What is a Ghost Carp: Origins, Habitat, and How to Catch Them

The ghost carp have spread to other parts of the world, including Asia, after being discovered for the first time in the lower Great Lakes in the 1970s. The scientific name for the fish, also known as the common carp, silver carp, and golden carp, is Cyprinus carpio.

This article contains detailed insights on what is a Ghost Carp: origins, habitat, and how to catch them. In contrast to the majority of koi fish, ghost carp are British. A species of carp that has evolved to thrive in water with minimal oxygen has earned the appellation “ghost carp,” giving rise to the term. These fish can move around in locations with little oxygen because of their small mouths and gills.

Name Cyprinus carpio
Average Weight 6-15 lb (2.7kg/6.8kg)
Average Length 18-26 inches (45cm-65cm)
Maximum Weight 94lb (42kg)
Maximum Length 48 inches (120cm)
Life Span 9–45 years


Ghost Carp fish

Early Ghost koi usually had an all-black hue. However, because of various breeding experiments, current types are more colorful and come in scaled and scaleless (Doitsu) forms. It has developed as the main component of many ponds across the world.

In the 1980s, a farmer crossed a mirror carp with a metallic Ogon Koi to produce the ghost koi fish. Due to the fact that it is a relatively new breed, many koi enthusiasts and breeders do not recognize it as a true koi.

Asia and Central Europe are the places where carp fish first appeared. In east Asia, they are mostly raised for food. Carp are well-known cold-water fish because they can adapt to a variety of environments and conditions. In order to eliminate unwanted plants, Asian carp also referred to as “ghost carp,” were imported to the United States in the 1970s.

They are an Asian carp variety that originated in China. They have since spread all over the country. The problem is that, despite the fact that these fish help lakes and rivers get cleaner since they eat vegetation, they also prey on other fish species. Strangely, Ghost carps share many traits with Koi carp and are biologically identical to those fish (Nishikigoi).


Carp Fishing

Having a thick body, a ghost carp is weighty and massive. It is a fish with many scales, whereas leather and mirror carp may have fewer scales.

The ghost carp, however, lacks scales on its head, much like all other carp species. It can vary in color and has long rear fins. The hue of ghost koi might still differ.

While some have bodies that are entirely one color, others have black or metallic patterns. A yellow ghost carp is produced by mating mirrors or common carp with yamabuki. Ghost koi’s colors change and become more vivid as they get older. The ghost koi has thick, rubbery lips and slightly protruding upper jaws like other carp species.

They can get as big as two feet long and six pounds in weight. It has been studied for many years, but ghost carp’s appearance and size is an intriguing subjects. No one is certain why these fish have grown so big, though there are a few different theories regarding how they got to be invasive.

Others contend that the carp’s natural growth rate is sped up by ingesting food tainted with contaminants, refuting the theory that people may have contributed to the fish’s increased size. A light organ located in the black patch on the carp’s head allows it to interact with other members of its kind.


ghost Carp Fish

In general, carp are a resistant species, which is fantastic. As the species can breathe at the surface, it can withstand water temperatures from 3°C to 33°C and thrive in seas with little oxygen.

Ghost koi and other varieties go deep into a body of water in search of warmer water throughout the winter. Ghost carp and different koi varieties can also be seen in public rivers. However, the majority are grown in captivity.

Carp are primarily endemic to eastern Europe and portions of Asia. There are several different subspecies of carp, which are found as far away as Croatia and Azerbaijan. More than 80 nations outside their native range have now been introduced. Carp can be found in the United States, Canada, Chile, Guatemala, and Guyana, among other places.

Ghost koi can live in slow-moving pools of water in nature, although they prefer still ones. Carp can be found in salty waters in some areas. Their overpopulation is threatening the habitat of the phantom carp, a fish that has been introduced to many American waterways. The fish’s population has skyrocketed due to their fondness for warm, sewage-contaminated waters, where they are known to thrive.

If the invasive fish spreads, the environment will likely suffer serious harm. Canada and the US have both received the introduction of the ghost carp. They are frequently used as bait for recreational fishing in the United States, where they have been sold for around $7 per pound. China, Japan, Vietnam, and other nations all contain ghost carp.


Ghost carp are notoriously gregarious. Due to their omnivorous nature, they will scour the water for any edible objects. They have also been referred to as “freshwater pigs” since they might disturb the bottom when searching for food. It’s estimated that ghost carp devour up to 20% of their body weight daily on insects and other tiny invertebrates.

Newly discovered in the Great Lakes, ghost carp are an invasive carp species. Compared to conventional carp, they have a different color and form and can get up to three times as big. Small fish, amphibians, and other aquatic animals make up their diet. If their population growth is unregulated, it could harm the environment and the fish food supply.

A ghost koi starts to spawn when it reaches sexual maturity. This is between the ages of two and three. Carp’s living environment will determine when to breed. They typically generate when the water temperature reaches 16–22°C.

The ghost carp’s sticky, yellow, or orange eggs will be affixed to weeds. The female carp can reproduce more than once per season and lay one million eggs. Ghost koi don’t shield their eggs from predators as other kinds do. The time it takes for the eggs to hatch will vary depending on the location and water temperature where they are laid. Young carp cling to plants for the following three to four days until they have finished their yolk sac.


