Invasive carp are a select group of cyprinid fishes (minnow family) that are native to Asia. The term “invasive carp,” formerly known as “Asian carp,” collectively refers to bighead carp, silver carp, grass carp, and black carp. Each of these species was intentionally introduced into the United States for different purposes; however, all are now considered invasive nationally and in Indiana. Invasive carp compete with native species and pose a threat to Indiana’s aquatic ecosystems.
Why are invasive carp a problem?
- They threaten imperiled species.
- They reduce game fish populations. Invasive carp reproduce quickly, and their rapidly expanding populations devastate the number and health of other fish.
- They threaten human health. Invasive carp (specifically silver carp) often jump out of the water when disturbed by boat motors, damaging boats and potentially harming passengers.
- They negatively impact native species. An adult bighead or silver carp can eat up to 40% of its body weight every day. Over time, invasive carp can drastically change a body of water’s food chain and potentially displace other species.
Where are invasive carp found in Indiana?
Invasive carp were originally imported to the southern United States to help aquaculture and wastewater treatment facilities keep retention ponds clean. Flooding and accidental releases allowed these fish to escape into the Mississippi River system. Invasive carp have since migrated into the Ohio, White, and Wabash rivers where they are now common.
See the map that shows the extent of the spread of invasive carp in the upper Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee river basins.
How is the DNR addressing the threat of invasive carp?
The Indiana DNR has been addressing the threat these fish pose to native ecosystems through its engagement with the Invasive Carp Regional Coordination Committee, which focuses on keeping invasive carp out of the Great Lakes.
In 2021, Indiana DNR established a dedicated invasive carp work unit of three biologists. This work unit, in addition to other Indiana DNR staff, actively participates in the Ohio River Basin Invasive Carp Control Strategy Framework, which outlines a plan for preventing and reducing the invasive carp population while gaining a better understanding of social, ecological, and economic effects of invasive carp. Indiana DNR works with other state, federal, and university partners on a variety of invasive carp research and management projects.
See Projects & Reports for more information on Indiana’s current efforts.
How you can help fight against invasive carp
- It is illegal to possess live invasive carp. If you catch one, eat it, put it in the trash, or use it as cut bait.
- Never release fish caught from one body of water into another body of water.
- Drain your live wells before leaving the lake or river. Invasive carp eggs might be floating in the water.
- Put unused live bait in the trash. Don’t dump it into the lake or river. Young invasive carp resemble other common baitfish, and they might have invaded your bait bucket without you realizing it.
- Report sightings of aquatic invasive species. DNR is seeking information about aquatic invasive species in Indiana. Send a photo of the species and the location of the sightings to ais@dnr.IN.gov.