The Carp and True Minnow Family – Cyprinidae
The Carp and True Minnow or Cyprinidae Family is the largest fish family with about three thousand species that have been placed in three hundred and seventy genera that are known collectively as cyprinids. They were the first aquaculture species domesticated by man. They are native to Africa, Eurasia, and North America and can achieve as much as 3 meters (9 feet 10 inches) in length and 300 kg (660 pounds) in weight but can also be as small as 5 cm (2 inches). Members of this family are found predominantly in fresh water but a couple reside in marine environments. They do not have stomachs or jaws with teeth but make chewing motions with special pharyngeal teeth found in their gill rakers. They have a well-developed sense of hearing. Some have barbells and most have a protrusible upper jaw. They have one dorsal fin and a pair of abdominal pelvic fins. Their lateral line is well developed and used for motion detection. They can be either carnivores or omnivores and feed predominantly on invertebrates or vegetation. Reproduction mostly occurs via egg-laying and most do not guard their eggs. In some species males build nests and protect the eggs. Due to their abundance, egg cross-fertilization can occur and hybrids are often created contributing to the difficulties in the identification of individual fish.
The Cyprinids are capable of surviving a wide variety of climates and habitats including lakes, streams, and rivers. They are important to the aquatic food chain both as predators and prey. Many have been transported out of their native ranges and introduced to provide a source of human food, a sportfisherman opportunity, or biological controls of pests. Some are used as management tools to control various problems within the aquatic environment including invasive vegetation and diseases transmitted by snails. In the United States, these include the Common Carp, Cyprinus carpio and the Grass Carp, Ctenopharyngodon idella. Many have become highly invasive causing chaos and major problems within their native environment. They are a very important food fish being farmed in ponds in many countries including Mexico at a global level of twenty to thirty million tons per annum making them 71% of the total global freshwater aquaculture production. In Mexico, commercial carp is obtained primarily by aquaculture with 21% caught in the wild and 79% obtained by farming and sold at the level of twenty-five thounsand tons per annum at an average price of just under $1 per pound. At present seven Carps are farmed commercially in Mexico: Amur Carp, Bighead Carp, Black Carp, Common Carp, Grass Carp, Mirror Carp, and Silver Carp, all of which have been imported into Mexico. The farming is heavily supported by the Mexican Government to provide an economical protein source from animal origin and employment opportunities throughout the country. They are currently farmed in seventeen Mexican States with the largest production coming from Mexico, Hidalgo, Tamaulipas, and Jalisco. The fry is very hardy and can be transported under a wide range of conditions. They have been added to many ponds, lagoons, and dams, mainly in rural areas, for a food source and play an important role in the aquaculture development in Mexico. They have very high survival abilities and can handle water temperatures up to 35oC (95oF), low oxygen concentrations, and turbid water with large amounts of particulate matter. They are thermophilic and gregarious fish that are also omnivorous bottom feeders. They utilize their keen senses of hearing, smell, and taste to consume insect larvae, worms, mollusks, and stalks of leaves of submerged plants. They grow rapidly, particularly in favorable environments, and this rapid growth, mostly with tasty flesh, good reproduction ability, and modest requirements have made them a stable fish of warm water fisheries. Farmed carp is grown in small water bodies in high density and fed soybean meal, cereal meal, meat meal, and rice bran. They can grow as much as 4% of their body weight per day; a two-pound fish is thus possible to cultivate within one year. They are normally sold live, freshly dressed, dried, salted, and frozen and are a popular food fish in some cultures, however, some have a “muddy” taste. As many as fifteen value added commercial products can be offered from a single carp. The production of “Bio Carp” has begun in some areas with significant additional research conducted to enhance the aquaculture potential of this species.
The Cyprinids are also a target of recreational fishermen, mostly in the United Kingdom and Europe. Many are important aquarium fish supporting an enormous industry; these include the danionins, common goldfish, koi, rasborines, and true barbs. Some have been adversely affected by habitat destruction with several species now driven to extinction. They are considered a positive influence on some lake habitats as they are efficient at eating zooplankton that would otherwise graze on algae thereby reducing its abundance. They also provide an important food source for many large predatory fish and birds. Many are used routinely by both commercial and recreational fishermen as live bait. They date to the Miocene Epoch, twenty million years ago.
There are six members of the Carp and True Minnow or Cyprinidae Family currently presented in this website:
Common Carp, Cyprinus carpio
Grass Carp, Ctenopharyngodon idella
Mirror Carp, Cyprinus carpio var. specularis
Red Shiner, Cyprinella lutrensis
Silver Carp, Hypophthalmichthys molitrix
Yellow Shiner, Notropis calientis