Carassius carassius (crucian carp)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Biology and Ecology
- Air Temperature
- Natural enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Pathway Vectors
- Impact Summary
- Impact: Economic
- Impact: Social
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Detection and Inspection
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Carassius carassius (Linnaeus, 1758)
Preferred Common Name
- crucian carp
Other Scientific Names
- Carassius carassius Berg, 1909
- Carassius charax (Lesniewski, 1837)
- Carassius humilis Heckel, 1840
- Carassius vulgaris Nilsson, 1832
- Cyprinopsis carassius Taczanowski, 1877
- Cyprinus carassius Linnaeus, 1759
International Common Names
- French: carassin commun
- Russian: zolotoj karas
Local Common Names
- Finland: kouri; ruutana
- Germany: Karausche
- Poland: karas pospolity
- Turkey: havuz baligi
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
There is very little information available which reports negative impacts associated with C. carassius, and it has therefore not been reported as an invasive species. However, numerous other invasive cyprinids are commonly misidentified as crucian carp such as gibel carp Carassius gibelio, the brown variety of goldfish Carassius auratus and the common carp Cyprinus carpio. In the UK its population is in decline through hybridization, habitat loss and competition with introduced species; and it has been designated locally for conservation action (Copp and Sayer, 2010; Sayer et al., 2011).
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Chordata
- Subphylum: Vertebrata
- Class: Actinopterygii
- Order: Cypriniformes
- Family: Cyprinidae
- Genus: Carassius
- Species: Carassius carassius
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
Carassius carassius has a long history of mis-identification, and its taxonomic status is reported to be confused. Throughout the scientific literature “crucian carp” is used to name species such as Carassius auratus (goldfish), Carassius gibelio (gibel carp) as well as Cyprinus carpio (common carp), with some authors including goldfish and gibel carp as a subspecies of C. carassius.
DescriptionTop of page
The distinctive features of C. carassius are a body that is usually deep and laterally compressed with an olive-grey colour on the back, grading to brassy green on the sides and dull brown on the body. There are 31–36 cycloid scales along the lateral line with a convex dorsal fin. This species usually ranges in total length from 20 to 45 cm, with a maximum of 50 cm (Maitland, 2004). It exhibits phenotypic plasticity under different environmental conditions (Robinson and Parsons, 2002).
DistributionTop of page
C. carassiusis a widely distributed cryptic benthic cyprinid that lives in ponds and lakes, with its native distribution encompassing much of north and central Europe stretching from the fresh waters of the North Sea and Baltic Sea basins across northern parts of France and Germany to the Alps and throughout the Danube basin, then eastwards to Siberia (Lelek, 1987).
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.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Armenia||Present||Native||Freyhof and Kottelat, 2008|
|Azerbaijan||Present||Native||Freyhof and Kottelat, 2008|
|Belgium||Present||Native||Verreycken et al., 2007|
|Bosnia-Hercegovina||Present||Native||Freyhof and Kottelat, 2008|
|Bulgaria||Present||Native||Freyhof and Kottelat, 2008|
|Czech Republic||Present||Native||Freyhof and Kottelat, 2008|
|Czechoslovakia (former)||Present||Native||Libosvárský, 1963|
|Denmark||Present||Native||Freyhof and Kottelat, 2008|
|Estonia||Present||Native||Freyhof and Kottelat, 2008|
|Finland||Present||Native||Holopainen and Pitkanen, 1985|
|France||Present||Introduced||Keith and Allardi, 1991|
|Germany||Present||Native||Freyhof and Kottelat, 2008|
|Hungary||Present||Native||Guti et al., 1991|
|Italy||Present||Native||Freyhof and Kottelat, 2008|
|Latvia||Present||Native||Freyhof and Kottelat, 2008|
|Liechtenstein||Present||Native||Freyhof and Kottelat, 2008|
|Lithuania||Present||Native||Freyhof and Kottelat, 2008|
|Luxembourg||Present||Native||Freyhof and Kottelat, 2008|
|Macedonia||Present||Native||Freyhof and Kottelat, 2008|
|Montenegro||Present||Native||Freyhof and Kottelat, 2008|
|Netherlands||Present||Native||Freyhof and Kottelat, 2008|
|Norway||Present||Native||Freyhof and Kottelat, 2008|
|Poland||Present||Native||Szczerbowski et al., 1998|
|Romania||Present||Native||Freyhof and Kottelat, 2008|
|Russian Federation||Present||Native||Freyhof and Kottelat, 2008|
|Serbia||Present||Native||Freyhof and Kottelat, 2008|
|Slovakia||Present||Native||Freyhof and Kottelat, 2008|
|Slovenia||Present||Native||Povž and Sket, 1990|
|Sweden||Present||Native||Freyhof and Kottelat, 2008|
|Switzerland||Present||Native||Freyhof and Kottelat, 2008|
|Ukraine||Present||Native||Movchan and Smirnov, 1983|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
There is very little data on the introduction of this species outside of its native range, though Crivelli (1995) provides some information for the Mediterranean region and Innal (2011) reviews the three Carassius species present in Turkey, where C. auratus and C. gibelio are introduced and C. carassius was previously considered to be non-native (Innal and Erk’akan, 2006) but has since been classed as native (Innal, 2011). It has been shown that C. carassius is translocated within its native range, e.g. Slovenia (Povž and Sket, 1990) and the United Kingdom for angling amenity (Sayer et al., 2011), however there is little evidence of adverse impacts in the receiving waters.
