There are 4 main scale types displayed by carp;
1. Fully scaled carp(Common or Wild Type)
2. Mirror carp (Small number of large, randomly clustered scales on body)
3. Linear carp(Usually a single row of large scales along lateral line)
4. Leather carp(Very few or no scales on body)
The scale pattern of carp offspring can be predicted from the patterns of the parents.
All true carp are fully scaled but with the advent of
semi-domestication around the 16th Century, varieties of carp without
scales were bred. Different body shapes were also selected , with the
aim of producing a scaleless fish with a deep body which would be
easier to clean and fit nicely on a plate.
The common carp originated in Western Asia and naturally dispersed to
China, Siberia and the Danube basin. The fish were later transferred to
Europe by the Romans. Carp culture in China dates back to the 7th
Century BC where some 90% of the current 11 million ton world
production is grown.
The carp was spread throughout Europe by monks between the 13th and
16th centuries, as a food fish, and has now been introduced to all
continents and some 59 countries. In Western Europe, the carp is
cultured more commonly as a sport fish although there is a small market
for the table. In the U.K, carp angling is now the largest and fastest
growing sector of both coarse and game fishing. Many fisheries are
dedicated to this one species, they are highly managed and highly
Carp are omnivorous so will feed on insect larvae, zooplankton, snails
and plants. They are primarily benthic feeders, in that they find most
of their food in the mud at the bottom of the water they inhabit. The
fish have a keen sense of smell as they spend much of the time in
cloudy water where vision is impaired.
Female carp usually reach sexual maturity at 4-5 years of age, the
males a year earlier. Carp are capable of living up to 60 years and
commonly reach 30 years of age.
The carp is also a hardy fish, capable of withstanding poor water
quality considered harmful to many other species, particularly
The main attractions to angling for carp is the power of the fish and
the effort required to catch a specimen. Large carp are a wary fish and
have an uncanny ability of ignoring anglers baits. Their feeding habits
are greatly affected by weather conditions and the abundance of natural
feed. There is nothing predictable about carp fishing! Probably the
greatest attraction though is the size of the fish. Carp can grow very
large. The current Irish record is just under 30lb, the current U.K
record is just over 60lb and the world record is over 100lb.
Carp are omnivorous and in the wild obtain most of their food from the
benthos. They will feed on insect larvae, zooplankton, snails and
plants. Their lips are tough and rubbery in nature with no teeth in the
mouth parts. The teeth are found in the throat of the carp and are
known as pharyngeal teeth. They are attached to bony plates and act in
a similar way to the molars in the human jaw. Any large food particles
are crushed and ground before swallowing. The carp is generally a lazy
feeder and will feed on the most abundant supply of food first, moving
to other food sources once these have been exhausted.
Feeding in soft mud requires quite specific mouth parts which the carp
has in the form of a protrusible mouth. This is a 'tube like' extension
which the fish can push forward and down into the mud. By keeping the
mouth closed and expelling the water, via the gills, a vacuum is
formed. When the fish opens its mouth, water, mud and food particles
are sucked in. The fish repeats the process and the food contained in
the outgoing water is filtered through the gill rakers and then
swallowed. Feeding carp can often be seen producing clouds of silt in
the water, particularly when feeding on beds of bloodworm.
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