Sazan is the scientific name for river carp. These fish are considered one of the most popular and common inhabitants of fresh water. Almost any fisherman dreams of getting a trophy in the form of a carp. The habitat of the carp is quite extensive. Migration is unusual for them, they spend almost their entire lives within the same reservoir.
Origin of the species and description
Carp belongs to chordates. It is allocated to the class of ray-finned fishes, order of cyprinids, family of cyprinids, genus of carps, species of carp.
Cyprinids are one of the most popular fish. Scientists still cannot name the exact period of their appearance on earth. Some argue that the remains of the ancient ancestors of fish are completely destroyed under the influence of natural factors and weather conditions. However, it is known for sure that approximately 300-350 million years ago the Earth was inhabited by the ancestors of modern fish – Acrania. This is evidenced by the discovered fossilized remains of these creatures. Outwardly, they very much resembled modern fish, but did not have a skull, brain, jaws and paired fins.
Many scientists are still arguing whether the first ancestors of modern fish appeared in fresh water or salt water. In this regard, there is even a version that even annelids can be ancestors.
Other scientists argue that the first representatives of modern fish definitely existed already about 450 million years ago. Archaeologists have discovered some fossils that are taken to be the remains of the ancient ancestors of modern fish. These remains are somewhat reminiscent of modern species of marine life. However, their body was covered with a kind of shell, their jaws were missing.
Appearance and features
Carp belongs to the carp family. Its external features have a number of distinctive features.
Distinctive external features:
- dense, large and rather massive, slightly elongated body;
- wide line backs and slightly compressed sides;
- large, massive head;
- low-lying, large, fleshy lips;
- two pairs of whiskers are located on the lower lip. They are used as a tool for searching for food by feeling the surface of the bottom;
- eyes not too large with a golden brown iris;
- long dorsal fin, dark in color with a characteristic notch;
- anal fin dark red;
- other fins bluish-lilac;
- the body of the fish is covered with dense golden scales. They are smooth and quite large.
Interesting fact: Carp grows for eight years of its life. Some individuals grow to large sizes. The body length of individual fish can reach 60-70 centimeters and sometimes even more. The body weight of an average-sized fish ranges from 1.5 to 3.5 kilograms. There are cases in history when fishermen caught individuals more than a meter in length and weighing more than 15-17 kilograms!
The back of a carp is always painted in a lighter, golden color. The sides and abdomen are darker. There are several types of carp, each of which has distinctive external features.
Where does carp live?
Most representatives of this species lead a sedentary lifestyle, occupying a strictly defined territory. This category of fish spends its entire life within this territory. However, there are fish that can lead a semi-anadromous lifestyle. They tend to migrate from lakes and lagoons to ponds during the spawning season.
Carp, or carp is considered mainly freshwater fish, but there are subspecies that live in the depths of the sea. As places for permanent residence, fish choose calm regions with a slow current. Feel comfortable in still water. In places where carp is found, there is a muddy bottom, there are snags, trees, thickets of algae, pits on it.
An interesting fact: In the mouth of a carp there are three rows of fairly large chewing teeth. With their help, fish easily crush almost any food, including shellfish.
The main criterion for the comfortable existence of carp is a sufficient amount of food supply at the bottom of the reservoir. Brackish water does not create problems and discomfort for fish. They can live almost everywhere: reservoirs, lakes, rivers, ponds, etc. It is unusual for carp to swim away from their usual habitats.
Geographical regions of fish habitat:
- Mediterranean Sea;
- Aral Sea;
- Sea of Azov;
- Black Sea;
- Caspian Sea;
- Baltic Sea;
- North Sea;
- Lake Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan;
- some regions in Kamchatka and Siberia;
- rivers of the Far East;
- Southeast Asia;
- tributaries of the Volga rivers , Kura, Don, Kuban.
In addition to all of the above, it is worth noting that representatives of this species are very fond of warmth. That is why the fish prefers to be in a well-heated water column. The optimum habitat temperature is + 25 degrees. Fish can hardly endure winds from the north and changes in temperature and climatic conditions. If there is a sharp change in weather conditions, a cold wind rises or sharp jumps in atmospheric pressure are noted, the fish hide under snags or in holes at the bottom.
What does carp eat?
Carp have as many as three rows of large, sharp teeth. With their help, fish easily grind even the most solid food. It is noteworthy that these fish do not have a stomach, and therefore they can almost constantly eat food. With the onset of spring, after a meager winter diet, which consists mainly of algae and other vegetation, the food base becomes more varied and nutritious. With the onset of summer, they can eat representatives of marine flora and fauna.
What is included in the diet of carp:
- seeds of aquatic vegetation;
- reed shoots;
- the simplest marine inhabitants – ciliates;
- marine plankton;
- larvae of aquatic insects;
- roe of various fish species;
- roe of frogs;
- small molluscs and crustaceans;
In the spring, fish can eat seeds, terrestrial and aquatic vegetation, foliage, stems. Warming and the summer season contribute to the replenishment of the diet with representatives of the animal world. This is due to the fact that during the warm period in the reservoirs there are a large number of insects, small mollusks and crustaceans, and during the spawning period there is a huge amount of caviar of all kinds of fish.
