Carp, a malacopterygian fish, of the family cyprinidm, genus cyprinus, having the body covered with large scales, a single elongated dorsal fin, fleshy lips, small mouth, with a barbel at the upper part of each corner in the common species, and a smaller one above; teeth in the pharynx, but none in the jaws; branchial rays three; the ventrals behind the pectorals, without any connection with the bones of the scapular arch; the second dorsal ray and the first anal serrated posteriorly; the tail forked; 12 rows of scales between the ventral and dorsal fins. The C. carpio (Linn.) is of a golden olive-brown color above, yellowish beneath, and the fins dark brown. It inhabits the fresh-water lakes and streams of central and southern Europe, whence it has been spread by man over the northern parts. It is noticed by Aristotle and Pliny, but was not held in much estimation in ancient times; it grows rapidly, lives to a considerable age, and is exceedingly prolific; it seems to have been introduced into England about 300 years ago. Carps prefer quiet waters, with soft or muddy bottoms, spawning in May or June, according to locality; the food consists of larvae of aquatic insects, worms, and soft plants, though they eat almost any vegetable food in artificial ponds.

They are very tenacious of life, and will pass long periods, especially in winter, without food; they afford but little sport to the angler, being very uncertain, and are difficult to take in nets. Their size varies from 1/2 to 2 1/2 feet, and their weight from 1 to 18 lbs.; they are in season from October to April, and are generally considered excellent for the table. The common carp of Europe has been introduced from France into the Hudson and other waters of New York. The gold fish, or golden carp, is the C. auratus (Linn.). The crucian carp (C. gibelio, Bloch) is of smaller size, and is considered by some the same as the C. carassius (Bloch). In this country the name of carp is erroneously applied to some species of catastomus and luxilus, belonging to the same family of fishes.

Cyprinus carpio.

Cyprinus carpio.