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Best Live Bait Bucket with Aerator

5 Best Aerated Bait Buckets for Minnows and More

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Fishing with live bait can be fun and in many cases more effective at catching fish than using artificial lures. However, using live bait can also be expensive. Without a good way to store and maintain your live bait, you can easily lose your bait before you are able to use it all.

That is why it is important to invest in a quality bait bucket, preferably with an aerator. The best live bait buckets can keep your minnows, shad, leeches, shrimp, and other live bait alive and kicking for your fishing day.

5 Best Aerated Bait Buckets Compared

There are a lot of bait buckets to choose from, most are cheap junk, to be honest. We spent hours researching to narrow the field down to only the bait buckets that are worth buying. Here is a quick comparison of our favorite models, followed by more detailed reviews of each bait bucket.

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Last updated 2020-08-04 at 19:27 / Affiliate Links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

  1. Marine Metal Cool Bubbles – Best Aerated Bait Bucket Overall
  2. Frabill Aqua-Life Bait Station – Largest Capacity
  3. Frabill Aerated Bait Bucket – Best Budget Bait Bucket
  4. Frabill Aqua-Life Magnum – 5-Gallon Bait Bucket
  5. Aerobait Bait Saver Bucket – Integrated Aerator

Aerated Bait Bucket Reviews

1. Marine Metal Cool Bubbles

Pros: The Cool Bubbles is a tough, self-contained bait bucket system that features an insulated liner and lid designed for fishing. The included Bubble Box aerators which are some of the best portable bait bubblers around.

Cons: Actual capacity is slightly less than the “bucket size”. Only the 8-quart bucket comes with a dip net.

The Marine Metal Cool Bubbles are tough, impact-resistant molded buckets with an insulating foam liner. It is available in sizes of 8-quarts, 10-quarts, and 5-gallons. Be aware that because of the insulation liner, the actual capacity is slightly lower than the bucket size.

The Cool Bubbles buckets feature an updated cover design with fishing in mind. It has a large lid opening for easy dip net access. The new cover also includes a bait cutting board and mounting clips for your fishing pliers and tools.

Each Cool Bubbles bait bucket comes with a quiet running Marine Metal Bubble Box aerators, which are known as some of the best aerators around. The 8-quart utilizes a smaller B-11 pump with 40-hour battery life, while the larger buckets employ the B-3 Bubble Box for impressive 85-hour battery life.

The 8 and 10-quart sizes are perfect buckets for ice fishing, while the 5-gallon size can handle some larger sized bait like suckers and shiners that work great for fishing tip-ups.


2. Frabill Aerated Bait Bucket – Best Cheap Option

Pros: A good cheap bait bucket that features a slick lid design with the aerator hidden away. The pump works well and can last for several days on a set of batteries.

Cons: This is a great bait saver, but relatively small at 1.3 gallons, and the batteries can be a challenge to replace.

Features & Specs:

  • Capacity: 1.3 Gal
  • Aerator: Yes
  • Insulated: Yes

The Frabill Aerated Bait Bucket is a simple, highly portable bucket with an all-new lid design. This bait saver is one of the more convenient models around, and with a 1.3-gallon capacity, it’s the perfect size for weekend fishing trips.

The bucket itself is a basic plastic pail with an insulated liner, nothing too fancy here, it just works. The big plastic handle makes carrying your bait into the bait shop and back to the boat a breeze. The rest of the fun stuff is in the bucket cover.

The aerator pump is neatly tucked away inside a compartment in the lid. Inside you will find the hose and air stone. The lid is tricky to open at first, try a small screwdriver, and be careful to insert the batteries correctly as it is a little hard to see inside.

Overall, once you get the hang of changing batteries, the Frabill Aerated Bucket is a great cheap bait saver for keeping a few dozen minnows alive over your weekend fishing trips.


3. Frabill AquaLife Bait Station Bucket – Largest Capacity

Pros: Biggest bait bucket, with a built-in diffuser, perfect for keeping larger baitfish or giving your bait more water to live in.

Cons: Quite heavy once filled, and the replaceable lid can crack if struck or dropped.

