Two billabongs on the floodplain of the Murrumbidgee River, Australia, were partitioned in half with impermeable plastic barriers and the biomass of carp was manipulated to establish high- and low-carp biomass treatments in each billabong. Measurements of benthic variables (rates of particle settlement, biofilm development, sediment respiration, macrophyte detritus decomposition, sediment solid-phase nutrient concentrations and benthic algal biomass) were performed over four months from summer to winter 1995. Rates of particle settlement were greater in the high-carp treatment of each billabong throughout the experiment. High carp biomass had a negative impact on the autotrophic component of the biofilm developing on wood blocks placed at different heights above the sediment surface but the mechanism responsible differed between billabongs. Sediment oxygen demand became greater in the presence of a higher biomass of carp during the experiment but time courses differed between billabongs. Manipulations of carp biomass did not influence algal biomass on the sediment surface, the rate of decomposition of macrophyte detritus or sediment solid-phase nutrients or nutrient ratios. The impact of carp on benthic and surficial processes was significant but the mechanisms of change differed between billabongs.