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Minnow ( Phoxinus phoxinus )

without rank: Otophysa
Order : Carp-like (Cypriniformes)
Subordination : Carp fish-like (Cyprinoidei)
Family : White fish (Leuciscidae)
Genre : Phoxinus
Type : minnow
Scientific name
Phoxinus phoxinus
( Linnaeus , 1758)

The minnow ( Phoxinus phoxinus ), even bitter fish , Maipiere or Pfrille called, is a small fish from the family of carp fish (Cyprinidae). The scientific name goes back to its ancient Greek name φοξῑνος phoxinos (from Greek φοξός phoxos 'pointed'). The minnow was named "Fish of the Year" in Germany in 1991 and in Austria in 2016.


Minnows are 6 to 8 cm long, rarely up to 12 cm. The fish are yellow-brown in color and have small scales . Their sides are covered with brown and black polka dots or stripes. The belly is white to reddish white, at spawning time the males develop a red underside. Both sexes develop spawning rash .


The species occurs in large parts of Europe across northern Asia to the Amur . It is absent in northern Scotland, central and southern Italy, and southern Greece. In Norway, it is currently expanding strongly to the north (global warming) and is bitterly fought against by fishermen who do not know it, as the alleged food competitor of the salmonids. In the Alps it is found up to 2000 meters above sea level. The subspecies Phoxinus phoxinus colchicus Berg lives in the western Transcaucasus from Novorossiysk to Batumi , 1910.

Way of life

A swarm of minnows in the exhibition Unter dem Moldauspiegel, Prague 2011

The minnow is a small, lively schooling fish that occurs mainly in the trout and grayling regions. It needs clean, clear and oxygen-rich water and is therefore strongly endangered by water pollution and the construction of rivers. Their preferred location is the upper water layers, where juvenile fish near the shore can withstand water temperatures of up to 30 ° C. The minnow is therefore also popular as a lively aquarium fish.

Their diet consists of insect larvae, fish spawn , small crustaceans, algae, approach food and young fish. It is a prey of the brown trout . The minnow grows very slowly and becomes sexually mature towards the end of the first to second year of life. The spawning season is from April to June, when the eggs are laid on stones in the shallow water and adhere to them. It is a typical swarm spawner, which means that few specimens cannot spawn at all.

Economical meaning

In some parts of Russia, minnow is caught with small-meshed nets and pots . Pickled it is consumed as edible fish. It has a slightly bitter taste. They are also used as bait , but please note that it all year in some countries spared is.

Minnows are also used to monitor drinking water quality .


  • Werner Ladiges, Dieter Vogt: The freshwater fish of Europe to the Urals and Caspian Sea . Paul Parey magazine publisher, Singhofen / Hamburg / Berlin, 1965.

Web links

Commons : Minnow  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Overview "Fish of the Year" in Germany. German Fishing Association, accessed on February 26, 2018 .
  2. Overview "Fish of the Year" in Austria. Austrian Board of Trustees for Fisheries and Water Protection, accessed on February 26, 2018 .