Sunday 19 May
Common carp (Cyprinus carpio)
What’s the World’s Favourite Species?Find out here.
Common carp fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Common carp description
The carp that occurs in Britain today is the most commercially important freshwater fish kept in ponds, and has been selectively bred for centuries. This breeding has led to two main differences between ‘domesticated’ carp and wild carp (which do not occur in Britain); domestic carp have a much faster growth rate and a relatively short body with a high back and deep belly (4). The body is greyish to bronze in colour (2) and two fleshy barbels project downwards at either side of the mouth (4). The number of scales varies greatly, with some individuals (known as leather carp) completely lacking scales (4). The usual form found in Britain is called the king carp, another form, the mirror carp has a single row of large scales along the sides (5).Top
Common carp biology
This species is omnivorous, feeding on aquatic crustaceans, insects, worms, aquatic plants, algae and seeds (2). Its feeding technique, of grubbing around in the sediment and straining food from the mud, has caused problems in areas where the carp has been introduced. As well as uprooting submerged vegetation, it also increases the cloudiness of the water, which can have detrimental effects on native wildlife (2) (6).
In temperate waters, spawning take place during the summer in patches of weeds. A number of males pursue spawning females in the race to fertilise the eggs as they are shed into the water. The sticky yellowish coloured eggs attach to vegetation, and are not guarded by the parents (2). A typical female can lay over a million eggs in one breeding season (2).
By gulping air at the surface, the carp is able to tolerate periods when oxygen levels in the water fall (2). In winter, individuals go into deeper waters which tends to be somewhat warmer than shallow water (2).Top
Common carp range
The carp now has a global distribution, after numerous introductions (2). The supposed original wild European population occurs in the River Danube (2). This original population is now under threat, and therefore currently classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of threatened species (2) (1)Top
Common carp habitat
This hardy fish is able to tolerate a broad range of conditions, but fares best in large bodies of fresh water with slow-flowing or still water, with soft muddy sediments (2).Top
Common carp statusTop
Common carp threats
This species is not threatened.Top
Common carp conservation
Conservation action is not required for this introduced species in Britain.Top
Find out more
For more on this species see Fishbase:
This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
- Fleshy projections near the mouth of some fish.
- Diverse group of arthropods (a phylum of animals with jointed limbs and a hard chitinous exoskeleton) characterised by the possession of two pairs of antennae, one pair of mandibles (parts of the mouthparts used for handling and processing food) and two pairs of maxillae (appendages used in eating, which are located behind the mandibles). Includes crabs, lobsters, shrimps, slaters, woodlice and barnacles.
- The term used to describe an organism that feeds on both plants and animals.
National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (September, 2003)
Fishbase (December, 2003)
2003 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (February, 2010)
- Cihar, J. (1991) A field guide in colour to freshwater fish. Silverdale Books, Leicester.
- Buczaki, S. (2002) Fauna Britannica. Hamlyn, London.
Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission (December, 2003)
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.