As bighead carp Hypophthalmichthys nobilis and silver carp H. molitrix (the bigheaded carps) are poised to enter the Laurentian Great Lakes and potentially damage the region’s economically important fishery, information on developmental rates and behaviors of carps is critical to assessing their ability to establish sustainable populations within the Great Lakes basin. In laboratory experiments, the embryonic and larval developmental rates, size, and behaviors of bigheaded carp were tracked at two temperature treatments, one “cold” and one “warm”. Developmental rates were computed using previously described stages of development and the cumulative thermal unit method. Both species have similar thermal requirements, with a minimum developmental temperature for embryonic stages of 12.1° C for silver carp and 12.9° C for bighead carp, and 13.3° C for silver carp larval stages and 13.4° C for bighead carp larval stages. Egg size differed among species and temperature treatments, as egg size was larger in bighead carp, and “warm" temperature treatments. The larvae started robust upwards vertical swimming immediately after hatching, interspersed with intervals of sinking. Vertical swimming tubes were used to measure water column distribution, and ascent and descent rates of vertically swimming fish. Water column distribution and ascent and descent rates changed with ontogeny. Water column distribution also showed some diel periodicity. Developmental rates, size, and behaviors contribute to the drift distance needed to fulfill the early life history requirements of bigheaded carps and can be used in conjunction with transport information to assess invasibility of a river.