Lateral movement of common carp (Cyprinus carpio L.) in a large lowland river and floodplain


M. J. Jones, Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, PO Box 137, Heidelberg, Vic. 3084, Australia; e-mail:


Abstract –  Common carp (Cyprinus carpio L.) are a major freshwater invader and knowledge of their movements is important for planning control efforts. To investigate the movement patterns of common carp, radio-tags were implanted into 46 adult fish; 37 near a large floodplain wetland, the Barmah-Millewa forest, and 9 in the Murray River approximately 175 km upstream. Tagged fish were located every second week between August 1999 and March 2001. Common carp occupied total linear ranges (TLR) between 0.4 and 238 km (mean 30 ± 61 km), with 25 fish (62.5%) occupying a TLR < 10 km. Two fish made large distance movements approximately 650 km downstream. Fish sex, the number of locations, time at large, or tagging location explained little variability (P > 0.05) in TLR. Monthly distance from release varied from 0.04 to 238 km (mean 15 ± 44 km), and was not significantly related to river discharge and water temperature, but 29 of 31 (93.5%) fish tagged at Barmah moved from the Murray River into adjacent floodplain habitats upon flooding. Five fish (12.5%) moved large distances (>127 km) upstream of the Barmah-Millewa forest. Fourteen fish (35%) showed site fidelity to within 20 m and usually occupied one or two home sites. Twenty-six fish (65%) showed site fidelity to within 100 m occupying up to five sites during the study period. Movement patterns of common carp were complex, and individuals exhibited different strategies, which is typical of invasive species. Efforts to control and potentially reduce common carp populations in regulated river-floodplain environments should target key floodplain access points and over-wintering habitats to reduce adult biomass, spawning and recruitment levels.