnows have a unique coloration, ranging from bright pink to coppery-orange hues. They have a streamlined body with a small, rounded head.


Adults reach an average size of 2-3 inches (5-7.6 cm) in length.

Growth Rate

These minnows have a relatively fast growth rate. They can reach their adult size within a few months.

I remember when I first got my Rosy Red Minnows, I was amazed at how quickly they grew from tiny fry to healthy, active adults.

Behavior & Temperament

Rosy Red Minnows are known for their peaceful and social nature. They enjoy swimming together in schools and are rarely aggressive towards other species.

Male Vs Female

Males tend to be smaller and slightly more colorful than females. During breeding, males develop darker-colored heads and tubercles, or small bumps, on their snouts.

Tank Setup

Tank Size

Rosy Red Minnows are fairly small fish, but it’s essential to provide them with enough space. A minimum tank size of 10 gallons is recommended for keeping a small school of 5-6 fish. Remember, larger tanks are easier to maintain and provide more stability for water conditions.


These fish don’t have specific lighting requirements, but a regular daytime and nighttime cycle is ideal. If you have live plants, make sure to provide ample light for them.

Filtration & Aeration

Rosy Red Minnows are hardy fish, but proper filtration is still crucial. An appropriately-sized hang-on-back or sponge filter is suitable for their tank. Aeration is also essential; I’ve found that an air stone or sponge filter output provides sufficient oxygen for the fish.


Although they can withstand a wide temperature range, maintaining a stable temperature between 65°F and 75°F (18°C – 24°C) is best for their well-being. Utilize a reliable and adjustable aquarium heater to ensure consistent water temperature.


A soft, sandy or fine-grained gravel substrate works well for Rosy Red Minnows. This allows them to sift through it without damaging their sensitive barbels.


Rosy Red Minnows feel more secure with hiding spots and areas of cover. Implement some driftwood, caves, or rocks to create a natural environment for them.


Incorporating live plants not only adds visual appeal to your tank but also helps maintain water quality. Some suitable options include Java Fern, Anubias, and Hornwort. These plants are easy to care for and provide foliage for the minnows to explore and swim around.

Water Quality

Water Temperature

Rosy Red Minnows thrive in water temperatures between 64°F (18°C) and 77°F (25°C). I once found them to be highly adaptable to small fluctuations in their environment. However, sudden changes can cause stress, making them susceptible to diseases.

Water pH

A pH level between 7.0 and 8.0 is ideal for Rosy Red Minnows. Keep a pH test kit on hand and check the pH regularly. Having stable pH levels is crucial for your minnows’ health.

Water Hardness

The recommended water hardness range for these fish is 8-12 dGH (degrees of general hardness). Maintaining water hardness within this range is essential to provide suitable conditions and prevent potential problems.

Water Changes

Routine water changes are vital for maintaining your fish’s health. Aim for:

  • 20-30% water change every two weeks, or
  • 10-15% water change every week

This helps to keep the water parameters stable, ensuring a healthier environment for your Rosy Red Minnows. In my experience, sticking to a regular water change schedule greatly improved the overall well-being of my fish.

Tank Maintenance

Weekly water changes are essential for a healthy Rosy Red Minnow environment. Aim to change 25% of the water each week. I remember when I accidentally skipped a water change, and the result was quite alarming – my minnows lost their vibrant color and became less active.

To maintain water quality, check the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels regularly. These parameters should be 0 ppm, 0 ppm, and under 40 ppm, respectively. If the levels are too high, it’s beneficial to use a water conditioner or a suitable filter media to bring the levels down.

Monitor temperature and pH as well. Rosy Reds enjoy a stable temperature between 65-75°F (18-24°C) and a pH from 7.0 to 8.0. Maintaining these levels is important for their comfort.

Cleaning the tank itself is vital too. Remove any uneaten food, algae, or waste throughout the week. I like to use a gravel vacuum during water changes to ensure the substrate is free from debris.

Filter maintenance is also crucial. Rinse the filter media with clean, dechlorinated water once a month. However, avoid replacing all the media at once to preserve the beneficial bacteria.

When it comes to tank equipment, check your filter, heater, and other equipment regularly to make sure they are functioning correctly. It’s always wise to keep spare parts in case of a breakdown.

Here are some key tank maintenance tasks:

  • Weekly 25% water changes
  • Water quality tests
  • Monitoring temperature and pH
  • Cleaning tank and removing debris
  • Filter maintenance
  • Equipment check

By following these guidelines, your Rosy Red Minnows will thrive, and their tank will stay in top condition.

Tank Mates

Compatible Fish Species

Rosy Red Minnows are peaceful and sociable fish that enjoy schooling with their own kind. They can also coexist with various other tank mates, including:

  • Guppies: These small, colorful fish are non-aggressive and have similar water care requirements.
  • Mollies: Easygoing and calm fish that are compatible with Rosy Red Minnows.
  • Cory Catfish: These bottom dwellers are gentle and get along well with the minnows.

