Aquaculture America 2023

February 23 - 26, 2023

New Orleans, Louisiana USA


Donald R. Schreiner* and Amy J. Schrank.

*University of Minnesota, Minnesota Sea grant College Program, 144 Chester Park Bldg., 31 West College Street, Duluth, MN 55812


Over the last twenty years the supply of Golden Shiner in Minnesota has decreased while demand by anglers for use as bait has increased and far exceeds in-state production. Minnesota reported $101,000 in sales of Golden Shiner in the 2018 Aquaculture Census which was about 58% of the $175,000 reported in the 2013 census and 24% of the $425,000 reported in the 2005 census. Recent projections by Minnesota bait dealers estimate a deficit of more than 10,000 gallons of Golden Shiner annually. Consequently, there is pressure from some anglers, bait dealers, and legislators to import Golden Shiner from other states, though this is currently prohibited by law in Minnesota. The primary concerns are that importation can introduce aquatic invasive species, disease, and parasites that may negatively impact native fish communities. Recreational fishing is one of Minnesota’s largest industries, with an estimated value of $2.4 billion. Our study explores methods to increase Golden Shiner production as a preferred alternative to importation.

Production of Golden Shiner in Minnesota is limited due to slow growth rates where it takes two years for Golden Shiner to reach market size (8-12 cm) in natural ponds. We are exploring four different strategies to grow Golden Shiner to market size in Minnesota within one growing season (May-October). Our strategies include: 1) intensive indoor rearing of Golden Shiner using a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS), 2) growing Golden Shiner in an indoor recirculating aquaponics systems, 3) stocking outdoor, constructed ponds with newly hatched Golden Shiner sac-fry (0.5-1 cm), and 4) producing feed trained Golden Shiner frylings (2-3 cm) indoors before stocking them into outdoor constructed ponds.

Year one of our project has produced optimistic results and provided additional areas of research to pursue. Results from our project partners in the Minnesota bait industry indicate that Golden Shiner reared in RAS can reach market size in approximately 6-9 months. Sampling indicates many feed trained Golden Shiner frylings stocked into ponds reached market size by early September, however only a small number of sac-fry stocked into ponds have approached market size. Upon harvest in late October, total production and size structure will be determined for each pond and information will be shared in this presentation. Development of the aquaponics strategy was delayed but we expect to initiate this strategy over the next year.

The project has drawn high interest from bait dealers, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the media. If successful and cost effective, these methods could become a new model for production of a variety of minnow species used as bait in Minnesota and other northern climates.