They’re minnows. Four-foot-long, hundred-pound minnows. Bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis) and silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) were imported by catfish farmers to clear suspended algae from their fish ponds. Floods in the ’90s allowed the Asians to escape into the Mississippi River basin. Like many Southern migrants, they headed north to Chicago. The invaders are in the Lincoln Park and Columbus Park lagoons and threaten the Great Lakes.
These fish are vegetarians, so what’s the threat? Asian carp are big and aggressive, and they eat 40 percent of their weight in plankton every day, starving out native species, prior finny immigrants, and shellfish. The mammoth marauding minnows have only one natural predator: you.
“Invaders, Yes. But Perhaps Quite Tasty.” Erik Eckholm, New York Times.
“Eat the carp: Some suggest Asian carp could be a delicious dinner,” Joel Hood Chicago Tribune via LaCrosse Tribune.
“Asian Carp Recipes,” Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant.
“Bones of Contention,” P.J. Perea via Illinois Periodicals Online.
Another Asian species, the grass carp or Amur carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) was imported to rid American waterways of choking nuisance weeds. It uproots the plants with its grooved throat teeth and eats them and anything else in reach, plant or animal. Some states released sterile triploid specimens but somehow breeding populations have spread to 45 states. Like Chinese food? Cook up some grass carp today:
“Sweet and Sour Grass Carp,” Cooking-China.com
“Five-Spice Braised Grass Carp,” NiceChineseFood.com
“Steamed Grass Carp with Ginger,” Chee Seng Oil Factory Ltd.
“Fish Tail Soup with Lily Bulb and Carrot,” Lisa and Tracy Tong, TheChineseSoupLady.com.
Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com
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