What Does Carp Eat? [Feeding Habits and Best Baits]

What Does Carp Eat

Carp, a freshwater fish that is native to Europe and Asia, has been introduced in many parts of the world due to its popularity as a game fish.

This species is known for its strong feeding habits and adaptability to various environments.

But have you ever wondered what exactly carp eat? Carp are mainly herbivorous, feeding on a wide range of plant matter including aquatic plants, algae, and fruits.

However, they are also opportunistic omnivores and will consume small invertebrates and insects if the opportunity arises.

So, understanding the feeding habits of carp is crucial for anglers looking to catch these fish, as it enables them to choose the most effective baits and fishing techniques.



Get my FREE fishing e-book where you will find my PRO Tips!

Free Fishing Ebook

Primary Food Sources [Carp Natural Diet]

You'll find that common carp (Cyprinus carpio) is omnivorous fish and have a diverse diet, primarily feasting on plants and seeds, as well as aquatic animals.

This varied diet supports their growth and health, making them adaptable to different water environments.

Understanding what carp eat can help you in managing their habitat or even in fishing practices, as knowing their primary food sources is important.

Plants and Seeds

Carp's diet heavily relies on plants and seeds, including algae, fruits, and waterweed, as their primary food sources.

Different carp types have adapted to a varied diet but share a common preference for aquatic plants. Waterweed and algae, in particular, form a substantial part of their diet, offering both nutrition and energy needed for their daily activities.

In addition to these, carp also enjoy a variety of fruits and berries that fall into their aquatic environments. These not only provide essential vitamins but also diversify their diet beyond the greenery.

By consuming a mix of waterweed algae, fruits, and berries, carp make sure they get a balanced diet, supporting their health and growth in the diverse ecosystems they inhabit.

What Does Carp Eat - Primary Food Sources

Aquatic Animals

Beyond plants and seeds, carp also feast on a wide range of aquatic animals, including insects, worms, crustaceans, and mollusks.

These aquatic invertebrates serve as primary food sources, providing the necessary nutrients for their growth and survival.

Insects, such as larvae and nymphs, are often hunted by carp in shallow waters. Worms, found in the mud or silt at the bottom of water bodies, are another favorite. Crayfish, a type of crustacean, along with crabs, snails, and clams, are particularly sought after for their protein content.

These food sources not only support the carp's dietary needs but also contribute to their natural foraging behaviors, ensuring a balanced diet that encompasses a variety of aquatic animals.

Carp Feeding Behavior

Often, carp feed by meticulously using their specialized mouth parts and body movements to sift through the bottom sediment, engaging in mud sucking and filtering for food particles.

They're equipped with a highly adaptable feeding mechanism that allows them to exploit a variety of food sources.

When you observe carp feeding, you'll notice how they expertly use their barbels (sensory organs around the mouth) to detect food, such as berries that fall into water, which they can't resist.

This bottom-feeding behavior is complemented by their ability to perform mud sucking and filter feeding, which guarantees they capture all available nutrients.

Carp have developed pharyngeal teeth, located in the throat, which are perfect for grinding down hard food items, making the most out of their diverse diet.

This adaptation means they're not just limited to soft, easy-to-consume foods but can also process tougher materials. .

Their methodical approach to feeding, involving both sifting through sediment and the physical breakdown of food, showcases the complexity of their dietary habits.

It's a fascinating display of nature's ingenuity, ensuring these fish thrive in various aquatic environments by optimizing the resources available to them.

What Does Carp Eat - Feeding Behavior

What is the Best Fishing Bait to Use to Catch Carp?

Using a baited hook is the best and most effective way to catch carp...

When it comes to choosing the best bait for a particular type of carp, there are hundreds of options to explore.

Carp anglers experiment with all kinds of choices from fake corn and garden worms to minnows and chunks of raw fish to lure the fish they are trying to catch. Unless you're trying to catch grass carp, you can use just about anything for the bait including grasshoppers and dog food.

Here is a summary of best bait to use for different carp species:

Common Carp

Common carp would be attracted to just about anything but the best bait for this type of carp is boilies, mollusks and artificial corn. It is also recommended to add a little salt to any type of bait to make it more attractive.

Grass Carp

Grass carp would feed on vegetation most of the time but conventional bait is also used sometimes. The best options include corn and bread dough, cherry tomatoes and lime beans. Since this fish is getting increasingly popular among anglers, many people ask how to catch BIG one.

Mirror Carp

It has been observed that mirror carp loves to feed on earthworms. But other types of bait can also be used including corn floaties and bread. Some fishermen add spices to their bait especially in the winter season to attract big carp.

Leather Carp

You can use sweet corn as bait for any fish species and species of carp particularly leather carp as these fish simply love corn. You may also consider ready-made boilies available on the market.

