The Plague of the Asian Carp

The Asian Carp

Preface

The Asian Carp – In America, the Asian carp is a real scourge for the environment and the economy. This carp is a real wolverine and has no natural enemies. That is why the fish also reproduce very quickly and pose a threat to the other native fish species. Ironically, the Asian carp was introduced to nature by the Americans themselves to control algae growth. They did not know at the time what the impact of this action would be.

About ten species of Asian carp were distributed in America in this way. It concerns the types:

Common carp (Cyprinus carpio): The common carp can grow up to 120 cm long. He can be recognized by his 4 beard strands, 2 short ones on the upper lip and 2 long ones in the corners of the mouth. The long dorsal fin with very strong rays is also characteristic. This carp can easily live to be 30 to 40 years old.

Common Carp
Common Carp

Grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idell): This fish also grows up to 120 cm in length and can only reproduce in high water temperatures. That is why they are especially popular in the colder countries to control algae growth in various waters without creating a predominance for the other fish. If you have a grass carp on the fishing line you will also notice that it is much stronger than the common carp of the same weight. In many countries, it is mandatory to put this type of carp back because of its special functionality.

Adult Grass Carp
Adult Grass Carp

Mud carp (Cirrhinus molitorella): This is a native Asian freshwater fish that lives in lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. To reproduce, they go to the upper reaches of large rivers.

Mud Carp
Mud Carp

Amur carp (Cyprinus rubrofuscus): Another name for koi carp and so-called after the Amur River in Northern China.

Amur Carp
Amur Carp

Black carp (Mylopharyngodon piceus): Here you have a very rare carp that can turn really jet black. Because it is so rare, little is known about it … This carp is said to owe its name to the Black Sea where it was first spotted and it loves to live in brackish freshwater.

Adult Black Carp
Adult Black Carp

Silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix): Known for its high jumps from the water (up to 3 m high). Grows up to a meter long and weighs 20 kg. It is the only fish of its genus (monotypic) and only reproduces in running water at 22 ° C.

Silver Carp
Silver Carp

Goldfish (Carassius auratus): What many people do not know is that goldfish are also carp. They are omnivores and can grow up to 40 cm long. They reach an age of about 20 years. The largest known specimen was 47.4 cm long and weighed 1.8 kg. This fish is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as “Longest Goldfish” and was named Bert.

Brown Goldfish
Brown Goldfish

Bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis): This is an exotic fish that, like the silver carp, likes open water and eats floating algae. But this fish also likes water flea. The animal can grow to 112 cm long and weigh 21 kg. Initially, this carp was most common in the Benelux (Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg) but can also be found in the Mississippi.

Bighead Carp
Bighead Carp

Crucian carp (Carassius carassius): This is one of the smaller carp. With its maximum length of 64cm and a weight of 3 kg, it originates in the Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg). In smaller inland waters, this fish is on average 9 cm long and weighs 20 grams.

Crucian Carp
Crucian Carp

Nine of these species have been cultivated in China for over 1,000 years through aquaculture. Only the Great Silver Carp, which is a more southern species, comes from Vietnam and is farmed there. Of all these fish, China has designated 4 as intended for food. These are the Bighead, Silver, Grass, and Black carp. They are also used in traditional Chinese medicine. The goldfish are mainly bred as pet fish. The common carp is sometimes called the “Eurasian” carp because it originates from both Eastern Europe and Western Asia.

The Plague of the Asian Carp – Leaping carp

Among the 10 aforementioned carp species, there is a very remarkable one: the Silver Carp. This species is very quickly afraid of boats. In doing so, they can jump up to 8-10 ft. high. As a result, however, there are also many accidents to detect. Water sports enthusiasts who collided with such a fish were seriously injured. Imagine that you are water skiing and suddenly such a colossus of a carp flies in your face … Fun is different … The comparable big-headed carp sometimes dare to jump, but not because they are afraid. There are already tournaments where catching jumping carp with a net is a part of the competition.

Leaping Asian Carp - 1
Leaping Asian Carp – 1
Leaping Asian Carp - 2
Leaping Asian Carp – 2

The Plague of the Asian Carp – Cooking with carp

In Asia, Asian carp have been a food source for thousands of years. You have dishes such as “sweet and sour carp” or “thick miso soup with carp”. In North America, however, one will never eat carp because all 10 species are considered destroyers of the fish environment due to their bottom-feeding behavior. But of these 10, only a few do this.

The flesh of the carp is pearly white but it does contain a series of bones. The taste is said to be comparable to that of cod and is also sometimes described as a cross between crabmeat and scallops. Since the carp do not eat other fish, they are also low in mercury. To promote the consumption of carp, the name is renamed to, for example, silverfin tuna. The intestines of the carp are mainly used to make fertilizers.

The Plague of the Asian Carp – Damage from Asian carp

In America, Asian carp are considered an invasive species. They cause a lot of damage through their diet. For example, a black carp will look for native mussels and snails, whose populations are already in danger. Silver carp will in turn “steal” the plankton that is food for larval fish and native mussels. And finally, in a brand new environment, grass carp can completely change the communities of plants, fish, and invertebrates by attacking the food webs.

The American Illinois River is also dominated by Asian carp. They are trying with all their might to combat this domination. There has even been an argument where Michigan goes to brawl with Illinois over the Chicago passage. Michigan would like to close it down to prevent the ravenous Asian carp from reaching Lake Michigan and devouring it. However, the closure would have major consequences.

The advance of the Asian carp must be stopped as soon as possible, otherwise, all other lakes will fall victim to these fish. This would have major implications for current fishing and the economy in general.

Recently a movie even surfaced in which American rowers were attacked by those “flying carp”. So this is only about the silver carp that jump as soon as they are startled by, in this case here, the paddles. Outboard motors also have the same effect on these carp. The United States is anxiously wondering what to do about these carp species that disrupt their entire ecosystem.

The rowing team at Washington University in St. Louis is shocked by jumping carp
The rowing team at Washington University in St. Louis is shocked by jumping carp

The Plague of the Asian Carp – Kentucky

In the American state of Kentucky, the environment is very threatened by the very numerous Asian carp. To combat these ravenous fish, a “shock boat” was deployed. The fish jump out via electric shocks in the water and may or may not end up in the boat or a net. All anesthetized fish are removed from the water and resold to fish processors.

For years, America has spent millions of dollars fighting Asian carp, but with little success. As a drastic measure, it was only possible to close the river and canal passages, but that was problematic for inland shipping.

So now this shock boat was invented by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. Fishbait, food products, and fertilizers are made from the fish caught.

They are also working on experimental ‘bio-acoustic’ fish fencing. The hope is that light, sound, and air bubbles will lead the fish away from the locks. This prevents them from ending up in nearby lakes. Until now this method was only used for salmon, but now it is also used for carp. Kentucky hopes with this method for a significant decrease in the number of Asian carp.

Many animal lovers express their displeasure with the use of this electric shock boat, but they do not think about future problems. It is therefore more than justified to act against this invasion.

Interesting links about carp:

Finally

Maybe this article is a bit too negative about the Asian carp, but as you can see from what I have described here, a solution is urgently needed. I, therefore, ask real animal lovers: would you rather have just one fish in the future or would you stick to the current diversity of these animals? Fortunately, this only applies to the warm waters where these carp breed.

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