Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Aristichthys nobilis
(bighead carp)

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Datasheet

Aristichthys nobilis (bighead carp)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 14 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Animal
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Aristichthys nobilis
  • Preferred Common Name
  • bighead carp
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Chordata
  •       Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •         Class: Actinopterygii
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • In the USA, bighead carp began to appear in open public waters in the early 1980s most likely due to escapement from aquaculture facilities and fish farms (

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Aristichthys nobilis; adult fish in hand. (Picture by kind permission of John D. Lyons/Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources http://wiscfish.org/)
TitleFish in hand
CaptionAristichthys nobilis; adult fish in hand. (Picture by kind permission of John D. Lyons/Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources http://wiscfish.org/)
Copyright©John D. Lyons/Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Aristichthys nobilis; adult fish in hand. (Picture by kind permission of John D. Lyons/Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources http://wiscfish.org/)
Fish in handAristichthys nobilis; adult fish in hand. (Picture by kind permission of John D. Lyons/Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources http://wiscfish.org/)©John D. Lyons/Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
A newly excavated earthen carp pond. Greater Mymensingh, Bangladesh.|A newly excavated pond for carp cultivation, Bangladesh.|A newly excavated pond.
TitleExcavated pond
CaptionA newly excavated earthen carp pond. Greater Mymensingh, Bangladesh.|A newly excavated pond for carp cultivation, Bangladesh.|A newly excavated pond.
CopyrightLuke A. Colavito
A newly excavated earthen carp pond. Greater Mymensingh, Bangladesh.|A newly excavated pond for carp cultivation, Bangladesh.|A newly excavated pond.
Excavated pondA newly excavated earthen carp pond. Greater Mymensingh, Bangladesh.|A newly excavated pond for carp cultivation, Bangladesh.|A newly excavated pond.Luke A. Colavito

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Aristichthys nobilis (Richardson, 1845)

Preferred Common Name

  • bighead carp

Other Scientific Names

  • Cephalus hypophthalmus Steindachner, 1866
  • Hypophthalmichthys mantschuricus Kner, 1867
  • Hypophthalmichthys nobilis (Richardson, 1845)
  • Hypophthalmichthys simony Bleeker, 1879
  • Leuciscus nobilis Richardson, 1845

International Common Names

  • English: big head; big head carp; bighead; carp, bighead
  • Spanish: carpa cabeza grande; carpa cabezona; carpa macrocéfala; carpa orgullosa
  • French: amour à grosse tête; amour marbré; carpe à grosse tête; carpe chinoise; carpe marbrée
  • Russian: pestryi tolstolob; piestryi tolstolobik
  • Chinese: twa tow; yung-ju

Local Common Names

  • Albania: ballgjeri laraman
  • Bulgaria: pastar tolstolob
  • China/Hong Kong: big head; boon tau ue; dai tau; fa lin; hak lin; sung ue
  • Czech Republic: tolstolebec pastry; tolstolobec pastry; tolstolobec pestrý; tolstolobik pastry
  • Denmark: marmor karpe
  • Finland: marmoripaksuotsa
  • Former USSR: piostryi tolstolobik
  • Germany: Gefleckter Silberkarpfen; Gefleckter Silberkarpten; Marmorkarpfen
  • Greece: marmarokyprinos
  • Hungary: pettyes busa
  • India: belli-gende; big head; bighead carp
  • Iran: kapoor-e-sargondeh
  • Italy: carpa dalla testa grande; carpa macrocefala; temolo russo
  • Japan: kokuren
  • Malaysia: bighead carp; kap kepala besar; tongsan
  • Mexico: carpa cabezona
  • Netherlands: grootkop karper; grootkopkarper
  • Philippines: bighead; bighead carp
  • Poland: tolpyga pstra; tolpygi pestrej
  • Romania: crap argintiu nobil; crap-argintiu-patat; hipo; novac
  • Russian Federation: bighead; pestryi tolstolob
  • Slovakia: tolstolob pastry; tolstolob pestrý
  • Sri Lanka: bighead carp
  • Sweden: marmorkarp
  • Taiwan: bighead carp
  • Thailand: pla song hea; pla song heu; pla tao teo
  • Ukraine: piestryi tolstolobik; tovstolob strokatyi
  • USA: bighead carp
  • Vietnam: cá mè hoa

