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


Crappie and freshwater bass share many of the same waters. For this reason many people wonder about their differences. Let’s answer, what is the difference between crappie and bass?

Freshwater Bass and crappies are two different families, genus and species of fish. Fresh water bass grows larger and weighs more than crappies. Crappies are silvery and freshwater bass are greenish, grayish or brown. Crappies have a milder taste and a more delicate, softer texture than freshwater bass.

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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Crappie vs Bass: Habitats, Size, Weight, Appearance?

When comparing both fish, the species of each has to be determined to make an accurate comparison. Crappie are two different species of fish, the white crappie and black crappie.

Bass is a name shared with many different species. There are sea bass and freshwater bass. More common freshwater bass which can be found in freshwaters are largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass.

This article will mainly focus on crappie, smallmouth, largemouth and spotted bass. How can you tell bass from crappie?

The easiest way to tell the difference between a freshwater bass and a crappie is by their size, weight and color. Freshwater bass average between 10-20 pounds and crappie rarely exceeds 2 pounds. Crappie have silvery bodies while freshwater bass are greenish, gray and brownish. 

Crappie have a more compacted body than bass which averages a longer length. Crappies have one dorsal fin and freshwater bass have two dorsal fins close together which appear separated or notched.

Crappie and Bass 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

Spotted bass are from:

  • Family: Centrarchidae
  • Genus: Micropterus
  • Species: M. punctulatus
  • Common nicknames: Spotty, spots.

Smallmouth bass are from:

  • Family: Centrarchidae
  • Genus: Micropterus
  • Species: M. dolomieu
  • Common nicknames: Brown bass, brownie, small, bronze bass and bronze back.

Largemouth bass are from:

  • Family: Centrarchidae
  • Genus: Micropterus
  • Species: M. salmoides
  • Common nicknames: Green bass, bigmouth bass, largies, bucketmouth.
photo of crappie fish and bass
Black crappie (upper left), white crappie (upper right), smallmouth bass (lower left), largemouth bass (lower right)

Crappie and Bass 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.

Spotted Bass

  • Spotted bass are native to the Mississippi River and across the Gulf states from Texas to Florida. In addition, they are found in the western Mid-Atlantic states. They have been introduced to Virginia, North Carolina and southern Africa.
  • Spotted bass prefer warmer waters with strong currents and turbulence.
  • Spotted bass prefer clear, open waters.
  • Commonly found in reservoirs and streams.

Smallmouth Bass

  • Smallmouth bass is native to the upper and middle Mississippi River Basin, the Great Lakes, Saint Lawrence River and the Hudson Bay Basin in Canada. They have been introduced into many cool-water rivers and lakes in the United States and Canada.
  • Smallmouth prefer colder waters.

Largemouth Bass

  • Largemouth bass are native to the eastern and central United States, southeastern Canada and northern Mexico. They have been introduced into many other areas as well.
  • Largemouth bass prefer warmer waters.

Crappie and Bass 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 brow.
  • Spotted bass have a greenish gray body. They have dark, black spots forming a jagged horizontal line down the body.
  • Smallmouth have a golden olive to brownish body. They have brown vertical bars or thick stripes down the body. The head has dark brown horizontal bars.
  • Largemouth have a greenish gray body. They have dark, black blotches forming jagged horizontal lines down the body.

In open waters the smallmouth bass have a lighter color compared to a darker color when found in darker rivers.

Crappie and Bass Appearance

Dorsal Fins

  • White crappie has one dorsal fin with 5-6 spines.
  • Black crappie has one dorsal fin with 7-8 spines.
  • Spotted bass has two dorsal fins clearly connected to each other.
  • Smallmouth have two dorsal fins separated by a shallow notch. The front dorsal is shorter with spine rays. The second dorsal is taller with soft rays.
  • Largemouth bass have two dorsal fins with no separation. The front dorsal is shorter with spine rays. The 2nd is taller with soft rays.

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.
  • The spotted bass jaw does not extend past the eye line.
  • The smallmouth bass protruding jaw doesn’t extend past the red or brown eyes.
  • The largemouth bass upper jaw extends past the eye socket.

Scales

  • The scales on a white crappie are similar across the body.
  • The scales on a black crappie are similar across the body.
  • The scales on the spotted bass head are smaller than the ones on the remaining part of the body.
  • The scales on a smallmouth bass are uniform across the body and head.
  • The scales on a largemouth bass are uniform across the body and head.

Tongue

  • The spotted bass tongue has a course rectangular tooth patch at the center.
  • The smallmouth bass can have a round patch of teeth on the tongue.
  • The largemouth bass has a smooth tongue.