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
The physical similarity between C. carassius and C. gibelio and the natural brown variety of C. auratus results in these species being introduced accidentally either in mixed consignments or as mis-identified consignments (Wheeler, 2000; Hickley and Chare, 2004; Innal and Erk’akan, 2006). Therefore, the two main introduction pathways are via fish stocking (for angling) and transfers of ornamental fish.
Habitat ListTop of page
|Irrigation channels||Principal habitat|
|Rivers / streams||Secondary/tolerated habitat|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
The chromosome number is 100 (2n). There is well-documented evidence of hybridization between C. carassius and C. auratus (Hänfling et al., 2005), with declines reported for the former species (Sayer et al., 2011).
C. carassius are batch spawners. Spawning normally occurs when water temperatures reach 17–20°C (Aho and Holopainen, 2000), so in Northern latitudes of its native range, this is usually about May. As a batch spawning species, the reproductive period can last between 30 and 60 days (Aho and Holopainen, 2000). The length of the reproductive period and number of batches per season is dependent on the water temperatures in the spring and early summer. The number of batches varies from one to three (Aho and Holopainen, 2000). In England, the youngest mature crucian females and males were age 1+ (mean ages at maturity = 1.5 years), the smallest mature crucian were female (Tarkan et al., 2009), with almost all fish mature at age 3+. Crucian carp may reach maturity without spawning taking place immediately but one or more years later (Copp et al., 2008).
Physiology and Phenology
This species can live in different water bodies such as rivers, lakes, ponds and ditches with some variations and differentiations in characteristics. It is known to exhibit adaptive plasticity in morphology (Robinson and Parsons, 2002). Phenotypic variations observed within and among natural populations have been attributed to two proximate and interacting mechanisms: genetic differences among forms and environmentally-induced modifications of the phenotype during development, referred to as phenotypic plasticity (Schneiner, 1993). The phenotypic plasticity among C. carassius is known to be induced environmentally. Bronmark and Miner (1992) demonstrated that exposure of North European C. carassius populations to northern pike (Esox lucius), a large ambush predator of the littoral habitat, induced a deeper body form in this crucian carp as a predator induced defensive phenotypic variation.
C. carassius is tolerant of high summer temperatures (up to 35°C; Sollid et al., 2005) and very low oxygen levels in the water in both winter and summer periods. Northern European populations of C. carassius that inhabit small ponds, due to ice coverage, become hypoxic and finally anoxic for several months every winter (Holopainen et al., 1986). Its exceptional hypoxia and anoxia tolerance make it the sole fish species in this habitat (Sollid et al., 2003).
C. carassius can live to at least ten years of age (Tarkan et al. 2009).
Relatively little is know about the diel movements of the species, though a cessation of activity in winter and feeding activity restricted to summer has been reported (Holopainen et al., 1997). The species is generally considered cryptic, with off-shore activity highest during the day and inshore activity highest at night (Holopainen et al., 1997).
Population Size and Density
C. carassius populations are quite variable in growth, with some early authors referring to ‘C. carassius morpha humilis’, the so-called ‘dwarf’ (e.g. Cerný, 1971) or stunted forms (e.g. Szczerbowski et al., 1998) of the species. Variations in growth when existing with and without the congener C. auratus have also been investigated (Tarkan et al., 2010; Copp et al., 2010), as well as the long-term variations in growth of a single population revealed that year-class strength is positively correlated with water degree-days, and year-class strength negatively affected annual standard length increments. The results indicate that within a strong year class of C. carassius, the growth of individual fish is reduced compared with weak year classes, suggesting that density negatively affects growth in ponds where resources are limited (Tarkan et al., 2011).