Summary of Invasiveness

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In the USA, bighead carp began to appear in open public waters in the early 1980s most likely due to escapement from aquaculture facilities and fish farms (Jennings, 1988; Ramussen, 2000a; Schrank and Guy, 2002; Nico and Fuller, 2005). Reproduction of bighead carp in the Mississippi River system was first documented in 1989. The bighead carp have reportedly become well established in the Missouri River and their proportion in the commercial harvest has increased since 1990. Bighead carp are now found within or along the borders of at least 23 states in the USA and are reportedly growing in number in many midwestern rivers (Ramussen, 2000a; Nico and Fuller, 2005, 2010). Hence, there is a vigorous campaign in the USA, coordinated by the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force, against the spread of non-native, invasive fish species, which includes bighead carp, for the protection of native species and biodiversity. Moreover, state code and permit programmes control the importation, stocking, sale and possession of bighead carp in some states (Ramussen, 2000a, b). More recently, four bighead carp have been reportedly caught in Lake Erie and there are valid reasons to be concerned that the fish might soon become established in the Great Lakes (Egan, 2004).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Chordata
  •             Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •                 Class: Actinopterygii
  •                     Order: Cypriniformes
  •                         Family: Cyprinidae
  •                             Genus: Aristichthys
  •                                 Species: Aristichthys nobilis

Description

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The bighead carp has a disproportionately big head and mouth. It has a deep, laterally compressed body with small, cycloid scales (Jennings, 1988; NACA, 1989). There are 98-100 scales found in the lateral line, 26-28 scale rows above the lateral line, and 16-17 scale rows below the lateral line (Jennings, 1988). The snout is short and blunt. The eyes are small, projecting downward, and located anteriorly on the head, below the midline of the body. The abdominal keel of the bighead carp is shorter than that of silver carp and it extends from the base of the ventral (pelvic) fin to the anus (NACA, 1989). The tip of the pectoral fin reaches beyond the origin of the ventral fin (i.e., about one-third to two-fifths of the base of the ventral fin). The dorsal fin origin is distinctly behind the ventral fin insertion. The fins of small specimens lack spines. Large specimens have a stiff, non-serrate spine at the dorsal fin origin and a slightly stiff spine at anal fin origin. Fin formula for dorsal fin is 3,7; pectoral fin, 1,17; ventral fin, 1,8; and anal fin, 3, 12-13 (Anon, 1980; FAO, 2005).

Bighead carp are heterosexual. External sexual dimorphism can be ascertained by examining the pectoral fins (Jennings, 1988; NACA, 1989). Front rays of the pectoral fins of male bighead carp have a sharp edge along the dorsal surface. The pectoral fins of female fish are smooth. It is easier to distinguish a male from a female fish during spawning season. Mature males have a rough (sandpaper-like) body surface and they develop callosities on the pectoral fins. Mature females are smooth to the touch.

Live bighead carp appears light black on the dorsal and upper sides of the body due to numerous irregularly shaped black spots or blotches distributed along its sides. Juvenile bighead carp have a silvery white body until they are about 8 weeks old when dark blotches start to appear. The ventral surface of bighead carp is silvery white. The largest specimen found thus far is 40 kg (NACA, 1989).

Distribution

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The bighead carp is native to eastern China, the lowland rivers of the North China Plain and South China (Jennings, 1988). Bighead carp has been introduced to many countries and is considered to have attained near global distribution. Introductions of bighead carp to most countries are actually secondary or tertiary transfers from countries other than China. Considering their native range in China that includes temperate, subtropical and tropical zones, bighead carp can tolerate extremes in water temperature and high turbidity and can therefore be cultured in many areas. However, it has not become established in the wild outside of China, except in Soviet Union, Japan, some countries along Danube River in Europe and some states in the USA (Jennings, 1988; FishBase, 2004; Nico and Fuller, 2005), probably due to strict requirements for reproduction in natural bodies of waters. In other countries, stocks are maintained by artificial propagation or by continuous importation and stocking. Bighead carp are used mainly for aquaculture especially in low-input systems. In other cases, bighead carp are stocked along with silver carp in eutrophic natural bodies of waters and aquaculture systems in order to improve water quality. It has also been reported to support an important sport fishery (Welcomme, 1981; FishBase, 2004).

