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

Rock bass and crappie share many similarities. For this reason many people ask if they’re the same or different. Therefore, let’s answer, are crappie and rock bass the same?

Rock bass and crappie are different species of fish although they are from the same family. Rock bass is the A. Rupestris species, white crappie is the P. annularis species, black crappie is the P. nigromaculatusis species. Rock bass have red eyes compared to crappie’s dark eyes.

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, appearance and compare their nutritional value.

Keto Bread Tip: Great News! Did you know, you don’t have to give up your favorite bread, pizza or sandwiches to follow a 100% Keto diet. Find out more in the KetoBreads website by clicking here, Keto Breads.

Disclaimer: The above link and others in this article are affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Rock Bass vs Crappie: Habitats, Size, Weight and 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. This article will focus on both.

How can you tell the difference between a rock bass and a crappie?

The easiest way to tell the difference between a rock bass and crappie is the eye color and body markings. Rock bass have red eyes compared to crappie’s dark eyes. Rock bass have dark spots forming lateral lines on their sides. Crappie have dark vertical bars or black splotches on the side of their bodies.

Other ways to tell the difference between rock bass and crappie:

  • Rock bass have green to gold coloring on their sides. Crappie have silver and black coloring on their sides.
  • Rock bass have 10-13 spines on their dorsal fin prior to the soft rays. Crappie have 5-8 spines on their dorsal fin.
  • Crappie are generally longer and weigh slightly more. Rock bass average 6-10″, crappie average 8-10″ long.

Rock Bass and Crappie Scientific Classifications, Families, Species

Rock bass are from:

  • Family: Centrarchidae
  • Genus: Ambloplites
  • Species: A. rupestris
  • Common nicknames: Red eye, rock perch, goggle eye.

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

Rock Bass and Crappie Habitats

Rock Bass

  • Rock bass are native to North America and can be found from Canada down to Florida and west to Texas. They are mostly found in the eastern and central United States.
  • Rock bass are found in streams, ponds, lakes and rivers.
  • Rock bass prefer rocky shorelines and vegetation areas. They can be found under docks and near swimming areas.

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.

Rock bass and crappie are found in similar waters and areas. 

rock bass and crappie photo comparison
(top) Black crappie
(middle) White crappie
(bottom) Rock bass

Rock Bass and Crappie Appearance

Rock Bass and 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 brow.
  • Rock bass have an olive green to golden brown upper back and sides fading down to a silvery, white belly. Rock bass have black spots which form broken lateral stripes down the body. The eyes are red. Rock bass have the ability to change colors to match their surroundings for protection.

Rock bass has black spotted lateral stripes. The white crappie has dark vertical bars, and the black crappie has dark splotches that don’t form a bar or line.

Dorsal Fins

  • White crappie has one dorsal fin with 5-6 spines followed by soft rays.
  • Black crappie has one dorsal fin with 7-8 spines followed by soft rays.
  • Rock bass has one dorsal fin with 10-13 spines and 11-13 rays.

The rock bass dorsal fin has 2-5 more spines then the white or black crappie.


  • 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 rock bass mouth is large but doesn’t extend past the eye line. The rock bass mouth doesn’t curve upward.

Rock bass and crappie have teeth inside their mouths.

Distinguishing Marks

  • White crappie has dark vertical bars on the side of the body.
  • Black crappie have dark splotches on the side of the body.
  • Rock bass has red eyes and rows of dark spots forming lateral lines down the body. Rock bass has a dark tear drop below their eye.

Rock bass have red or orange eyes compared to crappie’s dark eyes.

Rock Bass and Crappie 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.
  • Rock bass average 6-10″ long and weighs about 1 pound.

Crappie on average weigh a little more and are longer than rock bass.

Rock Bass and Crappie Lifespan

  • White Crappie live 2-7 years.
  • Black crappie live 2-7 years.
  • Rock bass lives up to 8-10 years.


White crappie consume the following:

  • Plankton
  • Crustaceans
  • Small fish
  • Insects

Black crappie consume the following:

  • Plankton
  • Crustaceans
  • Small fish
  • Insects

Rock bass consume the following:

  • Insects
  • Worms
  • Smaller fish
  • Minnows
  • Small crustaceans
rock bass photo
Rock bass above

Rock bass, crappie and other fish 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.

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

Rock bass is a sunfish and not bass. Check out all the differences between crappie and freshwater bass in my article, Crappie vs Bass – What’s The Difference? Let’s Compare.

Rock Bass and 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, does crappie taste like rock bass?

Crappie and rock bass have similar mild tastes. Their flavor is not strong or fishy. Rock bass has a firmer texture than the softer, smoother crappie. Crappie is more delicate and flakey than rock 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.

Is rock bass fish good to eat? Rock bass is good to eat. Most people are pleased with the mild taste. The flesh is slightly firm and flakey.

I polled many of my readers and members of food groups I belong to. The following are the results of my poll which consisted of 40 people. I asked which fish tasted better, crappie or rock bass?

  • 30% preferred the taste of rock bass.
  • 40% preferred the taste of crappie.
  • 30% said they liked both fish the same.

Check out how white crappie compared to white perch in my article, White Crappie vs White Perch: Are They The Same? We Compare.

Rock Bass and Crappie Substitutions

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

Crappie can substitute for rock bass due to their similar mild tastes. Rock bass has a firmer texture allowing it to be in many crappie recipes and more cooking methods than crappie. They both can be cooked using similar methods like baking, broiling, steaming and frying. 

