Black Crappie vs White Crappie

The Difference Between The 2 Crappie Species

While these two species of fish taste similar, there are several easy ways to tell the difference. They are often found in the same types of habitats and can even be encountered in the same schools.

Black Crappie – Pomoxis nigromaculatus

Notice the random configuration of the markings, this is characteristic of the black crappie. It also is usually much darker colored than the white version below in the second image.

A large black crappie, as you can see this fish has no vertical bars- only random marking throughout it's body.

A large black crappie, as you can see this fish has no vertical bars- only random marking throughout it’s body. I caught this crappie just today while flyfishing on a streamer.

White Crappie- Pomoxis annularis

The main difference between the white crappie and the black crappie can be clearly seen here. Notice the vertically shaped bars on the sides of this fish compared the the black crappie above. The black crappie will not have stripes in this manner, it only has random mottled markings along it’s entire side.

White crappie- this fish has vertical bars on it's body that give it a different appearance that the black crappie

White crappie- this fish has vertical bars on it’s body that give it a different appearance that the black crappie. This image belongs to the army corp of engineers.

Ways the White Crappie Differs from the Black:

  • The dorsal fin is set back further on this species
  • The coloration is generally much lighter, especially the back
  • The dorsal fin has only 5-6 spines, compared to the black crappie which has 7-8 visible
  • White crappies tend to have a bit more of an elongated body
  • This species is more tolerant of murky water

It is common to have these 2 species of crappie actually breed with each other creating hybrids, so in this case you could end up with mixed signals about what species you are looking at. Using these tips above you should have no trouble determining the difference between the black vs white crappie.

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