With the onset of cold weather, fish burrow into silt or hide in pits and eat practically nothing before the onset of heat. Young individuals begin to feed on eggs and larvae of aquatic insects, gradually replenishing the diet with ever larger representatives of the animal world. Carp will never be found where there is not enough food supply. This is due to the fact that the first 7-8 years the fish grow intensively and they need a huge amount of food.
Peculiarities of character and lifestyle
The vast majority of individuals of this species are freshwater fish, which are unusual for migrating over long distances. However, in some places there are marine inhabitants who feel quite comfortable in such conditions and can even spawn in brackish water. Some representatives of the species prefer to settle in places with a sharp drop in depth or in dense thickets of reeds and water lilies.
Carp is a schooling fish. She lives most often as part of a flock, the number of which directly depends on its size. The smaller the fish, the larger the flock. It shows maximum activity in the dark, when it emerges from its shelters in search of food. With the onset of dusk and at dawn, it likes to swim close to the coastline in search of food, which is carried by the current from the coast. In the warm season, it can swim in the shallows just to frolic.
With the onset of cold weather, fish hide in large flocks to the bottom, burrowing into the silt and settling in the deepest pits. In winter, the carp practically does not eat anything, as the food base becomes scarce, and due to the cooling of the fish, they lead an immobile lifestyle. Representatives of this species are very cautious, they try to avoid places where other predatory fish are found: catfish, pike, pike perch.
By nature, fish are endowed with good eyesight and excellent hearing. The slightest movement or noise can startle her. To search for food, individuals use not only vision, but also special whiskers. Any food they can find is savored and evaluated for a long time before being crushed and swallowed, with the exception of algae.
Social Structure and Reproduction
Males reach sexual maturity at about 2.9-3.3 years of age. By this time, they reach a length of 30-35 centimeters. Females become sexually mature a little later – at the age of 4-5 years. Their body length exceeds the body length of males by an average of 15 centimeters.
Interesting fact: Carp females are considered one of the most prolific fish on earth. During the spawning period, they are able to throw up to one and a half million eggs at a time!
Female individuals spawn at the moment when the water warms up to a temperature of 16-20 degrees. The spawning of these particular fish is known for its uniqueness and spectacularity. Fish spawn in small flocks, where there is one female and two or three males. This usually happens in the evening or at night in shallow water in thickets of reeds or other aquatic plants. At this time, you can hear the numerous splashes that appear when males jump out of the water. At the place where spawning will take place, the fish gather prematurely, about one and a half meters before the start of spawning and stay at a depth of one and a half to two meters.
Spawning begins when the water warms up enough. This happens in the middle or towards the end of May. Spawning continues until the end of June. Female individuals often spawn in several steps, depending on the temperature of the water. Yellowish carp eggs are one and a half – two millimeters in diameter. They are usually attached to aquatic vegetation. Eggs are fed with a yellow pouch. After a few days, the eggs turn into fry. They are quite viable and can feed on their own. As they grow older, the fry expand their diet.
Natural enemies of carp
In their natural habitat, carp have quite a few enemies. One of the main enemies is the frog, which absorbs a huge number of fry and larvae of this fish. For young and still medium-sized individuals, birds of prey – gulls, terns – are dangerous. Among the enemies of carp and predatory fish – pikes, catfish, asps. They eat carp fry in huge quantities, significantly reducing its population.
Despite the fact that carp has excellent hearing and is a fast and very cautious fish, fishermen catch it in huge quantities. A variety of devices are used to capture representatives of this species. They are successfully caught on steamed peas, boiled potatoes, bread crumb, as well as earthworms, May beetles, and other insects.
Carp are hunted in rivers and lakes. There is an opinion that some experience and skill is required to catch a carp. This is due to the fact that the fish is cautious and does not immediately swallow the bait, but gradually tastes it. Among the representatives of this species, there are quite large individuals that can easily pull a rod out of their hands or twist a fishing line. Anglers know how careful they must be to catch it. By nature, carp is endowed with excellent hearing, and instantly reacts to the slightest sounds.
Population and species status
The carp population is usually divided into two groups. One group is a population living in the Caspian Sea and in the rivers of the Aral Sea. Representatives of another group live in the water bodies of China, Asian countries and the Far East.
Recently, in some regions there has been a trend towards a decrease in the number of fish. This is due to the catching of fish in large quantities, as well as an increase in the number of predators. Another factor contributing to the decline in numbers is changes in the water level, which are associated with the operation of hydraulic structures. This problem is very relevant for the southern regions of Russia. In regions where floods begin earlier, there are more fish.
In some regions, pollution of water bodies also negatively affects fish populations. The carp population does not cause any concern, as representatives of this species actively interbreed with other subspecies of their species.
Carp has always been considered a valuable commercial fish. At the beginning of the twentieth century, in the Azov and Black Seas, carp fishing from the total fish production was almost 13%. In those days, about 9 tons of fish were caught in these regions. In the 60s of the last century, the production of carp in the Aral Sea was about 34% of the total fish production. To date, the number of fish caught has decreased significantly.
Carp is considered a fairly common and popular fish. They like to cook it both at home and in the most sophisticated restaurants. Fishing for carp sometimes turns into the most incredible adventure.