Carpiodes carpio is somewhat stout and its back is a little bit arched and compressed. The dorsal area is brown-olive and fades to silver then white at its belly. The fins are usually opaque. The fins of older fish are dark yellow. The midpoint of the lower lip is projected like a nipple and has big scales. Small tubercules are observed on the body of males in breeding seasons.
Adult carpsuckers are usually 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45 cm) in length and 1 to 3 lbs (453.6 to 1361 g) in weight. Sometimes, fish weighing over 10 lbs (4546 g) are caught. (BISON, 2004; Page and Burr, 1991)
Carpiodes carpio was originally distributed in the Mississippi River basin from Pennsylvania to Montana. In addition, this species lives in Louisiana and the Gulf Slope Drainage from the Calcasieu River to the Rio Grande in Texas and New Mexico (Page and Burr, 1991).
The introduction of Carpiodes carpio into other areas was likely caused by shipments of buffalo fishes (Ictiobus spp.) in Lake Erie and the lower Maumee River, Ohio. These buffalo fishes were deliberately introduced and stocked for sport fishing and aquaculture in Ohio in western Lake Erie between 1920 and 1930. However, the effects of the introduction are not well known and studied (Lee et al. 1980; Trautman 1981; Page and Burr 1991). (Lee, et al., 1980; Page and Burr, 1991; Trautman, 1981)
Carpiodes carpio has a preference for large and deep rivers that have sand or silt bottoms with slower-moving current even though the river carpsucker has high adaptability to various kinds of habitats. In addition, this carpsucker lives in backwaters of smaller creeks. Another habitat recorded is comparatively shallow water having a large biomass of tubificids and little nutrients. (Bestgen and Platania, 1990; Sublette, et al., 1990)
Information about life history and developmental stages is not well known. However, the river carpsucker broadcasts its eggs on the silt or sand in spring (Sublette et al. 1990). The characteristics of the eggs are adhesive and demersal. Also, an egg diameter is about 1.7 to 2.1 mm. After 8 to 15 days, young fry hatch. (Sublette, et al., 1990)
Reproduction of the river carpsucker usually occurs in late spring. In a breeding season, this species gathers in large groups and spawns. Although the spawning peak is not well described, ripening time is quite different for individuals and does not occur synchronously. Some females spawn more than once per year. This carpsucker broadcasts eggs randomly and usually releases over 100,000 eggs. (BISON, 2004)
The river carpsucker can produce eggs at age 2 to 3 but sexual maturity depends on sex. Maturity is age 2 to 3 for males and age 3 to 4 in females (Becker 1983).
The water temperature where the river carpsucker can spawn ranges from 18.3 to 19.1°C. Spawning occurs from the late spring and lasts until the beginning of summer when the water temperature ranges from 24.0 to 27.5°C. (Becker, 1983)
There is no parental care. The river carpsucker broadcasts its eggs on the sand and leaves them.
The river carpsucker usually lives 2 to 4 years. Thus, fish over six years old is not observed easily in nature. However, this species can live for 10 years.
The river carpsucker forms large schools and moves together. Feeding behavior of this species is known as they forage near the bottom which consists of sand or silt. (Sublette, et al., 1990)
The river carpsucker is well known as a bottom feeder and detritivore. This species eats and filters nutrients from silt and detritus. It ingests all kinds of items on the river bottom like algae, protozoans, chironomids, microcrustaceans, various tiny planktonic plants and animals (Becker 1983; Sublette et al. 1990).
Carnivorous fishes such as northern pike, muskellunge, walleye, largemouth bass are well known predators (Froese and Pauly, 2002; Baldry, 2004). However, these predators cannot eat adult river carpsuckers. Humans are the biggest fish predators and usually Asian people prefer to eat these kinds of fishes. In addition, some birds like great blue herons may feed on river carp suckers (Baldry, 2004). (Baldry, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2004)
This species has no known negative effects on humans.
Commercial fisherman caught the river carpsuckers for food during the 1960s. This species was one of the most plentiful fishes in Elephant Butte Reservoir in New Mexico (Jester 1972). Another place which has a relatively large abundance was in Caballo Reservoir in Texas. However, the river carpsuckers are reduced rapidly by the effect of toxics in the reservoir.
Even though most people in the United States think the river carpsucker is useless and not palatable, these fish are popular food in Asia. Capiodes carpio is also referred to as “cold water buffalo” in some areas of the southern United States (Sublette et al. 1990). (Jester, 1972; Sublette, et al., 1990)
Some reports and proposals were suggested in order to protect native population and habitat in the river from the river carpsucker. Also, the removal of these species was related to management of water uses. (BISON, 2004)
The river carpsucker is not considered a game species. This species is also called carpsucker, white carp, quillback, silvery carp, northern carpsucker.
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