Crucian Carp

Scientific Name: Carassius carassius
Maximum Weight: 4lb 9oz 9dr
Average Weight: 6oz - 1lb 8oz
Average Length: 6 – 12 inches
Life Span: 10 years

Farnham Angling Society Species - Crucian Carp

Crucian Carp (Carassius carassius) are the only member of the Carp family that are largely considered indigenous in south east England, similar in appearance to the Common Carp but having no barbules and a flatter body, with a higher dorsal fin, a more prominent lateral line with red colouring visible in the pelvic and anal fins and being bronze/golden in colour. They are very hardy fish, able to tolerate very cold conditions and also resilient to pollution.


Habitat & Location

Crucian Carp are remarkably hardy fish with historical accounts reporting them being able to live for several hours out of water. The fish inhabit lakes and ponds with plentiful submerged aquatic vegetation and slow moving rivers throughout Europe and Asia, even inhabiting brackish water in some Russian rivers. They are able to survive in conditions that many other fishes are unable to deal with, including the smallest of weedy, muddy pools to extremely cold waters. When their habitats become iced over, their metabolism can reduce massively with swimming halved to normal levels and feeding suspended, sometimes for some months. Whilst in times of drought, they are known to be able to bury themselves into mud, emerging after several weeks when rainfall refreshes the ponds.

  • Crucian Carp from Stockbridge Pond showing Lateral Line Scales

    Crucian Carp showing Lateral Line Scales

    Crucian Carp from Stockbridge Pond showing Lateral Line Scales
    Crucian Carp from Stockbridge Pond showing Lateral Line Scales

The age of Crucian Carp to attain sexual maturity will vary with environmental conditions, with individuals in warmer regions generally maturing faster than those in colder ones. Most Crucian Carp mature between 2-5 years of age, at approximately 9cm (3.5”), with males generally maturing a year earlier than females.

Crucian Carp are batch spawners, with females able to produce approximately 100,000 eggs/kg of bodyweight, the adhesive eggs are released over vegetation. This often takes place after rainfall when water temperatures are above 18°C, the eggs are spherical, yellow-orange, and are about 1.5 mm in diameter, they remain attached to vegetation until they hatch after around 4-days.

Except when very young, during which this time they feed only on plankton crustaceans, the fish are omnivores and adult fish will eat almost anything in the water such as insect larvae, crustaceans and water plants.

Tackle and Tactics

Crucian Carp are a shoaling fish and swim with others of the same age and size, often found in year classes and moving around in large groups, they can however be very shy and are easily spooked by bank side disturbance and are shy biters.

Fish the areas of the pond or lake that are shallow as they are likely to hold good levels of natural food, this is usually the margins, especially around lilies, reeds and submerged weed beds. Float fishing is the preferred option, with either running line or pole, and light tackle fished on or just off the bottom or around surface plants tends to be productive. Consider either self-cocking floats, small pole floats or quills that need no shot to hold it in position. Shotting patters that show the most delicate of bites are best as Crucian's are very wary feeders and striking at the very slightest movement of the float often results in fish when missed bites result if a bite is left to ‘develop’.

The most popular and effective baits used to catch Crucian Carp are maggots, casters, chopped worms, sweet corn and small cubes of luncheon meat.

Where can I catch them?

Crucian Carp (and variants) are found in many of Farnham Angling Society’s lakes and ponds. Smaller fish will be found at Stockbridge Pond, Wyke Pond & Kings Pond whilst larger fish may be caught at Badshot Lea Small Pond, Warren Pond, Tarn Pond and Stillwater Front Lake, and to a lesser degree the Back Lake. Very large hybrids up to 5lb 14oz have been caught from Mill Lane and have been considered as Crucian Carp National Records, but were subsequently refused as Brown Goldfish variants.  


Record Fish

The British record for Crucian Carp record is 4lb 9oz 9dr, whilst the Society’s own record previously stood at 5lb 14oz, it was considered highly likely that it was a not a true Crucian as the same angler later submitted an even larger fish for consideration as a National Record, but it was dismissed as a Brown Goldfish variant. As such, from 1st April 2010 the Society is seeking claims for specimens greater than 2lb in weight.

National Record

lbs:ozs:drms kilo.grms Date Captor Location
4:09:00 2.80 May 2003 Martin Bowler Summer  Pit, Yateley

Farnham Angling Society Record

lbs:ozs:drms kilo.grms Date Captor Location
Applications Over 2lbs (0.9kg) Invited.


Claiming a Record Fish



Identification - Avoiding Confusion & Genetics
Prussian Carp (Brown Goldfish)

Crucian Carp are closely related to Prussian Carp (Carassius gibelio also identified as Carassius auratus gibelio) for which they are often mistaken, however Crucian Carp is a different species to Prussian Carp, which is in fact the wild form of the Goldfish (Carassius auratus auratus). Crucian Carp readily breed with Prussian Carp and Goldfish and this has resulted in hybridisation, usually males, leading to the frequent misidentification of brown goldfish as Crucian Carp. Hybrids are often able to out compete their purebred relatives and inter-breed readily with all Carp species. As such, both Crucian Carp and their hybrid cousins also interbreed with Common Carp Carassius carpio) and Mirror Carp * Leather Carp (Carassius carpio L.), producing yet more hybrids leading to even greater confusion for the angler !

To add to all this, ecological factors such as predatory pressure, can result in variations in the body shape of purebred Crucian's. They can be either deep bodied or shallow bodied: with the typically deep-bodied disc shaped fish being strongly arched dorsally whereas the shallow-body form is more typically elongated and tapered at both ends, known as fusiform.

Scientific studies in Sweden have shown that if predators like Pike or Perch are present in a water they can affect population densities and size structures. In lakes with predators, Crucian Carp attain dense populations and grow in length rather than height with fish becoming slender, whereas lakes without predators have been found to contain lower numbers of larger, deep-bodied individuals.

Whilst the Crucian and Prussian Carp species are closely related, the following table lists the visually different characteristics that will aid your correct identification:

Crucian Carp Prussian Carp
Wild Goldfish)
Carassius carassius

Carassius gibelio
Carassius auratus gibelio

a) Very rounded snout
b) Always golden bronze
c) 33 + scales along lateral line
d) Juveniles have a black spot at the base of the tail, which disappear with age
e) The leading ray of the dorsal fin is weak
f) The dorsal fin is higher for longer and concave in shape and has 15 or less branched rays
a) Pointed snout
b) Grey greenish colour
c) 31 or less scales on lateral line
d) No black spot present on juveniles
e) The leading ray of the dorsal fin is strong
f) The dorsal fin is convex in shape and has 15 or more branched rays

Crucian Carp Identification