Ghost carp exhibit harmful and enigmatic behavior. They have a history of attacking people and other animals, and their hunting patterns can potentially destroy aquatic ecosystems. Originally from China, the species has since spread to other parts of the globe, including North America and Europe.

Using downstream water currents, the fish travels from one location to another in a few days. Ghost carp can survive in muddy, freezing water and swim through practically oxygen-free water, which makes it difficult for enemies to discover them.

The ghost carp’s true ancestry is unknown. However, it is thought that they are a product of fish and grass carp hybridization.

Carp Fishing


A kind of carp known as the “ghost carp” was brought to the United States from China in the early 1980s. Although the same longevity of ghost carp is unknown, it is thought that they can live for up to 20 years and typically live for 10-15 years.

Effect on Ecosystem

The Asian carp commonly referred to as the “ghost carp,” is an invasive fish species that has seriously harmed many American streams’ natural balance. These fish currently number in the millions due to their fast population growth.

Because they consume other fish, aquatic invertebrates, and even small amphibians, and because they can alter the distribution of water contaminants, they harm ecosystems. They cause the extinction of other species by competing with other fish for food and habitat.

Additionally, Asian carp can have hazardous pathogens that can affect other fish. It’s critical to comprehend how ghost carp affect ecosystems to manage these populations and stop additional harm.

How to Catch Them

Big Carp Fishing

Fishing for ghost carp is a year-round sport. A float, a boilie, and a spring can all be used to catch it. Clear concepts regarding a specific fish can significantly improve your fishing experience. They inherited some carp traits including power, resiliency to the environment, etc. They are not more aggressive than koi breeds, contrary to popular belief. They should take precedence since they are larger and less prone to illness.

In calm waters, ghost carp are extensively targeted for fishing. Numerous fisheries worldwide, including those in the US, promote the presence of ghost koi. Be aware that finding them can be challenging. Due to their reputation as intelligent, difficult-to-catch fish, ghost koi are highly prized by fishermen.

Try several spots in the water to find the fish if you can discover a decent fishery that stocks them. Keep an eye out for overgrown vegetation and trees because ghost carp like to hide in those places.

The majority of carp fishermen, including us, choose pellets as bait. Some additional tried-and-true options are worms, peanuts, dog biscuits, maggots, sweetcorn, red worm, brandlings, mussels, bread, and luncheon meat. Luncheon meat can be given extra flavoring to give it a more robust flavor and aroma.

They especially enjoy living in regions with soft, vegetal sediments and water lilies. They also prioritize locations with plenty of food. Don’t skip these locations if the fishery contains any underwater lodges or structures. Pay attention to barriers as well as rush beds. They can be found in any shallow water, aside from these.

It is advised to bring many baits with you as usual. If you’re not receiving any response or attention, keep altering.

Check out the list of preferred baits for ghost carp:

  • Semolina Balls
  • Corn
  • Peas
  • Sweet Peas
  • Pellets
  • Pea dough
  • Bread with Honey
  • Sweet Corn
  • Marshmallows
  • Boilies


Ghost carp’s beauty, mysticism, and cunning may pique your interest, but catching one can be difficult, so be prepared for a challenge. Because it is believed that this fish is more intelligent than the majority of larger freshwater fish in Europe, making it harder to catch, it is highly prized by fishermen. It’s critical not to overcrowd your tank with ghost carp because they require space to move around. Give each fish at least 25 liters of water.

If you were under the impression that ghost carp fish or ghost mirror carp have any paranormal abilities, you would be disappointed to know, but the ghost koi carp is merely one of the wide varieties of koi. The breed can be pretty interesting, even though it won’t suddenly arrive in a koi pond at midnight and kill all the koi fish there.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does A Ghost Carp Look Like?

The distinctive fish known as ghost carp can be recognized by their long, spindly bodies and big eyes. They can get up to three feet long and are only found in Asian river systems. Their unique look and aggressive nature distinguish ghost carp and their propensity to jump out of the water unexpectedly.

How can we reduce the number of ghost carp?

The Ghost Carp population can be managed in a variety of ways. Some techniques include trapping, water diversion, electric barriers, and chemical controls. The most popular strategy for reducing carp populations is trapping. This is accomplished by setting various traps, including buckets, net cages, and live or dead traps.

Are Ghost Carp Prohibited?

Whether or not ghost carp are prohibited depends on the situation. Some jurisdictions, like Illinois, are classified as nuisance fish and can be controlled or eradicated by catch-and-release fishing. They are considered invasive in some places, like Michigan, and can only be caught with a specific license.

How Fast Grow Ghost Carp?

Fish from the Asian continent that has been brought to North America include the ghost carp. They multiply and are regarded as a serious invasive species. Ghost carp can reach lengths of up to 6 feet and weighs 80 pounds in just three years.

In water, are ghost carp invisible?

Many fishermen have been wondering about this lately as fish have been migrating upriver into significant streams. These invasive fish appear to have a knack for concealing in small spaces, but do they truly vanish underwater? There are a few theories, but no one is certain. According to one hypothesis, ghost carp can only be seen once they are made visible.