Asian Carps
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Silver Carp

(Hypophthalmichthys molitrix)

Silver Carp are also known as “flying carp” because they can leap 3 metres (8-9 feet) or more out of the water when startled by boat engines. This poses a hazard for anglers, boaters and other recreational users. They are a schooling species and can be found grouped in large numbers.

 Physical Description

Silver Carp are deep-bodied with a moderately large and broad head encompassing just under 1/3 of their body size. They have a toothless upturned lower jaw and eyes are located below the axis of the body.  Their body is silver with a slate gray head and dorsal surface and white belly with a keel extending from the anal fin to the throat. Silver Carps are closely related to Bighead Carps and have been known to hybridize (cross-breed) with that specie and produce viable, reproductive offspring. 

Preferred Habitat

Silver Carp prefer habitats in the standing waters of rivers, canals and lakes tolerating water temperatures from 6-28⁰C. 

Diet

Silver carp feed primarily on phytoplankton and can out-compete many native fish juveniles. They can efficiently strain suspended material from the water with specialized gill rakers that resemble sponge-like plates. Like the Bighead Carp, Silver Carp lack a true stomach which requires them to feed almost continuously. 

Size

Silver Carp mature in 2-4 years and commonly weigh 9 kg but can reach a maximum size of 40 kg.

 

 

Silver carp

Illustration © Joseph Tomelleri

Fast Facts:



Origin: Large rivers, canals and lakes in eastern Asia from southern Russia and North Korea to southern China.

Diet: Phytoplankton

Life Span: 15-20 years  

Size: Maximum: 40 kg, 1.2 meters

Did You Know?

  • Also known as "flying carp" because they can leap 3 metres (8-9 feet) or more out of the water when startled by boat engines.
  • Lacks a true stomach which requires them to feed almost continuously.


Size Relative to 6ft Man:


Comparison of size between a silver carp and a 6ft tall human


Bow angler holding up caught silver carp

Bow hunting for Silver Carp in the Illinois River, near Peoria Illinois.

 

Spread of Silver Carp (1994 – Present)


Spread of silver carp in America since 1994

Map courtesy of the United States Geological Survey