(Hypophthalmichthys nobilis, Hypophthalmichthys molitrix, Ctenopharyngodon idella, Mylopharyngodon piceus)
The term “Asian Carps” refers to 4 different species within the carp family, being the Bighead Carp, Black Carp, Grass Carp and Silver Carp. These species are native to Asia and southern Russia, being introduced back in the 1960s as a control method in aquaculture. These fish can live up to 20 years and grow to weights up to 45 kilograms. The Asian carp listed here should not be confused with the “Common Carp” which has been in American waterways for more than 100 years. Technically the common carp is from Asia but it is not classified in the grouping of 4 Asian carp mentioned above.
These fish are common in rivers such as the Ottawa but have not infiltrated the great lakes in significant numbers yet. This is where they are estimated to do the most potential damage.
Impacts & Control
Some species of carp lack a traditional stomach which forces them to feed constantly, and they only partly digest food releasing waste into the water which can promote algae blooms. Bighead and Silver carp consume large quantities of plankton, which many other native species rely on. Currently, Asian carp populations are most prevalent in the USA, and in Chicago, they use eclectic fish barriers to prevent carp from entering the great lakes. The best way that you can combat Asian carp is to educate yourself and others about this issue.