Common Carp

Notes from Fundamentals of Aquaculture, James W. Avault, Jr., Ph.D., pgs. 86-93

The common carp (Cyprinus carpio) is the longest and most widespread cultured finfish.
Common Carp
Common carp (Cyprinus carpio)
From Амурский сазан, Vertebrata

The common carp has been cultivated for 2400 years in China and 1900 years in Japan and widely distributed throughout the world. The common carp is farmed as far north in freezing regions such as the former Soviet Union and as far south as the Phillippines where it is cultivated in rice fields. In Austria, the Christmas carp is an important tradition and in many Asian countries carp serves as an important source of animal protein.

In 1965, Carp was recorded to have contributed 231,525 tons to the world fish supply, which excludes production in China which would exceed all combined figures. In all a total of 1.65 million tons of common and Chinese carp was grown there in 1965, but the last estimate could be half too low.

Through selective breeding, strains of carp have been developed over the centuries, including the leather carp and mirror carp. These two strains have remained in use, while others discarded. Carp breeding has continued around the world, with the mirror carp strain, now referred to as the "Israeli carp".

In China, a fully scaled strain of common carp, known as the big-belly carp, evolved, withstanding harsh environment of overcrowding and poor water quality. This fish strain is one of the few culture species which is considered truly domesticated.

The common carp was introduced in the United States in 1877, and is found today in 48 states. Though this species is prized in Europe and Asia, it has been considered by some to be a pest because it muddies water while foraging, intereferes with sportfish such as largemouth bass and the flesh contains numerous small bones. Some states have developed programs to regulate carp populations in reservoirs. Carp usually spawn in beds of weeds along shorelines, with the adhesive eggs sticking to vegetation, so one effective control method is by lowering the water level and stranding eggs after spawning.

Common carps are hardy, fast-growing and tolerant under adverse conditions with a prolific reproducers in captivity. The carp is a freshwater fish, but can tolerate up to 20 ppt salinity, and alkaline (acid water), not bothered by turbid water and grows on a variety of feeds including agricultural byproducts. Its biology and reproduction are well known making it easily farmed in a variety of culture systems. One expirament conducted by Szumiec (Poland, 1979) reported on common carp farming, with goal of producing 2.2 lb or larger. Stocking rates varied from 121-4047 per acre. Feeds included pellets and dough containing 25% protein derived mostly from plant origin, wheat used as a comparable carbohydrate feed and super pellets which contained 40% protein (primarily animal origin). The study lasted from April until the end of September and repeated for four years. Some fish reached as much as 3 lbs, and it was concluded ponds can produce 1786-2679 lbs per acre of carp with carbohydrate feeds, and 2679-5358 per acre with protein-rich pellets.

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