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Common Carp

Common Carp
Cyprinus carpio
(Order Cypriniformes; Family Cyprinidae)

Cyprinus carpio. Photos by Alicia Oberg, July 2011

Diagnosis: The Common Carp is a part of the minnow and carp family. This fish is bronze to yellowish in color. They can range in length up to 25 inches and usually weight 1-10 lbs, but can reach weights up to 60 lbs. The Common Carp has two pairs of barbells on either side of the upper jaw. 

Natural History: Cyprinus carpio reach sexual maturity in two to three years, and it spawns in the months of May – July. They lay their eggs in vegetation that is underwater and can lay 100,000 to 500,000 eggs. The Common Carp is an introduced species of fish to the United States that has quickly spread throughout the US. This species is tolerant of low dissolved oxygen and turbid water which has allowed them to infest large geographical areas.

Distribution: The Common Carp was introduced to the United States in the 1800’s, then in the 1880’s it was used to stock farm ponds. The species quickly spread across the US because it is a tolerant species of fish.

Distribution of Cyprinus carpio in the United States. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database.

Habitat: Common Carp mainly live in shallow, warm water in lakes, rivers, and reservoirs.

Diet: Mostly omnivores, feeding on detritus and vegetation.

Conservation Status: Not threatened; Invasive species.

Video: The Common Carp or European Carp (Cyprinus carpio)

Montana Field Guides:

YouTube: The Common Carp or European Carp (Cyprinus carpio).

Rasmussen, J.L. 1998. Aquatic nuisance species of the Mississippi River basin. 60th Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference, Aquatic Nuisance Species Symposium, Dec. 7, 1998, Cincinnati, OH.

Smiley, C. W. 1886. Some results of carp culture in the United States. Pages 657-890 in Report of the Commissioner of Fish and Fisheries for 1884, Part XII. U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries, Washington, D.C

Lougheed, Vanessa L., Crosble, Barb, & Chow-Fraser, Patricia. (1998). Predictions on the effect of common carp (cyprinus carpio) exclusion on water quality, zooplankton, and submergent macrophytes in a great lakes wetland. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 55(5), 1189-1197.

Image Credits:
Cyprinus carpio Site 2. Photo by Alicia Oberg, July 2011

Cyprinus carpio in hands. Photo by Alicia Oberg, July 2011

United States Distribution map from U.S. Geological Survey website

Submitted by: Erica Kuhlman, July 2011

Wichita State University
Generated on 2011. This website is continuously updated.
Comments can be sent to Mary Liz Jameson.
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