[Koi (Japanese), family Cyprinidae]
The modern Carp family has been around for about 55 million years and the carp order (Cypriniforms) since the Jurrasic 150 million years ago. They are not considered a prime eating fish in the U.S. but are popular on the menu in Asia and Europe, particularly Poland.
Coming in many brilliant colors and
patterns and happy to live in small freshwater ponds, carp is the
primary fish displayed in decorative gardens. Call a fancy carp "Koi" and
it can sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Unprotected ponds
need big submerged pipes for them to sleep in because they are definitely on
the menu for raccoons.
Bighead - [Speckled Amur,
Tongsan, Noble Fish, Hypothalmichthys nobilis alt
This Asian (probably Chinese) carp has been introduced worldwide and escapees from pond clearing duty now populate waters in 23 U.S. states where they, and their near relative the Silver Carp, are considered troublesome invasive species. Bighead is a filter feeding fish that lives on plankton near the surface of the water and is used to clear algae from ponds.
This fish is common in Asian markets
in Los Angeles where it is generally sold in sections due to its large size.
Split heads are sold for making soup. This fish can grow to over 5 feet and
100 pounds, but the photo specimen was 3 feet 6 inches and weighed 19.2
pounds, factory cleaned. That's a full size dinner fork in the picture for
Details & Cooking.
Black Carp -
Black carp are highly commercial in China and are the most prestigious
of the native fish there but have not become as widespread as other Asian
carp worldwide. They can grow to 48 inches and 77 pounds and can become
pests if they escape. A few have been found loose in the Mississippi basin.
They live on snails and mussels so some attempts have been made to use
this fish to control mollusks. They are considered a threat to native
mollusks so sterile fish are generally used to prevent wild populations.
Photo US Federal Government = public domain.
Carp Bream -
[Common Bream, Bronze Bream, Abramis brama]
The Carp Bream is a highly commercial fish from Central Europe to
Middle Asia and was once an important food for the poor in Britain. The
flesh has been described as "bony, insipid and soft". It can grow to 32
inches and 13 pounds but is more typically 12 to 20 inches and 4 to 9
pounds. In the photo the top fish is actually a Silver Bream
and the bottom one a Carp Bream. They are closely related but the
Carp Bream grows much larger and fully mature Carp Bream are often bronze
in color. Silver Bream grow to 14 inches and 2.2 pounds. Both fish are
IUCN listed as LC (Least Concern)
Photo by Viridiflavus contributed to the public
Common Carp -
[Cyprinus carpio carpio]
Possibly originating in the Danube river, these fish have been transplanted all around the world and have become pests in some areas. They can grow to 80 pounds and 47 inches long but the photo specimen was 25-3/4 inches and weighed 7 pounds.
This is a highly commercial fish just about everywhere except North
America, where fancy varieties are used mainly as a landscaping accent.
Common Carp prefer larger lakes and slow moving streams with muddy bottoms
and eat just about anything. Wild carp and decorative koi tend to be less
deep of body and without the distinct hump typical of farmed carp.
Details & Cooking.
Crucian Carp -
A highly commercial European carp, both wild and farmed, Crucians can grow to 25 inches and 6.6 pounds but are more commonly between 1 and 3 pounds. They are found throughout European lakes, streams and rivers, as far east as northern China and as far north as Finland. It can be told from similar looking carp, such as the Prussian carp, by its well rounded snout - others are more pointy.
The Crucian Carp has an amazing ability to survive for months with
almost no oxygen. This is an adaption to allow survival in ponds that are
frozen over and covered with snow, ponds predators can't survive in.
Details & Cooking.
Photo distributed under license Creative Commons
Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 Unported.
Dace / Mud Carp -
[Cirrhinus molitorella (Asia) - similar but not commercial,
Leuciscus leuciscus (Europe)]
A common fish in fast moving fresh (or sometimes brackish) waters with a worldwide distribution in temperate climates. Dace is commonly catagorized as a "course" fish and not used much for food in the U.S. or Europe, but is quite popular in Asia for making fish balls.
