Silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix)
Large group of Asian carpCredit: Nerissa Michaels
Asian carp are spectacular leapers when startled.Credit: Chris Young
What is the Asian carp?
Where did silver carp come from?
- There are actually several species of carp that are invasive species from Asia, including the well-known common carp and even the goldfish.
- The "Asian carp" poised to invade the Great Lakes is the silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix), and it is the Asian carp meant on this website.
Why are they a problem?
- Silver carp originated in Eurasia.
- They were imported by pond aquaculturists in the 1960s and 1970s to control algae in the ponds.
- Flooding in the 1990s caused many ponds to overflow their banks, allowing the carp to escape into the Mississippi River basin. They have been moving north ever since.
How can we control them?
- Silver carp are large fish (up to 100 pounds) that breed very rapidly.
- These filter feeders can eat up to 40% of their body weigh daily and are likely to out-compete native species.
- When startled--and they find the noise of boat and jet ski engines startling--they leap from the water. They have knocked boaters and jet skiers unconscious and broken noses and windshields.
- Silver carp as now established in the Mississippi River basin. Great effort is going into trying to keep them from invading the Great Lakes, including the dispersal barrier. See the "dispersal barrier" section for more information.
- Further efforts to control silver carp are under discussion. Check the "project updates" section for more news as it becomes available.
For more photos and information about the silver carp, see the Wisconsin Fish Identification tool.