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Common Carp

Common Name: Common Carp.

Scientific Name: Cyprinus Carpio.

What to look for?  In late spring and early summer, look for brassy back of several fish splashing in the pond. The Common Carp is brassy to olive green and has large scales covering their entire body. It has a long dorsal fin base (which differentiates the common carp from the Asian carps), and two pairs of long barbels or whiskers in its upper jaw at the corners of the mouth. Fins are often reddish. They have a triangular head with a blunt snout.

Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? Common Carp are not stocked in either of the Carillon Stonegate Ponds. If you take a hike around the Stonegate West Pond, you will find them splashing about in the muddy shallows during the spring.

How big are they? The Common Carp averages 15 inches in length. They typically weigh around three (3) pounds.

How else do they behave? Common Carp feed by sucking up mud from the bottom of the pond, ejecting it and selectively consuming items while they are suspended in the water.

What’s for dinner? Common Carp are omnivores. They like to root around on the bottom, uprooting tender roots and shoots of young aquatic vegetation, which makes the water murky. Aquatic insects, crustaceans, and small mollusks make up the bulk of their diet.

Where do they take up residence? Originally from the Caspian Sea region, Common Carp were first introduced to ponds in the U.S. in the mid-1800's. The Common Carp is one of the most widely distributed fish species in North America, ranging from central Canada to central Mexico, and from coast to coast. In Illinois, Common Carp are ubiquitous. They prefer warm lakes, streams, ponds, and sloughs with a lot of organic matter. And they tend to thrive in poorer water quality.

When and where do they breed and nest? Common Carp spawn from mid-April through June and with the ability to spawn multiple times. Mating groups of one female and several males swim actively before spawning. Males externally fertilize eggs and females spread them over aquatic plants in water between one and four feet deep. Splashing carp, often with their backs out of the water (see photos), can be observed during the springtime spawn. Females lay up to 2 million eggs when spawning and fry can grow as large as 8" in the first year: thus, overrunning populations of gamefish and other fish.

What are their predators? Adult Common Carp have few predators. In fact, they are the bigger threat to other fish. They disturb sediments and uproot plants as they forage and spawn, which can cause a deterioration of water quality and habitat for native fish species. And Common Carp reproduce readily.

What is their conservation status? There is no concern. Common Carp are not on any federal list.

Where do they migrate? No. Common Carp – like most freshwater fish – do not migrate nor hibernate. They will live deeper within the lake or pond.

Interesting Facts About Common Carp:

  • German and Scandinavian immigrants brought their taste for carp when they came to North America in 1800’s.

  • The first records of common carp caught in the Mississippi River were in 1883.

  • Common carp are a type of minnow, closely related to fathead minnows, a common baitfish.

  • The koi raised in garden ponds are colorful varieties of common carp.

  • Common carp may live in excess of 47 years.

  • The heaviest reported weight for a Common Carp is 75 lbs.

  • The genus name ‘Cyprinus’ is Greek, and the specific epithet ‘carpio’ is Latin; both words mean "carp."

For more information on Common Carp and sources of information used in this blog (these are the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit Illinois DNR, Michigan DNR, Texas Parks and Wildlife, U.S. National Park Service, and IUCN/SSC Global Invasive Species Database.

The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.


Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!

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