Invasive Species Compendium

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Datasheet

Aristichthys nobilis
(bighead carp)

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Datasheet

Aristichthys nobilis (bighead carp)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 22 November 2019
  • 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 (bighead carp); adults, caught, examined and weighed by a USFWS fish-biologist. Wilmington Substation, Carterville, Illinois, USA. October 2016.
TitleAdults,
CaptionAristichthys nobilis (bighead carp); adults, caught, examined and weighed by a USFWS fish-biologist. Wilmington Substation, Carterville, Illinois, USA. October 2016.
Copyright©USFWS Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee/Orinal image by Ryan Hagerty/via flickr - CC BY 2.0
Aristichthys nobilis (bighead carp); adults, caught, examined and weighed by a USFWS fish-biologist. Wilmington Substation, Carterville, Illinois, USA. October 2016.
Adults,Aristichthys nobilis (bighead carp); adults, caught, examined and weighed by a USFWS fish-biologist. Wilmington Substation, Carterville, Illinois, USA. October 2016.©USFWS Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee/Orinal image by Ryan Hagerty/via flickr - CC BY 2.0
Aristichthys nobilis (bighead carp); adult, caught and removed from the Red River, Oklahoma, USA. March 2002.
TitleAdult
CaptionAristichthys nobilis (bighead carp); adult, caught and removed from the Red River, Oklahoma, USA. March 2002.
CopyrightPublic Domain - Released by USFWS Fish and Aquatic Conservation/via flickr/Original image by Brent Bristow - CC0
Aristichthys nobilis (bighead carp); adult, caught and removed from the Red River, Oklahoma, USA. March 2002.
AdultAristichthys nobilis (bighead carp); adult, caught and removed from the Red River, Oklahoma, USA. March 2002.Public Domain - Released by USFWS Fish and Aquatic Conservation/via flickr/Original image by Brent Bristow - CC0
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
Aristichthys nobilis (bighead carp); adult. USA. December 2009.
TitleAdult
CaptionAristichthys nobilis (bighead carp); adult. USA. December 2009.
Copyright©USFWS/via flickr - CC BY 2.0
Aristichthys nobilis (bighead carp); adult. USA. December 2009.
AdultAristichthys nobilis (bighead carp); adult. USA. December 2009.©USFWS/via flickr - CC BY 2.0
Aristichthys nobilis (bighead carp); adult in wild habitat. South Loop, Chicago, Illinois.USA. November 2013.
TitleAdult
CaptionAristichthys nobilis (bighead carp); adult in wild habitat. South Loop, Chicago, Illinois.USA. November 2013.
Copyright©Mark Mauno-2013/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Aristichthys nobilis (bighead carp); adult in wild habitat. South Loop, Chicago, Illinois.USA. November 2013.
AdultAristichthys nobilis (bighead carp); adult in wild habitat. South Loop, Chicago, Illinois.USA. November 2013.©Mark Mauno-2013/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0

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.

Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

Africa

AlgeriaPresentIntroducedFishBase (2004); Froese and Pauly (2004)
EgyptPresentIntroducedWelcomme (1988); FishBase (2004); Froese and Pauly (2004)
MoroccoPresentIntroducedWelcomme (1988); FishBase (2004); Froese and Pauly (2004)
MozambiquePresentIntroducedFishBase (2004)

Asia

ArmeniaPresentIntroducedFishBase (2004); Froese and Pauly (2004)
BangladeshPresentIntroducedFishBase (2004)
BhutanPresentIntroducedFishBase (2004); Froese and Pauly (2004)
BruneiPresentIntroducedFishBase (2004); Froese and Pauly (2004)
CambodiaPresentIntroducedFishBase (2004); Froese and Pauly (2004)
ChinaPresentNativeJennings (1988); NACA (1989); Froese and Pauly (2004)
-FujianPresentNativeNACA (1989)
-GuangxiPresentNativeNACA (1989)
-JiangxiPresentCABI Data Mining (2001)
-XinjiangPresentNativeFishBase (2004)
-ZhejiangPresentNativeNACA (1989); FishBase (2004)
Hong KongPresentIntroducedFishBase (2004); Froese and Pauly (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)
JordanPresentIntroducedFishBase (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)
South KoreaPresentIntroducedWelcomme (1988); 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)