I once kept Rosy Red Minnows in a tank with a school of Neon Tetras, and they lived harmoniously together.

Incompatible Fish Species

However, there are some fish species that are not suitable for sharing a tank with Rosy Red Minnows, for example:

  • Cichlids: These aggressive fish may cause harm or stress to the minnows.
  • Large Catfish: Species such as Red-Tail Catfish grow too large and may see the minnows as food.

It is essential to choose the right tank mates and closely monitor their interactions to ensure a healthy and stress-free environment for all fish.


What To Feed

Rosy Red Minnows are omnivores and thrive on a varied diet. Provide them with a high-quality, flake or pellet food as their staple diet. Supplement the diet with live, frozen, or freeze-dried foods like brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms for added nutrition. In addition, include veggies such as blanched spinach, zucchini, and peas to fulfill their need for plant-based nutrients.

I remember the first time I introduced live foods to my Minnows, they were immediately enticed by the movement—almost as if they were in the wild!


Feed your Rosy Red Minnows two to three times daily, but be careful not to overfeed them. A general rule of thumb is to provide an amount that they can consume within two minutes.


  • To maintain high water quality, remove uneaten food from the tank after feeding.
  • Be mindful of the food’s consistency to avoid leftover food accumulating in the filter system.
  • Observe your Minnows’ feeding habits and adjust their diet as needed to ensure they are getting the proper nutrition.

Keep in mind that providing your Rosy Red Minnows with a balanced and varied diet not only improves their health but also enhances their colors and overall vitality.

Common Diseases


In my experience with Rosy Red Minnows, I’ve encountered a few common diseases. Some of these include:

  • Ichthyophthirius multifiliis (Ich)
  • Fin rot
  • Fungal infections


Each of these diseases presents unique symptoms in the fish. Here’s what you might notice:


  • Small white spots on the body, fins, and gills
  • Fish rubbing themselves against aquarium objects

Fin rot

  • Jagged, disintegrating fins
  • Red, inflamed fin bases

Fungal infections

  • Cotton-like growths on body or fins
  • Unusual paleness or color change


Treating these diseases requires different approaches:


  • Increase aquarium temperature to 82°F for 10 days
  • Administer malachite green or similar medication

Fin rot

  • Treat with antibiotics such as kanamycin or erythromycin
  • Maintain high water quality

Fungal infections

  • Use antifungal medications like methylene blue or PimaFix
  • Remove affected fish to a quarantine tank for treatment


I can’t stress enough the importance of prevention when it comes to keeping your Rosy Red Minnows healthy:

  • Maintain a clean, stable aquarium environment
  • Conduct regular water changes and tests
  • Avoid overcrowding
  • Quarantine new fish before introducing them to the main tank

Signs Of A Healthy Rosy Red Minnow

A healthy Rosy Red Minnow should display bright coloration, especially the males, which tend to have a more vibrant reddish hue. The fish’s body should be smooth and streamlined with no visible damage or growths.

Another sign of a healthy fish is their activity level. Rosy Red Minnows are naturally energetic and curious, so observing their movement can be a good indicator of their well-being. They should be seen swimming energetically around the tank and exhibiting a healthy appetite during feeding times.

It’s essential to pay attention to their breathing too. A healthy fish will have steady, even gill movements. Rapid or strained breathing could be a sign of stress or illness.

When I first started keeping Rosy Red Minnows, I noticed a few of my fish hiding away and barely eating. After seeking advice from fellow fishkeepers, I made adjustments to the tank environment, and soon, the minnows became more active and started eating regularly.

Remember to monitor water quality in your tank frequently, as this plays a significant role in maintaining your Rosy Red Minnows’ health. Regular water tests and partial water changes are a must to keep ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels in check.

Here are some significant signs of a healthy Rosy Red Minnow for quick reference:

  • Bright coloration
  • Smooth and streamlined body
  • Energetic and curious behavior
  • Healthy appetite
  • Steady, even breathing
  • Clear eyes and no visible damage

By observing your fish and maintaining excellent water quality in your tank, you’ll provide your Rosy Red Minnows with the best chance of thriving and living a healthy life.

Signs Your Fish Is Sick

Keeping Rosy Red Minnows healthy can be relatively easy, but it’s important to know when something may be wrong with your fish.

  1. Loss of Appetite: One sign of illness is a loss of appetite. If you notice your fish aren’t eager to eat, monitor them closely. I once had a minnow that suddenly became disinterested in its food, and it turned out to have swim bladder issues.
  2. Lethargic Behavior: Lethargy is another concerning sign. Healthy fish should be active and engaged with their surroundings. Any sign of sluggishness might indicate stress or illness.
  3. Changes in Appearance: Keep an eye out for changes in appearance. Clamped fins, pale or patchy coloration, and swollen eyes or body are clear indicators of an unhealthy fish.
  4. Labored Breathing: Pay attention to your fish’s gills; rapid or labored breathing indicates an issue with their respiratory system, which could be caused by low oxygen levels or an infection.

