Below are pictures of the four Asian Carps that make up the invasive species we are worried about. The Silver Carp is the one most are familiar with and that is because the have innate reaction to noise and leap out of the water when confronted with noise. The 2nd picture is of a Bighead Carp. They have the ability to grow to 90lbs +. The Silver and the Bighead are plankton filter feeders. They dine on the food at the bottom of the aquatic food chain, that all other aquatic species utilize. An interesting point of history about these fish, especially in light of little federal help is, that they were all brought in either by or with the support of federal and state agencies. All four species were brought in to the US in 1972. When the Clean Water Act came about in 1973, there were a lot of sewage treatment facilities with ponds that weren't going to pass the new regulations. The federal EPA actually funded projects in AK to utilize the Silver and Bigheads to clean the water. They went so far as to threaten facilities with a $5,000/day fine if they didn't use them. NOAA's (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) National Marine and Fisheries Service marketed them to fish farmers as a way to clean up ponds and as another product revenue source.Truck after truck hauled them to Illinois, sponsored by the Illinois Natural History Survey, to experiment with them cleaning out hog manure ponds.
The Grass Carp are underwater vegetation eaters and were labeled as an "underwater cow", they did an extremely efficient job in controlling out of control aquatic plants in fish farm ponds.There threat to us is that they are voracious plant eaters and they could affect the aquatic vegetation that are utilized by our fish and waterfowl.
Black Carp were also efficient in controlling another nuisance at fish farms, snails. Black carp are mollusk eaters and pose a great threat to the recovering freshwater mussels of the Upper Mississippi.
Next up: Where are They?