Europe

AlbaniaPresentIntroducedWelcomme (1988); FishBase (2004); Froese and Pauly (2004)
AustriaPresentIntroducedWelcomme (1988); FishBase (2004); NOBANIS (2011)
BelarusPresentIntroducedDAISIE (2011)
BulgariaPresentIntroducedJennings (1988); Welcomme (1988); FishBase (2004); Froese and Pauly (2004)
CroatiaPresentNativeFroese and Pauly (2004)
CzechiaPresentIntroducedWelcomme (1988); FishBase (2004); Froese and Pauly (2004)
DenmarkPresentIntroducedFishBase (2004); Froese and Pauly (2004); NOBANIS (2011)
EstoniaPresentIntroducedDAISIE (2011); NOBANIS (2011)Established
Federal Republic of YugoslaviaPresentIntroducedWelcomme (1988); FishBase (2004)
FrancePresentIntroducedFishBase (2004); Froese and Pauly (2004)
GermanyPresentIntroducedWelcomme (1988); FishBase (2004); Froese and Pauly (2004); NOBANIS (2011)
GreecePresentIntroducedFishBase (2004)
HungaryPresentIntroducedWelcomme (1988); FishBase (2004); Froese and Pauly (2004)
ItalyPresentIntroducedWelcomme (1988); FishBase (2004); Froese and Pauly (2004)
LatviaPresentIntroducedDAISIE (2011); NOBANIS (2011)Established
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)
RussiaPresentIntroducedWelcomme (1988); FishBase (2004); Froese and Pauly (2004)
SerbiaPresentIntroducedDAISIE (2011)Established
Serbia and MontenegroPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly (2004)
SlovakiaPresentIntroducedWelcomme (1988); FishBase (2004); Froese and Pauly (2004)
SloveniaPresentIntroducedDAISIE (2011)
SwedenPresentIntroducedFishBase (2004); Froese and Pauly (2004); NOBANIS (2011)
SwitzerlandPresentIntroducedInvasiveFishBase (2004)
UkrainePresentIntroducedFishBase (2004); Froese and Pauly (2004)
United KingdomPresentCABI (Undated); DAISIE (2011)Present based on regional distribution.

North America

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)
MexicoPresentIntroducedWelcomme (1988); FishBase (2004); Froese and Pauly (2004)
PanamaPresentIntroducedWelcomme (1988); FishBase (2004); Froese and Pauly (2004)
United StatesPresentIntroducedJennings (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)

Oceania

FijiPresentIntroducedJennings (1988); Welcomme (1988); FishBase (2004); Froese and Pauly (2004)
GuamPresentIntroducedFishBase (2004)

South America

BoliviaPresentIntroducedFishBase (2004)
BrazilPresentIntroducedFishBase (2004); Froese and Pauly (2004)
ColombiaPresentIntroducedWelcomme (1988); FishBase (2004)
PeruPresentIntroducedWelcomme (1988); FishBase (2004); Froese and Pauly (2004)

