The New Student's Reference Work/Minnow
Min′now, the name commonly applied to small slender fishes. The true minnows belong to the family Cyprinidæ. They are abundant in the Old World and in North America. Although numerous in species, they are difficult to distinguish on account of great similarity. Like birds, the male minnows often put on bright colors during the breeding season, and some kinds have the head ornamented with tubercles. The so-called American minnows (Notropis), with upward of 100 species, are confined to the waters east of the Rocky Mountains. Minnows are of importance as food for larger fishes, and they are extensively used as bait by fishermen.