The Grass Carp, (Ctenopharyngodon idella), also known as the White
Amur, is a herbivorous, freshwater fish. It is cultivated in China for
food but was introduced in the United States for aquatic weed control.
It is a species of carp native to Siberia and northern China. The name
White Amur derives from the Amur river, where the species is believed
White amur have an elongate, chubby body form that is torpedo shaped
(terete). The terminal mouth is slightly oblique with non-fleshy, firm
lips, and no barbels. The complete lateral line contains 40 to 42
scales. Broad, ridged pharyngeal teeth are arranged in a 2, 4-4, 2
formula. The dorsal fin has 8 to 10 soft rays, and the anal fin is set
closer to the tail than most cyprinids. Body color is dark olive,
shading to brownish-yellow on the sides with a white belly and large
slightly outlined scales.
The species was deliberately introduced into the United States in 1963
for aquatic weed control. It was introduced into New Zealand along with
stocks of goldfish but the distribution is carefully controlled to
prevent it from becoming a more widespread pest. Adults of the species
feed exclusively on aquatic plants. The grass carp grows very rapidly,
and young fish stocked in the spring at 20 cm (8 inches) will reach
over 45 cm (18 inches) by fall, and adults often attain nearly 1.2 m (4
feet) in length and over 18 kg (40 pounds) in weight.
When used for weed control, often the fish introduced to the pond or
stream are sterile, triploid fish. The process for producing triploid
fish involves "shocking" eggs with heat or electricity. The young are
then tested for triploidy before being sold. In the wild, grass carp
only breed in fast-moving rivers.
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