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Alabama 1974 Research (pathway cause)Unknown No No Cremer and Smitherman (1980)
Albania Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown Yes No FishBase (2004)
Algeria Hungary 1985 Fisheries (pathway cause) ,
Research (pathway cause)
Government No Yes FishBase (2004)
Arkansas Taiwan 1972 Private sector No No Jennings (1988)
Armenia Uzbekistan Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown Yes No FishBase (2004)
Armenia Moldova Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown Yes No FishBase (2004)
Armenia Russian Federation Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown Yes No FishBase (2004)
Austria Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No FishBase (2004)
Bangladesh Nepal 1981 Aquaculture (pathway cause) ,
Research (pathway cause)
Unknown No No FishBase (2004)
Bangladesh India 1987 Aquaculture (pathway cause) ,
Fisheries (pathway cause)
Government No No FishBase (2004)
Bhutan Nepal 1983 Aquaculture (pathway cause)International organisation No No FishBase (2004)
Bolivia Israel 1975 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Government No No FishBase (2004)
Brazil China 1979 Aquaculture (pathway cause) ,
Research (pathway cause)
Unknown No No FishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)
Brazil Hungary 1983 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Government No No FishBase (2004)
Brunei Darussalam Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No FishBase (2004)
Bulgaria 1964 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No Jennings (1988)
Bulgaria 1964 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown Yes No FishBase (2004)
Cambodia Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown Yes No FishBase (2004)
Colombia Taiwan 1988 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No FishBase (2004); Welcomme (1988)
Costa Rica Taiwan 1976 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No FishBase (2004)
Costa Rica Taiwan 1976 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No Jennings (1988)
Cuba Former USSR 1968 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No FishBase (2004)
Czech Republic Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown Yes No FishBase (2004)
Czechoslovakia (former) Hungary 1963 Unknown No No Jennings (1988)
Denmark Unknown Yes No FishBase (2004)
Dominican Republic Taiwan 1981 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No FishBase (2004)
Dominican Republic Taiwan 1981 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No FishBase (2004)
Egypt China 1975 Aquaculture (pathway cause) ,
Research (pathway cause)
Unknown No No FishBase (2004)
England and Wales Austria 1975 Unknown No No Jennings (1988)
Fiji Malaysia 1968 Aquaculture (pathway cause) ,
Research (pathway cause)
Unknown No No FishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)
Former USSR China 1949+ Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No Bardach et al. (1972); Jennings (1988)
Former USSR 1954 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No FishBase (2004)
France Asia 1975 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No Yes FishBase (2004)
France Hungary 1975 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No Yes FishBase (2004)
Germany Hungary 1964 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No FishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)
Greece Unknown No No FishBase (2004)
Guam Unknown No No FishBase (2004)
Hong Kong Aquaculture (pathway cause)Government No No FishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)
Hungary China 1963-1964 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No Jennings (1988)
Hungary China 1963 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No Yes FishBase (2004)
Hungary Former USSR 1968 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No Jennings (1988)
Hungary Former USSR 1963 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No Yes FishBase (2004)
India Bangladesh 1987 Aquaculture (pathway cause) ,
Fisheries (pathway cause)
Government|Private sector No No FishBase (2004); Shetty et al. (1989)
Indonesia Japan 1964 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No Jennings (1988)
Iran Aquaculture (pathway cause) ,
Fisheries (pathway cause)
Unknown Yes Yes FishBase (2004); Salehi (2004)
Iran Aquaculture (pathway cause) ,
Fisheries (pathway cause)
Unknown Yes No FishBase (2004)
Iraq 1966-1969 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Government Yes No FishBase (2004)
Iraq 1966-1969 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Government Yes No FishBase (2004)
Israel Germany 1972 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No Jennings (1988); Rothbard (1981)
Israel Germany 1973 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No FishBase (2004); Golani and Mires (2000); Golani and Mires (2000)
Israel Germany 1973 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No FishBase (2004); Golani and Mires (2000); Golani and Mires (2000)
Italy Eastern Europe 1975 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause)Unknown Yes No FishBase (2004)
Japan China 1915-1945 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No Yes FishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)
Japan China 1878-1940 Fisheries (pathway cause)Unknown No Yes Chiba and et al. (1989); Chiba et al. (1989)
Jordan Germany 1973 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No FishBase (2004)
Jordan Germany 1973 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No FishBase (2004)
Korea, Republic of Taiwan 1963 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No FishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)
Laos Japan 1968 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No Jennings (1988)
Laos Unknown Yes No FishBase (2004)
Malaysia China 1800s Aquaculture (pathway cause)Private sector No No Ang and et al. (1989); Ang et al. (1989); FishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)
Mexico Cuba 1975 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown Yes No FishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)
Morocco Hungary 1981 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No
Mozambique Cuba 1991 Aquaculture (pathway cause) ,
Fisheries (pathway cause)
International organisation No No FishBase (2004)
Myanmar Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No FishBase (2004)
Nepal Hungary 1972 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No Jennings (1988)
Nepal Hungary 1971 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Government No No FishBase (2004)
Netherlands Germany 1983 Aquaculture (pathway cause) ,
Interconnected waterways (pathway cause)
Unknown Yes No FishBase (2004); Welcomme (1988)
Pakistan China Unknown No No FishBase (2004)
Panama Taiwan 1978 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No FishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)
Peru Panama 1979 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No FishBase (2004)
Peru Israel 1979 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No FishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)
Philippines Taiwan 1968 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Government No No Jennings (1988); Juliano and et al. (1989); Juliano et al. (1989)
Poland Former USSR 1964 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No Jennings (1988)
Poland Former USSR 1965 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Government No Yes FishBase (2004)
Romania 1959 Unknown No No Jennings (1988)
Romania China 1960-1962 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Government Yes No FishBase (2004)
Russian Federation 1954 Unknown Yes No FishBase (2004)
Singapore China 1960s Aquaculture (pathway cause)Private sector No No FishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)
Slovakia Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown Yes No FishBase (2004)
Sri Lanka China 1948 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No FishBase (2004)
Sweden Interconnected waterways (pathway cause)Unknown Yes No FishBase (2004)
Switzerland 1970 Government No No FishBase (2004)
Taiwan China Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No FishBase (2004); Jennings (1988); Liao and Lia (1989); Liao and Lia (1989); Liao and Liu (1989)
Thailand China 1913; 1932 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Private sector No Yes FishBase (2004); Jennings (1988); Piyakarnchana (1989); Piyakarnchana (1989)
Turkey Romania 1972 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No Jennings (1988)
Turkmenistan China Unknown Yes No FishBase (2004)
Ukraine Unknown No No FishBase (2004)
USA Taiwan 1972 Research (pathway cause)Unknown Yes No Cremer and Smitherman (1980); FishBase (2004); Henderson (1978); Nico and Fuller (2005)
Vietnam China 1958 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Government Yes No FishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)
Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) Romania 1963 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No FishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)
Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) Hungary 1963 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No FishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)
Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) Former USSR 1963 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Unknown No No FishBase (2004); Jennings (1988)

