Mirror carp is one of the first successful experiments, as a result of which it was possible to breed fish in artificial conditions to increase the population size, as well as its mass and nutritional value. At the same time, in addition to its industrial value, the mirror carp has also become the most beautiful representative of the family.
The origin of the species and description
Mirror carp belongs to the carp family. Its main difference is that this particular variety was bred artificially. Some call the Mirror Carp a tamed carp. But it is still different from carp. Mainly smaller head and elongated body.
Interesting fact: The mirror carp was artificially bred.
To carp includes many different types. Domesticated refers only to the mirror, which is often called domestic carp. In addition, there are common carp and others, most of which are named based on the name of the area where they are most common.
Video: Mirror carp
Initially, the Mirror carp was bred by breeders in order to create a species of fish that would have a large mass, size, nutritional value, and at the same time be unpretentious in terms of care. It is the Mirror Carp that is a member of the family that manages to be fed with grains and other plant crops that are easy to get, and which are also of high value for fish gaining weight.
The main features of this species include:
- large sizes of fish;
- unlike almost all other types of carps, the scales of the Mirror are silvery, very large in size, but there are few of them on the body;
- rays are much less on the fins;
- occurs mainly closer to the shore.
- All this is essentially the result of crossing various subspecies of cyprinids, as well as their adaptation to the necessary living conditions.
Interesting fact: Many breeders name representatives of the species that live in natural conditions , just feral individuals.
Work on crossing carp and carp continues. This allows you to achieve an even greater increase in body weight of fish and their growth rate. The mirror carp itself was discovered by German scientists.
Appearance and features
A distinctive feature of this type of carp is their large size. Mirror carp in length can reach 1 m, and weigh up to 15 kg. Mirror carp is a real aesthetic pleasure for the fisherman who caught it, because it is really difficult to take your eyes off the overflow of scales. The scales are usually mother-of-pearl with a green, golden or brown tint.
Large scales are located in the middle of the body closer to the tail. But near the pectoral and dorsal fins, scales are completely absent. It is interesting that the appearance of an adult mirror carp directly depends on the conditions in which it lives (quality of life, depth, sufficient amount of oxygen). Fish can adapt to different living conditions, changing their appearance to suit them.
Interesting fact: Such large scales are a consequence of the industrial importance of the species, since such fish are simply easier to clean.
Since the Mirror Carp was originally bred as an industrially valuable species, the features of its appearance also have a characteristic practical significance:
- minimum scales throughout the body;
- minimal number of rays, reduced fins;
- less developed head;
- prone to obesity, so they often look rounder, have a more rounded body.
Interesting fact: An even rarer variety is considered Naked carp – absolutely without scales of a diseased shade. It practically does not live in natural conditions.
Many argue that under natural conditions, mirror carp may well live up to 50 years and, increasing almost all the time, reach impressive sizes by this time .
Where does the mirror carp live?
Since the mirror carp was bred in artificial conditions, it also mainly lives in private reservoirs. But at the same time, significant efforts have been made to populate natural reservoirs with representatives of this population. To this end, numerous efforts have been made to choose the most comfortable conditions for the habitation of the Mirror Carp.
Basically, all cyprinids live in Europe and Asia. In Russia, they are most common in the Far East, but within the southern latitudes. The basins of the Black, Azov, Baltic and Caspian Seas are their main place of distribution. It should be borne in mind that cyprinids live exclusively in fresh water.
Mirror carp do not like fast currents. That is why he finds artificial ponds with stagnant water just perfect for life. Alternatively, in natural conditions it can live in lakes or rivers where the current is very weak. Carp also love the clay bottom. Such a choice is not accidental. In winter, carps hibernate, choosing the bottom for this and becoming covered with a thick layer of mucus. Carp also hunt closer to the bottom of the reservoir. Their special love for comfortable conditions of stay at the bottom is connected with this.
Mirror carps are forced to live in shallow water. This is due to the fact that the fish simply need oxygen in large quantities. There is no proper concentration in the middle and lower layers of the reservoir. At the same time, they actively seek shelter, so reservoirs with the purest water and a flat bottom are not an option for them. The mirror carp will not refuse various snags, pits, ledges and other places where, if necessary, you can safely hide.
Now you know where the mirror carp is found. Let's see what this fish eats.
What does the mirror carp eat?
There are legends about the voracity of representatives of the carp family. Mirror carp is no exception. He eats almost all the time he is awake. At the same time, in order to find food for himself (if we are talking about natural habitat conditions), he can move quite a long time and quickly.
Although carps are often referred to as bottom fish because they prefer to live and hunt closer to the bottom, in fact, they can readily look for food in all layers of the water. Although carps prefer mainly animal food, they are not averse to feasting on duckweed for lack of a better one. At the surface of the water, they can collect fallen insects (dragonflies, butterflies, midges). But closer to the bottom, the Mirror carp begins to look for mollusks, crustaceans.
In the water column, he perfectly finds fry and caviar of other fish, which he can also eat. Among plant foods, young reeds find the most attractive for themselves. In addition, carp can constantly filter water by drawing it through the gills. This allows him to get the smallest particles of food dissolved in the water column. Thus, the carp is never left without nutrients.
Cyprinids usually recognize suitable food for themselves with the help of sight and smell. It is the trapping of smells that allows them to smell prey even at a great distance.
An interesting fact: There is a completely logical explanation for such a significant voracity of cyprinids – they do not have a stomach, so there is nowhere for food to linger. That is, there is little time to absorb nutrients from the food consumed.
