Can you spot the differences that Asian carps could cause?
Once you think you’ve found all of the differences, scroll down to see the answers and find out more!
Have you found all the differences?
Asian carps are four different types of fishes: Bighead Carp, Silver Carp, Grass Carp and Black Carp. These fishes are from a similar fish family as minnows. They originally came from the rivers and lakes in China and southern Russia. All four types of these fishes were brought to North America over forty years ago to control algae, plants and snails in fish farms. Plants and algae produce oxygen during the day and consume it at night. In a fish pond, when there is too much algae and plant growth, they will use up a lot of oxygen at night and leave little for the fishes to survive. The Asian carps eat the plants, algae and snails to prevent them from overgrowing in the ponds.
During years when there was lots of rain, the fish farms flooded and some of the Asian carps escaped their enclosures. These fishes are now the most common type of fish in many areas of the Mississippi waterway system in the United States.
The differences explained
1. Bighead and Silver Carp can take over a fish ecosystem and become the main fishes in some lakes and rivers. They eat lots of food every day, leaving far less of small plants and animals (plankton) for the native fishes. This means that the main fishes you would be likely to see in invaded waters are Bighead and Silver Carp.
2. When startled by boat motors, Silver Carp jump up to 3 metres out of the water. This can harm boaters and water skiers, even causing broken bones and head injuries. This makes it difficult, or impossible for families to enjoy the waterways where Asian carps have invaded.
3. Grass Carp mainly eat aquatic plants and their eating habits can disturb lake and river bottoms. This can also cause the water to become murky which makes it more difficult for other fish to find food. The loss of aquatic plants also leaves small native fishes without a place to hide from larger predatory fish.
4. Grass Carp eating habits will reduce wetlands which in turn will decrease habitat for waterfowl. Shores invaded with Asian carps will have less ability to support a variety of bird species.
5. The murky water caused by Asian carps and increase in toxic algal blooms will make people less likely to use the lake for recreational purposes like fishing and swimming.
6. Because of Asian carp activities, the shores of invaded lakes will become murky and unfit for many uses. This will make recreational activities around the affected lakes undesirable, leading to less families using the areas for camping and water activities like canoeing, kayaking and paddle-boarding.
7. Many species of native wildlife will be negatively affected by an invasion of Asian carps because of the carps’ ability to consume large amounts of water plants. Animals such as moose and waterfowl for example, who also feed on aquatic plants will likely not be as abundant due to the reduction of their food supply.
Spread the word, not the fish.
Asian carps have not made the Great Lakes their home yet. We want to make sure they don’t!
One of the best ways you can help is to share what you learned about Asian carps with your friends and family. The more people who know about what can happen if Asian carps get into in the Great Lakes, the more we can help protect our Canadian waterways from these fishes.
Browse through the Asian Carp Canada website to learn more about Asian carps and what is being done to prevent them from getting into the Great Lakes.
Also, anyone who finds or catches a fish in the Great Lakes that might be an Asian carp should report it immediately at the Invading Species Hotline, 1-800-563-7711 or www.eddmaps.org/ontario.