Common carp

The Common Carp – or European Carp – (Cyprinus carpio) is a widespread freshwater fish distantly related to the common goldfish, which it is capable of interbreeding with. It gives its name to the carp family Cyprinidae.

Originating in Europe and Asia, the common carp has been introduced into environments worldwide. It can grow to a maximum length of 4 feet (1.2 meters) and a maximum weight of 82.2 lb (37.3 kg). The oldest recorded age of this fish is 47 years. The wild, non-domesticated forms tend to be much less stocky at around 20% – 33% the maximum size. Koi is a domesticated ornamental variety that originated in China but became known to the Western world through Japan.

Although very tolerant of most conditions, the common carp prefers large bodies of water with slow or standing water and soft, vegetative sediments. A schooling fish, they prefer to be in groups of 5 or more. They natively live in a temperate climate in fresh or brackish water with a 7.0 – 7.5 pH, a water hardness of 10.0 – 15.0 dGH, and an ideal temperature range of 37.4 – 75.2 °F (3 – 35 °C).

The common carp, as well as its variants, Mirror Carp (scaleless except for a row of large scales that run alone the lateral line; originating in Germany), Leather Carp (virtually unscaled except near dorsal fin) and Fully Scaled Carp, is omnivorous and will eat almost anything that it comes across, happy to eat a vegetarian diet of water plants, insects, crustaceans (including zooplankton), or dead fish. In some countries, due to their habit of mainly grubbing from the sediment, it is thought that they destroy submerged vegetation causing an ecological destruction of native duck and fish populations. Because of this, it is known unflatteringly by fishermen in those areas as the ‘pig’ of fresh water fish. Elsewhere, however, it is prized by anglers because of its size and fighting qualities. Nevertheless, the fish are eaten worldwide both when caught in the wild and raised in fisheries. It is eaten both fresh and frozen.

An egg-layer, a typical adult fish can lay 300,000 eggs in a single spawning. The young are preyed upon by other predatory fish such as the northern pike and largemouth bass.