Silver Carp
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult held by Phil Cochran, St Marys University of Minnesota.
  • Side view adult.
  • Top view adult.
  • Bottom view adult.
  • Head-on view adult.
  • Close-up flank.
  • Close-up head.
  • Close-up mouth and snout.
  • Close-up tail.
  • Close-up dorsal fin.
  • Close-up anal fin.
  • Close-up pectoral fin.
  • Close-up pelvic fin.
  • Close-up ventral area: The ventral keel reaches from anus to isthmus.
  • Notice that the gill rakers are fused to form a sponge-like matrix; gill arch is removed from the body for clarity.
  • The body is fusiform, there are 95-103 lateral line scales
  • Close-up mouth: The mouth is terminal, there are no barbels.
  • Close-up dorsal fin: Notice the spine; there are 8 dorsal rays.
  • Close-up anal fin: Notice the spine; there are 12-13 anal rays.
  • Side view of a young-of-year: Juveniles are similar to adult, but have a proportionally bigger eye.
  • Close-up head: Notice the downward pointed eye located below the level of the mouth.
  • View of the ovaries of a ripe female: Notice large paired ovaries and the numerous small eggs.
  • The intenstine is greatly elongated and spiraled.
DescriptionSimilar Species
Family
Minnows (Cyprinidae)
Body
Mouth and Snout: Terminal mouth without any teeth. No barbels. Body Pattern: Solid gray on back, flanks silvery, grading to white on belly. Fins with somewhat darker pigmentation. Numerous small cycloid scales. Body Shape: Fusiform. Typical adult size is 400-700 mm TL (1.3-2.3 ft), with a maximum of about 1300 mm (4.3 ft).
Fins
Forked tail. Single short dorsal fin with a single spine (technically a spinous soft ray). Pelvic fins abdominal. No adipose fin. Anal fin with a single spine (spinous soft ray) and with 12-13 soft rays.
Distinguishing Characteristics
Fusiform body with a ventral keel from anal fin to isthmus. Dorsal fin with a single spine without serrations and with 8 soft rays; anal fin with a single spine without serrations and with 12-13 soft rays. Terminal mouth without barbels. 95-103 lateral line scales; gill rakers numerous and fine and fused together to form a sponge-like matrix. See also similar species information.
Breeding Adults
Not distinctive.
Juveniles
Similar to adults, but lacking spines in fins. Eye proportionally larger in small juveniles.
Hybrids
None known from Wisconsin.
Compare Similar Species
Body Shape
Buffalo, BigmouthDeep, laterally compressed
Buffalo, BlackDeep, laterally compressed
Buffalo, SmallmouthDeep, laterally compressed
Carp, BigheadFusiform
Carp, CommonDeep, laterally compressed
Carp, GrassFusiform
Carp, SilverFusiform
Carpsucker, HighfinDeep, laterally compressed
Carpsucker, RiverDeep, laterally compressed
GoldfishDeep, laterally compressed
QuillbackDeep, laterally compressed
Ventral Keel
Buffalo, BigmouthAbsent
Buffalo, BlackAbsent
Buffalo, SmallmouthAbsent
Carp, BigheadFrom anal fin to pelvic fins
Carp, CommonAbsent
Carp, GrassAbsent
Carp, SilverFrom anal fin to isthmus
Carpsucker, HighfinAbsent
Carpsucker, RiverAbsent
GoldfishAbsent
QuillbackAbsent
Mouth
Buffalo, BigmouthTerminal, subterminal or inferior
Buffalo, BlackTerminal, subterminal or inferior
Buffalo, SmallmouthTerminal, subterminal or inferior
Carp, BigheadTerminal
Carp, CommonSubterminal
Carp, GrassTerminal
Carp, SilverTerminal
Carpsucker, HighfinTerminal, subterminal or inferior
Carpsucker, RiverTerminal, subterminal or inferior
GoldfishTerminal
QuillbackTerminal, subterminal or inferior
Barbels
Buffalo, BigmouthAbsent
Buffalo, BlackAbsent
Buffalo, SmallmouthAbsent
Carp, BigheadAbsent
Carp, CommonPresent
Carp, GrassAbsent
Carp, SilverAbsent
Carpsucker, HighfinAbsent
Carpsucker, RiverAbsent
GoldfishAbsent
QuillbackAbsent
Dorsal Fin
Buffalo, Bigmouth22-32 rays; first few rays elongated
Buffalo, Black22-32 rays; first few rays elongated
Buffalo, Smallmouth22-32 rays; first few rays elongated
Carp, Bighead1 spine in adults, 8 rays
Carp, Common1 serrated spine, 15-23 rays
Carp, Grass7-9 rays
Carp, Silver1 spine in adults, 8 rays
Carpsucker, Highfin22-32 rays; first few rays elongated
Carpsucker, River22-32 rays; first few rays elongated
Goldfish1 serrated spine, 15-19 rays
Quillback22-32 rays; first few rays elongated
Anal Fin
Buffalo, Bigmouth7-10 rays
Buffalo, Black7-10 rays
Buffalo, Smallmouth7-10 rays
Carp, Bighead1 spine in adults, 13-14 rays
Carp, Common1 serrated spine, 4-6 rays
Carp, Grass8-10 rays
Carp, Silver1 spine in adults, 12-13 rays
Carpsucker, Highfin7-10 rays
Carpsucker, River7-10 rays
Goldfish1 serrated spine, 5-6 rays
Quillback7-10 rays
Lateral Line Scales
Buffalo, Bigmouth33-40
Buffalo, Black33-40
Buffalo, Smallmouth33-40
Carp, Bighead85-100
Carp, Common32-41
Carp, Grass34-47
Carp, Silver95-103
Carpsucker, Highfin33-40
Carpsucker, River33-40
Goldfish27-30
Quillback33-40
Gill Rakers
Buffalo, Bigmouth20-70
Buffalo, Black20-70
Buffalo, Smallmouth20-70
Carp, Bighead53-80; long and fine
Carp, Common21-27
Carp, Grass15-16
Carp, SilverFused into sponge-like matrix
Carpsucker, Highfin20-70
Carpsucker, River20-70
Goldfish37-43
Quillback20-70
Similarity Index
Buffalo, BigmouthModerately similar
Buffalo, BlackModerately similar
Buffalo, SmallmouthModerately similar
Carp, BigheadVery similar
Carp, CommonModerately similar
Carp, GrassModerately similar
Carp, SilverN/A
Carpsucker, HighfinModerately similar
Carpsucker, RiverModerately similar
GoldfishModerately similar
QuillbackModerately similar
Comments
Carp, BigheadNot yet confirmed from WI waters (two anecdotal records), but well-established further south in the Mississippi River and likely to be encountered in WI in the future.
Carp, GrassNot established in WI; present only as a stray from further south or from illegal introductions
Carp, SilverNot yet confirmed from WI waters, but well-established further south in the Mississippi River and likely to be encountered in WI in the future.
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