Features & Specs:

  • Capacity: 6 Gal
  • Aerator: Yes, with Diffuser
  • Insulated: Yes

If you are looking for a workhorse bait bucket, look no further than the huge 6-gallon Aqualife Bait Station Bucket. This is one tough bucket with a completely removable insulated liner and watertight clamp-on lid. The lid also features a 12V plugin and

Like other Frabill buckets, there is an aerator pump built into the lid. It’s powered with two D cell batteries, that will last a few days running nonstop. Then look down the side into the bottom, you’ll see a built-in diffuser that generates a ton of oxygen bubbles. The diffuser is a unique feature not found on any other bait bucket.


4. Frabill AquaLife Magnum Bait Bucket

Pros: Simple, effective design with good features for fishing like tool and bait net holders.

Cons: Quite heavy once filled, and the replaceable lid can crack if struck or dropped.

Features & Specs:

  • Capacity: 4.25 Gal
  • Aerator: Yes
  • Insulated: Yes

The Aqua-Life Magnum Bait Bucket is a great choice if you fish with larger bait like suckers, chubs, or shad. This bucket is comparable to the Marine Metal 5-gallon bait saver but can often be found at a little lower price.

The design of this bucket is straightforward. It utilizes a standard 5-gallon bucket, with a wire handle. The snap on lid has several nice fishing features, including an access lid and molded-in tool holders.

The standard Frabill Aerator clips onto the side of the lid and includes a hose and air stone that runs down into the bucket through the lid. The aerator runs very quietly and has plenty of power to oxygenate the 4 gallons of water.


5. Aerobait Bait Saver Bucket

Aerobait Bait Saver Bucket

Pros: An aerated & insulated bait bucket system that hides all the pumps and hoses under the bucket for a completely self-contained design.

Cons: It is only available in two sizes, a small 7-quart, and a large 5-gallon version. The lid may unsnap occasionally during transit.

Features & Specs:

  • Capacity: 7 Qrt / 5 Gal
  • Aerator: Yes
  • Insulated: Yes

The Aerobait Bait Saver has something of a cult following among live bait fishermen. They have a great appreciation for the lack of tubes and pumps and batteries hanging off the side of the bucket. It is all hidden away out of sight and out of snag in a compartment underneath the bucket.

The bucket itself is well insulated to protect your minnows from the heat of summer, or the cold of ice fishing season. The unit is designed for fresh or saltwater use, making if perfect for pier fishing or from the shore.

The Bait Saver buckets run for a day or two, easily, on two D cell batteries. Just be sure to run the pump for a few seconds when the water is emptied to clear all the water and prolong the life of the pump.


Benefits of an Insulated & Aerated Bait Bucket

At a minimum, all good buckets for live bait will be insulated and aerated. But there are several more advantages a good bait bucket can provide, such as these:

  • Keeps Live Bait Cool – Live bait can be very sensitive to changes in temperature. Insulated bait buckets help maintain cool temperatures that keep minnows and other live bait alive and active. Lively bait is far more likely to move around in the water and attract fish.
  • Keeps Live Bait Oxygenated – An aerated bait bucket helps maintain a higher oxygen level, keeping your bait alive longer, which is a big plus for a long day on the lake. It is not just minnows that benefit from oxygenation, all types of baitfish and live bait do better and last longer with an aerator in the bucket.
  • Highly Portable – The portability of a bait bucket makes them great for the boat, cabin, ice shack, and even on a kayak. You can easily hand carry a bucket into the bait shop, fill it up, and be on your way to the lake or river.
  • Great for Bank Fishing – Insulated and aerated bait buckets are also great for when you fish from the bank, bridge, or pier. The lighter weights mean the bucket can easily be carried from your vehicle to your favorite fishing spot.

Bait Bucket Features

When you shop for your bait bucket, these are a few of the features you will want to see and why they are important.

