Big Head Carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis)



  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Cypriniformes
  • Family: Cyprinidae
  • Genus: Hypophthalmichthys
  • Species: Hypophthalmichthys nobilis
Common names: Big Head Carp, Chinese carp, Tongsan, Buffalo carp Latin name: Hypophthalmichthys nobilis Thai name: Pla Jin (ปลาจีน) Thailand status: Introduced Max size: 40kg (88lb) Diet: Algae, Crustaceans, Small fish Habitat: Freshwater

The Latin Hypophthalmichthys comes from a Greek word meaning underneath eye. You can see in the plate above that the eye is very low down compared to other carp species. The distinguishing feature and the source of its common name comes from its big oversize head. The Thai name of Plah Jin is believed to come from the colloquial term for China or Chinese in the Thai language.

The Big head carp was originally introduced to Thailand and is now very well established all over the country. The main diet of the big head carp is mainly plankton (tiny microscopic animals that live in the water). The big head also has a big mouth and is a filter feeder using its gill raker's to catch and filter out the plankton and small food particles from the bottom of lakes and rivers. Their diet also consists of invertebrates and snails as well as vegetable matter.

Chinese native fish caught in Germany on Handmade lure from Thailand. The Big Head carp are omnivores and larger specimens are known to take lures and live fish baits.

It has also been reported in the USA where the carp has invaded many waters across the country that fishermen have caught them on jigs, lures and dead bait. The big Head carp was used in commercial catfish farms as a sort of environmentally friendly water filter and would clean the waste products and nutrients out of the low quality water. Due to flooding of the catfish farms the carp escaped and have now firmly established themselves in many of the USA's waters.

Not growing as large as its cousin the Siamese giant carp the big head is often overlooked by anglers coming to Thailand, but this fish is pound for pound as good a fighter and will test your skills to the limit. Because its not so sought after there have not been that many very large catches of the big head carp and if caught at Bungsamran would probably be dismissed by many as not as good as a Siamese giant carp or a big Mekong Catfish.