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Native Aquatic Species of the Gila River Basin
in Arizona and New Mexico

Nonnative Aquatic Species Profiles

Carp (Cyprinus carpio )

Carp arrived in Arizona prior to 1885 and were considered a valuable food fish. As they escaped from ponds in which they were raised as a domesticated animal, they rapidly began to populate natural waters, until they are now the commonest large fish in many larger rivers and lakes (Minckely 1973). Catches of other fishes appear to have declined as carp populations increased, reflecting either an interaction between carp and native fishes or a deterioration of habitat that was better tolerated by carp (Minckley 1973).

Carp are omnivorous and will eat almost anything it comes across. Carp are notorious for plowing up of bottom sediments causing turbid waters and the uprooting of aquatic vegetation. In Arizona, reproduction can occur between late February through June and July. Tremendous quantities of eggs are produced by a single carp, ranging from near 100,000 in smaller females, to more than 2,000,000 in large ones (Minckley 1973).

The effects of carp on other fishes can be subtle. They are a remarkably adaptable fish, with broad spectra of tolerances to chemical conditions, temperatures, currents, foods, and spawning condition, and therefore probably influence most other native fishes (directly or indirectly) with which they occur (Minckley 1973).

Work Cited:

Minckley, W.L. 1973. Fishes of Arizona. Arizona Game and Fish Department, Phoenix. 293.

Last Reviewed:
June 25, 2009

Joseph J. Billerbeck - jbillerbeck@usbr.gov