Mirror Carp - Cyprinus Carpio

mirror-carp
About the Mirror Carp.
The mirror carp is one of the European anglers' most favourite and sought after sport fish. It can put up a massive fight when hooked and can grow to impressive weights of over 60lb, making a great snap for the photo album when caught and photographed.
Presently, the UK and world record carp hooked have both been mirrors.

The mirror carp is the same species yet a variation of the common carp (Cyprinus carpio) but differs from it genetically and in appearance.

Monks introduced carp to the UK during the Middle Ages and kept them in ponds called "stews".

The common carp has evenly placed scales all over its body, whereas the mirror carp has much fewer randomly situated larger scales. It is believed that mirror carp were bred and modified genetically to eliminate the scales from the fish's body so that food preparation at the monastery became an easier task.

Mirror Carp Identification

The body of the mirror carp is much rounder, fuller and more laterally compressed than the common carp. This was also useful for the monks that prepared the meals at the monastery, as the more rotund and deeper body of the mirror carp offered much more meat than the slimmer common carp. This was very handy when there were a lot of hungry monks about!

As with the common carp, the mirror carp also has a long dorsal fin. The first ray is a sharp serrated spine and is followed by a series of branched rays. The mirror carp also has a high, arched back and it is not unusual to see the bigger specimens with a huge swollen belly.

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Depending on where the mirror carp lives, its colour can vary. Those that dwell in gravel pits are almost black whilst those that live in other types of water such as a clay pond can be brown or light grey. In other cases the mirror carp is a brassy colour with a greenish hue on its back and golden shading on its sides. The underside of the carp is generally a yellowish cream colour. The fins of the mirror carp tend to range somewhere between golden, orange, yellow and red.

The mirror carp has a small head with a rounded snout that contains two sets of barbules on the mouth. One set is situated at the edge of the upper lip and the other where the upper and lower lip adjoin. The small, protrusive mouth is toothless.

As mentioned previously, the mirror carp has large shiny scales haphazardly positioned over its body. This means that one fish can be distinguished from another as no fish have the same amount of scales in exactly the same position.

Mirror Carp Habitat

The mirror carp generally tends to inhabit the same types of waters as its cousin, the common carp. They will usually be found in the lower reaches of a slow-flowing river and in any manmade waters such as a reservoir or canal, especially if there is dense vegetation and a large amount of plant life. Mirror carp are found in most lakes of the UK and enjoy rooting around the muddy bottom of their dwelling in search of food. They can often be found in shallow waters at any time of year.

Natural Mirror Carp Food

Mirror carp are omnivores, meaning that they feed both on vegetable and animal matter. They will uproot aquatic plants to feed on, often causing chaos and destruction to a given area that can detrimentally affect the nearby wildlife, insects and animals.

Mirror carp also feed on a wide array of animal matter including molluscs, aquatics insects, worms, small crustaceans, mayfly larvae, caddis fly, water bugs and water spiders.

Mirror Carp Reproduction

Reproduction does not really differ much between the mirror carp and common carp species. Spawning takes place during the summer when water temperatures are generally much higher.

Male carp develop white tubercles around their head around spawning time and the female develops a swollen tummy.

Spawning always takes place in the shallows over dense vegetation and plants. The female will release hundreds of thousands of eggs that cling to the weeds until they hatch, which is usually within a week.

Many of the eggs do not hatch as they are eaten by predators and thousands of the young fry also perish. In fact, hardly any of the carp actually make it to their first year due to predators or various negative environmental factors.

The Mirror Carp's Vital Statistics

  • Average weight: 10lb (4.5kg)
  • Average length: 25 inches (63.5cm)
  • Specimen weight: 20lb (9kg)
  • Life-span: can be over 60 years
  • Current UK record: 71lb 4oz - (RH Fisheries, Shropshire)
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