Biological control of invasive apple snails by two species of carp: Effects on non-target species matter

Kelvin K.L. Ip, Yan Liang, Li Lin, Huixian Wu, Junzhen Xue, Jianwen QIU*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Molluscivorous fish, especially carp, have been adopted as bio-control agents of the invasive apple snail Pomacea canaliculata, but previous studies have focused on their effectiveness, with little attention paid to their undesirable effects on non-target plants and animals. We conducted an 8-week mesocosm study to compare the effectiveness of two indigenous fish, common carp (Cyprinus carpio) and black carp (Mylopharyngodon piceus), in removing P. canaliculata, and their potential side effects on macrophytes and non-target mollusks in a freshwater wetland. Three species of macrophytes and a community of mollusks in the wetland sediment were enclosed in 1 × 1 × 1. m enclosures either with apple snails (AS), with apple snails and common carp (AS. +. CC), with apple snails and black carp (AS. +. BC), or without apple snails and fish. Both species of carp were effective predators of P. canaliculata, removing most of the individuals in the enclosures except a few that were too big to fit into their mouth. By reducing apple snail population, black carp reduced grazing of apple snail on macrophytes. In contrast, although common carp controlled apple snail population, it did not reduce overall loss in plant biomass as the fish might also fed on macrophytes. Both species of carp preyed on non-target mollusks. Application of bio-control agents in invasive species management needs to consider their effects on both the pest and non-target plants and animals. Adoption of common and/or black carp to control apple snail populations thus depends on the weight given to their effectiveness and subtle different effects on non-target organisms by wetland management authority.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-22
Number of pages7
JournalBiological Control
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Insect Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • Apple snail
  • Biological control
  • Black carp
  • Common carp
  • Predation


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