Hypophthalmichthys molitrix (silver carp)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Habitat List
- Natural Food Sources
- Air Temperature
- Water Tolerances
- Natural enemies
- Impact Summary
- Economic Impact
- Environmental Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Hypophthalmichthys molitrix (Valenciennes, 1844)
Preferred Common Name
- silver carp
Other Scientific Names
- Abramocephalus microlepis Steindachner, 1869
- Cephalus mantschuricus Basilewsky, 1855
- Hypophthalamichthys molitrix Berg, 1940
- Hypophthalmichthys dabry Guichenot, 1871
- Hypophthalmichthys dybowskii Herzenstein, 1888
- Hypophthalmichthys microlepis (Steindachner, 1869)
- Hypothalmichthys molitrix (Valenciennes, 1844)
- Hypothamicthys molitrix (Valenciennes, 1844)
- Leuciscus hypophthalmus Richardson, 1945
- Leuciscus molitrix Valenciennes, 1844
- Onychodon mantschuricus Basilewsky, 1872
International Common Names
- English: carp; carp, silver; chinese schemer
- Spanish: carpa plateada
- French: amour argenté; carpe argentée; carpe asiatique; carpe chinoise
- Russian: belyi tolstolob; belyi tolstolobik; tolpyga; tolstolobik
Local Common Names
- Albania: ballgjeri i bardhe
- Bulgaria: byal tolstolob
- China/Hong Kong: bin ue; cho ue; lin ue
- Czech Republic: tolstolobik bílý; tolstolobik obecný
- Denmark: sølvkarpe
- Finland: hopeapaksuotsa
- Germany: Silberkarpfen; Tolstolob
- Greece: asimokyprinos
- Hungary: fehér busa
- India: belli-gende
- Iran: fytofag; kopur noqreai; phytophague
- Israel: kap perak; kasaf
- Italy: carpa argentata
- Japan: hakuren
- Malaysia: kap perak; tongsan putih
- Netherlands: zilverkarper
- Norway: sølvkarpe
- Philippines: babangan
- Poland: tolpyga biala; toplyga biala
- Portugal: carpa prateada; carpa-prateada
- Romania: crap argintiu; crap-chinezesc-argintiu; sânger
- Slovakia: tolstolob biely
- South Africa: silwerkarp
- Sweden: silverkarp
- Thailand: pla leng hea; pla leng heu; pla lin; pla pae long; pla pea long; pla pin hea; pla pin heu
- Ukraine: belyi tolstolobik; tolstolobik; tovstolob zvychajnyi
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
H. molitrix is considered a nuisance species in the USA. It was first introduced in 1973 in Arkansas into aquaculture ponds to control plankton. By the end of the 1970s many private and federal aquaculture facilities and sewage lagoons had been stocked with H. molitrix.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Chordata
- Subphylum: Vertebrata
- Class: Actinopterygii
- Order: Cypriniformes
- Family: Cyprinidae
- Genus: Hypophthalmichthys
- Species: Hypophthalmichthys molitrix
DescriptionTop of page
Silver carp are large rather heavily built cyprinids, laterally compressed when small but becoming increasingly robust and thick bodied with growth. They are covered with small cycloid scales of a uniform silver coloration. The lateral line curves downwards very markedly in the abdominal region, more or less following the profile of the belly. There are between 95 and 103 scales (some references quote 120) in the lateral line. Small specimens do not have spines on their fins, whereas large specimens have a hard, stiff spine with fine serrations on the posterior margin, at the front end of the pectoral, and moderately strong spines on the dorsal and anal fins. The dorsal fin origin is behind the pelvic fin insertion.
Some literature reported the presence of spines in the dorsal and anal fins of silver carp. However the New Zealand introduced variety seems to lack the spines. There is a single, smallish, flag-like dorsal fin (9 rays). The anal fin is rather longer and shallower (15-17 rays). The moderately long and flattened caudal peduncle supports a deeply forked, strong caudal fin. The pelvic fins (7or 8 rays) are smallish, triangular and abdominal. The pectoral fins (15-18 rays) are rather larger reaching back to the insertion of the pelvic fins. In the male silver carp the inner surface of the pectoral fins facing the body is rough to the touch especially during the breeding season. The intestine is 6-10 times the body length. Keels extend from isthmus to anus. Total number of vertebra is 36-40. The eyes are low on the head with their lower margin below the mouth corner level, has a terminal mouth, no barbels. The mouth is relatively large, upturned and toothless. The pharyngeal teeth are in one row (4-4) and are well developed and compressed with a striated grinding surface. The gills of silver carp have a complex of network and profusion of closely set gill rakers. The gill membranes are not connected to the isthmus (Peirong, 1989; McDowall, 1990; FishBase, 2005).