The photo specimen was 11-3/4 inches long and weighed 10-1/4 ounces,
fairly typical. Some markets also have trays of small dace. The photo specimen
was 4-1/2 inches long and weighed 5/8 ounce, but the tray contained fish from
1/4 ounce to 1-3/8 ounces. In Cambodia small dace are used to make prahoc,
a pungent fermented fish condiment, but I use them differently.
Details & Cooking.
[Gold Crucian, Carassius auratus auratus]
A Siberian carp introduced throughout the world, generally pictured in a small bowl with a cat trying to get at it. This fish is actually the Prussian Carp (Carassius gibelio) bred for color variations. It can grow to 23 inches and 6.6 pounds but will stay small if kept in a small aquarium, often around 2 to 4 inches.
It's ability to survive in low oxygen environments made it possible to keep goldfish in fishbowls before the advent of areated aquariums. This ability resulted from the Prussian Carp having to live under ice in its Siberian homeland.
Goldfish are highly variable in color and fin shape, having been bred
in China as a decorative for about 1000 years. They are edible but not
generally eaten except by cats and raccoons. Swallowing live goldfish was
once a popular stunt among college frat-brats but has long been out of style.
Not Red Listed. Photo by Heptagon contributed to the public
Grass Carp - [Rehu (India); Ctenopharyngodon idella]
A silver bodied fresh water fish imported from Asia, the grass carp can grow to 59 inches and nearly 100 pounds, but the photo specimen was 27 inches and 8.4 pounds. Grass carp are voracious eaters of underwater vegetation and are an important food fish in Asia, both farmed and caught wild.
Use of triploid (sterile) grass carp to control invasive aquatic
weeds was pioneered in the Imperial Valley of California. Triploids are
created by slightly damaging eggs immediately after fertilization.
They grow to only 40 pounds in the irrigation channels and live half
as long as diploid carp but they eat about 90% as much and won't establish
wild populations where they are not wanted. The California hatchery has
been studied by teams from many states and countries.
Details and Cooking
Silver Carp -
This is an Asian carp that has been introduced worldwide for food and for cleaning algae out of lakes and reservoirs - though it often becomes a pest. This fish, like the closely related Bighead Carp, is a plankton eating filter feeder, but it feeds a little deeper than the Bighead. It is the worlds most important farmed fish, but it is just beginning to appear in Southern California's Asian markets (2013). It can be found in the live fish tanks and frozen.
This fish is a major pest in the Mississippi, Illinois, Ohio
and Missouri rivers. While the photo specimen was just just 12 inches
long and weighed only 12-3/4 ounces, they can grow to well over 40
pounds and leap 10 feet out of the water when startled. Many
recreational boaters in fast ski boats have been injured and even
killed by leaping fish. Contests are held to catch as many as
possible, but there is no effective control method - except to eat
them all. They are notably delicious, but as with any other carp,
you have to get accustomed to dealing with the spines, something
which most of the world has accomplished.
Details and Cooking.
Tinfoil Barb -
(Red Tailed Tinfoil (photo)), B. schwanenfeldii
(Tinfoil Barb), Poropuntius malcolmi (Goldfin Tinfoil)]
Found in the rivers of Southeast Asia these are very small carp. The
photo specimen (B. altus) is 10 inches and weighed 1 pound but most
are smaller, while B. schwanenfeldii (black edges on the tail) can
get 13 inches. The Goldfin doesn't tolerate aquaculture and is only sold
locally in Southeast Asia.
Details & Cooking.
Vobla - Caspian Roach -
[Rutilus caspicus similar Common Roach
This fish, found in brackish and fresh waters, is native to the northern and western reaches of the Caspian Sea. At spawning time It enters the Volga, Ural, Emba, Terek and Kura river drainages. It may be a subspecies of the Common Roach which has a much larger range, including Norway, British Isles, Italy, the Adriatic basin, and Anatolia, but is not native to Iberia. Both are IUCN rated "Least Concern", but the Common Roach can become a pest.
The photo specimen, purchased from a multi-ethnic market in
Los Angeles, was from Russia, 10-1/2 inches long and weighed
4 ounces. It was packed with three smaller fish. Dried, salted Vobla
is quite an institution in Russia, and judging by the stores I buy it
from, it is also known in Armenia, and no doubt Georgia and Azerbajan as
well. It is often brought as a hostess gift by travelers from Moscow.
Details & Cooking.