Asian Carps
ISC Inner Banner
Homebreadcrumb separatorASIAN CARPSbreadcrumb separatorBlack Carp

Black Carp

(Mylopharyngodon piceus)

Physical Description

Black Carp are elongated, laterally compressed and have a pointed head with flattened anterior portion and small toothless mouth. Their body is brown to black in colour and bluish-grey to white on the belly with a keel from the pelvic fins to the anal fin. The fins are darker brownish-black or black with lighter hues at the base and large cycloid scales have dark edges giving a cross-hatched appearance.

Preferred Habitat

Black Carp prefer habitats in the lower reaches of rivers and lakes with spawning occurring in areas of high turbulence.


Young Black Carp feed primarily on zooplankton and later on insect larvae and detritus. Adult Black Carp feed primarily on mollusks using their pharyngeal (throat) teeth to crush the shells. Current knowledge of the species suggests however that Black Carp would not be effective in controlling Zebra Mussel populations.


Black Carp reach maturity in 6-11 years and can grow to 90 kilograms and 1.8 metres in length.



Image of a black carp

Illustration © Joseph Tomelleri

Fast Facts:

Origin: Large rivers and lakes in eastern Asia from southern Russia to southern China and Vietnam.

Diet: Young feed primarily on zooplankton and later on insect larvae and detritus. Adults feed on mollusks.

Life Span: 15 years  

Size: Maximum: 90 kg, 1.8 meters

Did You Know?

Scales on the back and sides are outlined by pigment giving a cross-hatched effect.

Size Relative to 6ft Man:

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

Spread of Black Carp (1994 – Present)

spread of black carp in America since 1994

Map courtesy of the United States Geological Survey