Asian Carps

  • Asian Carps


    (Silver Carp and Bighead Carp)


    (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix and Hypophthalmichthys nobilis)


    Silver and Bighead Carps were brought to North America from Asia in the 1960’s and ‘70’s for food purposes. They are raised for sale as food and have been used to control algae in ponds. They have made their way north through U.S. waterways towards the Great Lakes. Stopping Asian Carps from spreading into the Great Lakes is essential to prevent harm to Ontario’s ecosystems.


    Silver and Bighead Carp are native to Asia. In their native range they are common in lakes and large rivers and are extensively raised in aquaculture facilities. They have been introduced in Europe, South America and North America, as well as in parts of Asia where they are not native. They are able to survive and reproduce in temperate areas and would almost certainly be able to establish populations throughout the Great Lakes. They make up more than 50 percent of the fish by weight in some parts of the Illinois River. In the United States, Asian carp are found throughout the Mississippi River and its tributaries.

    What’s stopping them from invading the Great Lakes right now?

    • There is currently an electric barrier installed 35 miles downstream from Lake Michigan along a portion of the Chicago River, and is the only thing stopping these aggressive invaders from colonizing the Great Lakes. The Chicago River is the only known continuous connection between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River basins.
    • A chain link barrier has been constructed across a wetland that serves as headwaters for streams that drain into both the Mississippi watershed and the Great Lakes (via Lake Erie).

    How you can help?

    • Don’t dump your bait. Always put unwanted baitfish in the garbage and empty the bait bucket water on dry land. It is illegal to dump the contents of any bait container into the water or within 30 metres of any lake, pond, river, or stream.
    • Make sure you check your bait. It is your responsibility for making sure you only possess species that may be legally used as bait, even if the bait came from an authorized dealer.
    • Young Asian carps look similar to some Ontario baitfish. Don’t confuse young Asian carps with common Ontario species.
    • If you have any information about the illegal importing, distribution or sale of live Asian carps, report it immediately to the MNR TIPS line at 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667) toll-free any time, or contact your local ministry office during regular business hours. You can also call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
    • Add your voice to those demanding that this threat to our Great Lakes be taken seriously


    • Asian Carps have a detrimental effect on native fish, as they consume large amounts of plankton that many small fish and young sportfish need to survive.
    • They reproduce quickly, and have the potential to crowd out native fish species.
    • If Asian Carps invade Ontario waters, it will undoubtedly damage sport and commercial fishing in Ontario, which brings in millions of dollars a year into the provinces economy.
    • Silver Carp are hazardous to boaters because the vibrations from the boat propellers can make the fish jump up to three metres in the air. Boaters and water skiers in areas of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers have been seriously injured by jumping fish.
  • Silver Carp

    Identification (Silver Carp)

    • Smaller than Bighead carp.
    • Silvery in colour with a pale belly.
    • Eyes sit below its mouth.
    • Large head and toothless mouth.

    Bighead Carp

    Identification (Bighead Carp)


    • Averages two to four kilograms but can weigh up to 40 kilograms.
    • Capable of growing up to a metre in length.
    • Very large head.
    • Lacks teeth.
    • Adults are dark grey with darker mottling.
    • Eyes sit below its mouth.
    Ontario Invaders Species Account PDF