Do Carp Eat Other Fish? Carp Behaviour, What Carp eat



Do Carp Eat Other Fish

Carp fishing, offers an ongoing adventure, particularly for those drawn to the common carp (Cyprinus Carpio) species renowned for their large size, hardy fight, and varied diet. But, despite their omnivorous nature, carp are not predatory and do not actively hunt fish.

The carp’s primary diet consists of aquatic vegetation, insects, and crustaceans, and the occasional smaller fish. But any ingestion of a smaller fish species typically occurs when they unintentionally cross their feeding path while the carp are feeding on other aquatic organisms and fishing baits.

With that said, let’s dive into more about the behaviours of this specimen fish species. Look at what else they eat, and the effects they have on the habitat of other species.

Understanding Feeding Behaviour: When, How and Why Do Carp Eat Other Fish?

Carps are known for their omnivorous feeding behaviour, which means they eat plants and animals. However, their feeding patterns can vary depending on various factors such as the temperature of the water, light, and the oxygen levels. In this section, we will look at the different feeding behaviours of the carp species.

When Do Carp Feed?

Carp are a type of freshwater fish known for being active during the early morning and late afternoon as the temperature of the water is lower. During hot summer days, carp may become less active and feed less frequently as the water temperature is higher.

Carp are also known to be quite active at night-time, and especially in the early hours when mist is on the water. Night time hours are some of the best times for carp fishing. I have caught some of my biggest and best carp during the night, and early morning.

More Helpful Content: When Do Carp Feed and when do they stop feeding?

Big Common Carp Caught At Night

Why Do Carp Eat Smaller Fish?

Carp have pharyngeal teeth that allow them to crush and grind the food they eat. While carp primarily feed on insects, crustaceans, and plant matter, they will also eat smaller fish if there’s not enough food available.

This feeding behaviour is more common in undernourished environments where competition for food is higher. But, carp do not actively prey on other fresh water fish. Instead, they tend to scavenge for food and will eat anything that they come across while foraging around.

How Do Carp Eat Smaller Fish?

Carp are opportunistic omnivorous fish, meaning they eat a variety of foods. However, carp fish are not typically predatory toward other species of fish, and their consumption of smaller fish often happens more out of opportunity.

Here’s How It Generally Happens:

  • Carp use their barbels (sensory organs near their mouth) to rummage through the sediment at the bottom of a water body, searching for food.
  • If carp fish happen to come across small fish or fish eggs while foraging for their natural food source, they may consume it.
  • Carp have a large, protractile mouths which can extend to suck in food.
  • Once a small fish or food is inside the mouth, the carp’s pharyngeal teeth (located in the throat) crush the food before it’s swallowed.
  • Carp do not have stomachs in the traditional sense. Instead, they have a long, winding gut that slowly digests the food as it passes through.

Note: while carp do eat small fish, it’s not their preferred food source. Carp fish usually feed on plant material, insects, and other invertebrates. Fish or fish eggs are more of an incidental meal when the carp comes across them when foraging for food.

Feeding Habits of Carp

The feeding habits of carp can vary depending on the time of year. During the spring, when water temperatures are cool, they will feed more actively as the carp prepare for spawning season. During winter months the water temperatures drops, and carp become less active.

Two Common Carp Spawning
Carp Spawning

In addition to seasonal changes, environmental factors such as oxygen levels can also affect how much a carp feeds. When oxygen levels are low due to overpopulation or pollution in the water where they live; carp may reduce their feeding frequency or even stop eating altogether.

Carp’s Impact on Water Clarity and Other Fish

Carp are known for their feeding habits, but this can have an impact on the clarity of the water. As the fish feed on the bottom of the lakes or other bodies of fresh water they can stir up sediment in the water, and this can increase turbidity.

This increased turbidity in the water can make it difficult for other species of fish to locate prey or it can hamper them from navigating through vegetation. Carp also disturb aquatic plants and vegetation as they feed.

This disturbance can further contribute to changes in water clarity and it can also negatively impact the health of the ecosystem. While some turbidity is natural in freshwater, excessive levels can lead to a range of negative impacts on both fish and plant life.

The Largemouth Bass Fish
Largemouth Bass Fish

How Carp Compete for Food and Spawning Sites

One specific fish species that can be negatively impacted by carp’s feeding habits is the largemouth bass. These fish rely heavily on clear water conditions in order to locate their food. When carp increase turbidity levels, bass struggle to find food or they become disoriented when swimming through the vegetation.

