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White Amur have an elongate, chubby body that is torpedo shaped. The body is dark olive, shading to brownish-yellow on the sides with a white belly and large slightly outlined scales. The terminal mouth is slightly oblique with non-fleshy, firm lips, and no barbels. The complete lateral line has 40 to 42 scales. The dorsal fin has 8 to 10 soft rays, and the anal fin is set closer to the tail than most cyprinids. Broad, ridged pharyngeal teeth are arranged in a 2, 4-4, 2 formula.
White Amur are now widely distributed throughout the state in ponds and man-made lakes, but it is not abundant in any location. Commercial fishermen report rare catches of White Amur from the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. The White Amur is primarily a big river fish and has been found in the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. As it often escapes from ponds and impoundments where it is stocked, the White Amur has also occasionally been found in Iowa’s interior rivers and streams, including streams in the Skunk, lower Iowa, Maquoketa and Winnebago river watersheds.
Aquatic macrophytes, and since they are voracious feeders, they are used for control of nuisance aquatic vegetation in small lakes and pond. They are not effective in controlling filamentous algae (moss) or duckweed problems in ponds.
85 pounds 8 ounces, 48 inches long- caught in May 2007 by Jesse Lane Greenfield, IA
White Amur is an exotic minnow that was imported into the United States from eastern Asia for nuisance aquatic vegetation control in 1963. They were first brought to Iowa in 1973 by the Iowa Conservation Commission. Research conducted in Iowa has shown that White Amur have harmful effects on water quality and fish habitat, and are no longer stocked by the Iowa DNR in public water bodies.
The White Amur is most often found in large rivers, but is stocked in impoundments, ponds and lakes. It prefers swift, warm waters with slack current and aquatic vegetation. In its native habitat, White Amur prefer turbulent reaches of large rivers. Some investigators have concerns because the White Amur’s voracious appetite for aquatic vegetation may lead to the destruction of suitable habitat for many native fish and waterfowl.
Grass Carp have specialized and restrictive riverine spawning requirements, but young fish have been sampled in Iowa rivers. Natural spawning is impossible in standing water. Growth of White Amur is nearly unbelievable, young fish stocked in the spring at 8-inches will reach over 18-inches by fall, and adults often reach nearly 4 feet long and over 40 pounds in weight. The state record is 85 pounds 8 ounces from Greenfield Lake.
Recent stream sampling information is available from Iowa DNR's biological monitoring and assessment program.
Harlan, J.R., E.B. Speaker, and J. Mayhew. 1987. Iowa fish and fishing. Iowa Conservation Commission, Des Moines, Iowa. 323pp.
Loan-Wilsey, A. K., C. L. Pierce, K. L. Kane, P. D. Brown and R. L. McNeely. 2005. The Iowa Aquatic Gap Analysis Project Final Report. Iowa Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Iowa State University, Ames.
Photo Credit: photo courtesy of Noel M. Burkhead, copyright Noel M. Burkhead, USGS, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species.