Crappies are two species of freshwater fish found primarily in North America, especially in the eastern United States.
They are the black crappie and white crappie, both of the genus Poxomis in the Centrarchidae family.
Crappies are particularly famous among sport fishermen or recreational anglers who consider them ideal game fish.
Due to this, more of these species have been introduced to new geographical ranges.
Plus, according to the IUCN, crappies are creatures of least concern on the extinction ladder, so they will be around for a long time.
While the black and white crappies are not so different from one another, some features set them apart.
For one, the black crappie prefers clear lakes and streams, while the white crappie can be found in warm, turbulent rivers and lakes.
In addition, the latter is lighter in color than the former.
This article provides a comprehensive description of both species, so read on to find out more.
2. Black Crappie
The black crappie, with the scientific name Poxomis nigromaculatus, is a freshwater fish found in streams, lakes, and rivers across Canada and the eastern United States.
This species has also been introduced to some areas in Panama and Mexico.
You can also call this fish strawberry bass, speckled bass, or papermouth.
The black crappie is especially popular for sport fishing, which has led to the expansion of its geographical range, so you can find it almost everywhere in the United States.
Plus, it’s interesting to note that the black crappie prefers clear, cool, and deep bodies of water with enough aquatic vegetative cover.
As a member of the Centrarchidae family (sunfish family), this fish also features ray fins.
Its dorsal fin has 7-8 spines, unlike the white crappie’s 5-6 spines.
In addition, it possesses a deep and laterally compressed body with an arched back and a small head.
Its mouth is fairly big, and this might be indicative of its feeding habit—piscivorous.
In terms of coloration, the black crappie can be anywhere between black and dark olive green on top and a lighter silvery coloration below.
Also, there’s black mottling evenly spread out across its body.
The black crappie usually weighs below six pounds and has a maximum length of 12 inches.
They also have a life span of 4 to 5 years.
1. White Crappie
The white crappie (Poxomis annularis) is a native of North American freshwater.
You’ll particularly find this species in the Great Lakes and Mississippi drainages, as well as the Gulf Slope streams from Mobile Bay to the Nueces River in east Texas.
Like its cousin, the black crappie, the white crappie is also a popular game fish, so it’s been introduced into different streams and lakes across southern Canada and the United States.
However, unlike the black crappie, the white crappie doesn’t mind turbid water.
They are not particularly dependent on the vegetative cover, although they can use woody debris, submerged rocks, and underwater plants to avoid predators.
Other names given to this fish include white perch, silver perch, goldring, and sac-a-lait.
The maximum length of white crappie is about 7 inches, and it can weigh about 5 pounds.
They possess a compressed body that makes it easy for them to move through the water.
White crappie also has silvery-olive scales and a white belly, with black spots appearing around their sides.
The males have darker sides and faces than females, and both have depression in their heads.
This is the species with 5-6 dorsal fin spines as opposed to the black crappie’s 7-8 spines, which is one of the ways to tell them apart from their black relatives.