Hypophthalmichthys nobilis - Visit ITIS for full scientific classification
Bighead Carp. Amy Benson. - © US Geological Survey
- Large, freshwater fish. Elongated body, with a large scale-less head, and downward facing eyes.
- They have a large mouth, no teeth, and a protruding lower jaw.
- They are a silvery dark gray color on their back and sides with dark blotches, fading to white on their belly.
- Possible for individuals to grow over 4 feet, and up to 88 pounds.
- Found in shallow, flooded areas of rivers, ponds, irrigation canals, lakes, and reservoirs.
- Bighead Carp can tolerate extreme environmental conditions including: low oxygen levels, brackish water, and temperatures ranging from 33-101 degrees F.
Invasion Pathways and Distribution
- In 1972, Bighead Carp were introduced to control plankton populations in a fish farm in Arkansas.
- Asian Carp can spread through fish farming activities, legal and illegal stocking, accidental inclusion in shipments, escape or release to open waters, and natural dispersal.
- Native to China and Russia.
- Now widespread throughout the U.S.
- Visit USGS for a map of current U.S. distribution.
- Mating season begins in the summer when the water is warmer than 65 degrees F.
- Females migrate to areas of moderate water flow in order to release their eggs into the water column.
- Enormous reproductive capabilities.
- Possible for females to release over 1 million eggs in a single season.
- Bighead Carp feed on a wide variety of plankton, using their modified gills to filter food from the water column.
- Due to their ability to filter feed and grow to a large size, Bighead Carp can greatly reduce the amount of plankton in their surrounding environment.
- This plankton reduction can decrease food availability for native species, possibly reduce water quality, and increase the chance for algal blooms.
- Bighead Carp also carry diseases that can spread to native fishes.
References and Useful Links
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