Black Crappie vs White Crappie – What’s The Difference?


Black and white crappie share many of the same waters and similarities. For this reason many people wonder about their differences, if any. Let’s answer, what is the difference between black crappie and white crappie?

Black crappie and white crappie are two different species of fish although they are from the same family and genus. Black crappie grows slightly larger and weighs more. White crappie prefers murky water. Black crappie prefers clearer water. Black crappie is found more on the eastern coast of the U.S. than white crappie.

This article will compare their tastes, textures, cooking methods, costs, mercury levels and whether one can substitute for the other in recipes. In addition, I’ll do a side-by-side comparison of their habitats, size, weight and discuss their nutritional benefits.

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Black Crappie vs White Crappie: Habitats, Size, Weight, Appearance?

How can you tell the difference between a black crappie and a white crappie?

To tell the difference between a black and white crappie is to check their body markings, dorsal fins and their mouths. White crappie has dark vertical bars, black crappie has dark spots. White crappie has 5-6 spines on the dorsal fin. Black crappie has 7 to 8. Black crappie has an upward slope to their mouth which white crappie doesn’t have.

Another way to tell the difference between black and white crappie is the length of their body. Black crappie’s body shape is shorter and stubbier than white crappie and weighs slightly more.

Another difference is the length from the center of the eye to the front of the dorsal fin. The black crappie distance from the center of the eye to the start of the dorsal fin equals the length of the dorsal fin.

The white crappie distance from the center of the eye to the start of the dorsal fin is longer than the base of the dorsal fin.

Scientific Classifications, Families, Species

White crappie are from:

  • Family: Centrarchidae
  • Genus: Pomoxis
  • Species: P. annularis
  • Common nicknames: Goldring, silver perch, crappie

Black crappie are from:

  • Family: Centrarchidae
  • Genus: Pomoxis
  • Species: P. nigromaculatus
  • Common nicknames: Crappie

White crappie and black crappie are from the same family and genus but are different species. White crappie’s species is Pomoxis annularis and black crappie’s species is Pomoxis nigromaculatus.

Black Crappie and White Crappie Habitats

White Crappie

  • White crappies are native to the Great Lakes, Hudson Bay and the Mississippi River basins from Canada, New York, South Dakota and Texas.
  • They can be found in lakes, reservoirs and rivers.
  • White crappie can be found in murky waters.

Black Crappie

  • Black crappies are native to Canada, eastern and the western United States.
  • Black crappies are found in lakes, reservoirs and rivers.
  • Black crappie prefer clear water over murky.

Black crappie prefer clear water and typically avoid muddy and turbid waters. White crappie are found more in muddy waters but may frequent the clear water also. White crappie prefers the open water while black crappie likes having vegetation to hide in.

Even though both crappies have their own preferences, you can find them in the same water, lakes, rivers, streams, reservoirs and ponds. Black crappie can be found more along the eastern coastline of the United States where white crappie is more scarce.

photo comparison of white crappie and black crappie
Black crappie above, white crappie below.

Black Crappie and White Crappie Colors

  • White crappies have a silvery color with dark vertical bars along the body. The back is greenish to brown.
  • Black crappies have a silvery color with dark splotches along the body. The back is greenish to brown.

White crappies are sometimes lighter in color and appear less dark but that’s not always the case. Sometimes the white and black crappie have a similar darkness to their bodies.

Black Crappie and White Crappie Appearance

Dorsal Fins

  • White crappie has one dorsal fin with 5-6 spines.
  • Black crappie has one dorsal fin with 7-8 spines.

The dorsal fin of the black crappie is located closer to the head than a white crappie. The dorsal fin of the white crappie is closer to the tail fin than the black crappie.

Mouth

  • The white crappie jaw does not extend past the eye line. The mouth does not have an upward shape.
  • The black crappie jaw does not extend past the eye line. The mouth has an upward curve or shape.

Scales

  • The scales on a white crappie are similar across the body.
  • The scales on a black crappie are similar across the body.

Body Shape

  • White crappie has a short stubby body. The distance from the center of the eye to the front of the dorsal fin is longer than the length of the dorsal fin.
  • Black crappie has a short, stubby, rounder body, shorter than a white crappie. The distance from the center of the eye to the front of the dorsal fin equals the length of the dorsal fin.

Black Crappie and White Crappie Size and Weight

  • White crappies average 9-12 inches long and weigh between 1/2 pound to 1.5 pounds.
  • Black crappies average 8-10 inches long and weigh 3/4 pound to 2 pounds.

Age

  • White crappie live 2-7 years.
  • Black crappie live 2-7 years.

Crappie Diet

White crappie consume the following:

  • Plankton
  • Crustaceans
  • Small fish
  • Insects

Black crappie consume the following:

  • Plankton
  • Crustaceans
  • Small fish
  • Insects
black crappie and white crappie photo comparison
Black crappie and white crappie below.

Species Resources 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

If you’re curious how crappie compared to bass, check out my article Crappie vs Bass – What’s The Difference? Let’s Compare.

