Common carp, German carp, European carp (Cyprinus carpio)

Common carp.
Common carp

Common carp

Species and origin: The common carp is a large omnivorous fish. They have large scales, a long dorsal fin base, and two pairs of long barbels (whiskers) in its upper jaw. Native to Europe and Asia, it was intentionally introduced into Midwest waters as a game fish in the 1880s.
(Be aware of a native look-a-like: the native fish bigmouth buffalo looks like a carp without barbells)


  • Common carp are one of the most damaging aquatic invasive species due to its wide distribution and severe impacts in shallow lakes and wetlands
  • Their feeding disrupts shallowly rooted plants muddying the water
  • They release phosphorus that increases algae abundance
  • Carp induced declines in water quality causes declines of aquatic plants needed by waterfowl and fish

Status: They are established in 48 states. They are distributed in hundreds of waters in the southern two-thirds, and a few waters in the northern third of Minnesota. See US map.

Means of spread: The incidental inclusion and later release of live bait spreads common carp.

Where to look: They live in lakes, rivers, and wetlands and are often seen in spring when they spawn in shallow waters.

Regulatory classification: It is a regulated invasive species (DNR), which means introduction into the wild is prohibited. Fish caught while angling may be returned to the same water body.


How can you help?

  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash
  • Don't release common carp into new waters


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