Age and growth
Of all the environmental factors, temperature exercises a maximum effect on the maturity of silver carp. The table below shows the difference in the age and weight of the adults at sexual maturity in different geographical regions of China and Rumania. In the Iranian River Terek silver carp first mature at 4 years for males and 5 years for females. About 15% of females mature at 4 years but 87% of the females and 85% of the males are in the 5-7 age groups (Coad, 2004).
Table 1. Age and size at sexual maturity of silver carp (from Jhingran and Pullin, 1988).
|Country||Age (years)||Weight (kg)||Reference|
|South China||2-3||2-5||Kuronuma (1968)|
|Central China||4-5||2-5||Kuronuma (1968)|
|North China||5-6||2-5||Kuronuma (1968)|
Kamilov (1985) found that the first ray of the pectoral fin, the vertebrae and the pterygiophore of the first ray of the dorsal fin, were suitable for ageing this species, whereas the operculum and the otoliths were not suitable. However, Johal et al. (2000) reported that postcleithrum is more accurate in measuring silver carp age. Kamilov and Salikhov (1996) reported specimens of up to 1260 mm were fished from the Syr Darya River. The maximum recorded weight of silver carp is 50 kg (Billard, 1997).
DistributionTop of page
Silver carp naturally occur in the temperate waters of China. They inhabit the river systems of the Yangtze, West River, Pearl River, Kwangsi and Kwangtung in South and Central China and in the Amur Basin in Russia (Jhingran and Pullin, 1988).
Introduced into the USA in the 1970s H. molitrix is now found in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Tennessee. It has either accidentally escaped or was deliberately introduced in the Mississippi River.
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Serbia and Montenegro||Present||Introduced|
|-Illinois||Present||Introduced||Invasive||La Grange reach, Illinois River. This large river reach may contain the greatest ambient densities of wild silver carp in the world|
|-Mississippi||Present||Introduced||2005||Invasive||Mississippi River, Forest Home Chute. Also pervasive in much of the Mississippi River, its tributaries, connected lakes and wetlands|
|-Missouri||Present||Introduced||Asian carp (bighead, silver and grass carp) sampled from the Missouri River downstream of Gavins Point Dam, South Dakota and Nebraska to St Louis, Missouri|
|Papua New Guinea||Present||Introduced|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
H. molitrix was first introduced in 1973 in Arkansas into aquaculture ponds to control plankton. By the end of the 1970s many private and federal aquaculture facilities and sewage lagoons had been stocked with H. molitrix.
IntroductionsTop of page
|Introduced to||Introduced from||Year||Reason||Introduced by||Established in wild through||References||Notes|
|Natural reproduction||Continuous restocking|
|Sri Lanka||1948||Unknown||FishBase (2005)|
|USA||1970s||Aquaculture (pathway cause); Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause)||Unknown||Yes||FishBase (2005)|
Habitat ListTop of page
Natural Food SourcesTop of page
|Food Source||Food Source Datasheet||Life Stage||Contribution to Total Food Intake (%)||Details|
|Brachionus||Larval||up to 100||zooplankton (rotifer and copepod nauplii)|
|flagellate, dinoflagellata, Myxophyceae, Bacillariphyceae||Adult/Fry||70:30|
|phytoplankton (Oscillatoria, Aphanizomenon)||Adult||80|
|zooplankton (copepods, cladocera) and phytoplankton||Fry||30:70|
ClimateTop of page
|A - Tropical/Megathermal climate||Tolerated||Average temp. of coolest month > 18°C, > 1500mm precipitation annually|
|C - Temperate/Mesothermal climate||Preferred||Average temp. of coldest month > 0°C and < 18°C, mean warmest month > 10°C|
|D - Continental/Microthermal climate||Tolerated||Continental/Microthermal climate (Average temp. of coldest month < 0°C, mean warmest month > 10°C)|
Air TemperatureTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit|
|Mean annual temperature (ºC)||0.5||<40|
|Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC)||32||40|
|Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC)||>0.5||0.5|
Water TolerancesTop of page
|Parameter||Minimum Value||Maximum Value||Typical Value||Status||Life Stage||Notes|
|Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l)||0.1||Optimum||Adult||total amount/season|
|Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l)||13||Harmful||Adult||total amount/season|
|Ammonium [ionised] (mg/l)||>2||Harmful||Egg|
|Ammonium [ionised] (mg/l)||>3||Harmful||Adult|
|Ammonium [ionised] (mg/l)||1.5||Optimum||Egg|
|Ammonium [ionised] (mg/l)||up to 3||Optimum||Adult|
|Dissolved oxygen (mg/l)||<2||Harmful||Adult|
|Dissolved oxygen (mg/l)||<4||Harmful||Broodstock|
|Dissolved oxygen (mg/l)||<4||Harmful||Larval|
