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Cyprinus carpio  Linnaeus, 1758

Common carp
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Australia country information

Common names: Asian carp, Blubber lips, Calico carp
Occurrence: introduced
Salinity: freshwater
Abundance: common (usually seen) | Ref: Kailola, P.J., M.J. Williams, P.C. Stewart, R.E. Reichelt, A. McNee and C. Grieve, 1993
Importance: commercial | Ref: Kailola, P.J., M.J. Williams, P.C. Stewart, R.E. Reichelt, A. McNee and C. Grieve, 1993
Aquaculture: commercial | Ref: Arthington, A.H. and F. McKenzie, 1997
Regulations: restricted | Ref: Kailola, P.J., M.J. Williams, P.C. Stewart, R.E. Reichelt, A. McNee and C. Grieve, 1993
Uses: gamefish: yes;
Comments: Introduced to freshwaters of the southern half of Australia from the Warrego River in Queensland (Ref. 6390) to Perth, Western Australia, most common in Murray-Darling system (Ref. 7300). They are also found in several Victorian and South Australian coastal streams (Ref. 30477) and from Lake Frome in the arid region of South Australia (Ref. 6390). European carp were introduced in Tasmania in 1960 or 1961 (Ref. 30477), but have since been eradicated there (Ref. 6390). There is little evidence of either positive or negative interactions between european carp and native species. For example, it has been suggested that European carp increase water turbidity through feeding and mating activities and as a result make habitat less suitable for native species. However, many Australian streams are naturally turbid (Ref. 6390). European carp are preyed upon by golden perch and Murray cod and may well have a positive effect by providing food for these species. Stock structure: There are 3 distinct stocks (or strains) of European carp in Australia. They are thought to represent 3 separate introductions rather than derivatives of a single introduction (Ref. 30480). The ‘Prospect group’ is confined to Prospect Reservoir near Sydney. The ‘Yanco’ (or ‘Singapore’) stock is confined to the waters of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area. The ‘Boolarra’ stock is distributed throughout the Murray-Darling drainage basin (Ref. 30480), and dominates catches. Commercial fishery: European carp first appeared in commercial catches in inland fisheries in the early 1970s (catch records for carp before this date are thought to consist of a mixture of goldfish and European carp). In Victoria in 1971 special licenses were issued to fishers for European carp in rivers normally closed to fishing. These fishers used electro-fishing gear, and were based at Echuca and Koondrook. They worked the rivers in the Murray River valley (Ref. 30481). Low catches have seen electro-fishing activities cease there in recent years (Ref. 30479). In the Gippsland Lakes, European carp are taken using electro-fishing gear, beach seines and gillnets. Catches for the State fluctuated widely between 1964-65 and 1983-84, peaking at 487 t in 1975-76 and 464 t in 1979-80. For the same period, 66% of the European carp catch came from the Gippsland Lakes. In the rivers of New South Wales and the Murray River in South Australia European carp are taken in drum nets. In Lake Albert and Lake Alexandrina in South Australia fishers use gillnets and electro-fishing gear. Best quality fish larger than 1.5 kg are sold through the fresh fish markets of Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide, with a small amount sold locally. The remainder are sold for use as bait in the rock lobster (Jasus species) fisheries in southeastern Australia. Some used to be sold to pet food processors in Victoria. European carp have been declared noxious fish in most Australian States. Management is therefore directed towards eradication and restricting the spread of populations. Total eradication is impossible, but in an attempt to reduce the species' spread there are prohibitions on its use as live bait, its return to the water and its transfer between States. Recreational fishery: Traditionally not a popular angling species, European carp are now being targeted by an increasing number of anglers. They are said to provide good sport when hooked and due to their prolific spread they are often more available than more ‘desirable’ species. They are taken on rod-and-line and handlines from rivers and lakes throughout their range. The largest European carp recorded by the Australian Anglers Association is a 10.2 kg fish taken in New South Wales in 1988. Resource status: European carp have been introduced to Australia several times in the last 150 years. The ‘Prospect group’ were introduced in the late 1850s (Ref. 30479). It is only since the most recent introduction in 1959-60 that European carp have become widespread, establishing populations in many areas within the Murray-Darling River system. Experience in the United States of America suggests that European carp will eventually find their way into all waters in which they are able to survive (Ref. 30477). European carp population numbers have declined since the peak levels in 1974-76, but the range of the species continues to expand. Large local concentrations still exist and there is a possibility that with several ‘good’ years population numbers could increase again (Ref. 30482). It is illegal to breed European carp for sale in Victoria (Ref. 30479) and South Australia. Also Ref. 1739.
National Checklist:
Country Information:
National Fisheries Authority:
Occurrences: Occurrences Point map
Main Ref: Kailola, P.J., M.J. Williams, P.C. Stewart, R.E. Reichelt, A. McNee and C. Grieve, 1993
National Database:

Classification / Names

Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Cypriniformes (Carps) > Cyprinidae (Minnows or carps) > Cyprininae
Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes (gen., sp.) | ITIS | CoL

Common names from other countries

Main reference

Size / Weight / Age

Max length : 120 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 27549); common length : 31.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 3561); max. published weight: 40.1 kg (Ref. 72380); max. reported age: 38 years (Ref. 72479)

Length at first maturity
Lm 34.9, range 25 - 36 cm


Freshwater; brackish; benthopelagic; pH range: 7.0 - 7.5; dH range: 10 - 15; potamodromous (Ref. 51243)

Climate / Range

Subtropical; 3°C - 35°C (Ref. 12741); 60°N - 22°N, 7°E - 144°E


Europe to Asia: Black, Caspian and Aral Sea basins. Introduced throughout the world. Wild stocks are only present naturally in rivers draining to the Black, Caspian and Aral Sea (Ref. 59043). A reophilic wild population in the Danube is assumed to be the origin of the European species; this population is now under threat (Ref. 13696).
Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Introductions

Short description

Dorsal spines (total): 3 - 4; Dorsal soft rays (total): 17-23; Anal spines: 2-3; Anal soft rays: 5 - 6; Vertebrae: 36 - 37. Diagnosed from other cyprinid species in Europe by having the following characters: 2 pairs of barbels; dorsal fin with 15-20½ branched rays; caudal fin deeply emarginate (Ref. 59043). Pharyngeal teeth 1, 1, 3:3, 1,1, robust, molar-like with crown flattened or somewhat furrowed. Scales large and thick. `Wild carp ' is generally distinguished by its less stocky build with height of body 1:3.2-4.8 in standard length. Very variable in form, proportions, squamation, development of fins, and color. Caudal fin with 3 spines and 17-19 rays (Ref. 2196). Last simple anal ray bony and serrated posteriorly; 4 barbels; 17-20 branched dorsal rays; body grey to bronze (Ref. 43281). Also Ref. 3398, 3410.

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Adults inhabit warm, deep, slow-flowing and still waters such as lowland rivers and large, well vegetated lakes (Ref. 59043). Hardy and tolerant of a wide variety of conditions but generally favor large water bodies with slow flowing or standing water and soft bottom sediments. Thrive in large turbid rivers (Ref. 1998). Most active at dusk and dawn. Both adults and juveniles feed on a variety of benthic organisms and plant material. Spawns along shores or in backwaters. Adults often undertake considerable spawning migration to suitable backwaters and flooded meadows. Larvae survive only in very warm water among shallow submerged vegetation. River regulation and hybridization with domesticated stocks, East Asian congeners and their hybrids have caused continuous decline of wild populations (Ref. 59043). Utilized fresh and frozen (Ref. 9987). Aquarium keeping: in groups of 5 or more individuals; minimum aquarium size >200 cm; not recommended for home aquariums (Ref. 51539).

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 115185)

  Vulnerable (VU) (A2ce)

Threat to humans

  Potential pest

Human uses

Fisheries: highly commercial; aquaculture: commercial; gamefish: yes; aquarium: commercial


Special reports

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Internet sources

Estimates of some properties based on models

Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805)
PD50 = 0.5000 many relatives (e.g. carps) 0.5 - 2.0 few relatives (e.g. lungfishes)

Trophic Level (Ref. 69278)
3.1   ±0.0 se; Based on diet studies.

Resilience (Ref. 69278)
Medium, minimum population doubling time 1.4 - 4.4 years (K=0.10-0.30; tm=1-3; tmax=20; Fec=36,000-2,000,000)

Vulnerability (Ref. 59153)
Moderate to high vulnerability (46 of 100)
Price category (Ref. 80766)