Common Carp - Cyrinus carpio


Habitat requirements and life history: The common carp, which is native to the Europe and Asia, was introduced from Germany to Massachusetts in the late 19th century. It is the leviathan of the minnow family and the largest freshwater fish in the state. Carp prefer warm, slow-moving rivers, lakes, ponds and impoundments with muddy bottoms and lots of vegetation. They often thrive in degraded areas, such as urban waterways, where native fishes cannot survive. Specifically, carp can tolerate low oxygen levels, very high or low water temperatures, and turbidity. The carp, an omnivore, ingests mouthfuls of bottom sediments, expels them into the water, and then eats the insects, crustaceans, worms, aquatic plants and algae it contains. Probably the largest portion of the carp diet is aquatic vegetation. The AMC Guide to Freshwater Fishing in New England describes the carp as a "swimming pig." Carp spawn in the spring and early summer when the water reaches the low 60°s F. At this time, groups of carp move into shallow, warmer, vegetated waters where they lay and fertilize tiny eggs that adhere to submerged vegetation and roots. You can often tell when carp are spawning because their breeding behavior is marked by much splashing, thrashing and even jumping out of the water. Spawning ceases once the water exceeds the low 80°s F. (Sources: Freshwater Fishes of the Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland, & Delaware, Massachusetts Wildlife, No. 2, 2000, Special Fishing Issue and AMC Guide to Freshwater Fishing in New England)

Common Carp - Bill Byrne, MA Division of Fisheries and Wildlife

Total length: commonly 24 inches (occasionally up to 48 inches)
Pollution tolerance (US EPA): Tolerant
Classification: Macrohabitat generalist

Number of fish found during 1954 & 2001 Fish Surveys*:

Location No. of Fish 1954 No. of Fish 2001
Assabet River 0 29
Total 0 29

DFW. 2001. Assabet Watershed Fish Survey. Mass. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife), Westborough, MA.

Schlotterbeck, L.C. and W.A. Tompkins. 1954. "A Fisheries Investigation of the Merrimack and Ipswich River Drainages." Bureau of Wildlife Research and Management, Mass. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Westborough, MA.