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Background & Risks of Asian Carp

Asian Carp

There are many species grouped as Asian carp, which are in the minnow family Cyprindae: Common Carp, Goldfish, Crucian Carp, Grass Carp, Black Carp, Bighead Carp and Silver Carp.

The Bighead and Silver Carp are the primary Asian carp aquatic nuisance species of concern.

Potential Risks of Asian Carp

Bighead and Silver Carp are voracious eaters, consuming microscopic organisms known as plankton. Like all planktivores, they eat from the base of the food chain, putting them in competition with native planktivores which include juvenile fish and mussels.

Asian carp are capable of eating between 20 and 120 percent of their body weight each day. Bighead Carp can weigh up to 100 pounds.

The migration of Asian carp through the Illinois River, Des Plaines River and Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) is one risk facing the Great Lakes today. Currently, the adult population front of Asian carp (Silver and Bighead Carp) is about 45 miles from Lake Michigan and has not moved for several years.

Silver Carp also jump into the air and have been known to land in boats, damage property and injure people.

How you can help

• Alert your Department of Natural Resources if an Asian carp may have been observed in your waterways.
• Do not move live fish from one location to another. Some state laws prohibit the transport of live Asian carp.
• Never use wild-caught baitfish in waters other than where they came from.
• Know the difference between juvenile Asian carp and juvenile shad (Gizzard and Threadfin Shad), which look nearly identical.
• Drain lake or river water from live wells and bilges before leaving any body of water.

Website resources

The National Invasive Species Council
US Fish and Wildlife Service
US Environmental Protection Agency
Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee