carp

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Carp

Carp are fish species in the minnow family (Cyprinidae), one of the major groups of freshwater fish. The most familiar species are the common carp (Cyprinus carpio ) and the closely related goldfish (Carassius aureus ). The minnow family is characterized by having no teeth in the jaws, although well-developed teeth occur on the pharyngeal bones (located behind the gill chamber) and are used to grind food against a hard, rough pad in the roof of the pharynx.

The body of the common carp is covered with large scales. A single dorsal fin is present, with 1722 branched rays and a strong, toothed spine in front. The carp has four barbels, which are fleshy outgrowths of the mouth that play a sensory role in the locating of food. There are two long barbels at the corners of the mouth and shorter ones on the upper lip. Carp mostly eat vegetable matter, but also feed on worms, crustaceans, aquatic insects, and smaller fish. Their food is mostly obtained by probing in the bottom mud of their aquatic habitat. The common carp is colored dull green-brown on the flanks, darkening on the back, and the underside may be golden-yellow. The fins are gray-green or dusky brown, with a reddish tinge.

The common carp is a hardy fish that can live and breed under difficult conditions. Its preferred habitat is lowland lakes and slow-flowing rivers with abundant vegetation for food and shelter. During periods of exceptionally cold weather, carp move into deep water and enter a resting phase in which their metabolism is greatly slowed. Breeding takes place during the spring, generally from May to June, when water temperature reaches about 68°F (20°C). Spawning takes place in shallow water, and the eggs are laid directly onto plants. When the eggs hatch the tiny fry remain in the shallows for several weeks, concealed amongst the vegetation. The growth rate of carp varies considerably according to local conditions. They can attain a large size: individuals weighing more than 66 lb (30 kg) have been recorded. In general, however, mature carp are about 20-25 in (50-60 cm) in length and weigh from 4.410 lb (24.5 kg). In their natural environment, carp are thought to live for as many as 15 years; in captivity, however, far greater ages have been recorded, with some being credited with a life span of more than 200 years.

Of the fish species that have been reared successfully in captivity from egg to maturity, the carp has probably been one of the most successful on a

commercial basis. A number of domesticated varieties of common carp occur, including one that is scaleless. There is a long history of carp aquaculture in the Far East, and these fish are also grown in parts of Europe. Carp have also been released to freshwater habitats in North America, Australia, and New Zealand, both as a sport fish and as a commercial venture. Unfortunately, the release of carp into foreign aquatic ecosystems often causes intense ecological damage. This results from the physical disturbance caused by carp as they feed and spawn, as well as the intense competition and predation they can exert on native species of fish. In the United States, four species of Asian carps have been introduced into lakes or rivers both illegally and legally and have spread to nearly every state. Their most significant impact has been in and around the Mississippi River where common and grass carps now consume enormous quantities of vegetation and degrade water quality for native fishes.

See also Minnows; Suckers.

views updated

Carp

Carp are fish species in the minnow family (Cyprinidae), one of the major groups of freshwater fish. The most familiar species are the common carp (Cyprinus carpio) and the closely related goldfish (Carassius aureus). The minnow family is characterized by having no teeth in the jaws, although well-developed teeth occur on the pharyngeal bones (located behind the gill chamber) and are used to grind food against a hard, rough pad in the roof of the pharynx.

The body of the common carp is covered with large scales. A single dorsal fin is present, with 17-22 branched rays and a strong, toothed spine in front. The carp has four barbels, which are fleshy outgrowths of the mouth that play a sensory role in the locating of food. There are two long barbels at the corners of the mouth and shorter ones on the upper lip. Carp mostly eat vegetable matter , but also feed on worms, crustaceans, aquatic insects , and smaller fish. Their food is mostly obtained by probing in the bottom mud of their aquatic habitat . The common carp is colored dull green-brown on the flanks, darkening on the back, and the underside may be golden-yellow. The fins are gray-green or dusky brown, with a reddish tinge.

The common carp is a hardy fish that can live and breed under difficult conditions. Its preferred habitat is lowland lakes and slow-flowing rivers with abundant vegetation for food and shelter. During periods of exceptionally cold weather, carp move into deep water and enter a resting phase in which their metabolism is greatly slowed. Breeding takes place during the spring, generally from May to June, when water temperature reaches about 68°F (20°C). Spawning takes place in shallow water, and the eggs are laid directly onto plants. When the eggs hatch the tiny fry remain in the shallows for several weeks, concealed amongst the vegetation. The growth rate of carp varies considerably according to local conditions. They can attain a large size: individuals weighing more than 66 lb (30 kg) have been recorded. In general, however, mature carp are about 20-25 in (50-60 cm) in length and weigh from 4.4-10 lb (2-4.5 kg). In their natural environment, carp are thought to live for as many as 15 years; in captivity, however, far greater ages have been recorded, with some being credited with a life span of more than 200 years.

Of the fish species that have been reared successfully in captivity from egg to maturity, the carp has probably been one of the most successful on a commercial basis. A number of domesticated varieties of common carp occur, including one that is scaleless. There is a long history of carp aquaculture in the Far East, and these fish are also grown in parts of Europe . Carp have also been released to freshwater habitats in North America , Australia , and New Zealand, both as a sport fish and as a commercial venture. Unfortunately, the release of carp into foreign aquatic ecosystems often causes intense ecological damage. This results from the physical disturbance caused by carp as they feed and spawn, as well as the intense competition and predation they can exert on native species of fish.

See also Minnows; Suckers.

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carp1 / kärp/ • n. (pl. same) a deep-bodied freshwater fish of the minnow family, typically with barbels around the mouth. Carp are farmed for food in some parts of the world. carp2 • v. [intr.] complain or find fault continually, typically about trivial matters: I don't want to carp about the way you did it. DERIVATIVES: carp·er n.

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carp Freshwater fish native to temperate waters of Asia. Introduced to the USA and Europe, it is an important food fish. It is brown or golden and has four fleshy mouth whiskers called barbels. Unlike other species of carp, the mirror carp has only a few scales and the leather carp has none. Length: to 1m (3.2ft). Family Cyprinidae; species Cyprinus carpio.

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carp 1 †talk, speak XIII; †sing, recite XV; talk censoriously XVI. — ON. karpa brag, with generalization of sense; in the mod. sense infl. by, or a new formation on, L. carpere pluck (see HARVEST), (fig.) slander.

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carp 2 freshwater fish of genus Cyprinus. XIV. — (O)F. carpe — Pr. carpa or the source late L. carpa; perh. of Gmc. origin (cf. (M)LG. karpe, (M)Du. karper, OHG. karpfo, G. karpfen, ON. karfi).

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carp (Cyprinus carpio) See CYPRINIDAE.

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carp Freshwater fish, Cyprinus carpio.

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carpArp, carp, harp, scarp, sharp, tarp •cardsharp