Introduction of bighead carp in some European countries (e.g., Hungary and England) was initially inadvertent; bighead carp were mixed with shipments of grass carp (Jennings, 1888). Subsequent introductions, however, were intentional for use in culture and/or nutrient removal (Stott and Buckley, 1978; Jennings, 1988). Similarly, initial introduction of bighead carp in India was accidental and the fish were confined to a fish farm of a government institute but they totally disappeared later (Shetty et al., 1989). Bighead carp reappeared in 1987 most likely through private trade from Bangladesh.

In the USA, bighead carp were first brought to Arkansas in 1972 by a private fish farmer who wanted to use them in combination with other fishes to improve water quality and increase production in catfish culture ponds (Jennings, 1988; Nico and Fuller, 2005). 2 years later, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission began to evaluate the potential impact of bighead carp (and other Chinese carps) on the environment and their beneficial characteristics. Fisheries personnel of Auburn University also obtained bighead carp stocks in 1974 to assess their potential in polyculture with other fish species already being cultured in the USA (Cremer and Smitherman, 1980). Years later, bighead carp have found their way to large natural bodies of water covering many states (Nico and Fuller, 2005, 2010).

Distribution Table

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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/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

ArmeniaPresentIntroducedFishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
BangladeshPresentIntroduced Not invasive FishBase, 2004
BhutanPresentIntroducedFishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
Brunei DarussalamPresentIntroducedFishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
CambodiaPresentIntroducedFishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
ChinaPresentNativeJennings, 1988; NACA, 1989; Froese and Pauly, 2004
-FujianPresentNative Not invasive NACA, 1989
-GuangxiPresentNative Not invasive NACA, 1989
-Hong KongPresentIntroducedFishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
-JiangxiPresentCAB ABSTRACTS Data Mining 2001
-XinjiangPresentNative Not invasive FishBase, 2004
-ZhejiangPresentNative Not invasive NACA, 1989; FishBase, 2004
IndiaPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
IndonesiaPresentIntroducedJennings, 1988; Froese and Pauly, 2004
IranPresentIntroducedFishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
IraqPresentIntroducedFAO, 1997; FishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
IsraelPresentIntroducedJennings, 1988; FishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
JapanPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; Chiba et al., 1989; FishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
JordanPresentIntroduced Not invasive FishBase, 2004
Korea, Republic ofPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; FishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
LaosPresentIntroducedFishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
MalaysiaPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; FishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
MyanmarPresentIntroducedFishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
NepalPresentIntroducedFishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
PakistanPresentIntroducedFishBase, 2004
PhilippinesPresentIntroducedFishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
SingaporePresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; Chou and Lam, 1989; FishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
Sri LankaPresentIntroducedFishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
TaiwanPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; FishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
ThailandPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; Piyakarnchana, 1989; FishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
TurkeyPresentIntroducedJennings, 1988
TurkmenistanPresentIntroducedFishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
UzbekistanPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
VietnamPresentIntroducedFishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004

Africa

AlgeriaPresentIntroducedFishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
EgyptPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; FishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
MoroccoPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; FishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
MozambiquePresentIntroduced Not invasive FishBase, 2004

North America

MexicoPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; FishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
USAPresentIntroducedJennings, 1988; FishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
-AlabamaPresentIntroducedNico and Fuller, 2005
-ArizonaPresentIntroducedNico and Fuller, 2010
-ArkansasPresentIntroducedNico and Fuller, 2005
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedNico and Fuller, 2005
-ColoradoPresentIntroducedNico and Fuller, 2005
-ConnecticutPresentIntroducedNico and Fuller, 2005
-FloridaPresentIntroducedNico and Fuller, 2005
-GeorgiaPresentIntroducedNico and Fuller, 2005
-IllinoisPresentIntroducedNico and Fuller, 2005
-IndianaPresentIntroducedNico and Fuller, 2005
-IowaPresentIntroducedNico and Fuller, 2005
-KansasPresentIntroducedNico and Fuller, 2005
-KentuckyPresentIntroducedNico and Fuller, 2005
-LouisianaPresentIntroducedNico and Fuller, 2005
-MinnesotaPresentIntroducedNico and Fuller, 2005
-MississippiPresentIntroducedNico and Fuller, 2005
-MissouriPresentIntroducedNico and Fuller, 2005
-NebraskaPresentIntroducedNico and Fuller, 2005
-OhioPresentIntroducedNico and Fuller, 2005
-OklahomaPresentIntroducedNico and Fuller, 2005
-South DakotaPresentIntroducedNico and Fuller, 2005
-TennesseePresentIntroducedNico and Fuller, 2005
-TexasPresentIntroducedNico and Fuller, 2005
-VirginiaPresentIntroducedNico and Fuller, 2010
-West VirginiaPresentIntroducedNico and Fuller, 2005

