NACA/WP/86/37November 1986
Studies on the Intergeneric Hybrid, Common Carp, Cyprinus carpio communis L. x Mrigal, Cirrhinus mrigala (Hamilton)

Freshwater Aquaculture Research and Training Centre (CIFRI)
P.O. Kausalyagang, Bhubaneswar 751002 (Orissa) India


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STUDIES ON THE INTERGENERIC HYBRID, COMMON CARP, Cyprinus carpio communis L. x MRIGAL, Cirrhinus mrigala (Hamilton)


Freshwater Aquaculture Research and Training Centre (CIFRI).
P.O. Kausalyagang, Bhubaneswar 751002 (Orissa) India.


An intergeneric hybrid between female common carp, Cyprinus carpio communis L. and male mrigal, Cirrhinus mrigala (Hamilton) was successfully produced at this Centre and reared. Its embryonic and larval developmental stages were compared with those of parents and reciprocal hybrid. The mode of development was observed to be similar to that of common carp. Though the percentage of fertilization was high (65–85%), yet survival of post-larvae was quite low, ranging from 30–40% due to occurrence of abnormality in embryos and larvae. Some aspects of morphometry of the above hybrid are described in the present communication.


Hybridization between common carp and an Indian major carp was first attempted by Alikunhi and Chaudhuri (1959) by crossing male common carp with female rohu. Since then two more intergeneric hybrids viz., Cirrhinus mrigala female x Cyprinus carpio communis male (Kowtal and Gupta, 1984) and C. carpio communis female x Labeo rohita male (Khan et al., 1986) have been produced. However, in 1986 another intergeneric hybrid between female common carp and male mrigal was produced for the first time. The salient features of the embryonic and larval development and morphometry of this new intergeneric hybrid are described in the present communication.


Two fully ripe female common carp spawners (3.5–4.7 kg) were injected intramuscularly with carp pituitary extract @ 16 mg/kg body weight of the receipient in two split doses at an interval of 6 hours. Male mrigal were injected @ 3 mg/kg body weight at the time of second injection to female common carp. Details of the experiment are as follows :

Paper for Symposium on Conservation and Management of Fish Genetics Resources of India at Allahabad.

Expt. No.SpeciesSexWeight
1Common carpFemale4.7Successful.In both the experiments fertilization was 65–80%, hatching rate 40–50% but survival of post-larvae was only 30% to 40% due to mortality of deformed embryos and hatchlings.
MrigalMale    1.110,000 spawn obtained
2Common carpFemale3.5Successful.
MrigalMale    1.04,000 spawn obtained

Common carp eggs being striaped were distributed equally into four lots. Two of these were utilized for producing pure breed of common carp by fertilizing them with common carp milt. In the other two lots, mrigal milt was used for producing hybrids. Since common carp eggs are sticky, fertilized eggs of all four lots were rinsed with milt (@ 5 litres of milk per litre of eggs) and stirred continuously for 45–60 minutes to remove adhesiveness (Khan et al., 1984). When degumming of the eggs was complete, they were washed 2–3 times with filtered pond water and transferred to hatching trays, provided with continuous aeration. Incubation period varried from 44–49 hours after fertilization at a water temperature of 27–29°C. Yolk absorption was completed at 72 hours after hatching. Post-larvae were first reared for 10 days in nylon hapas fixed in ponds. They were thereafter stocked in two 0.02 ha ponds in the ratio of common carp 1 : mrigal 1 and hybrid 1 for polyculture and in two ponds for monoculture, keeping stocking density @ 5000 fry/ha in both systems of culture and maintaining uniform farming conditions.


Embryonic and larval development

The embryonic and larval development of common carp x mrigal hybrid followed the maternal pattern (Table I). Although the rate of fertilization and hatching in hybrid varied from 65–80% and 40–50% respectively, the survival of post-larvae was 30–40% because of the abnormality and deformity encountered in case of hybrid embryos and larvae. Similar phenomenon has been observed by earlier workers in the hybrids of common carp x Chinese carps (Makeeva, 1967; Bakos et al., 1978), catla x silver carp (Ibrahim et al., 1980), mrigal x common carp (Kowtal and Gupta, 1984) and common carp x rohu (Khan et al., 1986). The cause of this high rate of mortality and deformity in intergeneric hybrids may be due to great disparity in chromosome numbers in common carp (2n = 100 to 104, Ohno et al., 1967) and mrigal (2n = 50, Majumdar and Raychaudhuri, 1976).

