What Does A Carp Fish Look Like?

There are many different kinds of fish in the Earth’s waters, coming in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Carps are some of the most common fish in freshwater lakes, ponds, and rivers all over the world. 

What Does A Carp Fish Look Like

Many fishermen will choose to try and catch carp specifically due to their size and weight. 

But what are carp? And what do they look like?

Follow our guide to all things carp and become a fish expert today!

Information About The Carp

The carp belongs to the Cyprinidae family, which is typically found in bodies of freshwater all around the world. Because of their size and how they go about their day, the carp are rarely targeted by other fish, unless met by something larger. 

The carp sit at the bottom of their environment and will pop to the surface to eat small insects and bugs. This type of fish is also known to eat aquatic worms, crustaceans, and mollusks, along with algae and other varieties of plant life.

Of course, there are a lot of different types of carp in the world, but they all usually tend to live to about 20 years of age. It’s believed that the oldest carp in the world died in 1977 in Japan. 

The carp was a scarlet-colored female Higoi carp called Hanako and she lived to 226 years old. This means that the fish was born in the 18th Century, in 1751. Common carp will vary in the number of years they face over their lifetime. 

It’s believed that they will live from anywhere between 15 and 20 years in the wild, but over double that in captivity – living to around 47 years of age!

Types Of Carp Fish And What They Look Like

Common Carp

This is a frequent resident of a lot of eutrophic freshwater bodies like lakes, ponds, and rivers across large areas of Europe and Asia. The native population in the wild is thought to be in great danger, vulnerable to extinction.

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Although they are native to the waters of Europe and Asia, the common carp has been domesticated and introduced into a range of environments worldwide to ensure their survival.

However, experts believe that this carp is considered an invasive species, destructive to the food chains they have been introduced to. It has even been included in the list of the world’s 100 worst invasive species.

Common carp can grow to large sizes if given the right amount of space to live and nutrients to ingest. Domesticated carp can grow to a maximum of 120 centimeters, or 47 inches, with a maximum weight exceeding 40 kilograms or 88 pounds.

The oldest recorded age for one of these is around 38 years of age! The average size for a common carp to reach is around 40-80 centimeters in length. 

The common carp has a large body with a heavy appearance, hence some of the weights that they can get to. They have many distinctive features such as a round snout, a stumpy head, a forked tail, a long single dorsal fin, and large, slimy scales.

The mouth is without teeth, perfect for eating small aquatic worms and insects. Carp are known as bottom-feeders and this makes them well-adapted for their role in the food chain. Common carps are usually brown or olive, with brass-like gold scales on the side.

Koi Carp

Native to wide areas of Asia, specifically Japan, koi carp are typically used in domesticated outdoor bodies of freshwater.

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Because of their bright colors and variety of different patterns, koi carp is regarded as one of the more aesthetically pleasing types of carp, being used as decorative fish in a lot of areas of the world.

It’s believed that the first koi carp species were bred in Niigata, Japan in the early 19th Century. 

The main colors that are on display on a carp’s skin range from white, black, orange, yellow, red, blue, and brown. The most popular type of koi is the Gosanke koi, which consists of the Kohaku, Taisho Sanshoku, and the Showa Sanshoku varieties of fish.

The koi carp are coldwater fish and they have been known to adapt to and survive in lots of different climates, ranging from the incredibly cold, to the heated waters of summertime Asia. 

The patterns on the koi carp vary from spotted textures, smooth textures, and small stripes on their skin. This makes them very easy to spot for people using them decoratively.

This type of carp can grow to around 120 centimeters in length depending on the surrounding environment. 

A lot of koi don’t grow too much over 60 centimeters in average pond sizes. Much like common carp, koi carp can live to around 40 to 60 years of age because of their domesticated environment.

Mirror Carp

This type of carp is extremely alike the common carp, except for the mirror-like scales on their skin – hence the name.

What Does A Carp Fish Look Like (3)

This type of carp has been selectively bred throughout areas of Europe, particularly Great Britain. It’s believed that the mirror carp can grow more than 60 pounds and up to 3 feet in length, or 90 centimeters.

Mirror carp have a broader color variation than the common carp, with dark gray and brown backs, with brassy olive, deep brown, and pale yellow skin ranges.

Grass Carp

The grass carp is a large type of carp native to the freshwaters of eastern Asia. This fish can be found in large quantities anywhere between the Vietnamese rivers over to the Siberia-China border.

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This fish was originally cultivated in China for food but has been introduced in America and the UK to help with the control of aquatic weed levels. 

The grass carp has become the species of fish with the largest production on record, with over five million tonnes produced per year. 

This fish has a torpedo-shaped body with a large surface area. The mouth lacks barbels and has firm lips, with broad and ridged teeth.

There is a single recognizable dorsal fin sat on the fish’s back, with an anal fin positioned closer to the tail than a lot of other species of fish. The grass carp is typically dark olive, shading to a more brown or yellow shade, with a white underbelly.

This type of carp can grow to around 40 inches in length, although the largest recorded case has been found at 6.6 feet long! According to studies, grass carp can live to around 15 years old when they thrive in a high-quality body of water. 

This can be anywhere with sufficient levels of food, a good area of living space, and clean levels of water. They tend to thrive in smaller lakes and backwaters with a big supply of freshwater plant life and vegetation.

Is Carp Edible?

A lot of people will fish for carp for the fun of it and to enjoy the sport of carp-fishing. However, many fishermen will catch carp for edible purposes. Carp is an edible fish and is regarded as very tasty by those who have eaten the fish. 

Because of their league body mass and their oily nature, the fish gives off large portions for meals full of rich, salty goodness. The carp contains lots of Omega 3 acids for health benefits, however, it contains less of these than typical saltwater fish.

Final Thoughts

There are lots of variations of carp all over the world, with many of them being native to Asian and European regions of the planet. The carp is typically a freshwater fish and has been domesticated to suit different needs, including decorative reasons. 

In Japan, the koi carp is an incredible fish to have on display and can brighten up any area with its bright colors and patterns. A lot of other types of carp are usually brown or gray, with lots of scales and a dorsal fin.

Ranging anywhere in size and weight, catching carp can be a lottery, with nobody able to tell what they’ll stumble upon next.

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Tommy Bull
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