Common Carp vs Mirror Carp

So, they have the same last name, but is that where the similarity ends? When addressing Common Carp vs Mirror Carp, you might be surprised at the differences. In this article we are going to have a detailed look at both and see what we can discover.

How do the species differ?

Well first here is an interesting fact. Common and Mirror Carp are, in fact, the same species! Essentially a mirror carp is a genetic mutation that has proliferated and grown. The best way we could describe it is like breeds of dogs, they are still related to the wolf regardless of whether you have a greyhound or a Labrador.

Physical appearance

The Common Carp is basically the bog-standard original model. They are normally a dark gold or brown colour and have a uniform series of scales all over their body. The body shape of a Common Carp is fairly slender and streamlined.

The Mirror Carp has different physical characteristics however. They take their name from the fact that they have several seemingly randomly placed scaled dotted around their body, like little mirrors. These patterns are unique to each fish, and no two are exactly the same. So every time you catch a mirror you’ll be catching a one off. Interestingly this is why commercial fisheries are able to identify and name certain specimens.

Mirror Carp tend to be shorter than their common friends. One striking difference is that they also tend to be quite a lot fatter.

Feeding behaviour

Well, when it comes to feeding behaviour you will find very little, if any difference between the Common Carp and the Mirror. As we said before they are the same species and live in exactly the same habitat.

The fight!

Pound for pound the Common Carp is a real bruiser. With a little practice you’ll be able to tell the difference in the fight when it comes to Common Carp vs Mirror Carp. A Common Carp will tend to be quite violent with dashes, runs and general mayhem. You will tend to find that Mirrors feel heavier and more consistent. If it tugs and tugs there’s a good chance that you have hooked a Common Carp, if you feel a steady and sustained pull place your bets on it being a Mirror Carp.


Well Carp grow up to all sizes, and it depends heavily on venue and conditions year on year. There is a common misconception that mirrors tend to be bigger. This probably comes from the fact that they look fatter. There is a theory that Mirror Carp tend to grow bigger as they use less energy in growing a full body of scales, however we are slightly dubious.

Perhaps the best way to demonstrate the size difference is to take a look at the current British records to see which is ultimately bigger. The largest Common Carp caught in the UK currently stands at a whopping 64 lbs. The largest ever Mirror Carp caught in UK waters stands to date at 67 lbs. When you compare the two side by side and think of it in terms of percentage, there is very little in it. Likewise, for the international record.



If we had to pick our favourite in the battle of Common Carp vs Mirror Carp, we’d say it is actually a tough call. Mirror Carp are certainly unique and it’s great that you can tell if you’ve caught a ‘named’ fish. But that said Common Carp put up a harder fight, which is the bit that we really enjoy. At the end of the day its near on impossible to target either individually, we’re going to go with… We are happy when we catch anything!