Carp are a family of fish native to Europe and Asia. Common carp (Cyprinus carpio) has been in the United States for over 100 years. The common carp is considered a nuisance fish or a pest fish. See Species Profile: Common Carp (Nonindigenous Aquatic species Database) for more information.
The newest invaders, bighead carp, black carp, grass carp, and silver carp that originated from Asia are collectively known as invasive carp or Asian carp. These invasive carp species are causing issues in the Mississippi river and surrounding waters. Invasive carp are fast-growing and prolific feeders that out-compete native fish and leave a trail of environmental destruction in their wake.
The four types of invasive carp currently found in the U.S. were imported into the country for use in aquaculture ponds. Through flooding and accidental releases, black, grass, bighead and silver carps found their way into the Mississippi River system. The Mississippi River system is like a giant freshwater highway that has given invasive carp species access to many of the country’s rivers and streams.