What are Asian Carp?

Carp are not native to North American waters, but various carp species have been introduced here since the mid-1800s, much to the detriment of native fish. Although carp eradication measures have been active for over 100 years, long-established species, like the common carp, are present in almost every state.

Asian carp (bighead, black, grass, and silver carp) were imported to the United States in the 1970s as a method to control nuisance algal blooms in wastewater treatment plants and aquaculture ponds as well as for human food. Within ten years, the carp escaped confinement and spread to the waters of the Mississippi River basin and other large rivers like the Missouri and Illinois.

Asian carp are in direct competition with native aquatic species for food and habitat. Their rapid population increase is disrupting the ecology and food web of the large rivers of the Midwest. In areas where Asian carp are abundant, they have harmed native fish communities and interfered with commercial and recreational fishing.

Experts are extremely concerned about the consequences of Asian carp invading the Great Lakes, where the carp would negatively affect the $7 billion-a-year fishing industry.

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Can I eat Asian carp?

Asian carp of all types have white, firm, mild flesh, which is excellent table fare, but all Asian carp also have intramuscular bones in the filets that many people find undesirable. Asian carp feed low on the food web, are fast growing, are low in fat in the filets, and are not usually bottom feeders — all properties of fish that are lower in...

Is it possible to eradicate Asian carp once they are in an area?

Eradicating an established population of Asian carp would be extremely difficult and expensive, if possible at all. Potential control methods include the use of fish poisons, physical barriers, physical removal, habitat alteration, or the addition of predators, parasites, or pathogens. Research on Asian carp control is ongoing as part of the Asian...

Are Asian carp dangerous?

Silver carp (a variety of Asian carp) are easily disturbed and will jump as much as 10 feet into the air in response to rocks thrown in the water, passing trains, geese taking off from the water, or just when they unexpectedly find themselves in a tight place. They also jump at the sound of outboard motors, often landing in boats and sometimes...

What is an invasive species and why are they a problem?

An invasive species is an introduced, nonnative organism (disease, parasite, plant, or animal) that begins to spread or expand its range from the site of its original introduction and that has the potential to cause harm to the environment, the economy, or to human health. A few well-known examples include the unintentional introduction of the...
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Date published: April 26, 2017

Asian Carp Would Have Adequate Food to Survive in Lake Michigan

If invasive bighead carp and silver carp spread into Lake Michigan, there would be enough food available for these particular species of Asian carp to survive, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Date published: May 6, 2015

Asian Carp Would Have Adequate Food to Survive in Lake Erie

If invasive bighead carp and silver carp spread into Lake Erie, there would be enough food available for these species of Asian carp to survive, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Date published: July 12, 2012

Asian Carp Pose Substantial Risk to the Great Lakes

Asian carp pose substantial environmental risk to the Great Lakes if they become established there, according to a bi-national Canadian and United States risk assessment released today.

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Silver Carp jumping out of water
December 31, 2016

School of silver carp jumping out of water

School of silver carp jumping out of the water. 

Black carp sample being preserved for genetic study
April 5, 2016

Black carp sample being preserved for genetic study

Black carp sample being preserved for genetic study

Image: Grass Carp
March 21, 2016

Grass Carp

Mississippi Unit — MS student Chris Steffen tries to hold on to a record-size grass carp collected in an oxbow lake of the Yazoo River Basin, Mississippi.

Image: Grass Carp
March 21, 2016

Grass Carp

Josh Schloesser, a MS student at the Kansas Unit holding a grass carp collected while sampling with the USFWS on the Missouri River. Josh is working closely with the FWS and other agencies to develop sampling protocols for Missouri River fishes.

August 12, 2012

Yazoo! Flying Carp!

U.S. Geological Survey scientists encounter Asian flying carp on the Yazoo River, Mississippi.

video thumbnail: Under Siege: Battling Flying Carp and Giant Pythons and How Science Can Help
July 3, 2012

Under Siege: Battling Flying Carp and Giant Pythons and How Science Can Help

Over the last several decades, non-native species have continued to invade sensitive ecosystems in the United States. Two high-profile species, Asian carp in the Midwest and Burmese pythons in the Everglades, are the focus of much attention by decision makers, the public and the media. Sharon Gross, Robert Reed and Cynthia Kolar discuss issues related to invasive species

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Jumping Silver Carp
December 31, 2006

Jumping Silver Carp

Flying Silver Carp

Asian carp captured on the Wabash River
November 30, 2000

Asian carp captured on the Wabash River

Asian carp captured on the Wabash River

A Silver Carp tagged with an acoustic transmitter (black tag located on the fish’s back) to monitor movement in the field. Fish
November 30, 2000

A Silver Carp tagged with an acoustic transmitter

A Silver Carp tagged with an acoustic transmitter (black tag located on the fish’s back) to monitor movement in the field. Fish were monitored in response to the recording of a boat motor

UMESC Scientist showing Silver Carp on left and Bighead Carp on right
November 30, 2000

UMESC Scientist showing Silver Carp on left and Bighead Carp on right

UMESC Scientist showing Silver Carp on left and Bighead Carp on right