Crappie and Bass Size and Weight

  • White crappies average 9-10 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.
  • A spotted bass can grow up to 25 inches long and weigh up to 11 pounds. The average spotted bass is 8-15″ long and weighs 1-2 pounds.
  • Smallmouth bass average 12-16 inches long and weigh up to 10 pounds.
  • Largemouth bass average 15 inches and grow up to 20 pounds.

Check out all the differences between spotted and largemouth bass in my article, Spotted Bass vs Largemouth Bass: What’s The Difference?

Diet

White crappie consume the following:

  • Plankton
  • Crustaceans
  • Small fish
  • Insects

Black crappie consume the following:

  • Plankton
  • Crustaceans
  • Small fish
  • Insects

Spotted bass consume the following:

  • Copepods
  • Crustaceans
  • Insects
  • Crayfish
  • Other smaller fish

Smallmouth bass consume the following:

  • Crayfish
  • Plankton
  • Insects
  • Other small fish

Largemouth bass consume the following:

  • Crayfish
  • Fish
  • Frogs
  • Insects
  • Crustaceans

Species Resources 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Crappie and Bass: 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, does crappie taste like bass?

Crappie has a milder taste than bass which is mild to sweet. Crappie taste less fishier than bass. Bass has a firmer texture than crappie which is softer and smoother. Crappie is more delicate and flakey than bass. 

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

  • Spotted bass has a mild to sweet taste. Spotted bass is only slightly fishy but not overly strong. It’s much less fishier than a largemouth bass. The flesh is white and has a firm texture.
  • Smallmouth bass has a mild to sweet taste. Smallmouth is only slightly fishy but not enough to turn people away who don’t prefer a fishy taste. The flesh is white and has a firm texture.
  • Largemouth bass has a strong flavor and is a little fishy, more than smallmouth bass. Largemouth has white flesh which can be watery but is firm and meaty.

For a complete comparison between smallmouth and largemouth bass check out my article, Smallmouth Bass vs Largemouth Bass: What’s The Difference?

Crappie and Bass Substitutions

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

Bass can substitute for crappie although its flavor is slightly stronger than crappie. Bass has a firmer texture allowing it to be used in any crappie recipe and more cooking methods than crappie. They both can be cooked using similar methods like baking, broiling and frying. 

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

  • Cod
  • Tilapia
  • Bluegill
  • Lake herring
  • Pollock

Smallmouth bass substitutes:

  • Freshwater trout
  • Lake herring
  • Mackerel
  • Snapper
  • Grouper
  • Halibut

Spotted bass substitutes are:

  • Halibut
  • Grouper
  • Snapper
  • Freshwater trout
  • Lake herring
  • Mackerel

Largemouth bass substitutes:

  • Tuna
  • Bluefish
  • Salmon
  • Walleye
  • Mahi mahi
  • Black Sea bass

How To Cook Crappie

The most popular ways to cook 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.

Flavor pairings:

  • Lemon
  • Black pepper
  • Dill
  • Parsley
  • Thyme
  • Garlic
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Mustard powder

How To Cook Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth bass doesn’t have the same fishy flavor and smell that a largemouth contains. Smallmouth doesn’t have to be seasoned as much to cover up the fishiness.

Smallmouth can be pan fried, grilled, baked, sautéed and broiled.

Smallmouth flavor pairings:

  • Olive oil
  • Lemon
  • Dill
  • Garlic
  • Mustard
  • Black pepper
  • Parsley

How To Cook Largemouth Bass

Frying largemouth bass indoors can create a fishy smell which many people dislike. By adding many of the spices below can help lessen the fishy smell or taste. In addition, removing the skin and bloodline before cooking will help with the fishy taste.

Largemouth can be deep fried, baked, broiled, grilled and sautéed.

Largemouth flavor pairings:

  • Olive oil
  • Lemon
  • Garlic
  • Paprika
  • Black pepper
  • Dill
  • Mustard

How To Cook Spotted Bass

Spotted bass doesn’t have the same fishiness and smell that a largemouth contains. For this reason spotted bass doesn’t have to be seasoned as much to cover up the fishy smell and flavor.

Spotted bass can be grilled, broiled, pan fried, baked and sautéed.

Spotted bass flavor pairings:

  • Garlic
  • Lemon
  • Dill
  • Black pepper
  • Mustard
  • Olive oil
  • Parsley

Bass and 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.

Crappie and Bass 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 15. 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 bass or crappie have more mercury?

Freshwater bass have higher levels of mercury than crappie. Crappie is listed on the FDA’s best choice of fish regarding mercury levels. Bass has been listed on some states advisory warnings in regards to high levels of mercury.  

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 16.

Check out the detailed comparison of the spotted and smallmouth bass in my article, Spotted Bass vs Smallmouth Bass: What’s The Difference?

How Much Does Crappie and Bass Cost

The costs for crappie or freshwater bass will vary depending on how the fish are caught. 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, crappie or bass?

