Photo by Vladimir Wrangel/Shutterstock
Prussian Carp are an invasive ﬁsh species now found in Alberta and Saskatchewan rivers, lakes and ponds. These ﬁsh originate in Europe or Asia but it is not known how they arrived in North America. Prussian Carp can be pets and scientists believe that it is possible that the ﬁsh got into Canada after someone released their pet into a local water body. These ﬁsh were ﬁrst documented in Alberta in 2000 and in Saskatchewan in 2006.
These ﬁsh strongly resemble goldﬁsh, however, instead of being gold they are silver in colour and they can grow as long as 30 cm. Individuals can also live up to 10 years. Prussian Carp dominate and choke out native species of ﬁsh in several ways. They can survive extreme environmental conditions, such as low oxygen levels or high amounts of algae.
Additionally, the invasive species are predominantly female. This is because these ﬁsh are able to clone themselves, rendering male Prussian Carp unnecessary for reproduction. Carp can reproduce through a process called gynogenesis, making each individual ﬁsh a carbon copy. This process requires the use of sperm from related species found ﬂoating around in rivers and lakes. The females lay their eggs and take the sperm from another species to fertilize their eggs, but the other species do not actually contribute any genetic material. This process allows the carp to reproduce in huge numbers.
This process can also be detrimental to native species since the carp is taking the sperm that might otherwise be used to fertilize their own species.
Currently, there are no established eradication efforts in place other than recreational ﬁshing and capture. Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development suggest that if you catch a Prussian Carp that you kill it on site and then either take them home to eat or properly dispose of the carcass away from any body of water. In Saskatchewan, it is suggested that people notify the Ministry of Environment about where the ﬁsh was caught and then discard the ﬁsh. Do not release it back into the water.