  • Insulated Buckets – Just like coolers, insulated bait buckets keep the bucket contents from getting too hot or too cold. The insulation is typically injected between the walls of the molded bucket.
  • Built-in Aerators – A built-in aerator is one that has a seamless design, usually integrated right into the lid. This makes for a cleaner look, and fewer things hanging off the side of the bucket.
  • Clip-on Aerators – Most bait buckets use a clip-on style of the aerator. They simply slide or clip onto features molded into the side of the bucket. They are easy to attach, remove, and replace. This design is not quite as clean a built-in aerator, but they are convenient and get the job done.
  • Dip Net – Some bait buckets come with a dip net to get the bait out, some do not. Some buckets have clips where you can attach a small dip net. It is a nice little feature to be able to dip and grab a minnow instead of struggling by hand.

Bait Bucket Q&A

Now that you are educated on the pros and cons of the best live bait buckets, you might have more questions. Below are just a few of the more common questions people ask when selecting a bucket.

1. Bait Bucket vs Bait Cooler – What’s the Difference?

While these two items have a similar function, a bait bucket is generally less expensive than a live bait cooler. Live bait coolers usually have a more robust design, with more insulation, sealed lids, and will generally keep your bait alive longer. Coolers also come in more sizes above what is available in bait buckets. It really depends on your budget and how long you usually spend out fishing.

2. How do You Use a Bait Bucket?

Whether fishing from the bank or a boat, live bait buckets are simple to use. Fill the bucket with clean water, either from the bait shop or at the lake. Just make sure the water is cool and clean, free of sediment that could clog your aerator pump.

Make sure your aerator stone is situated where it sits near the bottom, so the oxygen can dissolve into the water efficiently. Then make sure you have fresh batteries so you can continuously run the pump and keep your bait alive all day.

3. How Long Will Minnow Live in a Bait Bucket?

How long your minnows live in the bait bucket depends on the size of the bucket, its insulation rating, and whether the bucket has an aerator. Depending on the product, you can expect your minnows can live for 24 to 48 hours, on average. The cooler and more oxygenated you can keep the water, the longer your bait will stay alive.

4. How Do You Keep Shad Alive in a Bait Bucket?

Shad are notoriously sensitive, and tricky to keep alive in a bait bucket, requiring a little extra care. First, aeration is a must since shad require a great deal of oxygen to survive. You will also need to condition the bait bucket water by adding a handful of conditioning (non-iodized) salt.

Some people also add a little fish tank water conditioner. For a long day of fishing, you may need to change the water in the bait bucket because shad are among the dirtiest fish in the lake. With proper care and preparation, your shad should stay alive for a full day of fishing.

5. How Long Will Shrimp Live in a Bait Bucket?

Aeration is especially important for keeping shrimp alive. You also want to avoid overcrowding with shrimp. It is better to use two smaller buckets for shrimp than one large one. Having said that, with the proper space and oxygen, you can expect 50-60 shrimp to last up to 24 hours in five gallons of water.

6. What Size Bait Bucket Should I Use?

Bait buckets can range in size from 7 quarts (1.75 gal) all the way up to 20 quarts (5 gal). The size bait bucket you choose depends on what type of bait you plan on using, for how long, and where you plan to fish.

Some types of bait, like shrimp, hate to be overcrowded and will die much more quickly in a crowded bucket. Others, such as minnows, can be packed into a small 7.5-quart bucket (oxygenated) without a problem. A smaller bucket is naturally best for fishing from a kayak or when you must hike in to get to your fishing spot.

Which Bucket is Right for Your Bait?

Which bucket is the right choice for storing your live bait? Having covered all the angles, you should have now learned what size bucket is right for your style of fishing. Now make sure the bucket is insulated and comes with an aerator, and you should be good to go. To recap, we can boil all this down into three recommendations:

Last updated 2020-08-04 at 19:27 / Affiliate Links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Tackle Scout

Tackle Scout is an online resource for anglers and boaters looking to catch more fish, and get more from their gear. This site is founded and maintained by real anglers, with decades of fishing and boating experience, as well as longtime members of B.A.S.S. and FLW.

1 comment

  • In reviews #6 , 7 quarts is actually (1.75 gals. ) , not (1.25 gals. ) . Everything else, i found very informative.