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Freshwater

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 SourceFood Source DatasheetLife 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

Water Tolerances

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ParameterMinimum ValueMaximum ValueTypical ValueStatusLife StageNotes
Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l) >0.1 Harmful Adult
Bicarbonate (mg/l) Optimum Fry
Copper (mg/l) >1.0 Harmful Adult
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) <1 Harmful Adult
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) <2 Harmful Egg
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) <2 Harmful Larval
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) <2 Harmful Fry
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) >4 Optimum Egg
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) >5 Optimum Adult
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) >5 Optimum Larval
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) 6 12 Optimum Fry
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) 7.4 10.0 Optimum Broodstock
Hardness (mg/l of Calcium Carbonate) >500 Harmful Egg
Hardness (mg/l of Calcium Carbonate) 300 500 Optimum Egg
Salinity (part per thousand) >=3 Harmful Fry
Salinity (part per thousand) >=5 Harmful Broodstock
Salinity (part per thousand) 0 Optimum Adult
Salinity (part per thousand) 0 Optimum Broodstock
Salinity (part per thousand) 0 Optimum Egg
Salinity (part per thousand) 0 Optimum Larval
Salinity (part per thousand) 0 Optimum Fry
Spawning temperature (ºC temperature) 22 28 Optimum Broodstock
Water pH (pH) 7 8 Optimum Adult
Water pH (pH) 7 8 Optimum Broodstock
Water pH (pH) 7.4 8.5 Optimum Egg
Water pH (pH) 7.5 8.5 Optimum Larval
Water pH (pH) 7.5 8.5 Optimum Fry
Water temperature (ºC temperature) <=10 Harmful Adult
Water temperature (ºC temperature) >=40 Harmful Larval
Water temperature (ºC temperature) >=40 Harmful Fry
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 18 30 Optimum Broodstock
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 20 30 Optimum Adult
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 22 28 Optimum Larval
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 25 27 Optimum Egg
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 25 32 Optimum Fry

