Common Carp

Cyprinus carpio

Common carp, courtesy of Jack Perks


Common carp are the most common member of the carp family. They are typically gold/brown in colour with chestnut brown fins and large scales. Like bream they have a protractile mouth but have thicker, more rubbery lips. In their wild form they are typically lean, cylindrical and powerful and an elongated oval shape. In privately owned lakes and ponds where food is abundant they can grow a much deeper oval shape. Mirror carp and leather carp are the same species, and are similar in appearance to common carp but are a result of breeding over centuries to produce large, tasty fish with very few scales making it easier for humans to eat and less work for the kitchen staff. Carp typically grow to around 60cms but with ample space, food and time they’re capable of growing to lengths of well over 1 metre. The British Record weight for a carp currently stands at 64lb 6oz (29.2kgs)! 


Although suited to bottom feeding, carp can also be seen feeding in the surface areas on warm days. They are omnivorous and will feed on a variety of invertebrates and plant-based food. Small carp tend to be greedy and easy to catch on rod and line, but large species are clever. Anglers have found these animals to be very choosy where food is in abundance and there are now specially manufactured fruity baits (called boilies) on the market that can attract these picky fish to bite. Carp are powerful and can grow very large, therefore are rarely predated by anything other than otter or mink. 



This successful species is native to Asia but has been spread around the world by humans, and considered a pest in many parts of the world. It’s now thought that carp are the most widespread freshwater fish in the world. As well as being omnivorous they are also not particularly fussy on water quality and are very popular with anglers. This may be the reason that they appear so frequently in ponds, lakes, rivers and canals across the country. Although they are widespread carp are not very abundant in British rivers, as the temperature is usually too low for successful recruitment. They tend to be attracted to warmer, slower moving areas, therefore in the River Severn they are most likely to be found in the deeper stretches south of Shrewsbury. Along with many other species, they typically spawn in weed. 

Did you know?

There are many species of carp found in the UK. Leather carp and mirror carp were thought to be bred originally from fully scaled common carp by monks that farmed the fish for food. Koi carp and grass carp are variants of amur carp which come from the Amur River in China. These species all breed with each other and hybrids are very common. Crucian carp were largely thought to be native to the UK but are now thought to have been brought here in the Roman times. 

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