Carp also compete with bass for food sources such as insects, crustaceans, and other smaller fish. This competition can further impact the health of bass populations if not properly managed. Carp’s can also disrupt spawning sites. Many fish species rely on specific areas within a body of fresh water in order to spawn.

When turbidity levels increase due to carp activity, spawning sites are less visible or more difficult for fish to find and thus disrupt or decrease reproductive rates of other fish.

The Importance of Managing Carp Populations

Ultimately, the impact of carp on other fish can vary depending on a range of environmental factors. However, it is clear that careful monitoring and management of populations of these carp is necessary in order to maintain a healthy ecosystem.

One approach to managing carp populations is through targeted intervention methods such as electrofishing or netting. These methods can help reduce the number of carp in a given area, thereby reducing their impact on other populations of fish.

Exploring the Eating Habits of Koi and Asian Carp, and Ghost Carp: Do They Eat Fish?

Koi and Asian carp are two of the most common freshwater fish species found in ponds or aquariums. Known for their omnivorous diet, which means they consume plant and animal matter. While they primarily feed on plants, they are also known to eat fish.

The digestive tract of Asian and koi carp is adapted to process a wide range of food sources. This makes them versatile feeders that can survive in many environments. In fact, Asian carp have been introduced into many waterways to control aquatic vegetation.

But, it’s important to note that while these fish may eat different types of fish species, it’s not their main source of food. They will only consume fish if they are easy to catch. In general, koi and Asian carp prefer to feed on algae, insects, snails, worms, and crustaceans.

More Helpful Content: Learn How to Catch Asian Carp, see what food they like best.

Do Ghost Carp Eat Other Fish?

Ghost carp (also known as Sazan) is commonly found in lakes, ponds or even aquariums. Unlike the Asian carp, ghost carp are primarily herbivorous, so they mainly consume plants. However, ghost carp have been known to eat other fish as well. They typically prey on small fish species such as minnows or guppies but have also been observed eating fish eggs.

So, do ghost carp eat other fish? Yes, ghost carp will eat other small fish when there is a lack of plant-based food available. And they also feed on water lilies or duckweed. Yet, I have landed several big ghost carp with baits like cat food and dog biscuits. Like most types of carp species, they will eat almost anything that smells good and is easily digestible.

Best Baits for Carp: What Do They Prefer?

Carp are known to be omnivorous, meaning they will eat both plant and animal matter. This makes catching carp interesting because they can be caught using a variety of baits. These include boilies, sweetcorn, nuts, bread, worms, and maggots.


Boilies are one of the most popular carp fishing baits. These small, round balls come in many flavours, sizes, and colors. Boilies can be homemade or purchased ready-made.

When choosing boilies as bait to catch carp, it’s best to match the color and flavor to the water conditions and time of year. The best carp baits for winter fishing may differ to ideal fishing baits during the summer months. Also, the size of the fish you are targeting.

Carp Boilies and Booster Flavours
Boilies Are A Popular Carp Bait


Sweetcorn is one of the best baits for carp fishing, corn is affordable and readily available at most grocery stores or online. This carp bait is easy to prepare. Simply boil if dry, or drain off the liquid from a can of sweetcorn and add it to your hook or carp rig.

You can also use sweetcorn to chum the swim and this will help attract more fish. Or add corn to a spod mix or PVA bag mixed with other particles and cast it out near your hook bait.


Maggots are another popular fishing bait you can buy straight from a tackle shop. They are often used as live bait but can also be used dead, which are called casters.

When using maggots as bait for catching carp, it’s important to keep them fresh and lively. However, maggots can also attract other fish like bream, and tench.


Pellets are another effective carp bait that comes in a variety of sizes. They are made from compressed fishmeal and can also be purchased at most tackle shops.

One tip for using pellets as bait is to soak the pellets in water before use. This will soften them up and make the pellets more attractive to the fish.

Wrapping Up: Do Carp Really Eat Other Fish?

In conclusion, carp are omnivorous and opportunistic feeders, primarily consuming vegetation, insects, and crustaceans. While carp do eat other fish, this is not a primary food source and usually occurs incidentally. Carp do not actively hunt other fish, and their feeding habits can influence the ecosystems they inhabit, notably by increasing water turbidity.

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Sources: Carp Spawning Illinois

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