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

Chapter 6: Biology and Natural History


This chapter reviews and summarizes information on various aspects of the environmental biology and life history of black carp Mylopharyngodon piceus, including life cycle, reproduction, habitat, age and growth, early development, and related subjects. It considers data on both native and introduced populations. Diet of black carp is covered in Chapter 7. Additional details and a more critical treatment of habitat and spawning requirements, as well as information on environmental tolerances, are presented in Chapter 15.

The life cycle of black carp, particularly with regards to reproduction, follows the same basic pattern as that of the other Chinese carps (Figure 6.1). Consequently, authors commonly convey information encompassing all four species (e.g., Nikolsky 1963, 1971; Yi and Liang 1964; Liu 1984; Banarescu and Coad 1991; Lu et al. 1997). A few investigators reveal particular details specific to black carp (e.g., Chang 1966). Successful natural reproduction and persistence of Chinese carps only occurs in riverine environments. There are a few, scattered reports of Chinese carps spawning in lakes or reservoirs, but eggs rarely, if ever, survive. Russian researchers place Chinese carps in the ecological group “pelagophilous” freshwater fishes, that is, species that reproduce in flowing water and the eggs develop in the pelagic zone of the river current (Aliev 1976; Mikodina and Makeyeva 1980; Makeeva and Pavlov 2000). The term “potamodromous” also has been used to refer to riverine fishes, including selected Chinese cyprinids that are migratory within freshwater (Liang et al. 2003).