Minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus)
Minnows are common throughout the Spey catchment although generally absent from hgh gradient upland streams. They belong to the family Cyprinidae, a large and diverse group which includes carp. As their name suggests they are generally small, 9cm would be very large for a mature minnow. We are often asked what they develop into? The answer is nothing else: a minnow is a minnow, a small freshwater fish, which may live to be 7 or 8 years old. Minnows spawn in late spring/early summer, during this period the mature males adopt a more colourful appearance with red fins, throats and bellies and develop white tubercles on the head. Outside the spawning period minnows are muted olive, black and gold in colouration.
They can be identified from small salmon or trout by the absence of an adipose fin and spots. A shoaling fish, they can often be seen in large numbers in the margins, especially on a sunny day when water temperatures increase in shallow water. Shoals of small fish in the margins of the Spey are almost certainly minnows, juvenile salmonids are territorial and are rarely found in shoals.
They feed on a range of items including algae and small invertebrates. Minnows themselves are preyed upon by other fish species, including trout, eels and pike, and birds such as herons and kingfishers.