ClimateTop of page
|Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year||Tolerated||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year|
|Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers|
|Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter||Preferred||Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)|
Air TemperatureTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit|
|Mean annual temperature (ºC)||35|
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
|Ardea herodias||Predator||All Stages||not specific|
|Esox lucius||Predator||All Stages|
|Lutra lutra||Predator||All Stages||not specific|
|Phalacrocorax carbo||Predator||All Stages||not specific|
|Sander lucioperca||Predator||All Stages||not specific|
|Silurus asotus||Predator||not specific|
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
As C. carassius is mainly a pond species, its natural dispersal is not known. It has been intentionally introduced for angling.
Pathway CausesTop of page
Pathway VectorsTop of page
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Fisheries / aquaculture||Positive|
Impact: EconomicTop of page
C. carassius is occasionally used in sports fisheries.
Impact: SocialTop of page
In addition to its value for individual fisheries, recreational fishing and tourism may create a demand not only for food, accommodation and transportation, but also for related recreational activities such as camping, boating, canoeing, etc; all of which may provide economic opportunities locally.
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Has a broad native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Is a habitat generalist
- Tolerant of shade
- Capable of securing and ingesting a wide range of food
- Long lived
Uses ListTop of page
- Botanical garden/zoo
- Pet/aquarium trade
- Sport (hunting, shooting, fishing, racing)
DiagnosisTop of page
A molecular genetic protocol was established in order to identify pure-bred crucian carp, goldfish, and common carp and reliably distinguish them from their hybrids and backcrosses of at least the first two generations. A set of five microsatellite markers with diagnostic allele size ranges for all three species was identified and optimized for cross-amplification among the different taxa (Hänfling et al., 2005).
Detection and InspectionTop of page
The only positive identification is through DNA analysis (Hänfling et al., 2005). It is difficult but possible to differentiate C. carassius from congeneric species using head bone analysis (Masson et al., 2011) and meristic characters such as numbers of lateral scales and gill rakers but these methods are not reliable when hybrids are present.
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
C. carassius has been confused with Carassius auratus (goldfish), Carassius gibelio (gibel carp) and Cyprinus carpio (common carp). In the wild, normal methods of morphometric examination have failed to identify this species correctly, with the brown variety of goldfish often mistakenly identified as crucian carp (Wheeler, 2000; Hickley and Chare, 2004). The crucian has a long history of translocations in many parts of Europe.
Prevention and ControlTop of page
There is no information on control measures for crucian carp. It is expected that it would be susceptible to rotenone.
Gaps in Knowledge/Research NeedsTop of page
C. carassius populations have been suspected of being in decline due to habitat destruction (Copp, 1991; Schwevers et al., 1999), acidification (Holopainen and Ikari, 1992), and non-native species introductions (Wheeler, 2000; Navodaru et al., 2002; Copp et al. 2010). This decline has been demonstrated for the English county of Norfolk (Sayer et al., 2011), leading to the species being designated locally as a Biodiversity Action Priority (BAP) species (Copp and Sayer, 2010) and highlighting the need for further research on the species. A concerted effort across Europe is needed to monitor the current state of crucian carp.
ReferencesTop of page
Bronmark C; Miner JG, 1992. Predator induced phenotypic change in body morphology in crucian carp. Science (Washington DC), 258:1348-1350.
Bronmark C; Paszkowski CA; Tonn WM; Hargeby A, 1995. Predation as a determinant of size structure in populations of crucian carp (Carassius carassius) and tench (Tinca tinca). Ecology of Freshwater Fish, 4:85-92.
Budakov L; Pujin V; Maletin S, 1981. Growth rate of Carassius carassius L. of some localities of SAP Vojvodina. Acta Biologica Iugoslavica. Serija E Ichthyologia (Belgrade), 13(1):11-20.
Cerný K, 1971. Growth and mortality of crucian carp-Carassius carassius (L.) morpha Humilis Heckel 1840, in the natural pond Mansfeldova in the central Elbe basin. Vestník Ceskoslovenské spolecnosti zoologické, 4:251-260.
