Common Carp, Uncommon Terms
more words to learn!

Some fish can have a direct negative impact on water quality. Benthivores, one such group, are animals (fish in this case) that survive by eating “benthic” organisms (those that live at the bottom of the lake).

One benthivore is the common carp, Cyprinus carpio, an introduced species, not native to North America. As carp feed, they suspend sediments from the bottom, a process called “bioturbation.” These sediments cloud the water and carry phosphorus, which will encourage algae growth. Large zooplankton have difficulty feeding in turbid water, hindering their ability to remove algae. In addition, juvenile carp will feed on larger zooplankton, resulting in a zooplankton community dominated by smaller species that are much less efficient at eating algae than larger species.

Aquatic plants don’t fare well in the presence of carp. Not only do carp eat some plants, but will disturb the roots as they feed. The sediments suspended by the feeding process block the sunlight needed by submersed plants. Aquatic plants provide a refuge for some zooplankton species and remove nutrients that would otherwise be used by algae. Shade created by aquatic plants further hinders algae growth. Carp and aquatic plants don’t mix, so if you like clear water, carp aren’t the fish for you!

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