Commercial Licenses

Commercial Aquaculture Licenses

Commercial Minnow Licenses

Private Fish Hatchery License (sales less than $200)

A private fish hatchery is a licensed facility for hatching, raising, rearing, and culturing private aquatic life for sale. A private fish hatchery license can include ponds, vats, tanks, raceways, and other indoor or outdoor facilities that an aquatic farmer owns or has the right to use. This license is only for small operations with sales less than $200/license year. If sales exceed $200, you must upgrade the license. A five-year license is available. You pay for the entire five-year fee in the first year of the five-year term (you will receive an updated license each year during your five-year term). Six endorsements are available for holders of A private fish hatchery license:

  1. License to Take Sucker Egg from Public Waters
  2. Minnow Retailer License
  3. Minnow Dealer License
  4. Exporting Minnow Dealer License
  5. Minnow Dealer, Exporting Minnow Dealer, and Minnow Retailer Vehicle Licenses
  6. Fish Packer License

These endorsements allow the license holder to conduct the same activities as an individual license for that activity would allow. They are simply a way to consolidate all licenses into one for the convenience of the licensee.

Pond/Facility Licensing

All ponds and facilities that you want to use for culturing private aquatic life must be approved and listed on your private fish hatchery license. If a pond is dropped from a license and not transferred to another licensee within a year, a new inspection may be required to re-license that pond. To license a new pond, submit a Private Fish Hatchery and Aquatic Farm New Pond Application along with required inspection fees to your regional fisheries manager.

Adding a Species to Your Aquatic Farm License

Adding a Species to Your Aquatic Farm License

You may request to add a species to your license at any time during the license year by simply drafting a short letter to your Regional Fisheries Manager including: your name, hatchery license number, and the species of aquatic life that you are requesting for approval. Species of aquatic life must be approved and listed on your list of licensed waters, before they are brought into your licensed waters. It is a violation to bring a species of aquatic life into your licensed waters unless those waters are licensed for that species.

All species of aquatic life fall into one of the three following categories:

Fish Health Inspection and Certification

Facilities licensed for salmonids or catfish require an annual fish health inspection if they discharge effluent to public waters. A lot means a group of fish of the same species and age that originated from the same discrete spawning population and that have always shared a common water supply; or various age groups of brood stock of the same species that have shared the same containers for one brood cycle. Even if your facility does not discharge to public waters, you need a fish health certification to transfer salmonids, catfish, or species on the official list of viral hemorrhagic septicemia susceptible species published by the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services to another licensed facility, or to stock salmonids, catfish, or VHS susceptible species into waters of the state. There are two labs in the state of MN that can perform a fish health inspection:

  1. The MN DNR Pathology Laboratory
  2. The University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

You can also choose to use any accredited testing laboratory located out-of-state.

Certified fish collectors:

Name Phone City State
Dr. Jeff Lukken 218-864-5695 Battle Lake MN
Dr. John Howe 218-326-9668 Grand Rapids MN
Dr. Glen Zebarth 320-762-1575 Alexandria MN
Dr. Jamie Litke 320-630-0151 Pierz MN
Dr. Spencer Wayne 507-215-1604 Pipestone MN

Dr. Robert Smith

715-948-2971 Clayton WI
Dr. Michael Bjorklund 507-256-7237 Clarks Grove MN
Dr. Amanda Covington 320-458-3311 Winsted MN
Dr. Kevin Haroldson 218-732-9866 Park Rapids MN
Dr. Rachel Bakeberg 320-289-2484 Appleton MN
Dr. Kelvin Rudolph 218-346-2120 Perham MN

Aeration Permits Aeration of licensed waters (ponds) may be permitted under an aquatic farm license if one of the following conditions is met:

The DNR will provide "Thin Ice" signs for licensed waters that require a DNR aeration permit issued by the Division of Ecological and Water Resources. The licensee is required to obtain and post "Thin Ice" signs on ponds approved for aeration under that aquatic farm license but do not need an aeration permit. Proof of financial responsibility (insurance) is waived if you meet any of the above conditions. If you wish to aerate pond(s) that do not meet one of the above conditions, a separate aeration permit is required. Please apply for an aeration permit through your local Area Fisheries Headquarters, Regional Fisheries Office, or Amanda Yourd.

Requests for Game Fish Eggs, Fry, or Brood Stock

Cool/Warm Water Species: (contact Neil Vanderbosch with questions or to request an application) Requests are due by March 1 of the year you wish to receive fish. Walleye eggs can be requested at a rate of one half quart of eggs, or 5,000 fry, per each acre of licensed surface water (ponds). There may be an exception for intensive culture facilities that raise walleye or muskellunge.

Cold Water Species: (contact Paula Phelps with questions or to request an application)

Water Appropriation Permits

A permit from the DNR Division of Ecological and Water Resources is required for water appropriations that exceed 10,000 gallons per day or one million gallons per year. Appropriation is defined as the withdrawal, removal, or transfer of water from its source regardless of how the water is used. Therefore, any withdrawals from groundwater, springs, or water basins that exceed the above volume thresholds require a water appropriation permit. Additional information about the water appropriation program is available on the DNR website. Click here PDF (251.21 K, 6 pages) to download an application. All water appropriation permits require an annual water use report along with a processing fee. All private fish hatchery licenses may be reviewed to determine compliance with water appropriation permit requirements. If you have questions, please contact the area hydrologist for the county in which the operation is located.

Report Forms

As part of your private fish hatchery license renewal, you must complete and return an Aquatic Farm/Private Fish Hatchery Report. This report must be submitted even if no production or sales occurred during the licensing period.


Request an Application

Click here to request a license application.

License Renewal Information

License renewal packets will be mailed out to all current private fish hatchery (sales less than $200) licensees in January. You can renew your license by completing and returning the enclosed license application.

Applications & Forms

Helpful Links

Questions? Contact us!

Sean Sisler, Acting Aquaculture and Fish Health Consultant