The game starts out with one person selected as the shark and the rest as the minnows.
Designate one end of the pool as the minnows’ starting point and the other end as the minnows’ goal.
The shark starts in the water at the minnows’ goal, the minnows at their starting point. The minnows must be touching their starting point. The shark then shouts: "Sharks and Minnows, one two three, fishies, fishies swim to me!" after which the minnows may begin to swim to their goal.
The minnows do not need to leave right when the shark calls them over. Minnows can leave their starting point anytime after the shark calls them over. A minnow may return to their starting point at any time during play and be safe from being tagged while touching their starting end.
If the shark manages to tag a minnow, the minnow is out of play and becomes a shark in the next round. After all the minnows have either reached their goal wall or been tagged, the shark(s) swim to the opposite side of the pool from the minnows and the cycle starts again.The game is played until all of the minnows have been tagged, then the last person tagged becomes the shark who starts the next round.
Here are some optional additions to these rules:
- Instead of tagging, sharks must hold some part of the minnow's body for three whole seconds before they become a shark
- No underwater tag: sharks can only tag minnows when some part of the minnow is above water
- Minnows can call "Early bird!" and start swimming to their goal before the shark has called them across. This can be prevented by the shark calling "No early birds!" at the start of the round.