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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Tucker JK, Cronin FA, Stone J, Mihuc TB, 1998. The Bighead Carp (Hypophthalmicthys nobilis) in Reach 26 of the Mississippi River. INHS Reports November-December 1998. Online. http://www.inhs.uiuc.edu/chf/pub/surveyreports/nov-dec98/bighead.html . Accessed on 17 February 2005

Vujkovic G, Karlovic , Vujkovic I, Vörösbaranyi I, Jovanovic B, 1999. Composition of muscle tissue lipids of silver carp and bighead carp. Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society, 76(4):475-480

Wang Y, 2001. China PR: A review of national aquaculture development. In: Subasinghe RP, Bueno PB, Phillips MJ, Hough C, McGladdery SE, Arthur JR, eds. Aquaculture in the Third Millennium. Technical Proceedings of the Conference on Aquaculture in the Third Millennium. 20-25 February 2000. Bangkok: NACA and Rome: FAO, 307-316

Welcomme RL, 1981. Register of international transfers of inland fish species. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper, No. 213:x + 120pp

Welcomme RL, 1988. International introductions of inland aquatic species. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper, No. 294:x + 318 pp

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Xie Ping, 2001. Gut contents of bighead carp (Aristichthys nobilis) and the processing and digestion of algal cells in the alimentary canal. Aquaculture, 195(1/2):149-161

Distribution References

Anon, 1988. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper. [ed. by Welcomme R L]. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. x + 318 pp.

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CABI, Undated. CABI Compendium: Status inferred from regional distribution. Wallingford, UK: CABI

CABI, Undated a. CABI Compendium: Status as determined by CABI editor. Wallingford, UK: CABI

Chiba K, Taki Y, Sakai K, Oozeki Y, 1989. Present status of aquatic organisms introduced into Japan. In: Exotic aquatic organisms in Asia [Proceedings of the Workshop on Introduction of Exotic Aquatic Organisms in Asia], 3 [ed. by De Silva SS]. Manila, Philippines: Asian Fish Society. 63-70.

Chou LM, Lam TJ, 1989. Introduction of exotic aquatic species in Singapore. In: Exotic aquatic organisms in Asia [Proceedings of the Workshop on Introduction of Exotic Aquatic Organisms in Asia. Special Publication of the Asian Fisheries Society], 3 [ed. by De Silva SS]. 91-97.

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FishBase, 2004. Entry for Aristichthys nobilis. Main ref.: Masuda H, Amaoka K, Araga C, Uyeno T, Yoshino T, 1984. In: The fishes of the Japanese Archipelago, 1 Tokyo, Japan: Tokai University Press. http://www.fishbase.org/

Froese R, Pauly D, 2004. FishBase. http://www.fishbase.org

Jennings DP, 1988. Bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis): a biological synopsis. In: U.S. Fish and Wildilfe Service, Biological Report, 88 (29)

NACA, 1989. Integrated Fish Farming in China. In: NACA Technical Manual, Bangkok, Thailand: Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia and the Pacific. 278 pp.

Nico L, Fuller P, 2005. Hypophthalmichthys nobilis. In: Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, http://flgvwdmz014.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.asp?speciesID=551

Nico L, Fuller P, 2010. Hypophthalmichthys nobilis. In: USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, Florida, USA: USGS. http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?SpeciesID=551

NOBANIS, 2011. North European and Baltic Network on Invasive Alien Species. In: North European and Baltic Network on Invasive Alien Species, http://www.nobanis.org/

Piyakarnchana T, 1989. Exotic aquatic species in Thailand. In: Exotic aquatic organisms in Asia [Exotic aquatic organisms in Asia. Proceedings of the Workshop on Introduction of Exotic Aquatic Organisms in Asia], 3 [ed. by De Silva SS]. Manila, Philippines: Asian Fisheries Society. 119-124.

Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
Eurofish Magazinehttp://www.eurofish.dk/indexSub.php?id=597
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS)http://griis.org/Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
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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