Central America and Caribbean

Costa RicaPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; FishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
CubaPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; FishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; FishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
PanamaPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; FishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004

South America

BoliviaPresentIntroduced Not invasive FishBase, 2004
BrazilPresentIntroducedFishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
ColombiaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Welcomme, 1988; FishBase, 2004
PeruPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; FishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004

Europe

AlbaniaPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; FishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
AustriaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Welcomme, 1988; FishBase, 2004; NOBANIS, 2011
BelarusPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2011
BulgariaPresentIntroducedJennings, 1988; Welcomme, 1988; FishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
CroatiaPresentNativeFroese and Pauly, 2004
Czech RepublicPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; FishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
DenmarkPresentIntroducedFishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004; NOBANIS, 2011
EstoniaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2011; NOBANIS, 2011Established
FrancePresentIntroducedFishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
GermanyPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; FishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004; NOBANIS, 2011
GreecePresentIntroduced Not invasive FishBase, 2004
HungaryPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; FishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
ItalyPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; FishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
LatviaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2011; NOBANIS, 2011Established
LithuaniaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2011; NOBANIS, 2011
NetherlandsPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; FishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
PolandPresentIntroducedJennings, 1988; FishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004; NOBANIS, 2011
RomaniaPresentIntroducedFishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
Russian FederationPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; FishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
SerbiaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2011Established
SlovakiaPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; FishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
SloveniaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2011
SwedenPresentIntroducedFishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004; NOBANIS, 2011
SwitzerlandPresentIntroduced Invasive FishBase, 2004
UKPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-England and WalesIntroduced, not establishedDAISIE, 2011
UkrainePresentIntroducedFishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
Yugoslavia (former)PresentIntroduced Not invasive Welcomme, 1988; FishBase, 2004
Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)PresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004

Oceania

FijiPresentIntroducedJennings, 1988; Welcomme, 1988; FishBase, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004
GuamPresentIntroducedFishBase, 2004