In the winter season, as well as during the spawning period, cyprinids practically lose interest in food. By the way, fishermen need to take this into account, because then any bait will be powerless. After spawning, cyprinids begin to actively gain weight again and make up for losses. But in the summer, they prefer plant foods, even occasionally not shunning fruits and berries. In autumn, in order to accumulate enough protein before wintering, carp again switch to an animal diet.
Interesting fact: Under artificial conditions, they feed on cereals without problems.
Character and lifestyle features
Carps are fish that prefer a large group. They rarely live alone. Only too large adults can afford this. However, they still prefer not to stay too far from their relatives. In winter, cyprinids try to unite in the largest possible flocks – this way it is easier for them to wait out the frosts. To do this, they choose deep pits and there, half asleep, they wait for spring. If such a hole could not be found, then cyprinids settle under snags.
Mirror carp go to wintering when the water temperature begins to drop sharply. Then the carp lies on the bottom, slows down its breathing and gradually refuses food. Thus, he manages to wait out the severe frosts. In order not to freeze, carps are covered with a thick layer of mucus mixed with fat. But in the spring, when the water gets warmer and the ice finally melts, the carp will wake up.
Young individuals prefer thickets of reeds closer to the shore, but mature relatives may well live closer to the bottom. In summer, they may go deeper distances in search of food. Cyprinids are sedentary fish. They try to almost never leave their chosen habitats. Even if you have to move, they try to do it at minimum distances. If you need to swim somewhere, then carps move in small flocks and swim in a row.
For habitation, they choose darkened places, they shun too bright and well-visible places. Carp can often jump out of the water – this is a sign that they are going to get their own food. But if this happens too often and carp jump high, then this indicates an imminent change in the weather for the worse.
An interesting fact: Carp sees perfectly, distinguishes colors and can view the world around 360 degrees.
Social structure and reproduction
Mirror carp to some extent can be called a schooling fish, but only partially. This is due to the fact that flocks of Mirror carps live only up to a certain time. When they are 5-6 years old and they become fully mature, they disperse around the reservoir and continue to live on their own, converging in groups only during the spawning period.
Mirror carp can start spawning only if if the water in the reservoir warmed up enough. Usually this requires a temperature of at least 16 degrees. Spawning takes place in the spring. It is precisely because of spawning that representatives of this species spend March and April very actively, frolicking in every possible way in the water.
Eggs ripen already 4 days after they are laid out. Mature individuals can spawn. They reach this age by about 4-5 years. For spawning, a sexually mature female of 3-5 years old needs to look after several males at once, in order to then go with them to shallow water (a depth of no more than half a meter). The bottom in this place should be overgrown with soft algae.
Then, within 2-3 days, the female lays eggs in small portions. On average, one female can lay out from 100 thousand to 1 million eggs. When after 5 days the larvae emerge from the eggs, they will still develop in a static position for about a week. At this time, their only source of nutrients is the yolk sac. Further, when the fry begins to swim independently, it will begin to feed on small crustaceans on its own.
It should be noted that all representatives of the carp family are not so highly organized, therefore, nature does not provide any care for their offspring. After the female has laid her eggs, she and her partners leave without guarding the place. Under artificial conditions, they are also isolated from offspring.
Natural enemies of the mirror carp
If we talk about representatives of the population living in artificial conditions, then they have a much lower percentage of enemies. Different fish are not planted with each other, but carps never show hostility among themselves, therefore they cannot cause any harm. In natural conditions, everything is much more complicated. Although cyprinids, like many other fish, the main threat is man. Especially when it comes to such an industrially valuable species.
In addition, there are enough enemies among representatives of natural nature. This is why the carp tries to be careful, despite its impressive size. Frogs are always the most dangerous – they love to eat eggs and even fry. Thus, in a day, 1 frog is able to destroy almost the entire clutch of one female. Crustaceans and other fish also do not refuse such a delicacy.
If the caviar is brought too close to the shore, then birds, animals can eat it there, or it simply dries up. Large pikes, catfish and even other larger carps may well eat small adults. Seagulls and other birds of this kind are especially dangerous for young cyprinids – they hunt them very often and can destroy them in large numbers. These enemies are extremely difficult for carps to fight, which is why they often prefer to choose more secluded habitats.
Population and species status
Mirror carp is an artificially bred species of these fish. It has much in common with other carps, but differs in that, in fact, the population is not estimated under natural conditions. Although many representatives of the carp family are listed in the Red Book, it is not possible to include this carp, since there can be no question of preserving the Mirror carp in artificial conditions.
This fish inhabited water bodies mainly in the same areas where other carps live. But it is impossible to accurately calculate the number of representatives of this population that currently live in nature. Even if we calculate the number of fish that inhabited the reservoirs, then in any case, you need to additionally know the percentage of survival and breeding volumes. On many special farms, fish are grown as objects of fishery. Their exact number is also impossible to calculate. For these reasons, it is impossible to estimate the exact population size of both the Mirror carp and cyprinids in general.
The remaining species of cyprinids have the official status of those that require protection from the state. Their number is rapidly declining, which is documented. Since the Mirror Carp was originally bred in artificial conditions and inhabited those reservoirs in which it had not previously lived, it is impossible to give it this status. Protective restrictions are only generally the same as those that apply to all representatives of the carp family: a ban on catching fish with nets, fishing during the spawning season.
But practice shows that such restrictions are often violated. Poachers catch Mirror Carp not only because of their valuable meat, but also because of their beautiful appearance. As a result, the number of representatives of the population is rapidly declining. If it goes on like this, then basically such carps will remain only in private reservoirs.
In conclusion, it is worth noting once again that the mirror carp is an interesting species of fish, which is often called “domesticated”. This is due to the fact that they were artificially bred by humans. These cyprinids have not only extremely tasty meat (like representatives of other species of the family), but also an original attractive appearance that can delight any fisherman.