Copp GH; Cerný J; Kovác V, 2008. Growth and morphology of an endangered native freshwater fish, crucian carp Carassius carassius, in an English ornamental pond. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 18(1):32-43. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/114294252/abstract
Copp GH; Sayer CD, 2010. Norfolk Biodiversity Action Plan - Local species action plan for crucian carp (Carassius carassius). Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership Reference: LS/3. Norfolk Biodiversity Action Plan - Local species action plan for crucian carp (Carassius carassius). Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership Reference: LS/3. Lowestoft, UK: Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science, 9 pp. http://www.cefas.co.uk/publications/miscellaneous-publications.aspx
Copp GH; Tarkan AS; Godard MJ; Edmonds NJ; Wesley KJ, 2010. Preliminary assessment of feral goldfish impacts on ponds, with particular reference to native crucian carp. Aquatic Invasions, 5(4):413-422. http://www.aquaticinvasions.net/2010/AI_2010_5_4_Copp_etal.pdf
Freyhof J; Kottelat M, 2008. Carassius carassius. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. http://www.iucnredlist.org
Freyhof J; Kottelat M, 2008. Carassius carassius. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. www.iucnredlist.org
Guti G; Andrikowics S; Bíró P, 1991. Food of pike (Esox lucius), mud minnow (Umbra krameri), crucian carp (Carassius carassius), catfish (Ictalurus nebulosus), pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus) at Ocsa bog, Hungary. Fischökologie, 4:45-66.
Hickley P; Chare S, 2004. Fisheries for non-native species in England: angling or the environment? Fisheries Management and Ecology, 11:203-212.
Holopainen IJ, 1992. The effects of low pH on planktonic communities. Case history of a small forest pond in eastern Finland. Ann. Zool. Fennici, 28:95-103.
Holopainen IJ; Hyvaerinen H; Piironen J, 1986. Anaerobic wintering of crucian carp (Carassius carassius L.). 2. Metabolic products. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A, 83A(2):239-242.
Holopainen IJ; Ikari A, 1992. Ecophysiological effects of temporary acidifcation on crucian carp, Carassius carassius (L.): a case history of a forest pond in eastern Finland. Ann. Zool. Fennici, 29:29-38.
Holopainen IJ; Pitkanen AK, 1985. Population size and structure of crucian carp (Carassius carassius (L.)) in two small natural ponds in Finland. Ann. Zool. Fennici, 22:397-406.
Holopainen IJ; Tonn WM; Pasakowski CA, 1991. Ecological responses of crucian carp populations to predation by perch in a manipulated pond. Verb. Internat. Verein. Limnol, 24:2412-2417.
Holopainen IJ; Tonn WM; Paszkowski CA, 1992. Effects of fish density on planktonic communities and water quality in a manipulated forest pond. Hydobiologia, 243/244:311-321.
Holopainen IJ; Tonn WM; Paszkowski CA; Pitkanen AK, 1988. Habitat use, diel activity, and growth of crucian carp in a manipulated pond. Verb. Internat. Verein. Limnol, 21:1743-1750.
Holopainen IJ; Tonn WM; Paszkowski TC, 1997. Tales of two fish: the dichotomous biology of crucian carp (Carrassius carassius (L.)) in Northern Europe. Annales Zoologica Fennici, 34:1-22.
Holopanienen IJ; Hyvarinen H; Piironen J, 1986. Anaerobic wintering of crucian carp (Carassius carassius L.) - 2. Metabolic products. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Physiology, 83(2):230-242.
Hänfling B; Bolton P; Harley M; Carvalho GR, 2005. A molecular approach to detect hybridisation between crucian carp (Carassius carassius) and non-indigenous carp species (Carassius spp. and Cyprinus carpio). Freshwater Biology, 50(3):403-417. http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/servlet/useragent?func=showIssues&code=fwb
Innal D, 2011. Distribution and impacts of Carassius species (Cyprinidae) in Turkey: a review. Management of Biological Invasions, 2:57-68.
Innal D; Erk'akan F, 2006. Effect of exotic and translocated fish species in the inland waters of Turkey. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries, 16:39-50.
Keith P; Allardi J, 2001. Atlas des poissons d'eau douce de France. Patrimoines Naturels, 47:387.
Libosvárský J, 1963. Age and growth of the crucian carp, Carassius carassius (L.) in some Czechoslovakian waters. Zool. Listy, 12:239-258.
Maitland PS; Campbell RN, 1992. Freshwater fishes of the British Isles. London: Harper Collins, 420 pp.
Masson L; Almeida D; Tarkan AS; Önsoy B; Miranda R; Godard MJ; Copp GH, 2011. Diagnostic features and biometry of head bones for identifying Carassius species in faecal and archaeological remains. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 27:1286-1290.