|Dissolved oxygen (mg/l)||<5||Harmful||Egg|
|Dissolved oxygen (mg/l)||>4||Optimum||Larval|
|Dissolved oxygen (mg/l)||>5||Optimum||Egg|
|Dissolved oxygen (mg/l)||4||Optimum||Adult|
|Dissolved oxygen (mg/l)||4||5||Optimum||Broodstock|
|Iron (mg/l)||below 0.02||Optimum||Egg|
|Iron (mg/l)||below 0.02||Optimum||Larval|
|Iron (mg/l)||up to 0.02||Optimum||Adult|
|Manganese (mg/l)||below 0.02||Optimum||Egg|
|Manganese (mg/l)||below 0.02||Optimum||Larval|
|Manganese (mg/l)||up to 0.02||Optimum||Adult|
|Nitrate (mg/l)||up to 15||Optimum||Adult|
|Nitrite (mg/l)||up to 0.5||Optimum||Adult|
|Salinity (part per thousand)||0||Optimum||Egg|
|Salinity (part per thousand)||1||Harmful||Egg|
|Salinity (part per thousand)||0||1||Optimum||Adult|
|Salinity (part per thousand)||0||1||Optimum||Broodstock|
|Water pH (pH)||7.5||8.5||Optimum||Adult|
|Water pH (pH)||7.5||8.5||Optimum||Broodstock|
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
|Belostomatidae||Predator||Fry/Larval||Jhingran and Pullin (1988)|
|Coenagrionidae||Predator||Fry/Larval||Jhingran and Pullin (1988)|
|Corixidae||Predator||Fry/Larval||Jhingran and Pullin (1988)|
|Dytiscidae||Predator||Fry/Larval||Jhingran and Pullin (1988)|
|Hydrophilidae||Predator||Fry/Larval||Jhingran and Pullin (1988)|
|Nepidae||Predator||Fry/Larval||Jhingran and Pullin (1988)|
|Notonectidae||Predator||Fry/Larval||Jhingran and Pullin (1988)|
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Fisheries / aquaculture||Positive|
Economic ImpactTop of page
The species has been introduced in many countries all over the world for two reasons; aquaculture and to control plankton in nutrient-rich ponds and wastewater treatment plants. Their ability to control algal blooms is rather controversial. It was reported that silver carp is efficient in controlling the algal bloom if the right number of fish is used (Domaizon and Devaux, 1999). It is because silver carp can efficiently filter algae >20 µm in size, consequently the number of the smaller algae increases as a result of lack of grazing by the fish and by increase in nutrient by internal loading.
Pillay (1993) suggested that silver carp can be of considerable value in controlling algal blooms and reducing oxygen consumption. Its effectiveness in controlling algae is somewhat controversial. Robert and Uwe (2002) have suggested that H. molitrix should be used only if the primary aim is to reduce nuisance blooms of large phytoplankton species e.g. cyanobacteria that cannot be effectively controlled by large herbivorous zooplankton. They concluded that stocking of H. molitrix appears to be most appropriate in tropical lakes that are highly productive and naturally lack large cladoceran zooplankton.
Leventer and Teltsch (1990) were more in favour of using H. molitrix not only to control algae but also zooplankton and suspended organic matter. They claimed that introducing 300-450 silver carp/ha in the Netofa reservoirs in Israel created a balanced ecological system.
Starling (1993) used a biomass of 41 g/m3 or 850 kg/ha H. molitrix in a mesocosm experiment in the eutrophic Paranoa reservoir in Brasilia to assess its impact on the plankton community and water quality. He found that H. molitrix significantly reduced micro-zooplankton (copepod nauplii and rotifers <200 µm, metaphytoplankton >20 µm, and total phytoplankton biomass). Starling also mentioned that apart from increased nitrogen in the sediments, nutrient and chemical properties of the water were not affected by fish presence.
Dabbadie (2005) lists two advantages of introducingH. molitrix:
1. Avoidance of some trophic deadlocks. When a dense stock of common carp is raised in monoculture, a small crustacean, Bosmina longirostris develops and it is considered harmful as it feeds on phytoplankton and is not grazed by common carp. B. longirostris stands as a competitor for other herbivorous zooplanktonic organisms, which otherwise would be consumed by common carp. But when H. molitrix is introduced in polyculture with carp, B. longirostris declines as a consequence of the grazing of H. molitrix.
2. In ponds, improvement of oxygenation occurs due to the presence of H. molitrix or tilapia. H. molitrix consume excess algae which otherwise could create an imbalance between production and consumption of oxygen.
H. molitrix are also not welcomed in many states of the USA for they pose considerable hazards to fishermen and waterskiers who frequently complain that, when startled, the fish jump up to six feet or more out of the water causing damage by landing in boats and causing human injuries, some of them serious (Chapman, 2004). People in some states of America such as western Kentucky, Missouri, and Illinois try to prevent H. molitrixfrom destroying sport and commercial fisheries, and endangering recreational boaters and water skiers.
