If you were thinking that ghost carp fish or ghost mirror carp have some supernatural properties, we hate to break it to you but the ghost koi carp is just one of the many variants of koi. Although it won’t magically appear in a koi pond at midnight and give the koi fish in the pond a heart attack, the breed can actually be pretty interesting. What is a ghost carp, what makes it special, and why is it a coveted fish? All these and more will be tackled in this quick guide.
Hopefully, we’ll be able to help you arrive at a conclusion as to why this koi fish suddenly became so popular and if you should go get one to add to your koi collection. Let’s dive right into it!
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What is Ghost Carp Fish?
Unlike most koi fish, ghost carp have British origins. A farmer back in the 1980s bred a mirror carp with metallic Ogon Koi, resulting in the ghost koi fish. As it’s a fairly new breed, there are many koi enthusiasts and breeders that don’t recognize it as true koi.
Its origins notwithstanding, you’ll be able to find lots of people fascinated by the appearance of ghost koi. As such, the koi variant has been bred until now.
Distribution and Habitat
Although the majority are bred in captivity, ghost carp and other koi variants can also be found in public waterways.
Generally speaking, carp are native to parts of Asia and eastern Europe. Carp and other subspecies are widespread, reaching as far as Azerbaijan and Croatia. Now, they’re introduced to over 80 countries far from their native range. It’s not impossible to find carp in the USA, Canada, Chile, Guatemala, and Guyana.
Ghost koi, in the wild, can tolerate slow-moving bodies of water but they prefer still waters. In some locations, carp are in brackish waters.
What’s great about carp, in general, is it’s a hardy species. It can tolerate different water temperatures from 3°C to 33°C and survive in waters that aren’t very oxygenated as the species can breathe at the surface.
In winter, ghost koi and other variants move deep into a body of water and search for warmer water.
A ghost carp is heavy and large with a deep body. It’s a gully scaled fish while other variants can have fewer scales like leather and mirror carp.
But, just like all carp species, ghost carp don’t have scales on the head. It has long dorsal fins and the color can differ. Ghost koi can still differ in coloration.
There are those that have a pure, uniform color while others have black or metallic patterns spread throughout their bodies. There’s a yellow ghost carp created by breeding common carp or mirror carp with Yambuki.
The colors of ghost koi develop and brighten when they mature. Like other carp species, the ghost koi have upper jaws that slightly protrude and thick, rubbery lips.
Carp don’t have teeth; however, they have powerful pharyngeal teeth that are able to crush whatever they feed on before being swallowed by the fish.
Feeding and Spawning
Ghost carp can be incredibly greedy. They are omnivorous and will search for anything edible present in the water. They can even cause disruption on the bottom when finding food, which is why they’ve also been labeled as ‘freshwater pigs.’
As with most carp species, ghost koi will feed at any depth and feast on algae, mollusks, invertebrates, snails, aquatic plants, and freshwater shrimp.
As a ghost koi reaches sexual maturity, it begins to spawn. This is between two to three years of age. Timing the spawning of carp will depend on its living environment. When the water temperature reaches 16-22°C, that’s usually when they spawn.
In the UK, spawning is in early summer or late spring. When the time is right, carp will move to an area that has thick weeds in shallow water. It’s been recorded that carp have a preference for spawning after heavy rainfall and the water rises.
The yellow or orange eggs of ghost carp are sticky and they will be attached to weeds. The female carp lays a million eggs and is able to spawn more than once every season.
Unlike other species, ghost koi don’t protect their eggs from predators. It will take 3 to 8 days for the eggs to hatch, but this will depend on the area and water temperature of where they’re deposited. Juvenile carp remain attached to vegetation for the next 3 to 4 days up until they’ve fully consumed their yolk sac.
How to Catch Ghost Carp
Ghost carp are actively fished in still waters. A lot of fisheries across the globe, including the US, advertise if they have ghost koi.
Take note: they can be hard to locate. Ghost koi are prized fish by anglers as they’re thought to be intelligent and a challenge to catch.
If you are able to find a good fishery that stocks the fish, try various locations in the water to locate them. Look out for overhanging trees and any overhanging vegetation as ghost carp use the areas for cover.
In terms of the bait, pellets are the most preferred bait by most carp anglers, including us. But, other tried and tested ones include worms, peanuts, dog biscuits, maggots, sweetcorn, red worm, brandlings, mussels, bread, and luncheon meat. You can add extra flavor to luncheon meat so it has a more pungent smell.
As always, we suggest you try bringing with you different baits. Keep on changing if you’re not getting action or interest.
If you’re intrigued by the beauty, mystique, and wits of ghost carp, make sure you’re ready for quite the challenge as it can be hard to catch them. Don’t be afraid of ‘pushing the envelope.’
Persist in catching these magnificent creatures as they’re definitely able to make you feel accomplished as you hold up your prize to pose for a picture!