Black Carp: Biological Synopsis and Risk Assessment of an Introduced Fish

Chapter 14: Native Mollusks and Black Carp


As previously discussed (Chapter 7), the diet of juvenile and adult black carp Mylopharyngodon piceus consists largely of mollusks (snails and bivalves). Because of its size and specialized diet, aquaculturists view the black carp as a useful tool to control snail-borne parasites that infect farm-raised fishes. In stark contrast, conservationists are concerned that the fish will ultimately become established in open waters of the United States. In particular, they are apprehensive that wild black carp will prey heavily on native mollusks, thereby hastening the decline of numerous mussels and snails, many of which already are threatened or endangered. Literature on the diet of black carp in Asia and elsewhere strongly supports the contention that the fish will feed on unionid mussels and native snails. Consideration by the federal government to list black carp as an injurious species under the Lacey Act is based, in large part, on its potential harm to native mollusks. Because of the relationship between black carp (as predator) and mollusks (as prey), this chapter considers the distribution and status of native snails and bivalves.