One thing to remember when choosing between rock bass and crappie is the size of the fillet. Most of the time the crappie fillet is larger or is easier to fillet if you have a whole fish. 

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

  • Cod
  • Tilapia
  • Bluegill
  • Lake herring
  • Pollock

Rock bass substitutes:

  • Bluegill
  • White crappie
  • Black crappie
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Green sunfish
  • Lake herring
  • Tilapia
  • Pollock

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.

How To Cook Rock Bass

Popular ways to cook rock bass are:

  • Deep frying
  • Pan frying/stir fry
  • Baking
  • Grilling

Flavor pairings for rock bass:

  • Cayenne pepper
  • Black pepper
  • Cajun
  • Tarter sauce
  • Beer batter
  • Bread crumbs
  • Crackers
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Lemon juice
  • Brown sugar

Find out how bluegill compared to green sunfish in my article, Bluegill vs Green Sunfish – What’s The Difference?

How Much Rock Bass and Crappie Costs

The costs for fresh fish 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, rock bass or crappie?

Crappie is more expensive than rock bass. The average cost for wild crappie fillets is $22 per pound. The average cost for rock bass and other sunfish fillets is $16.50 per pound. Live crappie for pond stocking costs $1 per 3-4″ fish. Other sunfish costs $0.75 per 3-4″ fish.

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

  • Wild, crappie fillets
    • $22.00 per pound

Seafood Markets:

  • Wild, sunfish fillets (does not specify which kind of sunfish)
    • $18.00 per pound

Dixon Fisheries:

  • Bluegill fillets
    • $14.95 per pound

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

  • Black crappie – $1.00 per 3-4″ fish
  • Bluegill – $0.75 per 3-4″ fish
  • Hybrid bluegill (green sunfish x bluegill) $0.75 per 3-4″ fish

Rock Bass and Crappie Mercury Levels

The EPA and The FDA have issued suggestions and warnings about mercury levels in fish and how often they should be consumed 14. This is especially important for young infants, pregnant women and developing children.

They established three lists:

  1. Best fish
  2. Good choices
  3. Ones to avoid

Therefore, does rock bass or crappie have more mercury?

Rock bass and crappie have similar levels of mercury. Crappie and rock bass are listed on the FDA’s best choice of fish regarding mercury levels. The FDA recommends eating no more than 2 servings per week from the fish listed as best choices.

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 15.

Rock Bass and Crappie Nutrients

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

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

Crappie provides the following number of nutrients per four raw ounces:

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 0.6 mg
Selenium 13.2 mcg

Nutrient Resources 16 17 18

Rock bass and crappie provide a similar percentage of the same nutrients. Keep reading the next section below to find out how the nutrients benefit health, especially omega-3s.

Bluegill is another type of sunfish. Find out the differences between them and crappie in my article, Crappie vs Bluegill – What’s The Difference? Let’s Compare.

Rock Bass and Crappie Health Benefits

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

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

  • Reduce inflammation.
  • Reduce plaque buildup.
  • Keeping bad cholesterol low.
  • Keeping good cholesterol high.
  • 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 19.

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.


Rock bass and crappie provide about 34-39 mg of magnesium per four ounces. It calms and relaxes the whole body including blood vessels. Magnesium has been shown to help improve sleep related problems like insomnia 20.

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 21.

Magnesium 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.

B Vitamins

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

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


Rock bass and crappie provides 85-90.4 mg of calcium per four ounces. Calcium 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 22.

Calcium also helps the following:

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


Potassium provided by rock bass and crappie is approximately 357-400 mg. Potassium helps the body get rid of excess sodium which helps reduce fluid build-up. These help keep systolic and diastolic blood pressure lower 23.

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 24.

According to Harvard Health, a number of studies have shown a connection between low potassium levels and increased blood pressure 25.


Rock bass and crappie provide approximately 203-259 mg of phosphorus per four ounces. It has been shown in scientific research to help with the following:

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


There are 13-14.2 mcg of selenium per four ounces of rock bass and crappie. Numerous studies 26 show selenium may help to protect the following:

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

Read Next – More Fish vs Fish Articles!

Rock Bass vs Bluegill – What’s The Difference? We Compare

Bluegill vs Redear Sunfish – Are They The Same? We Compare

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

Bluegill vs Pumpkinseed – Are They The Same? Let’s Compare

Bluegill vs Redbreast Sunfish – What’s The Difference?


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. Wikipedia: Rock bass[]
  8. Rock Bass[]
  9. USFWS National Digital Library: Rock bass[]
  10. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources: Rock bass[]
  11. West Virginia Department of Natural Resources: Rock Bass[]
  12. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources: Sunfish biology and identification[]
  13. The Department of Natural Resources: Sunfish[]
  14. FDA: Advice about Eating Fish[]
  15. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Mercury accumulation in largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) in a Florida lake[]
  16. The Topeka Capital-Journal: Keto, Paleo or Atkins diet? Hunting, fishing can help trim your waistline in 2020[]
  17. Nutritiondata: Fish, sunfish, raw[]
  18. USDA FoodData Central: Crappie[]
  19. National Center for Biotechnology: Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease[]
  20. National Institutes of Health: Magnesium[]
  21. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis[]
  22. Harvard Health: Key minerals to help control blood pressure[]
  23. American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure[]
  24. National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Effect of the Sodium to Potassium Ratio on Hypertension Prevalence: A Propensity Score Matching Approach[]
  25. Harvard Health: Potassium lowers blood pressure[]
  26. National Institutes of Health: Selenium[]

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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