Asian carp, term for several large, hardy freshwater fish of the family Cyprinidae (the minnow family) that are native to E Asia and have become invasive species in the United States. The fish, which can grow to more than 4 ft (1.2 m) and weigh more than 50 lb (23 kg), were introduced in the 1960s and 1970s to control algae and other vegetation in fish farms. Due to escape or release, the grass carp ( Ctenopharyngodon idella ), bighead carp ( Hypophthalmichthys nobilis ), and silver carp ( H. molitrix ) have spread to numerous waterways in the Mississippi River basin. Their large size, rapid reproduction rate, and voracious appetites have led to the reduction of native fish stocks, and they have damaged habitats as well. Asian carp pose a significant risk to the ecosystem and fishing industry of the Great Lakes, and since 2002 the Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wilflife Service, and other agencies have with limited success sought to prevent the carp from entering Lake Michigan from the Illinois River. Measures used have included the construction of electric barriers on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, poisoning, and encouraging the catching and eating of the fish. See also carp. Asian carp are classified in the phylum Chordata, class Osteichthyes, order Cypriniformes, family Cyprinidae.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Vertebrate Zoology