California Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS)
University of California
California Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS)

Invasive Fish Species

Silver Carp

Scientific Name

Hypophthalmichthys molitrix. Visit ITIS for full scientific classification. 




  • Large, freshwater fish with an elongated body shape. They have a scale-less head with low hanging, and slightly downward facing eyes.
  • They have a large mouth with no teeth in the jaw, but do have teeth in their throat.
  • They are a gray to olive green color on their backs, with a silvery color on their sides.
  • Silver Carp feed on plankton, using their modified gills to filter their food from the water column.
  • Possible for individuals to grow over 4 feet, and up to 77 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 32-104 degrees F. 
Invasion Pathways and Distribution
  • In 1973, Silver Carp were introduced into a variety of different water bodies in Arkansas in order to control phytoplankton populations.
  • Asian Carp can spread through fish farming activities, legal and illegal stocking, accidental inclusion in shipments of live bait, escape or release to open waters, and natural dispersal.
  • Native to China and Russia.
  • Now widespread throughout the U.S.
  • See USGS for a map of current U.S. distribution. 
Life History
  • 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. 
  • Due to their ability to filter feed and grow to a large size, Silver 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.
  • Silver Carp also carry diseases that can then spread to native fishes. 
References and Useful Links

For references by category and links to other useful AIS sites see our LEARN MORE page.

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