Native Minnows in a prairie stream of the Flint Hills Kansas http://netnebraska.org/node/824640 True minnows belong to the freshwater fish family but the term is often used for tiny freshwater & saltwater fish used as fishing bait. Like darters, they require healthy, meandering streams that have cobbles, pebbles and sand on the bottom on the inner curve of the stream path. The water must be relatively clear for sunlight to penetrate to the aquatic vegetation for photosynthesis that supplies food for the minnows. The banks must have plants & trees that prevent soil erosion. Removing or mowing vegetation along stream banks causes erosion. The resulting stream sediment makes the water murky and uninhabitable for many creatures. Plus water runoff from urbanized areas washes toxins into the water that harms these minnows. Some like the fathead minnow are used to test for impacts of chemicals like plastics and pharmaceuticals that adversely affect fish. Most of the fish diversity in southeastern Kansas consists of minnows and darters.