Saturday, December 3, 2011

Invasive Species: Common Carp

The common carp (Cyprinus carpio) is now found all over the world
The common carp is a very common species of fish used for food. Many of you may know this species by another common name: the koi. Koi are carp that have been selectively bred for their color, and are considered to be an ornamental species due to this. They are very commonly used in public ponds and fountains, as well as those owned by private individuals.

Ornamental koi carp in numerous varieties
The species was first cultivated in China approximately three thousand years ago, and since then it has become a major food source for people. Its native range includes parts of China, on west to the Danube. The current range of the species is virtually everywhere, with them appearing on every continent except Antarctica. The ways that they have been introduced and distributed are so varied that I don't feel the need to list them all here. However, it includes such things as the sharing of resources between different groups of people, as well as some of the most commonly seen causes of invasive spread (such as the aquarium and pet trades).

The major reasons why this species has become invasive include a variety of things: altering habitat and thus changing ecosystems, affecting the normal nutrient cycling of a habitat and disturbing bottom dwelling species, reducing local species diversity, competing with and threatening native species, and loosening sediment, thus clouding water among other things.

The current uses for the common carp include cultivation for food (aquaculture), as an aquarium species, and also for various forms of fishing. This, interestingly enough, includes both commercial and sport fishing.

The common carp is on the list of 100 World's Worst Invasives at #30.

Images are from Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons licenses: one, two.


  1. This is the one they wanna rename 'Silverfin' so as to get it sold in restaurants, yeah?

    I mean, it worked for the Patagonian Toothfish, so why not for these guys? =)

  2. I don't know if it's this particular species, but it is one of the carp species. It seems that this is a common move for invasive species: to try and get the public to eat them. It has toe potential to be
    a very effective way to control a population!

    One of the earliest Invasive Species posts I made was about the Red Lionfish, which has been spreading along the Atlantic coast of the U.S. It's another species that is being advertised as great eats. After you remove the spines, of course!