How do carp get so big - Angler holding large carp over cradle

If you’re an angler, I’m sure you know how huge these fish can get. For a lot of people, this is exactly why they spend huge amounts trying to get one of the huge fish in their net.

Unlike other coarse species in the UK, the large, powerful bodies of the carp can put up a tremendous fight if you hook into one of the big specimens swimming in our waters.

With carp dwarfing all of the other coarse fishing species in UK waters, it’s no surprise that a lot of people ask “How do carp get so big?”

In this post, I’m going to explore exactly how to carp are so big and discuss some of the largest carp caught in the UK and across Europe, where the carp typically grow to even larger sizes.

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  • How Do Carp Get So Big?

    Believe it or not, the original “wild” carp in the UK, dating back to the 1400s when monks started importing carp for food, were relatively small in size (compared to now), and a huge wild fish would be classed as around 10 lbs.

    Over centuries these carp were selectively bred by monks in the UK and across Europe.

    This selective breeding was done by picking out the largest fish from each spawn and also the fish with the fewest scales.

    The monks began to breed the fish in this manner so over decades, each new generation would grow larger than its predecessors and also with fewer scales.

    This meant that there were more carp to be consumed, and also, with the reduced scales, the fish were far easier prepared and also encourages larger growths as the fish didn’t need to expend energy in growing full-scale covered bodies.

    Essentially, this is how mirror carp were born and also the reason why it is far more common to find large specimen mirror carp compared to common carp.

    Through consistent selective breeding over the years, the strains of carp swimming in our waters today have the potential to grow to some absolutely enormous sizes.

    Today, these selective breeding approaches are not by any means slowing down, and fisheries across the UK and Europe are consistently looking for breeding opportunities to continue to breed fish that can grow even larger than the families before then.

    You can expect to see new world record weights of carp being caught for many years to come.

    How are Carp Reared for Stocking Fisheries?

    How do carp get so big - Large net of carp at carp fish farm

    If you want an insight into how carp grow so big then you need to take a look at the fisheries and fish farms where modern-day carp are bred and reared before stocking in the fisheries we all frequent.

    I’ll give you a brief overview of the process involved but bear in mind this a complex subject.

    Carp fish farms will select “brood” fish that will be used in the breeding process.

    Male and female fish are selected and held in specialised ponds that external parameters such as temperature and oxygen levels.

    If you know anything about carp spawning in in the wild, then you will be aware that certain external parameters need to be present for the carp to start their breeding process.

    These parameters are mimicked in these breeding ponds until the fish are ready to spawn.

    Sometimes, the male and female fish will be injected with hormones so that the females release their eggs and the males their sperm.

    Once the females begin releasing eggs, they are taken from the water and the eggs are collected by massaging their sides and pushing the eggs out of the fish.

    The collection of sperm for the male fish is done in a similar fashion.

    Once both of the collections are complete, they are mixed together to fertilise the eggs ready for hatching.

    The fertilised eggs are kept in incubator jars, and after only 2 and a halfish days the eggs begin to hatch.

    Once the fry is hatched, they will spend some time eating the food source in what is called a “yolk” in which they are stuck within.

    After all the food is depleted, they start to swim and congregate towards the surface of the tank they are now in and are consistently fed marine plankton.

    From this time onwards, the fry is fed vast amounts of plankton consistently, where they begin their growth into the large fish stocked in fisheries.

    As the carp grow, they are moved from different tanks and, once big enough, will end up in ponds where they move on to pelletised diets to continue their growth.

    This is far from all that is involved but should give you a very basic understanding of the time and effort that must go into rearing these fish from fry to the large stocked fish.

    That’s All

    You should now understand how the carp stocked in fisheries grow so big. After centuries of selective breeding, the modern fish caught are still breaking records nearly every year.

    The process involved in breeding these fish is highly complex and takes real specialised teams to consistently breed fish that have greater growth potential than their predecessors

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