It’s essential to act quickly if you notice any of these signs in your Rosy Red Minnows. Early intervention increases your fish’s chances of recovery and helps ensure their long-term health.


Breeding Setup

To set up a breeding tank, I used a 10-gallon aquarium with a sponge filter and a heater. The temperature was maintained around 72°F, and I added a few hiding spots using plants and rocks.

How To Breed

I fed the fish a mix of high-quality flake food and frozen bloodworms for two weeks. Once their colors began to intensify, I knew it was time for breeding. Females became plumper, while males displayed bright red coloring.


After spawning, I found it best to remove the adults to prevent them from eating the eggs. The eggs hatched in about 3 days, and the fry became free-swimming after a week.

  • I fed the fry with liquid fry food and newly hatched brine shrimp.
  • Water changes were done every 48 hours, taking care not to disturb the fry.

In about 4 to 6 weeks, the young fish developed their characteristic colors, and they were ready to be introduced into the main aquarium.

Product recommendations for Rosy Red Minnow:

  1. Aqueon Aquarium Fish Tank Starter Kit: This kit includes everything you need to get started with keeping Rosy Red Minnows, including a tank, filter, and heater.
  2. Tetra Whisper Bio-Bag Cartridge: These filter cartridges can help keep the water clean and clear in your Rosy Red Minnow tank.
  3. Seachem Prime: This water conditioner can help remove harmful chemicals from tap water and make it safe for your Rosy Red Minnow.
  4. API Aquarium Test Kit: Regular water testing is crucial for maintaining a healthy environment for your Rosy Red Minnow, and this test kit can help you monitor the levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate in your tank.
  5. Fluval Plant and Shrimp Stratum: This substrate is specifically designed for planted aquariums and can provide a natural-looking environment for your Rosy Red Minnow.
  6. Hikari Micro Pellets: These pellets are specially formulated for small tropical fish like Rosy Red Minnow and contain high levels of protein and other essential nutrients for healthy growth and vibrant coloration.
  7. Hydor Koralia Nano Aquarium Circulation Pump: This compact and efficient pump can help improve water circulation in your aquarium and provide your Rosy Red Minnow with a more natural environment.
  8. Zoo Med Laboratories AquaSun LED Aquarium Hood: This energy-efficient LED hood can provide ample lighting for your Rosy Red Minnow tank and help promote healthy plant growth.
  9. CaribSea Eco-Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate: This substrate is specifically designed for planted aquariums and can provide a natural-looking environment for your Rosy Red Minnow.
  10. Omega One Freeze-Dried Brine Shrimp: This tasty treat can provide your Rosy Red Minnow with a high-quality source of protein and help promote healthy growth and coloration.


Caring for Rosy Red Minnows can be a rewarding experience. These hardy fish are easy to maintain, making them perfect for beginners.

  • Proper Tank Setup: It’s crucial to provide a well-filtered tank with stable water conditions. Don’t forget hiding spots and decor!
  • Diet: They have an omnivorous diet. Feed them high-quality pellet food and occasional live or frozen food for a balanced diet.
  • Tank Mates: Rosy Red Minnows can coexist with other peaceful, community fish. Be mindful of their size for compatibility.
  • Breeding: Breeding them can be relatively simple. Provide a separate breeding tank with dense plants or spawning mops.

I remember when I first started caring for Rosy Red Minnows, I couldn’t believe how quickly they adapted to their new environment!

In conclusion, following these guidelines will help ensure your Rosy Red Minnows thrive and contribute to an engaging aquatic community.


What do Rosy Red Minnows eat?
Rosy Red Minnows are omnivores, eating both plant matter and small animals. They enjoy a diet of flakes, pellets, and bloodworms. I once had success feeding them blanched vegetables.

How large of a tank do they need?
Though small in size, Rosy Red Minnows require a minimum of 10-gallon tank as they are active swimmers.

Are Rosy Red Minnows good tankmates?
Yes! They are peaceful fish, getting along with similarly-sized species. Make sure they have enough hiding spots to feel secure.

What is the ideal water temperature?
Rosy Red Minnows prefer cooler water temperatures, between 64-72°F (18-22°C).

How often should I do water changes?
Weekly water changes of 20-25% are recommended to ensure a healthy environment.

Do Rosy Red Minnows need a filter?
Yes, a filter is necessary for maintaining a stable and clean environment. Invest in a good-quality filter to keep your fish happy.

Remember, proper care is crucial for your Rosy Red Minnows’ well-being. Enjoy your fish-keeping journey!

Reference: Wikipedia.


Hi there! My name is Jacob, and I'm the founder of this Pet people blog that talks all about aquarium and fishkeeping. I've been passionate about fish and aquatic life since I was a kid, and I've spent countless hours learning about different species, their habitats, and how to create the perfect environment for them to thrive in.

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