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Alabama 1974 Research (pathway cause)UnknownCremer and Smitherman (1980)
Albania Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown Yes FishBase (2004)
Algeria Hungary 1985 Fisheries (pathway cause) ,
Research (pathway cause)
Government Yes FishBase (2004)
Arkansas Taiwan 1972 Private sectorJennings (1988)
Armenia Uzbekistan Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown Yes FishBase (2004)
Armenia Moldova Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown Yes FishBase (2004)
Armenia Russian Federation Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown Yes FishBase (2004)
Austria Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownFishBase (2004)
Bangladesh Nepal 1981 Aquaculture (pathway cause) ,
Research (pathway cause)
UnknownFishBase (2004)
Bangladesh India 1987 Aquaculture (pathway cause) ,
Fisheries (pathway cause)
GovernmentFishBase (2004)
Bhutan Nepal 1983 Aquaculture (pathway cause)International organisationFishBase (2004)
Bolivia Israel 1975 Aquaculture (pathway cause)GovernmentFishBase (2004)
Brazil China 1979 Aquaculture (pathway cause) ,
Research (pathway cause)
UnknownFishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)
Brazil Hungary 1983 Aquaculture (pathway cause)GovernmentFishBase (2004)
Brunei Darussalam Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownFishBase (2004)
Bulgaria 1964 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownJennings (1988)
Bulgaria 1964 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown Yes FishBase (2004)
Cambodia Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown Yes FishBase (2004)
Colombia Taiwan 1988 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownFishBase (2004); Welcomme (1988)
Costa Rica Taiwan 1976 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownFishBase (2004)
Costa Rica Taiwan 1976 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownJennings (1988)
Cuba Former USSR 1968 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownFishBase (2004)
Czech Republic Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown Yes FishBase (2004)
Czechoslovakia (former) Hungary 1963 UnknownJennings (1988)
Denmark Unknown Yes FishBase (2004)
Dominican Republic Taiwan 1981 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownFishBase (2004)
Dominican Republic Taiwan 1981 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownFishBase (2004)
Egypt China 1975 Aquaculture (pathway cause) ,
Research (pathway cause)
UnknownFishBase (2004)
England and Wales Austria 1975 UnknownJennings (1988)
Fiji Malaysia 1968 Aquaculture (pathway cause) ,
Research (pathway cause)
UnknownFishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)
Former USSR China 1949+ Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownBardach et al. (1972); Jennings (1988)
Former USSR 1954 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownFishBase (2004)
France Asia 1975 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown Yes FishBase (2004)
France Hungary 1975 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown Yes FishBase (2004)
Germany Hungary 1964 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownFishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)
Greece UnknownFishBase (2004)
Guam UnknownFishBase (2004)
Hong Kong Aquaculture (pathway cause)GovernmentFishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)
Hungary China 1963-1964 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownJennings (1988)
Hungary China 1963 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown Yes FishBase (2004)
Hungary Former USSR 1968 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownJennings (1988)
Hungary Former USSR 1963 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown Yes FishBase (2004)
India Bangladesh 1987 Aquaculture (pathway cause) ,
Fisheries (pathway cause)
Government|Private sectorFishBase (2004); Shetty et al. (1989)
Indonesia Japan 1964 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownJennings (1988)
Iran Aquaculture (pathway cause) ,
Fisheries (pathway cause)
Unknown Yes Yes FishBase (2004); Salehi (2004)
Iran Aquaculture (pathway cause) ,
Fisheries (pathway cause)
Unknown Yes FishBase (2004)
Iraq 1966-1969 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Government Yes FishBase (2004)
Iraq 1966-1969 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Government Yes FishBase (2004)
Israel Germany 1972 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownJennings (1988); Rothbard (1981)
Israel Germany 1973 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownFishBase (2004); Golani and Mires (2000); Golani and Mires (2000)
Israel Germany 1973 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownFishBase (2004); Golani and Mires (2000); Golani and Mires (2000)
Italy Eastern Europe 1975 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause)Unknown Yes FishBase (2004)
Japan China 1915-1945 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown Yes FishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)
Japan China 1878-1940 Fisheries (pathway cause)Unknown Yes Chiba and et al. (1989); Chiba et al. (1989)
Jordan Germany 1973 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownFishBase (2004)
Jordan Germany 1973 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownFishBase (2004)
Korea, Republic of Taiwan 1963 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownFishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)
Laos Japan 1968 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownJennings (1988)
Laos Unknown Yes FishBase (2004)
Malaysia China 1800s Aquaculture (pathway cause)Private sectorAng and et al. (1989); Ang et al. (1989); FishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)
Mexico Cuba 1975 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown Yes FishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)
Morocco Hungary 1981 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown
Mozambique Cuba 1991 Aquaculture (pathway cause) ,
Fisheries (pathway cause)
International organisationFishBase (2004)
Myanmar Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownFishBase (2004)
Nepal Hungary 1972 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownJennings (1988)
Nepal Hungary 1971 Aquaculture (pathway cause)GovernmentFishBase (2004)
Netherlands Germany 1983 Aquaculture (pathway cause) ,
Interconnected waterways (pathway cause)
Unknown Yes FishBase (2004); Welcomme (1988)
Pakistan China UnknownFishBase (2004)
Panama Taiwan 1978 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownFishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)
Peru Panama 1979 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownFishBase (2004)
Peru Israel 1979 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownFishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)
Philippines Taiwan 1968 Aquaculture (pathway cause)GovernmentJennings (1988); Juliano and et al. (1989); Juliano et al. (1989)
Poland Former USSR 1964 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownJennings (1988)
Poland Former USSR 1965 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Government Yes FishBase (2004)
Romania 1959 UnknownJennings (1988)
Romania China 1960-1962 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Government Yes FishBase (2004)
Russian Federation 1954 Unknown Yes FishBase (2004)
Singapore China 1960s Aquaculture (pathway cause)Private sectorFishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)
Slovakia Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown Yes FishBase (2004)
Sri Lanka China 1948 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownFishBase (2004)
Sweden Interconnected waterways (pathway cause)Unknown Yes FishBase (2004)
Switzerland 1970 GovernmentFishBase (2004)
Taiwan China Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownFishBase (2004); Jennings (1988); Liao and Lia (1989); Liao and Lia (1989); Liao and Liu (1989)
Thailand China 1913; 1932 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Private sector Yes FishBase (2004); Jennings (1988); Piyakarnchana (1989); Piyakarnchana (1989)
Turkey Romania 1972 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownJennings (1988)
Turkmenistan China Unknown Yes FishBase (2004)
Ukraine UnknownFishBase (2004)
USA Taiwan 1972 Research (pathway cause)Unknown Yes Cremer and Smitherman (1980); FishBase (2004); Henderson (1978); Nico and Fuller (2005)
Vietnam China 1958 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Government Yes FishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)
Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) Romania 1963 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownFishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)
Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) Hungary 1963 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownFishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)
Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) Former USSR 1963 Aquaculture (pathway cause)UnknownFishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