Black Crappie and White Crappie: Tastes and Textures

One of the most important things people takes into consideration when choosing a fish is its taste. When comparing the two fish, what tastes better white crappie or black crappie?

White crappie and black crappie have a similar taste and one isn’t better than the other. They have a mild taste which is not sweet or fishy. White and black crappie’s texture is soft, smooth and flakey. The black crappie fillet may be more meatier due to its slightly larger size. 

What does white crappie taste like? White crappie have a mild taste. White crappie does not have a sweet or fishy flavor. The texture is soft, smooth and flakey.

What does black crappie taste like? Black crappie have a mild taste. Black crappie does not have a sweet or fishy flavor. The texture is soft, smooth and flakey.

Black Crappie and White Crappie Substitutions

When preparing recipes for dinner it’s not always possible to locate the type of fish called for. If you have some black crappie, you may ask, can I substitute black crappie for white crappie?

Black and white crappie can substitute for each other due to their similar tastes and textures. Both fish have a mild flavor and soft texture allowing each one to substitute for each other in any crappie recipe. They both can be cooked using similar methods like baking, broiling, pan frying and deep frying. 

What is a good substitute for white crappie? The best white crappie fish substitutes include the following:

  • Cod
  • Tilapia
  • Bluegill
  • Lake herring
  • Pollock
  • Black crappie

What is a good substitute for black crappie? The best black crappie fish substitutes include the following:

  • Cod
  • Tilapia
  • Bluegill
  • Lake herring
  • Pollock
  • White crappie

How To Cook Black or White Crappie

The most popular ways to cook black or white crappie are:

  • Pan frying
  • Deep frying
  • Baking

Since the texture of crappie is delicate, almost like crabmeat, they make a good substitute for some crab recipes like crab cakes.

Black Crappie and White Crappie Mercury Levels

The EPA and The Food and Drug Administration have issued warnings and suggestions regarding mercury levels in fish and how often they should be consumed 10. This is especially important for young infants, developing children and pregnant women.

They established a list of best fish, good choices and ones to avoid based on their mercury levels. Therefore, does black crappie or white crappie have more mercury?

Black crappie and white crappie have similar levels of mercury. Black and white crappie are listed on the FDA’s best choice of fish regarding mercury levels.

If you’re pregnant, breast feeding or has a young child, Always check with a physician prior to eating new foods or changing your dietary habits.

These mercury warnings can change over time or affect only a particular area or state. Please check with your local EPA and FDA for the current recommendations 11.

How Much Black Crappie and White Crappie Cost

The costs for crappie will vary depending on how the fish are caught and where they are sold. When purchasing any fish, be sure to check the label to see if it is wild-caught or farm raised. Therefore, which is more expensive, black crappie or white crappie?

Black crappie and white crappie are similar cost per pound. The average cost for fresh crappie fillet is $22 per pound. Wild, whole crappie fish is $10.45 per pound. Live black crappie for stocking ponds is $1 per 3-4 inch fish.

I checked online at Walleye Direct and found the following prices:

  • Wild, crappie fillets
    • $22 per pound
  • Wild, whole black crappie
    • $10.45 per pound

For stocking ponds, Pond King has the following price per fish:

  • Black crappie – $1 per 3-4″ fish

Black Crappie and White Crappie Nutrients

Crappie Fish Nutrients

Crappie fish are an excellent source of healthy fats, protein, B vitamins and minerals. Both crappie fish contain the following:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Folate
  • Niacin
  • B6
  • B12
  • B5
  • Thiamin
  • Riboflavin
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Selenium
  • Calcium
  • Zinc

The following number of nutrients per four raw ounces of Crappie fish:

Nutrient Crappie, raw (4 Ounces)
Calories 137
Fat 1.3 g
Saturated Fat 0.9 g  
Cholesterol 80 mg 
Protein 25 g
Sodium 49 mg
Omega-3 0.29 g
B-6 0.1 mg
B-12 2.1 mcg
Thiamin 0.07 mg
Riboflavin 0.08 mg
B5 0.8 mg
Iron 0.9 mg
Niacin 1.7 mg
Folate 6.3 mcg
Potassium 357 mg
Magnesium 39 mg
Phosphorus 259 mg
Calcium 85.8 mg
Zinc 0.5 mg
Selenium 13.2 mcg

Nutrient Resources 12

Black and white crappie are renowned for being a part of many diets like keto or heart healthy.

If you’re eating low-carb or want to give keto a try, many of my clients have followed this 28-Day Keto Challenge with great success. Visit their website and check it out.

Black Crappie and White Crappie Health Benefits

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

The omega-3 fatty acids contained in black and white crappie are heart healthy and help keep arteries healthy. The omega-3s may help with the following:

  • Keeping good cholesterol high.
  • Keeping bad cholesterol low.
  • Reducing plaque build-up.
  • Reducing inflammation.
  • Lowering triglycerides.
  • Help keep the heart rhythms more normal.

DHA and EPA, two of the fatty acids, are associated with lowering blood pressure and improving the health of blood vessels 13.

Studies suggest omega-3s can help reduce joint pain and stiffness in people with rheumatoid arthritis. They may also boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs.