Ghost Carp

Like "grassy"ghost carp would mostly feed on vegetable matter but insects are also one of their preferred foods. Fish eggs are also something they enjoy along with crawfish and benthic worms.

Wild Koi Carp

Wild Koi eat a variety of different foods. Wild Koi carp typically eat algae, worms, snails and other small animals that can be found in the water. They also eat any leftover food scraps that people put into the water for them. It is important to note that koi carp will not usually eat aquatic plants or vegetables because they cannot digest them properly.

You can read more about common / koi carp natural food and feeding habits here.

Type of carp Best Bait
Common carp Boilies, mollusks and artificial corn.
Grass carp Vegetation most but also on corn and bread dough, cherry tomatoes and lime beans.
Mirror carp Loves to feed on earthworms but also on corn floaties and bread.
Leather carp Simply love corn and boilies.
Ghost carp Vegetable matter and insects.
Wild Koi Carp Algae, worms, snails and other small animals.

There are other types of carp as well but they also mostly prefer anything that contains protein and is tasty and sometimes salty. Different bait options are used for summer and winter months and according to the conditions.

What About the Carp Boilies? Do Carp Fish Love Them?

Carp boilies are common bait used for carp fishing made of fishmeals, bird food, protein, flour, and other ingredients to make a hard paste that can be shaped, boiled and used as bait.

It is possible to buy carp boilies in fishing stores, but many anglers prepare them by themselves.

Some of boilies are buoyant and some are made to sink. Sinking ones work well for small carps as they feed from the bottom. Adult carps, as cautious as they are, are more picky, so you can try with the ones with neutral buoyancy.

They are also made in different colors. Water can be clear or murky, so in accordance to that, you should pick a color. Also, it depends of the depth, the deeper the water is the darker it gets down there. Colors look a bit different underwater so have that in mind too.

Most visible color underwater is pink or white. Green and blue tend to blend in the surrounding area. Yellow could work for both. There are numerous colors, even the fluorescent ones.

What Does Carp Eat - HomeMade Boilies

Best Boilies are Homemade Boilies - DIY, but HOW?

Advantages of homemade boilies are lower cost, possibility to perfection your own recipe that works the best.

Some anglers keep their recipes a secret (maybe you will also one day), but some are good enough to share it with other carp anglers.

They have to be hard enough to withstand soaking in the water without falling off. Sizes also vary, and you can buy from small to huge, but the advantage of making them is they can be in any imaginable size.

If they contain additives they can last a long time on room temperature, but if you make boilies yourself, you can freeze them and also have a long-lasting product.

Two ingredients that are always necessary are flour and eggs. Other ingredients are a matter of choice and depend on what taste/color do you want.

You can also use bread crumbs, brown sugar, or different kinds of flour. Also, some stores have ingredients and coloring for homemade boilies available and if you use those your boilies will be similar to the ones you buy.

Here is one my recipe example of good and tested boilies:

You have to know that there are different brands of needed products, you can choose yourself in your local fishing store ...

STEP #1: Stirr one egg in a bowl.
STEP #2: Pour 2,5 milliliters of base activator into it.
STEP #3: Add 7,5 milliliters of flavor (you can combine flavors like toffee, banana, strawberry, peach…).
STEP #4: Add 1 milliliter of sweetener.
STEP #5: Add 1 tablespoon of coloring (as we mentioned, different colors work in murky/clear waters).
STEP #6: Take 2 cups of powder mix for pop-up (buoyant) boilies and 1 cup of base mix powder and mix them.
STEP #7: Mix all the dry and liquid ingredients together.
STEP #8: Roll it, cut it, and shape into balls.
STEP #9: Boil for 2 minutes.
STEP #10: Let them dry well before use (2-3 days).

If you want completely “natural carp bait", you can use flour instead of powdered mixtures, vanilla/strawberry extract, food coloring powder, fish sauce or any other. Procedure to make them stays the same.

So as you see, there are different ideas available and if you use your imagination and/or experience, you can make boilies out of anything.

Also, don’t overcomplicate it; few simple ingredients will do the trick.

What does carp eat - DIY homemade boilies


Fishing experience can be made more enjoyable by adjusting your tactics according to the eating habits of a particular type of fish.

Many people are curious about what carp feeds on because it is considered a difficult catch especially during the winter months. However, when the conditions are good big carp would feed strongly and usually in a manner termed as "greedy" by some anglers.

That gives fishermen an edge when it comes to catching carp but it also depends on the right choice of bait. This means choosing something the fish would be instantly attracted to and using it in adequate quantity.

Consider the options discussed in this post to prepare something at home that also appears to be unique and delicious. Once you know what carp likes to eat and where does it mostly feed, you are all good to go.

About Me

Slo-fishing - About Us


I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind Slo-fishing.si. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

Affiliate Disclaimer:

Slo-fishing is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. We also participates in eBay Partner Network, FishingBooker, ClickBank and Teespring affiliate programs. We are compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.