Marian and Krasznai (1979) found that the bighead carp, grass carp and silver carp all have a diploid chromosome (2n) number of 48. However, bighead carp and grass carp have 10 pairs of metacentrics, 8 pairs of submetacentrics and 6 pairs of telocentrics whereas the silver carp have 11 metacentric, 7 submetacentric and 6 telocentric pairs of chromosomes (Marian and Krasznai, 1979).

Natural Food Sources

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Food SourceLife StageContribution to Total Food Intake (%)Details
chironomids Adult/Broodstock/Fry
detritus Adult/Broodstock/Fry up to 100
infusoria (protozoans) Adult/Broodstock/Fry/Larval
phytoplankton (diatoms, phytoflagellates, blue-green algae) Adult/Broodstock/Fry
zooplankton (rotifers, copepods, cladocerans) Adult/Broodstock/Fry/Larval up to 100

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
A - Tropical/Megathermal climate Preferred 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 Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 20 30
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) -30 16

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Bufo bufo gargarizans Predator Fry Anonymous, 1980
Cybister Predator Fry Anonymous, 1980
Cyclops Predator Larval Anonymous, 1970; Jennings, 1988
Eretes Predator Fry Anonymous, 1980
Esox lucius Predator Adult/Fry Jennings, 1988; Negonovskaya, 1980
Hemiptera Predator Larval Anonymous, 1970; Jennings, 1988
Hydaticus Predator Larval Chen, 1976; Jennings, 1988
Leuciscus idus Predator Adult/Fry Jennings, 1988; Negonovskaya, 1980
Notonecta Predator Fry Anonymous, 1980
Odonata Predator Larval Anonymous, 1970; Jennings, 1988
Perca fluviatilis Predator Adult/Fry Jennings, 1988; Negonovskaya, 1980
Rana tigerina rugulosa Predator Fry Anonymous, 1980
Rhacopherus leucomystax Predator Fry Anonymous, 1980
Sander lucioperca Predator Adult/Fry Jennings, 1988; Negonovskaya, 1980

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Aquaculture Yes
Escape from confinement or garden escape Yes

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Biodiversity (generally) Negative
Environment (generally) Positive
Fisheries / aquaculture Positive
Human health Positive
Other Positive

Economic Impact

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Beneficial effects of bighead carp in terms of increase in fish production and uplift in socioeconomic conditions have been reported for many countries (e.g., in Asia: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam; in Europe: Hungary, Poland, Romania; Africa: Algeria; and in Panama, Bolivia, Fiji) (FishBase, 2004). In Vietnam, the introduction of bighead carp contributed to the changes in the diversity of cultured fish species and fish community structure. Being a zooplankton feeder, fast grower, and highly fecund fish that easily responds to induced breeding, the bighead carp has rapidly become an important aquaculture species contributing about 15-20% of total fish production in reservoirs and natural lakes in the country (Lever, 1996). In Hungary, bighead carp is the most important among the Chinese carps and has become next to common carp, Cyprinus carpio, in importance as aquaculture species in 1975 (Jennings, 1988). In Singapore, bighead carp was among the introduced carp species that formed the basis for aquaculture after 1945. However, aquaculture in general has become an uneconomic activity years later due to rising land demand and land values in the country (Chou and Lam, 1989).

