Invasive Species Council of Manitoba

Common Carp(Cyprinus carpio)

History:  Common Carp is native from Asia and parts of Europe. It was introduced to North America as a food and ornamental fish into freshwaters throughout the world. It was first introduced to Manitoba in 1886, by 1954 they were a nuisance to commercial fishers.

Physical Description

General: A large, robust, deep-bodied fish recognised by its small eyes, thick lips with two barbels at each corner of the mouth, large scales and strongly serrated spines on its fins. Colour is variable, but is often brassy yellow, olive green or silvery grey on its back, fading to silvery yellow on the belly.

Adult length is 30.5-63.5 cm (12-25") or more; large individuals may reach 9.1-27.2 kg (20-60 lbs). Carp have a very high growth rate.


Carp are constantly stirring up the substrate when they feed, meaning that they can greatly decrease the clarity of the water. This makes waterways unattractive, destroys habitat, reduces the abundance of aquatic plants, and can make the water unsuitable for swimming or drinking. They also release phosphorus normally locked up in bottom sediments and aquatic fauna, and lower the abundance of insects by predation and loss of habitat.


Common Carp are found in Manitoba, and now range from central Canada to central Mexico, and from coast to coast. Avoid transporting young and adult carp between lakes while fishing, or during other recreational activities.

Quick Fact: The largest Manitoba Carp on record was caught in 1997 from the Red River. It was 108 cm (42.5") long!


[A] A channel in Delta Marsh, MB, where a screened culvert blocked the entrance of numerous Carp for research purposes. [B] A young Carp showing full bodied view. [C] The difference in size between a newly hatched Common Carp and an approximately one-year old specimen.

Photos: [A] D. Wrubleski, Institute for Wetland and Waterfowl Research, Ducks Unlimited Canada [B] Candace Parks - Manitoba Water Stewardship, U of Manitoba Graduate Student [C] Susan Hertam, U of Manitoba Graduate Student.

For more information visit Ontario's Invading Species Awareness Program

Back to Aquatic Invasive Species List


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