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