Table I. Developmental stages in hybrids and parents

Stages Common carp x mrigal hybridMrigal x Common carp
(Kowtal and Gupta, 1984)
Common carp
(Alikunhi, 1966)
(Chakrabarty and Murty, 1972)
Diameter of fully swollen egg (mm) 1.5–1.58-1.4–1.64.5–5.5
 (Time in hours and minutes after fertilization) 
2 celled0.400.320.30-
4 celled0.500.500.400.53–0.56
32 celled-1.101.40-
Hatching started23.00-24.00-
Hatching completed44.00–49.0016.00–18.0048.0016.00–24.00
Hatching size (mm)4.08-3.754.20
Water temp. (°C)27.0–29.029.0–32.028.0–32.025.0–30.0

Morphometry of hybrid

Table II summarises data for several morphometric and meristic counts in the hybrid and parent species.

D 2 (16–17); P 15–16; Vl 7–8; Al 5; C 19; Ll 34–36;
Ltr 5½-4½.

Body of the hybrid dorsally convex with slight hump (fig. i) as in common carp, more elongated than common carp and broader than mrigal. Characteristic big belly of common carp lacking and abdomen resembling that of mrigal. Mouth terminal and not protractile as in mrigal, with 2 pairs of barbels - one pair maxillary and the other mandibular. Snout blunt, rounded. Depth of body 2.8–3, length of head 2.6–3.2 in standard length, width of 1.9–2.4 in its length and 2.1–2.4 times in its height. Eyes located in the anterior half of head, its diameter contained 4.3–7 times in head length, 1.7 times in snout length, 1.9–2.3 in interorbital width. Interorbital space flat, gape of mouth contained 4.3–5 times in head length thick. Upper lip entire. Various body indices of the hybrid and its parent species are as follows :

Table II. Morphometric and meristic counts of the hybrid and parent species.

CharactersCommon carp x mrigal hybridCommon carp
(Alikunhi, 1966; Khan et al., 1986)
(Misra, 1959; Jhingran and Khan, 1979)
Total length/Body length3.6–3.82.7–3.6-
Standard length/Body length2.8–3.03.1–3.93.6–3.8
Total length/Head length3.2–4.03.9–5.3-
Standard length/Head length2.6–3.22.7–3.13.7–4.3
Total length/Body width8.0–8.6--
Body length/Body width2.1–2.4--
Total length/Caudal length4.0–4.3--
Head length/Head width1.9–2.451.5–1.71.4–1.6
Head length/Head width1.4–1.61.45–1.680.9–1.2
Head length/Eye diameter4.3–7.05.0–6.34.9–5.5
Snout length/Eye diameter1.7-1.0–1.3
Head length/Gape of mouth4.3–5.0-2.5
Total length/Predorsal2.52.3–2.7-
Total length/Base of dorsal3.4–4.03.0–3.5-
Total length/Pre-1.71.5–1.6-
Total length/Pre-pectoral4.1–4.33.8–4.8-
Total length/Pre-pelvic2.1–2.42.3–2.6-
Body height/Height at caudal peduncle2.1–2.7--
Caudal peduncle height/Caudal peduncle width2.0–2.1--
(Feebly serrated)
(Last ray strongly serrated)
(No serration)
L1 (scale count)34–3633–1940–45
Ltr (scale count)5½-4½5–6/7½6½–7/8½

 Body IndiceHybridCommon carpMrigal
Profile index
(TL/Body height)
Head index
(TL/Head length)
Width index
(TL/Body width)
Height index
(Body height/body width)
Cauda. index
(TL/Tail length)

Scales moderate, squamation pattern like that of common carp, 34–36 in lateral line, 5½ rows between lateral line and base of dorsal fin; lateral line complete and not curved as in common carp. Dorsal long but shorter than in common carp, its origin slightly anterior to ventral origin, serration on last unbranched ray in dorsal and anal weak and fused. Pectorals touching ventrals, cuadal depply forked contained 4–4.3 times in total length.