Movchan YUV; Smirnov AL, 1983. Fauna Ukrainy, Vol. 8, Ryby, Issue 2, Koropovi, Part 2 (Fauna of Ukraine, Vol. 8, Fishes, Issue 2, Cyprinids, Part 2). Kiev, Ukraine: Naukova Dumka.
Navodaru I; Buijse AD; Staras M, 2002. Effects of hydrology and water quality on the fish community in Danube delta lakes. International Review of Hydrobiology, 87:329-348.
Povž M; Sket B, 1990. Naše Sladkovodne Ribe ([English title not available]). Ljubljana: Mladinska knjiga, 370.
Robinson BW; Parsons KJ, 2002. Changing times, spaces, and faces: tests and implications of adaptive morphological plasticity in the fishes of northern postglacial lakes. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci., 59:1819-1833.
Sayer CD; Copp GH; Emson D; Godard MJ; Ziacedilla~ba G; Wesley KJ, 2011. Towards the conservation of crucian carp Carassius carassius: understanding the extent and causes of decline within part of its native English range. Journal of Fish Biology, 79(6):1608-1624. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1095-8649
Schneiner SM, 1993. Genetics and evolution of phenotypic plasticity. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 24:35-68.
Schwevers AB; Gumpinger C, 1999. [English title not available]. (Zur Bedeutung von Auegewässern für die Fischfauna von Bundeswasserstrassen.) Wasser und Boden, 51(6):35-39.
Sollid J; De Angelis P; Gundersen K; Nilsson E, 2003. Hypoxia induces adaptive and reversible grossmorphological changes in crucian carp gills. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 206:3667-3673.
Szczerbowski A; Zakes Z; Luczynski MJ; Szkudlarek M, 1998. Variability of meristic and biometric features of crucian carp Carassius carassius (Linnaeus 1758). Archives of Polish Fisheries, 6:67-81.
Tarkan AS; Copp GH; Zieba G; Godard MJ; Cucherousset J, 2009. Growth and reproduction of threatened native crucian carp Carassius carassius in small ponds of Epping Forest, south-east England. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 19(7):797-805. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/122264531/abstract
Tarkan AS; Cucherousset J; Zieba G; Godard MJ; Copp GH, 2010. Growth and reproduction of introduced goldfish Carassius auratus in small ponds of southeast England with and without native crucian carp Carassius carassius. Journal of Applied Ichthyology [Alien species in aquaculture and fisheries. Proceedings of a conference Managing Alien Species for Sustainable Development of Aquaculture and Fisheries (MALIAF), University of Florence, Italy, 5-7 November 2008.], 26(s2):102-108. http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/loi/jai
Tarkan AS; Gaygusuz O; Godard MJ; Copp GH, 2011. Density-dependent basis of long-term growth patterns in a pond-dwelling population of crucian carp Carassius carassius. Fisheries Management & Ecology, 18:375-383.
Verreycken H; Anseeuw D; Thuyne Gvan; Quataert P; Belpaire C, 2007. The non-indigenous freshwater fishes of Flanders (Belgium): review, status and trends over the last decade. Journal of Fish Biology, 71(Suppl. D):160-172. http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1095-8649.2007.01679.x
Wheeler AC, 2000. Status of the crucian carp, Carassius carassius (L.), in the UK. Fisheries Management & Ecology, 7:315-322.
Zhukov PI, 1965. Ryby Belarusii (Fishes of Belarus). Minsk, Belalrus: Nauka i Technika.
OrganizationsTop of page
UK: Bedwell Fisheries Services, Bedwell Fisheries Services, 22 Puttocks Drive, Welham Green, Herts AL9 7LP
UK: Cefas, Parkfield Road, Lowestoft, Suffolk, NR33 0HT, http://www.cefas.jobs/locations/lowestoft.html
ContributorsTop of page
25/05/12 Original text by:
Michael Godard, CEFAS, Salmon and Freshwater Team, Pakefield Road, Lowestoft, Suffolk, NR33 0HT, UK Gordon Copp, CEFAS, Salmon and Freshwater Team, Pakefield Road, Lowestoft, Suffolk, NR33 0HT, UK
Gordon Copp, CEFAS, Salmon and Freshwater Team, Pakefield Road, Lowestoft, Suffolk, NR33 0HT, UK Gordon Copp, CEFAS, Salmon and Freshwater Team, Pakefield Road, Lowestoft, Suffolk, NR33 0HT, UK
Reviewers' names are available on request.
Distribution MapsTop of page
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