BOSTON—Announcing its plan to offer short-term, affordable carp rentals for urbanites and college students who don’t own a carp of their own, Zipcarp Inc. launched a brand-new fish-sharing service earlier this month.

According to company officials, Zipcarp’s inaugural fleet consists of 8,000 carps in six major American cities and several university towns, providing customers with the option to rent a carp by the hour or day.

“A huge perk of city living is avoiding the costs and hassles of owning your own carp,” Zipcarp chairman and CEO Carl Potter said at the opening of the company’s carp-rental hub in downtown Boston. “But as all urbanites know, there are times when you just really need a carp. That’s why we’re thrilled to launch Zipcarp as a convenient alternative to fish ownership.”

“Whether you’re moving across campus to a new dorm, going home for the holidays, or just getting out of the city for a little while, Zipcarp has the perfect carp for you,” continued Potter, adding that costs range from $8.75 per hour for a smaller crucian carp to $12.75 for a mid-size silver carp. “And with our convenient iPhone app and right-around-the-corner rental locations, picking up and returning your carp is easier than ever.”

Potter said the Zipcarp rental process consists of three simple steps: First, customers visit Zipcarp.com and apply for membership. Second, they receive their CarpCard in the mail, with which they can book their fish online or by phone, choosing their preferred carp habitat and species. And lastly, Zipcarp clients show up at their nearest Zipcarp rental station and pick up their fish, which they will return to the exact same spot at the end of their reservation.

Members can also purchase gall bladder insurance for an additional fee.

“Say you already own a carp, but one day you need a second carp for some reason,” Zipcarp spokesperson Colin Ackerman said. “Or you need a really big carp, like a Catla carp. Or you just want to impress your boss by showing up to work with a fancy mrigal carp. We’ve got it all.”

Thousands are reported to have signed up for the service already, with many telling reporters that it’s a great alternative to the long lines and confusing paperwork that tend to be part of the normal carp-rental experience.

In addition, members said they liked the expedience. For example, rather than going all the way to the airport to rent a carp, now they can simply walk up to a parking space near their home, find their carp, hold their CarpCard up to the fish’s gills, and the carp is theirs.

“Next Saturday, I think we’re all going to chip in and rent out a big four-person carp,” Stephanie McFeely, 26, told reporters. “I know it seems excessive, but we all agree that since moving to the city, we really miss having our own carp—it’s just this feeling of independence and freedom you can’t quite get anywhere else.”

“We might pay a little extra for a really cool one, too, like a Hypophthalmichthys nobilis or a Ctenopharyngodon idella,” she added.

University of Virginia freshman Ben Osgood told reporters that while he usually has no need for a carp, there are still occasions when one would certainly come in handy.

“My roommate has a carp on campus, but you have to know someone pretty well before asking to borrow their carp,” said Osgood, adding that he had a carp during high school but it was essentially his mom and dad’s carp. “Plus, I would feel horrible if something happened to it, even if it wasn’t my fault.”

While the business is reportedly thriving, it’s not without its critics.

“Sometimes the carps are real clunkers,” said former Zipcarp customer Eric Lowell, adding that his carp broke down in the middle of the highway last week. “The fins don’t work at all, the eyes are all busted, and there’s no air in the gills. It’s just a really terrible feeling when you’re in the middle of nowhere and your carp dies on you.”