Family, Description and Size:
Carp (Cyprinus carpio) are one of the World’s most widely distributed freshwater fish. Carp can be identified by the two barbels or whiskers on either corner of their upper lip. Other distinguishing features include a forked tail, single dorsal fin and large scales. They are usually bronze or olive green with a pale yellow to ivory underbelly. The Grass Carp (one of many sub-species, but the most prolific) averages 2 feet in length and can reach upwards of 25 pounds.
Range, Habits and General Information:
Carp are native to Europe and Asia, but have been introduced to most of the United States and have thrived. They can survive in cold climates, but will not grow as large as their counter-parts in warm areas. Their feeding can result in environmental problems. A female carp can produce over one million eggs per kilogram of body weight and can spawn more than once a year in warmer waters. While Carp are not predators, it is possible they eat eggs and disturb the laying sites of native fish species. Large decreases in native fish numbers and other types of river degradation have been blamed on carp. There is no clear evidence to support this and it is possible that human influences such as agricultural run-off and river regulation have degraded our natural aquatic systems to a point where carp are the only fish that can prosper. Carp feed by sucking up mud and plants from the bottom and blowing out what they don’t want. This feeding behavior (roiling) muddies the water and can uproot aquatic vegetation. Less light can penetrate muddy water resulting in reduced plant matter and oxygen levels.
Predators, Mortality and Lifespan:
Adult Carp have very few predators, so over-population is a normal phenomenon. They are often fished by commercial fisherman, but this will do little impact to their populations. It is almost impossible to eradicate Carp once they have established themselves within an area.
Some information was supplied from the Carp Busters Website at http://www.carpbusters.com.au