European Carp, Cyprinus carpio Linnaeus 1758

Other Names: Asian Carp, Blubber Lips, Calico Carp, Carp, Chinese Carp, Common Carp, Edible Carp, Euro, German Carp, Great Carp, Koi Carp, Leather Carp, Mirror Carp, Mud Sucker, Nishiki-koi

European Carp, Cyprinus carpio. Source: Gunther Schmida / License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike 3.0

European Carp are a major invasive pest species in Australia, particularly in the Murray-Darling Basin where they are most common. Carp pose a serious threat to native fishes by destroying aquatic habitats and competing for resources.
Although the first recorded introductions of European Carp occurred in 1859 in Victoria and in 1865 in New South Wales, these releases occurred in isolated ponds. It was not until the 1964 release of carp into the Victorian side of the Murray River that the species began to impact waterways and native fish populations. European Carp now occur in every Australian State except the Northern Territory.

Video of European Carp feeding in Manly Dam, Sydney, New South Wales.
European Carp in the Yarra River, Melbourne.
European Carp and Goldfish crossing a flooded road on the Rotten Plain near Lightning Ridge in Queensland.Spawning behaviour of introduced European carp in MacKellar wetlands, Canberra.

Cite this page as:
Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2021, Cyprinus carpio in Fishes of Australia, accessed 21 Jun 2024,

European Carp, Cyprinus carpio Linnaeus 1758

More Info


Occurs in the southern half of Australia below an altitude of 700 m - from about Brisbane, Queensland, to Perth, Western Australia, including the Murray-Darling system, many coastal river systems of New South Wales and Victoria, and Lake Crescent and Lake Sorell, Tasmania. A native of Europe and Asia, but introduced worldwide.

Inhabits still or gently flowing waters with abundant aquatic vegetation. Also found in brackish lower reaches of some rivers and coastal lakes. European Carp tolerate poor water quality including low oxygen concentrations.


Dorsal fin III- IV, 17-23; Anal fin III, 5-6; Pectoral fin I, 14-17; Pelvic fin II, 7-9.

Stocky, body elongate, moderately deep, slightly compressed; dorsal profile gently convex from snout to caudal peduncle; ventral profile somewhat flat; head triangular, moderate size, scaleless; snout blunt; eye small; mouth terminal, moderate size, protrusible; upper jaw slightly protruding; no teeth in jaws; four barbels, a long barbel at each corner of the mouth, and a short barbel on each end of the upper lip. 

Scales cycloid, large, thick; head scale-less but body covered in scales of similar size; 34-40 lateral line scales (genetic variation produces differences in scale cover resulting in a form which has large, different sized, irregularly spaced mirror like scales all over body). 

Single long-based dorsal fin, first 2-3 spines small, last stout and serrated on back edge; pectoral fins low, well forward, rounded; pelvic fins below origin of dorsal fin, rounded; anal fin small, short-based with 3 spines, last serrated on hind edge; caudal fin deeply forked, lobes rounded.


Maximum size to 120 cm although seldom exceed 30-40 cm.


Variable, olive green, yellow green to golden dorsally, brassy yellow or greenish yellow on sides, silvery yellow on belly; fins opaque, dark.


Omnivore - feeds on molluscs, crustaceans, insect larvae, seeds, detritus - usually by sucking mud from the bottom to filter out food items. This increases water turbidity, seriously affecting aquatic habitats.


Usually sexually mature at 2-4 years in males and 3-5 years in females but may be as early as 3 months; oviparous, benthic spawners, eggs are laid in clumps on vegetation, logs and submerged grass. Eggs are small (0.5 mm diameter) and adhesive. Hatching occurs after 2-6 days, depending on water temperature.


A major pest threatening native fishes due to the serious damage they cause to aquatic vegetation.

Species Citation

Cyprinus carpio Linnaeus, 1758. Systema Naturae 10: 320. Type locality: Europe.


Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

European Carp, Cyprinus carpio Linnaeus 1758


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37165003

Max Size:120 cm

Max Size:Freshwater

Native:Major invasive pest

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CAAB distribution map