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Common carp

Common carp

NH Conservation Status: Not listed

 

State Rank: Exotic

 

Scientific Name: Cyprinus carpio

 

Distribution: The Common carp is native to Eastern Europe. It was domesticated and used as a food source by the Romans and has now been spread throughout the world to every continent except Antarctica. In New Hampshire, the common carp is abundant in the Merrimack and Connecticut Rivers, where it was introduced in the late 1800's. It is also known to occur in Mascoma Lake.

 

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Description: The common carp is the largest species of minnow in New Hampshire. It may be easily distinguished from other large minnow species by two barbels on either side of its upper jaw. Its scales are very large, tough, and diamond shaped with an olive green to golden bronze color.

 

Species commonly confused with: White sucker

common carp

The mirror carp (above) is a genetic variant of the common carp (below) that was originally bred to have fewer scales to make it easier to prepare before cooking. The name “mirror carp” is derived from the reflective scales that grow in patches on the body of the fish.

 

Habitat: Common carp prefer warm, slow moving water with aquatic vegetation and mud or silt bottom, although they can be found in a variety of habitats.

 

Life History: Common carp have an extremely varied diet, feeding on everything from algae and plant matter to aquatic invertebrates. They may grow too weigh over 60 pounds. As bottom feeders they can cause considerable turbidity as they suck in and expel bottom sediments, consuming anything edible before it settles to the bottom. Female carp mature by the age of three. Carp are extremely prolific. They are capable of producing between half a million and 2 million eggs, depending on the size of the female. Spawning takes place in spring among aquatic vegetation in shallow water, where a number of males gather around each female. The splashing and churning of carp spawning in shallow water can be conspicuous, especially in larger number.

 

Common carp

Donald St. Lawrence sets a new hook-and-line state record for common carp. Tipping the scales at 35 lbs 13.12 oz "Carpzilla" bested the current rod and reel-caught carp record by almost 3 lbs! Caught in Merrimack River near Manchester.

Origin: Introduced

 

Conservation/Management: Common carp are considered an invasive species that can cause habitat degradation by increasing turbidity. They may also compete with native species for food resources. In New Hampshire, carp have become naturalized in the larger rivers where they have been residents for over a century.

 

Recommendations:

 

  • Monitor the distribution of common carp in New Hampshire and discourage introduction into new water bodies.

 

Distribution Map: (under construction)