Freshwater bass is more expensive than crappie. The average cost for fresh crappie is $1 per 3-4 inch fish and largemouth bass is $1.10 per 2-3 inch fish.

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

  • Wild, crappie fillets
    • $22 per pound

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

  • Black crappie – $1 per 3-4″ fish
  • Largemouth bass – $1.10 per 2-3″ fish

Crappie and Bass Nutrients and Health Benefits

Crappie and Bass Nutrients

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

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

The following nutrients in Crappie fish and freshwater bass:

Nutrient Freshwater Bass, raw (4 Ounces) Crappie, raw (4 Ounces)
Calories 129 137
Fat 4.2 g 1.3 g
Saturated Fat 0.9 g 0.9 g  
Cholesterol 77 mg 80 mg 
Protein 21 g 25 g
Sodium 79 mg 49 mg
Omega-3 0.77 g 0.29 g
B-6 0.1 mg 0.1 mg
B-12 2.2 mcg 2.1 mcg
Thiamin 0.08 mg 0.07 mg
Riboflavin 0.08 mg 0.08 mg
B5 0.8 mg 0.8 mg
Iron 1.6 mg 0.9 mg
Niacin 1.4 mg 1.7 mg
Folate 17.0 mcg 6.3 mcg
Potassium 403 mg 357 mg
Magnesium 34 mg 39 mg
Phosphorus 226 mg 259 mg
Calcium 90.7 mg 85.8 mg
Zinc 0.7 mg 0.5 mg
Selenium 14.2 mcg 13.2 mcg

Nutrient Sources 17 18 19

Both fish contain a good number of minerals and vitamins. At first glance it’s difficult to determine which fish provides more. Therefore, is bass or crappie healthier?

Freshwater bass is healthier due to its higher percentage of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and minerals. Bass provides more B12, thiamin, folate, iron, potassium, calcium, zinc and selenium than crappie. 

Crappie is healthy and provides more niacin, magnesium and phosphorus than freshwater bass. Crappie also contains heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids and more protein than bass. 

Keep reading the next section and find out why these vitamins and nutrients are important for health benefits.

Crappie and Bass Health Benefits

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

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

  • Keeping bad cholesterol low.
  • Keeping good cholesterol high.
  • Reducing inflammation.
  • Reducing plaque build-up.
  • 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 20.

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

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

Potassium

Potassium provided by crappie and bass helps the body get rid of excess sodium which helps reduce fluid build-up. These help keep systolic and diastolic blood pressure lower 21.

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 22.

According to Harvard Health, a number of studies have shown a connection between low potassium levels and increased blood pressure 23.

Magnesium

Magnesium calms and relaxes the whole body including blood vessels. Magnesium has been shown to help improve sleep related problems like insomnia 24.

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 25.

Magnesium provided by crappie and bass 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.

Calcium

Bass provides 90.7 mg of calcium and crappie 85.8 mg per four ounces. The calcium contained in crappie fish and bass 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 26.

Calcium also helps the following:

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

Read Next – More Fish vs Fish Articles!

Sea Bass vs Cod – Is One Better? Let’s Compare

White Perch vs White Bass: Which Is Better?

Sea Bass vs Salmon: Which Is Better?

White Bass vs Striped Bass: The Key Differences

Sea Bass vs Salmon: Which is Better?

Bass vs Catfish – 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: Smallmouth bass[]
  2. Wikipedia: Largemouth bass[]
  3. Wikipedia: Bass (fish) []
  4. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Largemouth bass[]
  5. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: Spotted Bass[]
  6. Wikipedia: Spotted bass[]
  7. UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment: Spotted Bass[]
  8. Texas Parks and Wildlife: Spotted Bass (Micropterus punctulatus) []
  9. Wikipedia: Crappie[]
  10. Wikipedia: White crappie[]
  11. Wikipedia: Black crappie[]
  12. Florida Museum: Black Crappie[]
  13. Texas Parks & Wildlife: Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) []
  14. UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment: White Crappie[]
  15. FDA: Advice about Eating Fish[]
  16. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Mercury accumulation in largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) in a Florida lake[]
  17. Nutrition Value: Fish, raw, mixed species, fresh water, bass[]
  18. NutritionData: Fish, bass, fresh water, mixed species, raw[]
  19. USDA FoodData Central: Crappie[]
  20. National Center for Biotechnology: Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease[]
  21. American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure[]
  22. National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Effect of the Sodium to Potassium Ratio on Hypertension Prevalence: A Propensity Score Matching Approach[]
  23. Harvard Health: Potassium lowers blood pressure[]
  24. National Institutes of Health: Magnesium[]
  25. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis[]
  26. Harvard Health: Key minerals to help control blood pressure[]

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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