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Invasive Species: Bighead Carp

Bighead Carp

(Hypophthalmichthys nobilis)
*Not detected in Michigan*


Report this species to:

Lucas Nathan, DNR Fisheries Division,, 517-599-9323.

If possible, please take one or more photos of the invasive species you are reporting. Also make note of the location, date and time of the observation.  This will aid in verification of your report. You may be asked to provide your name and contact information if follow-up is needed.

- Or - use the invasive (Asian) carp reporting form.

- Or - Use the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN) online reporting tool.

- Or - download the MISIN smartphone app and report from your phone.



  • Up to 5 feet long and weighing up to 90 lbs.
  • Large head with a toothless, downturned mouth.
  • Eyes sit below the mouth.
  • Adults are dark gray with dark blotches.
  • Keel between anal and pelvic fins.

Bighead Carp

Illustration by Joseph R. Tomelleri


bighead carp

A threat to the Great Lakes!

Bighead carp feed on plankton, a primary food for many native fish including walleye, yellow perch and lake whitefish.  They are voracious eaters, consuming up to 40% of their weight per day.

These fast-growing fish can reach up to 90 pounds, and each female can produce up to one million eggs.

If they make it to the Great Lakes, bighead carp will populate nearshore areas and large rivers, which could reduce sport and commercial fishing opportunities, threatening the $7 billion fishing industry in the Great Lakes.  

Habitat: Bighead carp are able to establish populations in water bodies with a wide range of temperatures and at relatively low salinity levels. Spawning generally occurs following a flood event in large, turbulent rivers.

Diet: These fish filter-feed on a wide spectrum of food. Because bighead carp lack a true stomach, they must feed almost continuously. They can consume 40% of their body weight in food each day.

Native Range: Southern and central China.

U.S. Distribution: Bighead carp have been recorded in at least 18 states surrounding the Ohio and Mississippi river basins.

Potential Means of Introduction: Illinois River or flood connections with Great Lakes waters; bait.



Bighead Carp Invasive Species Alert - Printable PDF 


Proposed 2010 Plan for the Prevention, Detection, Assessment, and Management of Asian Carps in Michigan Waters

Status Report for the Proposed 2010 Plan for the Prevention, Detection, Assessment, and Management of Asian Carps in Michigan Waters, April 2012