Known simply as carp this fish has been declared a controlled fish under the Inland Fisheries Act 1995 and may not be imported, moved or kept in this state and there are heavy fines for doing so. If you catch a fish that you suspect may be carp, please keep the fish and notify Inland Fisheries Service as soon as possible for identification.
Several introduced fish species within Tasmanian waters resemble carp and are often incorrectly identified as carp. These species include wild goldfish (Carassius auratus) and tench (Tinca tinca), which are closely related. Redfin perch (Perca fluviatilis), are also occasionally confused with carp.
The carp head is of moderate size, triangular, with a long blunt snout; eyes small. Mouth small to moderate, lips thick, two barbels (whiskers) at each corner of the mouth. Scales are large, usually 40 can be counted across the lateral line. A fin spine is present on both the dorsal and anal fins. The dorsal fin is long based and rather low. Some variants, known as mirror carp, are only partly scaled, with very large scales in scattered patches or lines.
Carp are dark brownish-bronze along the back and top of the head, paling to light bronze along the sides. Fins are reddish brown and darken further at extremities. There is an ornamental variety of carp, known as Koi carp, with orange, yellow, white and black markings and blotches.
Carp can grow to a very large size, growing up to 10 kg in south-eastern Australia. The largest carp caught from Lake Sorell in Tasmania weighed 4.9 kg
Carp is a member of the Cyprinidae family, which contains about 1,500 species worldwide. These include goldfish and tench which have also been introduced into Tasmanian waterways. Carp were first discovered in the North-West of Tasmania in 1975 and again in 1980. These populations were eradicated by the Inland Fisheries Service using the fish poison rotenone. Carp were again discovered in Tasmania in early 1995, this time in the popular recreational trout waters of lakes Crescent and Sorell.
Following the discovery of this population, the Inland Fisheries Service has been taking measures to contain and eradicate this population. An ongoing program (Carp Management Program) has been developed and funded by the State Government and in part by the Commonwealth Government to once again make Tasmania carp free. Carp have been blamed for many of the problems encountered by fishery and water resource managers. These include: destruction of fragile aquatic macrophytes (water plants); increase in turbidity; damage to stream beds and irrigation channels; nutrient enrichment of waterways leading to algal blooms; competitive interactions with desirable fish species; introduction of new parasites and diseases.
Although carp have been linked to some of these problems, particularly at high densities, there is generally a poor understanding of the real impacts of carp. Many of the problems attributed to carp may be symptoms of wider environmental problems such as salinity, habitat destruction, water quality deterioration and flow reduction. Carp have been declared a controlled fish under the Inland Fisheries Act 1995 and may not be imported, moved or kept in this state and there are heavy fines for doing so.