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.

Rock Bass vs Crappie: Habitats, Size, Weight and Appearance

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

How can you tell the difference between the two?

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.

rock bass and crappie photo comparison
top Black crappie<br>middle White crappie<br>bottom Rock bass

Other ways to tell the difference:

  • Rock bass have green to gold coloring on their sides. Crappie have silver and black coloring on their sides.
  • Rock 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 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

All three are from the sunfish family. Some others include bass black, bluegill, warmouth and smallmouth bass, not the bass species.



  • 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.
  • When fishing they can be found in streams, ponds, lakes and rivers.
  • They 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.
  • When fishing they can be found in lakes, reservoirs and rivers.
  • They like murky waters.

Black Crappie

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

They are found in similar waters and areas.

Watch crappie in their natural environment – fishing tips.



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

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 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 mouth is large but doesn’t extend past the eye line. Their mouth doesn’t curve upward.

Both of them have teeth inside their mouths.

Size and Weight

  • White crappies: Their average size is 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.

Sometimes the black crappie easily weighs two to three pounds more on average. Crappie generally weigh more and are longer than rock bass.


  • White and black crappie lives 2-7 years.
  • Bass rock lives up to 8-10 years.


White and 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

Check out all the differences between crappie and freshwater bass in my article here.


Rock bass fishing won’t win many popularity contests amongst anglers. Despite their gamefish appeal, when fishing they are strangely appealing.

When bass fishing they can get caught with almost any angling method. Live bait works extremely well. Fishing bass within a few feet of the bank, near the rocks is best.

Rock Bass and Crappies: Tastes and Textures

One of the most important things people takes into consideration when choosing a food is its taste. When comparing the two, rock bass vs crappie, does one taste like the other?

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. 

White and black crappie have a similar mild taste. They don’t not have a sweet or fishy flavor. The texture is soft, smooth and flakey.

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

To conduct original research, I polled many of my clients, 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 one tasted better?

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

To conduct more original research I thought it would be fun to set up a taste test at home. Both fish were prepared and seasoned the same way. 76% of the people chose the crappie.

Check out how white crappie compared to white perch in my comparison article.

5 great crappie recipes.


When preparing recipes for dinner it’s not always possible to locate the type of food called for. If you caught only one while fishing, you may ask, can I substitute one for the other?

Crappie can substitute for rock bass due to their similar mild tastes. Rock bass which is a panfish, 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 is the size of the fillet. Most of the time the crappie fillet is larger than the rock or is easier to fillet if you have a whole fish.

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

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

rock bass dinner
Rock bass dinner


The costs will vary depending on how the fish are caught. When purchasing any fish, be sure to check the label. Therefore, which one is more expensive?

Crappie is more expensive than rock bass. The average cost for wild crappie fillets is $22 per pound. The average cost for rock 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.

To conduct original research for prices, I checked online at Walleye Direct and found the following:

  • 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
Kevin Garce checking the prices of mackerel and other seafood at his local market.
Checking the prices of mackerel and other seafood at my local market

Mercury Levels

The EPA and The FDA have issued suggestions and warnings about mercury levels in fish and how often they should be consumed1. 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, which one has more mercury?

Rock bass and crappie have similar levels of mercury. Both 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 recommendations2.


Both are an excellent source of protein, healthy fats, minerals and B vitamins. Both of them 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 Resources34

Both 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.

Since the sunfish are difficult to locate in stores, I’ll consume either fish available to me for their nutrient content, taste and health benefits.

Bluegill is another type of sunfish. Find out the differences between them in one of my sunfish posts, 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 both 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 ((National Center for Biotechnology: Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease)).

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.

Omega-3 sources.
Omega 3 sources


They both 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 ((National Institutes of Health: Magnesium)).

Magnesium helps keep blood pressure levels balanced and stable. A recent study researched 22 studies and concluded magnesium supplementation decreased diastolic and systolic blood pressure5.

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 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.


Both of them 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 vessels6.

Calcium also helps the following:

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


The potassium provided 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 ((American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure)).

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 water7.

According to Harvard Health, a number of studies have shown a connection between low potassium levels and increased blood pressure8.


They 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. Numerous studies9 show selenium may help to protect the following:

  • The immune system
  • Thyroid
  • Cognitive issues
  • Heart disease
Watching rock bass in their habitat.

As a Certified Health Coach many of my clients ask me about seafood. In addition to educating my Health Coaching clients about crappie and rock bass, I have researched, purchased and consumed both fish for 20 years prior to, during and after writing this article.

If you have any questions about this article don’t hesitate to email us. You can find an email on our contact page

Next Posts – More Crappies and Fish vs Fish Articles!

Rock 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?

  1. FDA: Advice about Eating Fish []
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Mercury accumulation in largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) in a Florida lake []
  3. The Topeka Capital-Journal: Keto, Paleo or Atkins diet? Hunting, fishing can help trim your waistline in 2020 []
  4. USDA FoodData Central: Crap []
  5. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis []
  6. Harvard Health: Key minerals to help control blood pressure []
  7. National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Effect of the Sodium to Potassium Ratio on Hypertension Prevalence: A Propensity Score Matching Approach []
  8. Harvard Health: Potassium lowers blood pressure []
  9. National Institutes of Health: Selenium []

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