What do a Carp Fish Look Like? [With Images]

What do carp look like

Carp is a fish species caught by probably every angler, at least once, during their angling career.

It is also a popular first choice when it comes to beginners ...

There is more than one specie of carp and they are found in numerous lakes, rivers and ponds across the world.

If you are interested in knowing more about carp appearance, here I am going to answer two most common questions about this subject; how do they look like and how to tell them apart, in the following chapters.



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What do a Carp Fish Look Like?

Before describing them, it is important to mention where do they come from.

Carp is a part of Cyprinidae fish family, and it is native to Europe and Asia. We can also find carp in Australia, Africa and north America, where it is considered to be invasive.

And what do carp look like?

Carp usually have large bodies and many of them seem “fat”.

The body has an arch leading to the dorsal fin, which can be very long in certain species. The fin edge, mostly on common carp, is straight across the whole length, except the front part, which is higher. The fin itself can have more than 20 rays.

The colour can vary from brown and reddish on top, to bronze and gold on the sides. Shades of those colours may vary significantly.

The underbody, or the “belly” is usually lighter than the sides, and sometimes it can be very pale.

Two large barbels on the sides of the mouth are characteristic for carp species, and no other fish has similar ones. That is one of body features that can be use to distinguish them.

Scales are large and the colour can vary. Usually, the outer edge is darker than the middle part on every scale.

Carp is a large fish. Average size is about 30 inches long and weighing 8-15 pounds or near that, but some specimens can be triple of that!

And they grow almost constantly. Some fish species stop growing when they reach sexual maturity, but carp continues to grow.

Carp have soft and round mouth located on the front end of the head. When closed, the mouth corners are down-turning.

Identifying Different Species of Carp [Carp Fish Types With Images]

Identifying different carp species (carp fish types) is important for every angler ...

You must always know how to distinguish numerous fish species, not just the carp, to be able to obey the fishing rules and regulations too.

So, let’s see what do carp fish (with images) look like:

Common Carp – when someone mentions Carp, this is probably the first one you will think of. Their colour varies from light brown to dark brown. This species is the most numerous one.

Their scales are large and they have small growths on the mouth side, shaped like hooks. The dorsal fin is long.

What do a Carp Fish Look Like - Common

Leather Carp – This specie has tiny scales, so small that they may seem absent. Leather carp is smaller in size and large specimens are quite rare.

The name describes its appearance well, as they look like they are made of leather ...

Grass Carp – This larger species has no whiskers. They can grow quite long. Their dorsal fin is shorter and higher than on common Carp.

And if you want to learn how to catch grass carp check the article here!

What do a Carp Fish Look Like - Grass

Crucian Carp – This specie is the smallest of them all. They don’t have barbs. The dorsal fin is big and convex.

Black Carp – They have long, sleek, bodies, and have no barbels. Along the dorsal region the colour varies from dark brown to black. They got their name because of the unusually dark colour.

Mirror Carp – This is also a large species that differs in colour. Their scales have spots and they are not all the same size. Their body shape is rounder than body shape of a common carp.

What do a Carp Fish Look Like - Mirror

Silver Carp – This specie looks similar to Big Head Carp, but the had is slightly smaller and narrower. The body is also narrower. It has no scales on top of the head.

Big Head Carp – As the name suggest, this specie has the larger head than the previously mentioned Silver Carp. The eyes are in a similar position too and the head scales are missing. Big Head Carp also has dark blotches across the dorsal part.


Carp is such a recognizable species, that you should have no problem recognizing each and every one of them. And don’t worry, one lake will almost never have more than two or three species of Carp (carp fish types).

Now when you know what do carp look like, you can go out to the nearest water and try out your carp fishing techniques (with our tips)! And when you catch one, you can study those barbels, large scales and dorsal fins that were mentioned.

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