Producing Golden Shiner Bait in Minnesota

Golden Shiner minnow in the palm of a persons hand.

Image credit: Amy Schrank

Golden Shiner minnow in the palm of a person's hand.

This is a three-year project that seeks to demonstrate new strategies for the in-state production of Golden Shiner bait, which are a preferred bait species in Minnesota. Importing Golden Shiners from out of state creates a significant risk of introducing and spreading aquatic invasive species and disease in Minnesota waters. 

Two Golden Shiner bait fish laying next to the 1-2.5 marks on a tape measure.

Image credit: Barry Thoele

"This project not only aims to increase the supply of locally grown Golden Shiner for anglers, but also seeks to grow these valuable fish in the budding aquaculture and aquaponics (growing fish and plants together) businesses” said Amy Schrank, MNSG fisheries and aquaculture extension educator and project lead.

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What are Golden Shiners?

The Golden Shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas) is a minnow in the cyprinid family that is native to eastern North America

In Minnesota, demand for Golden Shiners (Notemigonus crysoleucas) used as bait exceeds in-state production. Recent projections by bait dealers estimate a deficit of approximately 10,000 gallons of Golden Shiner annually. There is pressure from anglers, bait dealers, and legislators to import them from other states. However, importation can introduce aquatic invasive species such as invasive carps and fish diseases, which can negatively impact state waters and jeopardize valuable native fish species. Golden Shiners are also an excellent candidate for indoor production because they are a hardy fish, spawn multiple times a year, and their spawning times can be manipulated by adjusting water temperature and lighting conditions.

    Project description

    Why Golden Shiners? 

    In Minnesota, demand for Golden Shiners (Notemigonus crysoleucas) used as bait exceeds in-state production. Recent projections by bait dealers estimate a deficit of approximately 10,000 gallons of Golden Shiner annually. There is pressure from anglers, bait dealers, and legislators to import them from other states. However, importation can introduce aquatic invasive species such as invasive carps and fish diseases, which can negatively impact state waters and jeopardize valuable native fish species. Golden Shiners are also an excellent candidate for indoor production because they are a hardy fish, spawn multiple times a year, and their spawning times can be manipulated by adjusting water temperature and lighting conditions.

    Goals and Objectives:

    • Identify and demonstrate the best methods for in-state production of Golden Shiner bait fish that will address angler demand and negate or reduce the need for importation.
    • Communicate findings and recommendations to commercial bait producers by publishing a project report, a production (how-to) manual, and holding three workshops to transfer results of this project. Published materials will be made available through this website.

    Timeline:

    Project starts in fall 2021 and is to be completed by June 30, 2024.

    Benefits of Indoor Production?

    Producing fish bait in indoor facilities, entirely or partially, extends the Golden Shiner's growing period and enables them to reach marketable size in 9 months or less. Indoor production also avoids the high mortality and slow growth that result from Golden Shiners that over-winter in natural outdoor ponds.

    Fertilized Golden Shiner fish embryos, yellow ruler.
    Image credit: Marc Tye.

    What are the Proposed Solutions?

    The project team will demonstrate and evaluate four strategies that could supply a sustainable in-state supply of Golden Shiner bait fish:

    1. Intensive rearing of Golden Shiner, all indoors, using a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS).
    2. Using Golden Shiner as the fish species grown in an aquaponics (plants + fish) systems, similar to RAS, but with the added benefit of growing plants.
    3. Growing Golden Shiner by stocking constructed dug ponds with newly hatched fish sac-fry(~1/4 inches) in May and harvesting in October.
    4. Producing feed-trained Golden Shiner indoors to a size of 1-2 inches, then stocking them into constructed ponds in May to grow out with the anticipation of harvesting market sized fish in October.
    Two Golden Shiner bait fish laying next to the 1-2.5 marks on a tape measure.
    Image credit: Amy Schrank.

    Why Minnesota Sea Grant?

    The Golden Shiner project supports Sea Grant's mission to enhance the practical use and conservation of Great Lakes, coastal, and marine resources in order to create a sustainable economy and environment. Specifically, this project supports our national and state focus area of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.

    What have we done lately?

    2021

    • Golden Shiner are being collected from Minnesota ponds

    What Have We Got Planned?

    2022

    • Hatch Golden Shiner eggs
    • Transition fry to commercial feed

    2023

    • Stock hatchery fry and fryling into different sets of outdoor dug ponds (2 years)
    • Grow Golden Shiner over the summer to market size and harvest in late fall (2 years)

    2024

    • Golden Shiner production in RAS and aquaponics systems 
    • Summarize project results in a final report
    • Publish a production (how-to) manual
    • Host three workshops for growers, bait dealers, and legislators

    Participants & audience

    The MNSG Golden Shiner project seeks to serve aquaculture farmers, specifically Golden Shiner producers, in Minnesota and the Great Lakes Region.

    Project collaborators include Barry Thoele, owner of Lincoln Bait and Barry's Cherries Hydroponic Produce; Marc Tye, owner of Tye Fish Solutions; Tonny Vang, owner of Happy Fish Aquaponics; and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

    Funding

    MNSG’s Golden Shiner project is funded by a $188,000 Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) grant from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund that was awarded in the fall of 2021.   


    Upcoming Events

    Program Staff

    Blond woman with mountains in the background
    Fisheries and Aquaculture Extension Educator
    Don Schreiner headshot
    Fisheries Specialist
    Minnesota Sea Grant Aquaculture Extension Associate Kieran Smith
    Aquaculture Extension Associate 01/13/2022

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