Asian Carps
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Homebreadcrumb separatorASIAN CARPSbreadcrumb separatorConfused with Carp: Baitfish Edition

Confused with Carp: Baitfish Edition


Many anglers prefer to use live bait while fishing but very few realize only 40 species are legal to use as live bait in Ontario. Juvenile Asian carps look very similar to some Ontario baitfish species and it is difficult to tell them apart. In addition to that, it is illegal to possess Asian carps in Canada unless they are dead and eviscerated. It is illegal to dump the contents of a bait container (including the water) into or within 30 m of any waters. This can prevent invasive species from arriving in our waterbodies. Learn more about baitfish species by visiting the Baitfish Primer for Ontario and be sure to learn about the regulations for fishing with live bait in Ontario

If you are ever unsure of what you catch and you think it might be invasive, report it by visiting, downloading the EDDMapS App or by reporting it to the Invading Species Hotline at 1-800-563-771

Common Shiner


The Common Shiner is a large, deep-bodied, silvery minnow. The mouth extends backwards to below or behind the front edge of the eye and the chin is usually pigmented along the outer edge and there is a dark stripe along the back. The origin of the dorsal fin is usually directly above the origin of the pelvic fins. Spawning males will have rosy fins and nuptial tubercles on the head and back. Grass Carp lack the rosy fins and nuptial tubercles, as well as the pigmentation on the chin and back. Grass Carp do not have crowded predorsal scales.


Cisco is a slightly deep-bodied, silvery fish that looks similar to Silver Carp. This species is a cautionary baitfish, because it looks similar to some illegal baitfish (ie. Silver Carp, Rainbow Smelt, or other endangered Cisco species). The key difference to note between Cisco and Silver carp, are that Cisco have an adipose fin and Silver Carp do not. 


Fallfish are typically dark olive to black on their backs, fading down to silvery white on their bellies. They are usually around 17cm long but can reach lengths of 50 cm. Fallfish have a blunted nose and mouth, whereas Grass Carp have a pointed snout area. Fallfish also have a much longer dorsal fin and a longer snout length, compared to the Grass Carp, which has a narrow dorsal fin and forward set eyes. Though sometimes hidden, the Fallfish also has small barbels at the corners of its mouth, which are absent on the Grass Carp.

Creek Chub

Creek Chub are olive brown with a whitish belly and a dark, pronounced line on its side. On average they are 10 to 15 cm long. Compared to a Grass Carp, the Creek Chub has a more flattened snout and has small barbels in either corner of its mouth, which can be hard to see. Creek Chub have a blackish stripe along its back with a prominent black dot at the front base of the dorsal fin. Breeding males become an orange hue and gain four to eight large, thorn-like tubercles on their body and fins. Grass Carp do not have crowded predorsal scales

Brassy Minnow

Brassy Minnow is a slightly deep-bodied fish and is usually golden yellow in colour. The snout overhangs the small, crescent-shaped mouth. It has a stripe that is developed on the rear half of its side. Grass Carp do not have a snout that overhangs the mouth, and they lack a stripe. 


Bluntnose Minnow

The Bluntnose Minnow is a small, elongate fish that has a rounded snout that overhangs the mouth. The mouth is low on the head. Adults have a rounded dorsal fin with a dark spot and there is a dark lateral stripe that runs from the snout to the base of the tail, often ending in a spot. Grass Carp do not have a rounded snout, overhanging the mouth nor do they have a lateral stripe. Grass Carp do not have crowded predorsal scales.

Blacknose Dace

The Blacknose Dace is a slightly deep-bodied minnow. The snout overhangs the mouth and the upper lip is level with the lower edge of the eye. There is a small barbel at the corners of the mouth. It has a black stripe extending from the snout to the base of the tail, and the back and sides are usually spotted. Blacknose Dace also have much smaller scales than Black Carp. The Black Carp lack a stripe, and barbels. Black Carp also do not have a snout that overhangs the mouth. 

Fathead Minnow

The Fathead Minnow is a small, deep-bodied fish with a rounded snout and a small upturned mouth. Adults have a rounded dorsal fin with a black blotch at the front, and often at the back of the fin. There is a dark lateral stripe running from the head to the base of the tail and there is often a pale bar followed by a dark bar at the base of the tail. The spawning male becomes dark overall. Grass Carp do not have crowded predorsal scales.

Emerald Shiner

The Emerald Shiner has an elongate, silvery body. The snout is bluntly pointed and short. The dorsal fin is set far back, beginning well after the pelvic fin base. The back is light olive-green, or silvery with a blue-green or yellow-green iridescence. There is a faint stripe along the middle of the back.

Striped Shiner


The Striped Shiner is a silvery, deep-bodied fish. It has a mouth that extends backwards almost to below the eye. It has large scales and the chin is evenly pigmented. The dorsal fin usually is directly above the pelvic fin. Adults have faint stripes on the back.