Iowa DNR
River & Stream Biological Monitoring
Fish and Benthic Macroinvertebrate Surveys
Physical Habitat Assessments

Common Carp Cyprinus carpio

Cyprinidae (Minnows)
Trophic Class
Is Exotic to Iowa?
Is Lithophilous Spawner?
Is Hybrid?
State Listing Status
Not Listed
Assessment Program Statistics

This species was found at 334 bioassessment sites, 18 rapid fish bioassessment sites, 91 fisheries assessment sites, and 2 fisheries presence-only assessment sites. In total, it was collected at 439 distinct sites, or 30.4% of the 1442 total sites monitored by the bioassessment program. It is the 15th most commonly collected species.

The Common Carp was collected in 535 bioassessment sampling sessions and 195 fisheries assessment sessions. It was present in 18 rapid bioassessment sessions and 2 presence-only sessions.

The biological assessment program has collected a total of 11,320 individual Common Carp specimens, ranking it the #30 most collected fish.

Species Characteristics

A large minnow, with adults weighing up to 50 pounds or more. Its robust body is compressed laterally, and a soft, fleshy mouth opens ventrally. A stout, serrated, spinous ray at the leading edge of the dorsal and anal fins is a distinctive physical characteristic. There are more than 16 soft rays in the dorsal fin (native cyprinids have less than 10) and 4 to 6 soft rays in the anal fin. Pectoral fin soft rays are 14 to 17, and pelvic fin soft rays are 8 to 9. A visible barbel extends from the posterior corner of the upper jaw and a smaller, less visible one is found along the side of the upper jaw. The lateral line is complete and may have 33 to 44 scales. Body scales are large, displaying a diamond-shaped look and have a black dot in the front of each scale. The body is gray to olive dorsally, golden-yellow to bronzy-golden laterally, and yellowish-white ventrally. Pectoral, pelvic, and caudal fins are yellow to orange-red in adults. Young fish have a dusky vertical bar on the caudal peduncle which fades with increasing age. Pharyngeal teeth are broad and form three rows in the formula 1, 1, 3-3, 1. Molar-like grinding surfaces characterize the middle rows.

Species Distribution Maps

HUC12 watersheds where this species has been found