Minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus)

Also known as: Eurasian minnow
GenusPhoxinus (1)
SizeLength: 6-10 cm (2)

The minnow is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

The minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus) is a small, lively freshwater fish, with a greenish-brown back (2), which features darker spots that form an attractive 'banded' effect (3). It has fairly large eyes, a small mouth and a blunt nose (2). During the spawning season, males develop spectacular colours; the back becomes dark, the sides golden and the belly and lower fins turn bright red (2).

The minnow is found throughout much of Europe, from Britain to eastern Spain and eastern Siberia (4). It is widespread in Britain, but is absent from north Scotland (2).

Inhabits clean streams and rivers that have either a sandy or stony bed (2), in cold, running or still water that is well oxygenated (4). The minnow reaches altitudes of 2000 metres, and has been found in some lakes (2).

The minnow lives in groups and feeds on plant debris, algae, molluscs, insects and crustaceans (4). The spawning season lasts from April to June (2); during this time they undertake short upstream migrations to spawn in shallow, gravelly areas (4).

The minnow is an important component of the diet of larger fishes, including the brown trout (Salmo trutta fario), as well as many water birds (3). This species is a good 'indicator' of the quality and oxygen content of streams and rivers (2).

The minnow is threatened by pollution and excessive stocking of salmon species (1).

Conservation action has not been targeted at the minnow (1).

For more information on the minnow:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2011)
  2. Cihar, J. (1991) A field guide in colour to freshwater fish. Silverdale Books, Leicester.
  3. Buczacki, S. (2002) Fauna Britannica. Hamlyn, London.
  4. Fishbase species account (Jan 2003):