Silver carp

What is the Asian carp?

  • 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.


Where did silver carp come from?

  • 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.

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Why are they a problem?

  • 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.


How can we control them?

  • 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.