B Vitamins

The B vitamins provided by crappie include B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5, B6, B9 (folate) and B12. B vitamins help support the following:

  • Red blood cells.
  • Energy levels.
  • Digestion.
  • Cardiovascular disease.
  • Nerve function.
  • Brain function.

Calcium

Crappie provides 85.8 mg of calcium per four ounces. The calcium contained in crappie fish is important for blood pressure and the heart. Harvard Health reports calcium helps maintain blood pressure because it helps to control the relaxing and tightening of blood vessels 14.

Calcium also helps the following:

  • Improve nerve function.
  • Build and maintain strong bones.
  • Muscles need calcium to function properly.

Magnesium

Crappie provides 39 mg of magnesium per four ounces. Magnesium calms and relaxes the whole body including blood vessels. It has been shown to help improve sleep related problems like insomnia 15.

Magnesium helps keep blood pressure levels balanced and stable. A recent study researched 22 studies and concluded magnesium supplementation decreased diastolic and systolic blood pressure 16.

Magnesium provided by crappie helps control muscle and nerve function, blood sugar and blood pressure.

In the muscles and heart, magnesium competes with calcium to help the muscles relax after contracting. When the body is low in magnesium, calcium can over stimulate the heart muscle’s cells causing a rapid or irregular heartbeat.

Selenium

There are 13.2 mcg of selenium per four ounces of crappie. Selenium is a nutrient which doesn’t receive much press. I’m unsure why many don’t write about it more because studies 17 show selenium may help to protect the following:

  • Cognitive issues
  • Heart disease
  • Thyroid
  • The immune system

Potassium

Black and white crappie provide 357 mg of potassium per four ounces. Potassium helps the body get rid of excess sodium which helps reduce fluid build-up. These help keep systolic and diastolic blood pressure lower 18.

The more potassium you consume, the more sodium your body will lose. Consuming too much sodium or not enough potassium throws off the delicate balance the kidneys need to remove the excess water 19.

According to Harvard Health, a number of studies have shown a connection between low potassium levels and increased blood pressure 20.

Phosphorus

Black and white crappie provides 259 mg of phosphorus per four ounces. It has been shown in scientific research to help with the following:

  • Promote teeth and bone strength.
  • Muscle recovery after exercise.
  • Muscle contraction.
  • Help the body store and manage energy.
  • Help the kidneys remove waste.
  • Promote healthy nerve conduction.

FAQs

What crappie gets bigger white or black?

White crappie grows approximately two inches longer than black crappie. Although black crappie is slightly shorter, its more rounded body typically weighs more than white crappie.

Do white and black crappie crossbreed?

White and black crappie have crossbred forming a hybrid. The hybrid crappie rarely reaches maturity and has a shorter lifespan than white or black crappies. Factors enabling crossbreeding between crappies include limited spawning habitat, turbid water, overlapping spawning seasons and fluctuations in water levels.

Hybrid crappies breed much slower than white or black crappies. The next generation hybrid is often unsuccessful causing hybrid’s population to die out quicker. 

Additional Resources 21

Read Next – More Fish vs Fish Articles!

Bass vs Catfish – What’s The Difference? Let’s Compare

Brown Trout vs Salmon – Are They The Same? Let’s Compare

Halibut vs Flounder – Is There A Difference? Let’s Compare

Tuna vs Mahi Mahi – What’s The Difference? Let’s Compare

Herring vs Sardines – What’s The Difference? Let’s Compare

 

Article Resources: Foods For Anti-Aging follows strict guidelines to ensure our content is the highest journalistic standard. It's our mission to provide the reader with accurate, honest and unbiased guidance. Our content relies on medical associations, research institutions, government agencies and study resources. Learn more by reading our editorial policy.
  1. Wikipedia: Crappie[]
  2. Wikipedia: White crappie[]
  3. Wikipedia: Black crappie[]
  4. Florida Museum: Black Crappie[]
  5. Texas Parks & Wildlife: Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) []
  6. UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment: White Crappie[]
  7. Delaware.gov: White Crappie[]
  8. Missouri Department of Conservation: Crappie, white[]
  9. Missouri Department of Conservation: Crappie[]
  10. FDA: Advice about Eating Fish[]
  11. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Mercury accumulation in largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) in a Florida lake[]
  12. USDA FoodData Central: Crappie[]
  13. National Center for Biotechnology: Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease[]
  14. Harvard Health: Key minerals to help control blood pressure[]
  15. National Institutes of Health: Magnesium[]
  16. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis[]
  17. National Institutes of Health: Selenium[]
  18. American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure[]
  19. National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Effect of the Sodium to Potassium Ratio on Hypertension Prevalence: A Propensity Score Matching Approach[]
  20. Harvard Health: Potassium lowers blood pressure[]
  21. SRAC: Species Profile: Hybrid Crappie[]

Kevin Garce

Kevin Garce is a Certified Health Coach who encourages people by informing them on nutrition and food topics important to them. His years of research and knowledge inspire people to achieve their goals. Read more here About Me

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