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Habitats

Jennings (1988) reported various works in Soviet Union wherein bighead carp, silver carp and grass carp have been used extensively in the management of inland waters that resulted to the prevention of intense blooms of phytoplankton particularly blue-green algae, and the increase in biomass of zoobenthos especially chironomids. Introduction of filter-feeding fish (silver carp, bighead carp, and their hybrid) in irrigation reservoirs prevented blooms of blue-green algae and reduced the concentration of filamentous algae as well as that of copepods and cladocerans (Sagi, 1992). In a shallow lake in India, the introduction of silver carp, bighead carp and tilapia O. niloticus led to a 60-93% decrease in the Microcystis population with bighead carp being next only to silver carp in grazing efficiency (Data and Jana, 1998). However, nutrient enrichment also occurred in the system (ichthyoeutrophication), but was attributed mainly to the faecal waste of tilapia. Although bighead carp was introduced to Switzerland to control zooplankton and phytoplankton, further introduction of bighead carp is banned since 1994 due to adverse ecological interaction (FishBase, 2004).

Impact on Biodiversity

The effect of bighead carp on biodiversity in many countries has not been well assessed or is not adequately known (FishBase, 2004; Nico and Fuller, 2005). However, it has been suggested that because bighead carp are known to consume large amounts of zooplankton, blue-green algae, and insect larvae and adults, and they attain a large size, they have the potential to deplete zooplankton populations. Thus they compete with the populations of native species that rely on plankton for food. These include all larval fishes, some adult fishes, and mussels. In the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, for example, the adults of paddlefish, Polyodon spathula, bigmouth buffalo, Ictiobus cyprinellus, and gizzard shad, Dorosoma petenense, are considered most at risk from such competition for food (Tucker et al., 1998; Schrank et al., 2003; Nico and Fuller, 2005). In India, bighead carp is considered a threat to catla, Catla catla, an Indian major carp. This is because bighead carp and catla have very similar feeding habits (Shetty et al., 1989). Silver carp and bighead carp have been reported to be capable of hybridizing in the wild (Fuller, 2005). Although they most closely resemble the bighead carp, the hybrids have traits intermediate between the parental species (Jennings, 1988). The hybrids are more omnivorous than the parents, which is not desirable in polyculture because they would compete with other fish species for food.

Social Impact

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The increase in fish production attributed to bighead carp represents an additional source of cheap and much needed protein for the improvement of human nutrition in many countries. Bighead carp hatcheries and growout farms provide jobs that help upgrade the standard of living of the workers and their families. In China where carps are cultured in integrated systems, more jobs become available because of the varied nature of work in integrated farming of fish and other crops (NACA, 1989). In an advanced country such as the USA, bighead carp in polyculture with channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus, are an important source of additional income for catfish producers especially when catfish prices are low (Stone et al., 2000).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Impact outcomes
  • Reduced native biodiversity
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Live feed

General

  • Aquaria fish

Human food and beverage

  • Canned meat
  • Cured meat
  • Eggs (roe)
  • Fish meal
  • Fish oil
  • Fresh meat
  • Frozen meat
  • Live product for human consumption
  • Whole

Materials

  • Fertilizer

References

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Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
Eurofish Magazinehttp://www.eurofish.dk/indexSub.php?id=597
Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commissionhttp://nis.gsmfc.org/
Johnny Jensen's Photographic Libraryhttp://www.jjphoto.dk
Mississippi Interstate Cooperative Resource Association (MICRA)http://wwwaux.cerc.cr.usgs.gov/MICRA/Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force (ANSTF)
Nebraska Game and Parks Commissionhttp://www.ngpc.state.ne.us
UK Department for International Developmenthttp://www.dfid.stir.ac.uk

Contributors

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Main Author
Corazon Santiago
3 Mt. Caraballo, Fairmount Hills Subdivision, Antipolo City, Rizal 1870, Philippines

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