Common Carp

Cyprinus Carpio

Last updated: September 25, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© Rostislav Stefanek/


Common Carp Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Cyprinus Carpio

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Common Carp Conservation Status

Common Carp Locations

Common Carp Locations

Common Carp Facts

Zooplankton, worms, larvae, insects, smaller fish
Main Prey
Insects and worms
Name Of Young
Group Behavior
  • School
Biggest Threat
Distinctive Feature
Golden sheen colored scales with dark bronze fins
Other Name(s)
Eurasian carp
Streams and rivers
Bass, seabirds, mammals
  • Crepuscular
Common Name
Eurasian carp
Central Asia

Common Carp Physical Characteristics

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The common carp, now known as the Eurasian carp, is considered an invasive freshwater species that belongs to the Carp family.


Common carp are native to Asia and Europe and can be found worldwide in eutrophic freshwater environments. This fish has a history dating back to Roman times and are now considered to be a pest and invasive species since its domestication. They were first found in the Danube River roughly 2,000 years ago and they were kept in ponds built by the Romans in south-central Europe. They became part of a profitable agricultural branch with both the European and Asian subspecies being domesticated in Europe.

Common carp have been introduced to nearly all continents and are considered to be a pest to the native wildlife and vegetation. Their hardiness and ability to reproduce quickly and adapt to new environments have enabled the Common carp to populate all over the world.

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5 Facts About Common Carp

  1. Common carp have a very fast growth rate and can reach a length of 16 inches within the first four years of their growth.
  2. The oldest Common carp on record was 38 years old, with the average lifespan of this fish reaching 20 years of age.
  3. The domestic koi fish we own today in the aquarium industry is a domesticated subspecies of the Common carp.
  4. Fried Common carp and bread are part of the meal served during Christmas celebrations in Slovakia and the Czech Republic in Poland.
  5. Wild Common carp have a thinner body than domesticated Common carp that are raised on farms.

Common Carp Appearance

The common carp grows very large and can reach a length of 47 inches (120 cm) with a weight of 88 pounds (40 kg) as an adult. Their size varies according to their age, environment, and diet. The average growth rate of the Common carp is half of the domesticated carp, and they can grow very large with the right nutrients and space in their environment.

Common carp have a sturdy body structure with a dark golden sheen to their silver bodies. They have large, shiny scales and dark bronze fins with a pronounced head with a downturned head. The domesticated Common carp that can be found on farms have a slimmer body with a forward-protruding mouth and domesticated Common carp grow smaller than the wild specimens.

man holding giant common carp

The common carp can grow up to nearly 90 pounds!

©Fabien Monteil/

Distribution, Population, and Habitat

Common carp are native to Central Asia and are distributed all over the world in the waters of many lakes and streams on every continent except for Antarctica. They developed as a species in the Danube River with their native habitats extending from the Aral, Caspian, and Black seas many years ago.

Now, the common carp’s most extensive natural habitat ranges throughout Europe, north and south America, and many parts of the world where the water conditions are right. This includes 59 known countries where the common carp’s populations can be found either as an invasive species in local wetlands or in commercial farms. This fish has also been accidentally introduced into different habitats where they can become destructive to the native wildlife and surrounding environments. However, the native common carp is listed as vulnerable to extinction according to the IUCN Red List.

The common carp’s natural habitat is widespread because they can tolerate a wide variety of different water conditions across the globe. They prefer large bodies of slow-moving water that lacks salt and consists of vegetation and soft soils at the bottom of lakes and streams.

They are hardy enough to live in bodies of water that have low oxygen levels and they can also survive in very cold conditions where the water freezes over for a few months a year as long as the remaining water still remains survivable. Common carp struggle to live in salty environments, however, they have been known to inhabit brackish waters where there is a slightly higher salinity content than their freshwater habitats.

Predators and Prey

In the wild, common carp and their eggs can fall victim to microscopic fungi and bacteria which form diseases and infections in the fish that can spread quickly and wipe out a whole group of common carp. They are also preyed upon by northern pikes, largemouth bass, and several species of birds and mammals. Human intervention is another cause of the common carp’s vulnerability as humans have tried to wipe out groups of common carp from water sources where this fish is considered to be invasive and problematic.

The common carp is an omnivore, so they eat both plant and animal-based foods which include vegetation, and smaller insects and worms that they prey on. These carp will eat live foods such as worms and crustaceans from the bottom of the river or stream floor, or they will eat insects and their larvae on the surface. Common carp also eat the vegetation that grows in the water.

Reproduction and Lifespan

Common carp are egg-layers and females can lay up to 300,000 eggs in one spawning period, which explains how quickly this species can reproduce and overpopulate their habitats. However, certain factors can affect the number of eggs that hatch, as other predatory fish (and other carp) will eat the eggs. The fry that hatch is susceptible to predators and does not receive any parental care from their parents. Common carp typically enter spawning season around spring, but they can spawn throughout the year when the temperature rises along with heavy rainfall.

The oldest recorded common carp was 38 years old, however, this fish generally lives between 10 to 25 years depending on the water conditions.

Common Carp Population

Common carp can be found on many continents and within 59 countries where they populate freshwater rivers and streams. They have an excellent reproductive rate that enables them to keep their numbers stable in the wild. Common carp are also common in aquaculture farming where they are bred and raised for different purposes.

Although the species is considered vulnerable to extinction, they populate a wide range of waters around the world. Factors that affect the Common carp population are mainly due to human intervention and population control methods where these carp are seen as invasive to the area.  


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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.

Common Carp FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Where Are Common Carp Found?

The Common carp is able to inhabit diverse water conditions on nearly all continents besides Antarctica. They can survive in freshwater or brackish streams, and rivers, and even be raised in captivity in large ponds. Most wild Common carp specimens are located within Central Asia, however, they can now be found worldwide, from Europe to Australia, to America.

What's the difference between common carp and Asian carp?

The primary difference between common carp and Asian carp is that Asian carp have become an invasive species across the United States while common carp pose less of a threat.

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