In many other countries in the world silver carp is one of the important aquaculture species, especially in Asia. The world production of silver carp was 2.88 million tonnes in 1996. In eastern Europe, silver carp aquaculture occupied the second position with 31,637 tons (16.9%) after the common carp for 1998. The Russian Federation had the highest level of farming for Europe, silver carp (17,815 tons - 56% of the eastern Europe output) (Rana and Immink, unda; FAO and Eurofish Magazine, 2000).
Almost the entire production of carp is for the domestic markets for local consumption.
Environmental ImpactTop of page
In North America, silver carp are considered as an invasive species in about 13 states of the USA. Their presence in the Mississippi River drainage, which includes Missouri and Ohio rivers and their tributaries, is causing concern about their widespread and fast growth compared to the native fish. It is thought that silver carp have the potential of damaging the ecosystem by adversely affecting the food chain of the native fish. It is feared that they compete with the native fish for food and space. This concern is based on the fact that the silver carp and bighead carp exceed 90% of the commercial catch in Europe and Asia where they have been introduced. Although it is thought that there are no self-sustaining populations in New Zealand NIWA (2005), importation of broodstock of this species to New Zealand for breeding is not sanctioned.
As a filter feeder it is thought that H. molitrix competes with US native species such as paddlefish, bigmouth buffalo, freshwater clams and larval fish (USGS, 2004). Despite claims that H. molitrix reproduces naturally in the USA, there is little evidence of natural breeding and some suggest H. molitrix is restricted due to its ability to spawn successfully.
To reduce the spread of H. molitrix the US Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed including the species on the federal list of injurious species. The fear that this species may make its way to the Great Lakes and interrupt the US $4 billion fishing industry has prompted the US Army Corp of Engineers and the state of Illinois to build an electric barrier on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to stop H. molitrix moving form the Mississippi River watershed into the Great Lake watershed.
Because of the damage caused by H. molitrixin the United States, Canadian people and authorities have been trying to avoid them reaching their waterways, especially in the Great Lakes area. Hence the Great Lakes Fisheries and Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) (http://www.ofah.org) have been trying to raise the public awareness on the negative impact of silver carp on the wildlife and the possibility of escaping of this species form USA.
The eight Great Lakes states (and the Province of Ontario) are working together to develop a policy framework to prevent Asian carps from invading the Great Lakes. Currently, importation, rearing, and/or trade of live H. molitrix are severely restricted in all but Ontario and New York (where regulations are pending).
They warned that: if H. molitrix are allowed entry into the Great Lakes and connecting waters, they expect that the species will quickly and extensively establish itself in the Great Lakes and connected waters, as have other invasive species such as zebra mussels, gobies, sea lamprey, and alewife. The Great Lakes lie within the latitudes of the native range of H. molitrix. Moreover, H. molitrix have proven to be highly active in cold waters in the US, feeding at temperatures at least as low as 2.5°C.
Once in the Great Lakes, they believe that, migrating with and against currents and leaping over barriers, H. molitrix will quickly spread throughout the Great Lakes, its tributaries and connected waters.
It seems that H. molitrix, as well as in the above mentioned states, was also introduced in the Gulf of Mexico. Although this species is widespread throughout the Gulf states in most cases self-sustained populations have not been confirmed (Courtney et al., 1991).
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
- Has high reproductive potential
- Negatively impacts tourism
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
Uses ListTop of page
Animal feed, fodder, forage
- Live feed
Human food and beverage
- Live product for human consumption
ReferencesTop of page
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McDowall RM, 1990. New Zealand freshwater fishes, a natural history and guide., Heinemann Reed MAF Publication Group. 553 pp.
Pongruktham O, Ochs C, Hoover J J, 2010. Observations of silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) planktivory in a floodplain lake of the Lower Mississippi River basin. Journal of Freshwater Ecology. 25 (1), 85-93. http://www.jfreshwaterecol.com/
Sass G G, Cook T R, Irons K S, McClelland M A, Michaels N N, O'Hara T M, Stroub M R, 2010. A mark-recapture population estimate for invasive silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) in the La Grange Reach, Illinois River. Biological Invasions. 12 (3), 433-436. http://www.springerlink.com/content/3314733906525125/?p=23559a1534d64863b4123e27392e360a&pi=2 DOI:10.1007/s10530-009-9462-z
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31/03/2008 Updated by:
Tagried Kurwie, Mahurangi Technical Institute, 11 Glenmore Drive, Warkworth, New Zealand
Mahurangi Technical Institute, 11 Glenmore Drive, Warkworth, New Zealand
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