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Common carp

Quick facts

Common carp is a regulated invasive speciesRegulated Invasive Species (MN DNR) are legal to buy, sell, transport, and possess, but may not be introduced into a free-living state, such as released into public waters.

  • Common carp release phosphorus into the water when
    feeding, which increases algae growth and turbidity.
  • Aquatic plant numbers can decline because of reduced water quality and disruption of shallow-rooted plants, potentially impacting habitat for waterfowl, fish and amphibians.

Common carp should be reported. Learn how to report invasive species in Minnesota. 

How to identify common carp

  • Common carp (Cyprinus carpio) is a brown- to golden- or olive-colored fish with a lighter tan to cream underside.
  • Relatively large scales with dark outlines give the fish a spotted or cross-hatched appearance.
  • Long dorsal fin and two pairs of barbels on the upper jaw
Mouth of common carp.
Common carp barbels

Life cycle

  • Maturity is reached when the fish is around 2–3 years old and 12 inches long.
  • Females can carry up to 3 million eggs that hatch within a week after being released and fertilized.
  • Adults migrate to shallow areas in the spring to spawn.
  • Carp survival is poor in lakes with healthy panfish populations due to predation on carp eggs and larvae.

Angela Gupta, Extension educator; Amy Rager, Extension educator; Megan M. Weber, Extension educator

Reviewed in 2019

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