Scientific names: Hypophthalmichthys nobilis, Mylopharyngodon piceus, Ctenopharyngodon idella, Hypophthalmichthys molitrix
What Are They?
Invasive Asian carp are members of the minnow family that grow to be very large. They are found in both flowing and still water, tolerating a wide range of water quality and weather conditions. These carp tend to consume large amounts of vegetation and plankton, affecting food webs and system ecology, and are native to Eurasia.
Are They Here Yet?
No. Bighead and silver carp are established in the Mississippi and Missouri river basins. Common carp are present in Washington but are not invasive.
Why Should I Care?
Carp can out-compete native, sport, and commercial fish; remove native vegetation; decrease dissolved oxygen levels; increase turbidity; disrupt food webs; and introduce parasites and disease. Certain species (silver carp) have been known to jump forcefully out of the water in response to noises or lights, injuring boaters and breaking boat windshields.
How Do We Stop Them?
Bighead, black, grass, and silver carp are all classified as Prohibited Aquatic Animal Species by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, meaning they may not be possessed, purchased, sold, propagated, transported, or released into state waters. The importation of black and silver carp also are regulated by the federal Lacey Act, under which they are listed as Injurious Wildlife Species.
What Are Their Characteristics?
- Bighead carp weigh up to 110 pounds and are up to 4-5 feet long. They have a protruding lower jaw, large head, green to olive-colored body, eyes below the midline of the body, and long, closely spaced gill rakers.
- Silver carp are smaller with fused gill rakers.
- Black carp are black with a more cylindrical body. They grow to 3-4 feet long, ranging from 30 to 150 pounds.
- Grass carp are golden brown or silvery, without barbels. They grow up to 3 feet and 65 pounds.