Black Carp

Mylopharyngodon piceus
Cyprinidae (minnows) in the order Cypriniformes (carps, minnows and loaches)

This large fish has large body scales and looks similar to the common grass carp, but the black carp is darker (though not truly black), and some report that adult black carp have a relatively narrower snout. It also has large pharyngeal teeth (throat teeth) that resemble human molars; these are used to crush the shells of its mollusk prey.

Total length: to 5 feet; weight: to 160 pounds.
Habitat and conservation: 
This invasive fish from Asia eats mussels and snails, and it can damage populations of native mollusks, many of which are critically endangered. There is a strong possibility that this fish is becoming established, with breeding populations, on our continent.
This fish feeds on aquatic snails and mussels; unfortunately, many mussels in our state and nationwide are declining (many to the point of being endangered) even without the presence of this predator. Also, as black carp feed on algae-grazing snails, their presence may radically alter the composition of aquatic communities by removing those removers of algae.
Distribution in Missouri: 
This fish has been found in the Mississippi River system, including our own Osage River, where in 1994 about 30 reportedly escaped from a fish farm during a high water event and entered that river.
Invasive. Because of its detrimental effect on native species, it is illegal to transport live black carp across state lines or to introduce it to any waters in the United States. Unfortunately, young black carp and young grass carp are difficult to distinguish, and introductions of grass carp may inadvertently also include black carp.
Life cycle: 
Most of the black carp used in aquaculture in our country were introduced to control problematic snail populations in ponds of commercial fisheries, and these individuals are presumably mostly sterile (triploid). Yet fertile (diploid) individuals can be present, too. Given that black carp can live for 15 years, even the sterile individuals can present a serious long-term problem for native mollusk populations.
Human connections: 
This is a valued food fish in its native China. In our country, presumably sterile individuals of this species have been used in aquaculture, but fertile specimens have appeared in our native waters, where they can reproduce and jeopardize many critically endangered mollusk species.
Ecosystem connections: 
There is little to recommend this species on our continent, as it further unbalances aquatic ecosystems and species that are already troubled with pollution, siltation and habitat loss or alteration (such as damming and channelization).
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