Colour variable; back greish, sides golden yellow, under surface pale to whitish, dorsal and caudal greyish. Other fins often toned with red. All these characters indicate that the hybrid attained intermediate characters, but more towards common carp.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1 - Hybrid and parent species.

  1. Cyprinus carpio - Female parent

  2. Common carp-mrigal hybrid

  3. Ciirhinus mrigala - male parent.


The authors wish to express their gratitude to Dr. A.V. Natarajan, Director, General. Inland Fisheries Research Institute, for encouragement; to DR. V.P.P Sinha, National Project Director and Head, Freshwater Aquaculture Research and Training Centre, Kausalyagang for his keen interest and going through the manuscript and to Shri S.D. Tripathi, Senior Scientist for helpful suggestions in the preparation of the manuscript.


Alikunhi, K.H., 1966. Synopsis of biological data on common carp Cyprinus carpio (Linnaeus). FAO Fish Synops., (31.1) : Pag. var.

Alikunhi, K.H. and H. Chaudhuri, 1959. Preliminary observations on hybridization of the common carp (Cyprinus carpio) with Indian carps. Proc. Indian Sci. Congr., 3 : 46 pp.

Bakos, J., Z. Krasznai and T. Marian, 1978. Cross-breeding experiments with carp tench and Asian phytophagous cyprinids. Aquaculture Hungarics, 1 : 51–57.

Chakrabarty, R.D. and D.S. Murty, 1972. Life history of Indian major carps, Cirrhinus mrigala (Ham.), Catla catla (Ham.) and Labeo rohita (Ham.). J. Inland Fish. Soc. India. 4 : 132–136.

Ibrahim, K.H., G.V. Kowtal and S.D. Gupta, 1980. Embryonic and larval development among Catla catla (Ham.) x Hypopthalmichthys molitric (Val.) hybrids. J. Inland Fish Soc. India. 12 : 69–73

Jhingran, V.G. and H.A. Khan, 1979. Synopsis of biological data on the mrigal, Cirrhinus mrigala (Hamilton, 1822). FAO Fish. Synops., (120). 78 p.

Khan, H.A., P.V.G.K. Reddy and S.D. Gupta, 1986. Studies on aspects of biology and morphometry of intergeneric hybrid Cyprinus carpio communis L. x Labeo rohita (Hamilton). In EIFAC. FAO Symposium on Selection, Hybridization and Genetic Engineering in Aquaculture of Fish and Shell Fish for Consumption and Stocking, Bordeaux (France). (Abstract).

Khan, H.A., S.D. Gupta, P.V.G.K. Reddy and S.K.Sahu, 1984. Use of milk, urea, sodium sulphite and human urine for degumming fertilized eggs of common carp, Cyprinus carpio (Linnaeus) (Cyprinidae). Aquaculture Hungarica (Szarvas). 5 (in press).

Kowtal, G.V. and S.D. Gupta, 1984. A note on the hybrid mrigal, Cirrhinus mrigala (Hamilton) x common carp, Cyprinus carpio (Linnaeus) (Cyprinidae). Aquaculture, 49 : 179–183.

Makeeva, A.P., 1967. Characteristics of embryonal and fry development in hybrids of some pond cyprinids. In B.I. Cherfas, Genetics, Selecvion and Hybridization of Fish. Israel Programme for Scientific Translation, 1972.

Misra, K.S., 1989. An aid to the identification of the common commercial fishes of India and Pakistan. Rec. Indian Mus., 57 (1–4) : 320 p.

Ohno, S.J., Muramoto, L. Christian and N.B. Atkin, 1967. Diploid relationship among old world members of fish family Cyprinidae Chromosoma, 23 : 1–9.


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