Carp

  • Carp Etch
    Carp Etch
  • Drawing of a koi
    Koi carp
  • Drawing of a mirror carp
    Mirror carp

General information

This fish is declared noxious in Queensland. It is unlawful to possess noxious fish alive or dead or to use them as bait. It is illegal to place or release noxious fish alive or dead into Queensland waterways. Penalties of up to $200,000 apply.

We need your help to stop the spread of carp:

  1. Know how to identify carp.
  2. Don't spread carp between waterways.
  3. Report sightings of carp.
Scientific name

Cyprinus carpio

Description

Three varieties of carp are present in Australian waters: the common or European carp, koi carp and mirror carp.

  • carp have large scales
  • deeply forked tail
  • single dorsal fin
  • two pairs of fleshy whiskers (or barbels) in the corners of their upper lip. These barbels are a useful way of distinguishing them from goldfish which do not have any
  • colouration is highly variable - they may be bronze or olive-gold, becoming pale yellow or whitish on the sides and belly or have a bright gold colouration
  • koi carp are often brightly coloured with dark blotches over their back
  • can live up to 17 years.
Distribution
  • native to central Asia
  • introduced to Australia as a sportfish in the late 1800s
  • widely distributed throughout south-eastern Australia with smaller populations in Western Australia and Tasmania
  • in Queensland carp have established throughout the Murray-Darling River in the Condamine-Balonne catchment, Paroo River, Warrego River, Nebine Creek, Culgoa River, Barwon River and MacIntyre River
  • also abundant in the Logan and Albert rivers south of Brisbane
  • there have been isolated reports of people keeping koi carp in ornamental ponds around the State - this is an offence and the fish must be removed.
Habitat
  • prefer warm, still waters with silt bottoms and abundant aquatic vegetation
  • rarely found in clear, cool, swiftly flowing streams
  • can survive at high and low temperatures (4-35°C), high salinity and turbidity and low dissolved oxygen levels.
Diet
  • feed by sucking up mud and plants from the bottom and blowing out what they don't want. This feeding behaviour is known as 'roiling'
  • adults feed on crustaceans, insects and plant material
  • larval stages feed on plankton.
Reproduction
  • males are sexually mature between 1-3 years of age and females between 2-4 years of age
  • carp spawn between September - December and can produce up to 1.5 million eggs.
Environmental impacts
  • have the potential to rapidly outnumber native fish and doinate aquatic communities - carp can survive a range of environmental conditions which native fish find difficult to cope with
  • feeding habits can result in muddied water and uprooted aquatic vegetation - less light can penetrate muddy water resulting in reduced plant growth and lower oxygen levels, thereby degrading the water quality making it more difficult for other species to survive
  • strategies are being developed to control and reduce the number of carp in Australian waters
  • poisons have been used to eradicate carp in ponds and small dams, but are not practical for rivers and streams as these poisons also kill native fish
  • biological control methods, such as manipulating the genetic structure of carp to disrupt their breeding or bring an early death, are being investigated
  • intensive fishing may have the potential to reduce carp numbers in small enclosed waterbodies, but it is very unlikely that fishing alone is an effective long-term control measure.

References

  • Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2001, Control of Exotic Pest Fishes: An operational strategy for Queensland freshwaters . Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries, Brisbane.
  • Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 1997, Fish Guide. Saltwater, Freshwater and Noxious Species. The Great Outdoors Publications, Brisbane.
  • Eschymer, WN, (1998), Catalog of Fishes. California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco.
  • Grant, EM, 1997, Grant's Guide To Fishes. EM Grant Pty Limited, Brisbane
  • Merrick, JR and Schmida GE, 1984. Australian Freshwater Fishes: Biology and Management. Griffin Press Limited, South Australia

Further information

Last updated 29 January 2014