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grass carp

grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) [nonnative]
Photo © Konrad P. Schmidt, University of Minnesota

Features and Behaviors

This species has a wide head. The scales on its body are large and have dark edges. The dorsal fin is short and pointed. The dorsal fin origin is in front of the pelvic fin origin. The back is green-brown, and the belly and lower sides are yellow to white. The fins are clear to gray-brown. Teeth are present in the throat. Grass carp grow rapidly and can become very large, up to 49 inches in length.

The grass carp is native to eastern Asia. It was brought to the United States in 1963 and originally released in the waters of Arkansas. Since then it has spread tremendously and has been introduced into many lakes and ponds to control aquatic vegetation. Young grass carp eat small aquatic invertebrates. After reaching about eight inches in length, these fish switch to a preference for consuming aquatic plants, although animal materials are still eaten as well. It is believed that this species spawns from late spring into summer.

Illinois Range


​Kingdom: Animalia​
Phylum: Chordata​
Class: Actinopterygii​
Order: Cypriniformes​
Family: Xenocyprididae

Illinois Status: common, nonnative