Silver carp

Hypophthalmichthys molitrix

Common name:

Silver carp

Scientific name:

Hypophthalmichthys molitrix

Alternative common names:

Silwerkarp (Afrikaans)

The silver carp is a deep-bodied fish that is laterally compressed. They are a very silvery in colour when young and when they get older they fade from a greenish colour on the back to silver on the belly. These fish were introduced from Germany in 1975 to the Marble Hall experimental fish farm on the Olifants River. Silver carp compete with indigenous species such as yellowfish for habitat and resources.

Additional Info

  • Where does this species come from?

    Originates from China, being one of the most cultured fish in China due to its quick growing rates as well as the hardiness to withstand harsh conditions.

    What is its invasive status in South Africa?

    NEMBA Category 1b.

    Where in South Africa is it a problem?

    They occur mainly in the Olifants and Limpopo River systems (including the Kruger National Park); where they tend to congregate in slow flowing water or pools below rapids.

    How does it spread?

    These fish were introduced from Germany in 1975 to the Marble Hall experimental fish farm on the Olifants River. A Complete Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of Southern Africa (Skelton, 1993), cites Israel as the country from which they were imported. Some fish escaped into open waterways and have dispersed into the Olifants and Limpopo River systems, including the Kruger National Park. Floodwaters are known to disperse the fish into new areas.

    Why is it a problem?

    Silver carp compete with indigenous species such as yellowfish for habitat and resources.

    What does it look like?

    Description: The silver carp is a deep-bodied fish that is laterally compressed. They are a very silvery in colour when young and when they get older they fade from a greenish colour on the back to silver on the belly. They have very tiny scales on their body but the head and the opercles (gill cover) are scaleless. They have a large mouth without any teeth in the jaw, but they have pharyngeal teeth. Silver carp have a large head with a small mouth and medium eyes set below the level of the mouth. These fish grow to 1m in length and weigh up to 50kg. Habitat: Silver carp live in freshwater in temperate to subtropical climates (6 to 28 °C). They are commonly found in impoundments or backwaters of large, slow flowing rivers, lakes or dams. Breeding: Silver carp generally reproduce during the spring or summer. Reproduction is primarily cued by increased water temperature.