Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Carp, any fish of the Physostomous family Cyprinidae, well represented in the fresh waters of the Eastern hemisphere and North America. In this family the mouth is toothless, the body generally covered with scales, the head naked, and there is no adipose fin. Examples are the carp, barbel, gudgeon, bream, chub, roach, dace, tench, and minnow. The carps are divided into numerous groups, comprising in all over one hundred genera. Most of the species feed on animal and vegetable matter, but some few live entirely on aquatic plants. In the type genus Cyprinus the dorsal fin is long and has a strong toothed bony ray, the anal is short, the snout is thick and rounded, and there are four barbules. The common carp (C. carpio ), originally a native of the East, is said to have been introduced into England early in the seventeenth century, and is now fairly common throughout Europe, and is largely bred in America. The body is elongated, bluish-green in the darkest parts, fading into yellowish on the sides, and whitish beneath. The average length is from 12 inches to 2 feet, but specimens of even 5 feet are on record. It is a sluggish fish, frequenting ponds and quiet streams, supplementing its vegetarian diet with worms and aquatic larvae, and hibernating in the mud in winter. Its fecundity is remarkable, and as a food fish it is valuable; its breeding is an important branch of fish-culture on the Continent, as it formerly was in the fish-ponds of English monasteries. Carp run into many varieties. The allied genus Carassius is distinguished by the absence of barbules. C. vulgaris is the Crucian carp, of which the Prussian carp is a variety; C. auratus is the gold-fish (q.v.). The Toothed Carps (constituting the family Cyprinodontidae) are small fish, widely distributed in fresh, brackish, and salt water. The head and body are covered with scales, and there are teeth in both jaws, but there are no barbules.