Do Carp Have Whiskers - Close up of a carps head and barbells

Carp are interesting fish with their elusive nature, methods of sourcing food and the massive sizes they can grow to.

It’s no surprise that carp are fast becoming some of the most popular sport fish across the UK, Europe and even branching out into other parts of the globe.

To become a high-success carp angler, it’s beneficial to not only build up an understanding of the methods and approaches to catching these fish but also the anatomy of carp and how this relates to your fishing approach.

Carp have what some people refer to as “whiskers” but they’re not at all.

So, do carp have whiskers and what are they used for?

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  • Do Carp Have Whiskers?

    No, carp don’t have “whiskers”, but they do have two barbels at either side of their mouth that some people refer to as whiskers.

    To explain this, I’ll need to explain what whiskers are.

    Whiskers are a type of stiff functional hair that is used by mammals as a way of sensing their environment.

    These hairs are used for specific purposes and are commonly found on either side of mammals’ mouths.

    They typically aid mammals in navigation, movement, hunting and even social interaction.

    Carp, on the other hand, have “barrels”, which are sensory organs located on either side of their mouth. The carp use these organs to search for food, usually on the bottom.

    In this sense, they help carp sense their environment and movement on the hunt for food, but they are not made of stiff hair, so they can’t be classed as whiskers.

    What Are Carp Barbels For?

    Carp are exceptional foragers and have specialised methods of finding food in the water, including their eyesight, smell and of course, the two barbels that protrude from the side of their mouths.

    These barbels have taste buds that allow the carp to taste food sources on the bottom as they rummage and search for anything edible in the water.

    These barbels are great for use in murky or dark waters as the fish can’t use its eyesight on the hunt for food.

    As a lot of you will already know, carp spend a lot of time feeding on the bottom and scavenging for natural food such as insects, crustaceans, worms, plant matter and basically anything that looks edible enough.

    That’s All

    Although a lot of people refer to carp barbels as whiskers, they are not whiskers at all. Whiskers are common in mammals but not fish.

    These carp barbels are used for tasting and finding food in the water.

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