Minnow misconceptions

The Fisheries Blog

Just like they say, ‘more species, more problems’…well, we’ve got lots of problems. The minnow family—Cyprinidae (Sy-Prin-I-Dee)—is the largest freshwater fish family in the world, boasting over 3,000 species from ~370 genera.

But because of that great diversity, minnows are one of the most misunderstood groups of fishes on the planet. As a scientist who has based a career largely on minnow research, I’ve spent plenty of time addressing many misconceptions about minnows. Here are four common ones I frequently encounter:

All small fishes are minnows. Over the years, the term ‘minnow’ has become a colloquial expression for any small fish in any waterbody. A few freshwater non-minnow species even have the word ‘minnow’ in their common name—for example mudminnows and topminnows, which are in the families Umbriidae (Um-bri-dee) and Fundulidae (Fundulidae, Fun-doo-li-dee), respectively. Other small and silvery fishes can resemble minnows including silversides…

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