Cyprinus carpio - Carp

Phylum: Chordata - Class: Actinopterygii - Order: Cypriniformes - Family: Cyprinidae

Common carp

Common carp were introduced to the British Isles many centuries ago, probably by the Romans; the most likely source of these fish was the River danube. In the Middle Ages, monks reared them for food, and some of the carp ponds associated with monasteries still exist today.

Carp usually feed by grubbing in the sediment for small worms, insects, leeches, moluscs and the like. By this means they can do great damage to natural lakes, and over-stocking with carp invariably results in the destruction of habitat that is needed by other species. But carp do sometimes feed in mid water on daphnia and will, on occasion, rise to take food morsels from the surface. (They can be caught on a fly, but it's not a method that you can rely on!

Young Common Carp

Cultivated 'King' carp can live for more than thirty years and grow to 50lb (23kg) in British waters. Redmire Pool on the Welsh-English border near Hereford has produced more 'record' carp than any other British fishery. The current British record is well over 60lbs (about 30kg). A 65lb 14oz carp in Conningbrook Lake, near Ashford in Kent, has been caught several times; it is nicknamed Two Tone.

Mirror carp

Partly scaled mirror carp and scaleless 'leather' carp are also stocked in many Welsh stillwater fisheries; many of these are of Eastern European and Asian origin. Few Welsh rivers have slow-water reaches suitable for carp, but these popular coarse fish are plentiful in many canal stretches.


This page includes pictures kindly contributed by Dr Nick Giles.

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