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Common Carp

Common carpSpecies and Origin

The common carp is a large omnivorous fish. They have large scales, a long dorsal fin base, and two pairs of long barbels (whiskers) in its upper jaw. Native to Europe and Asia, it was intentionally introduced into Midwest waters as a game fish in the 1880s. (Be aware of a native look-a-like: the native fish bigmouth buffalo looks like a carp without barbells.)


  • Common carp are one of the most damaging aquatic invasive species due to its wide distribution and severe impacts in shallow lakes and wetlands
  • Their feeding disrupts shallowly rooted plants muddying the water
  • They release phosphorus that increases algae abundance
  • Carp induced declines in water quality causes declines of aquatic plants needed by waterfowl and fish

Carp grouping in shallow waterStatus

They are established in 48 states. They are distributed in hundreds of waters in the southern two-thirds, and a few waters in the northern third of Minnesota.

Means of Spread

The incidental inclusion and later release of live bait spreads common carp.

Where to Look

They live in lakes, rivers, and wetlands and are often seen in spring when they spawn in shallow waters.

Regulatory Classification

It is a regulated invasive species (DNR), which means introduction into the wild is prohibited. Fish caught while angling may be returned to the same water body.

(Information courtesy of the Minnesota DNR)