Asian Carp

Dependent on species

Last updated: May 27, 2024
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© SandmanPhotography/

Asian carp can consume 40% of their body weight in food a day!


Asian Carp Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Dependent on species

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Asian Carp Conservation Status

Asian Carp Locations

Asian Carp Locations

Asian Carp Facts

Worms, crustaceans, insects
Name Of Young
Group Behavior
  • Group
Fun Fact
Asian carp can consume 40% of their body weight in food a day!
Biggest Threat
Human intervention
Distinctive Feature
Ray fins
Other Name(s)
Alligator gal, native fish
  • Crepuscular
Favorite Food
Number Of Species
Asia, United States

Asian Carp Physical Characteristics

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Asian Carp Summary

The Asian carp is a species of several heavy-bodied cyprinid fish that are referred to as “Asian carp” throughout the United States where they are considered to be invasive.

Asian carp are native to Asia, and black varieties can be found in parts of Russia, Vietnam, and China. They prefer to inhabit warm rivers and impoundments. In the 1970s, they were introduced into the Southern catfish municipal sewage ponds and farms to help control the algae outbreaks in these water systems.

Over time, they escaped from these waters and made their way into the north, where they became voracious eaters to now becoming the most common fish species in some places of the Mississippi River.

3 Facts About Asian Carp

  1. Asian carp are considered an invasive species in the United States and compete with native fish for resources making them a threat to the ecosystem.
  2. They can consume up to 40% of their body weight in food each day.
  3. Asian carp are hardy fish that can adapt to a variety of different water temperatures, conditions, and oxygen levels.

Asian Carp Species

The term “Asian carp” does not describe only one species of fish but several different fish.

The different species include:

  • Black carp – Member of the Mylopharyngodon genus and is native to rivers and lakes in East Asia and is considered one of the largest cyprinids in the world.
  • Bighead carp – One of the most exploited fish in fish farming and is native to East Asia.
  • Silver carp – One of the varieties that are native to eastern Siberia and Asia and are threatened in their natural habitat.
  • Grass carp – A species of large herbivorous fish native to the Pacific Far East.

Asian Carp Classification and Scientific Name

Asian carp belong to a class of freshwater, ray-finned fishes. They consist of several different species which are all members of the cyprinid family. They belong to the same family as minnows and common carp. The heavy-bodied Asian carp’s scientific name varies depending on the species in the genus, in which all the species of distributed in their native regions. This includes the Hypopthalmichthys molitrix, Hypopthalmichthys nobilis, Mylopharyngodon piceus, and the Ctenopharyngodon idella.

Asian Carp Appearance

grass carp

Asian carp have short fins.

©Rostislav Stefanek/

The Asian carp’s appearance will vary according to their species; however, they are all fast-growing fish that has a large body with either a black, silver, bronze, brown or slightly golden tint. They have short fins, with some species of Asian carp having a deeper body rather than a lengthened look.

The average size of the Asian carp can reach around 30-40 pounds (13-18 kg), with the heaviest being 100 pounds (45 kg) and a maximum size of two to four feet depending on their environment, diet, and species. The Black carp is one of the largest species of Asian carp and can reach a whopping 110 pounds (49 kg) and 57 inches (144 cm) in length.

Asian Carp Distribution, Population, and Habitat

Asian carp originate from Asia but are commonly found in the United States. The silver, grass, and bighead carp can be found in the Mississippi River basin and are found in exceptionally large high numbers to the point where they have been considered an invasive species.

Grass carp have been found in the Great lakes (except for Lake Superior) but no silver or black carp have been found in these lakes. Grass carp have also been found abundantly throughout Mexico where they have been established for many years in two different river systems and are invasive.

The Asian carp’s habitat includes freshwater lakes, rivers, and other water systems with either temperate or tropical water conditions. They prefer lakes with a sandy substrate and plenty of vegetation, however, they can survive in less-than-ideal conditions as they are hardy fish.

Where To Find Asian Carp

  • United States
  • China
  • Southern Russia

How To Catch Asian Carp

Asian carp are commonly fished for as food. You can use small or medium-sized dough balls as bait on large hooks to catch them, and bowfishing is the most recommended method. Asian carp lurk around the bottom of lakes and ponds, so you will need to lure them out from the deeper waters usually where there is a lot of vegetation.

Asian Carp Predators and Prey

What Eats Asian Carp?

Asian carp’s natural predators include native fish that are carnivorous, and alligator gar are also used to control the Asian carp populations in areas where they are considered to be invasive pests.

What Does Asian Carp Eat?

Asian carp will primarily feed off of zooplankton, worms, and small sea creatures along with crustaceans, insects, and aquatic vegetation which makes them omnivores. They have the ability to eat up to 40% of their total body weight, which is why they are considered a threat to native fish and vegetation in environments where they are considered invasive as the native fish have to compete with these ferocious eaters for food.

Asian Carp Reproduction and Lifespan

Asian carp reproduce fairly quickly, which allows them to keep a stable population in the wild. In the wild, bigheaded carp spawn from spring to summer when the water temperatures are moderately warm to trigger spawning behavior. When the spawning season comes around, Asian carp will look for shallow waters that have a lot of vegetation for them to lay their eggs as this allows the eggs to cling to plants for safety. However, the eggs are sought out by predators. The Asian carp can lay eggs as late as September if the conditions are favorable, and the eggs they lay can cover a good distance in the water instead of being gathered into one spot.

Asian carp have a long lifespan of 10 to 25 years which can be affected by factors such as food availability, water conditions, and the group’s reproductive rate.

Asian Carp In Food

Asian carp are edible fish that is said to be quite tasty. They are safe to eat when farmed in clean water and should not be eaten straight from their habitats. All Asian carp have firm, white flesh, however their intramuscular bones that can be found in Asian carp fillets in undesirable. They have been a popular food in Asia for thousands of years and are believed to be lower in mercury because they do not feed on other fish. Asian carp can be made into soups or fillets and eaten with soya sauce.

Asian Carp Population

Asian carp have been introduced into various waters or have escaped from their natural habitats to invade native waters in different countries. As the Asian carp’s population increases, they affect the native fish populations which explains why there are various control measures in place to help lower the numbers of Asian carp in waters where they are considered invasive. The highest population of Asian carp seems to be in the Mississippi River basin and tributaries.

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About the Author

Sarah is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering aquatic pets, rodents, arachnids, and reptiles. Sarah has over 3 years of experience in writing and researching various animal topics. She is currently working towards furthering her studies in the animal field. A resident of South Africa, Sarah enjoys writing alongside her pets and almost always has her rats perched on her shoulders.

Asian Carp FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Where Are Asian Carp Found?

Asian carp have been found throughout the United States and in the Mississippi River basin all the way to Lake Calumet located in Illinois and some have also been located in the Great lakes except for the Superior lake.

Are Asian Carp Endangered?

Asian carp are not an endangered species and are considered invasive throughout the United States as they compete with the native wildlife for resources and feed off of the native crustaceans in the lakes and streams that they inhabit.

How Many Species Of Asian Carp Is There?

There are four main species of Asian carp, namely the bighead carp, silver carp, black carp, and grass carp which all fall under the Asian carp name.

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  1. Wikipedia / Accessed July 31, 2022
  2. Invasive Species Centre / Accessed July 31, 2022
  3. Silverfin Group / Accessed July 31, 2022