White Crappie vs White Perch: Are They The Same? We Compare

Many people call a white crappie fish by the name white perch. For this reason many questions are asked about their similarities and if they are really the same. Let’s answer, is white crappie and white perch the same?

White crappie and white perch are not the same fish. They are from a different family and genus. White crappie are P. Annularis species and white perch are M. Americana species. White crappies have a silver color with dark vertical bars on the sides. White perch have a silver color with one dusky lateral line.

This article will discuss the confusion between crappie and perch. In addition, I’ll compare their tastes, textures, cooking methods, costs and mercury levels. I’ll do a side-by-side comparison of their habitats, size, weight and discuss their nutritional benefits.

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

White Crappie vs White Perch: Habitats, Size, Weight and Appearance

How can you tell the difference?

The easiest way to tell the difference between a white crappie and white perch is their body markings and dorsal fins. White crappie has black vertical bars down the side. White perch has one dusky lateral line. White crappie has one dorsal fin with 5-6 spines. White perch has two dorsals separated with a notch.

white perch and white crappie photo comparison
White perch above white crappie below

White perch’s first dorsal fin has 9 spines and the second dorsal has 12 soft rays. Another difference is the crappie has an average shape jaw while the white perch’s lower jaw slightly protrudes.

Scientific Classifications, Fish Family, Species

White crappie are from:

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

White perch are from a different fish family:

  • Family: Moronidae
  • Genus: Morone
  • Species: M. americana
  • Common nicknames: Silver bass

Are crappie called white perch? Some people located in the southern United States calls white crappie by the name white perch even though they are not the same species of fish.

White perch are not perch at all like yellow perch. They are a different species. Yellow perch, a true perch, has a yellowish-brass color.

Habitats

White Crappie

  • 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 can be found in murky waters.

White Perch

  • Native to the Atlantic coast. They can be found from Nova Scotia down to South Carolina and in the Great Lakes.
  • When fishing they can be found in brackish waters, streams, lakes, reservoirs and rivers.

Crappie and perch are found in many of the same waters like the Great Lakes, rivers and streams. White perch can be found in brackish water where white crappie won’t be found.

Appearance

Colors

  • White crappies have a silvery color with dark vertical bars along the body. The back is greenish to brown.
  • White perch are silver with a grayish body. They have a whitish belly and a dark gray to black back.

Dorsal Fins

  • Crappie has one dorsal fin with 5-6 spines.
  • Perch has two dorsal fins separated by a tiny notch. The first dorsal fin has nine spines, and the second dorsal fin has 12 soft rays.

Anal Fins

  • The white crappie anal fin is slightly longer than their dorsal fin and has 5-7 spines and 16-18 soft rays.
  • Perch anal fin has 3 spines and 9-10 soft rays.

Mouth

  • The white crappie jaw does not extend past the eye line. The mouth does not have an upward shape.
  • The perch jaw does not extend past the eye line. They have a slightly projecting lower jaw.

Scales

  • The scales on both of them 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.
  • White perch has a thin, deep body with a domed back. The tail is mildly forked.
white and black crappie
White and black crappie

Size and Weight

  • White crappies average 9-12 inches long and weigh between 1/2 pound to 1.5 pounds.
  • White perch averages 7-10″ in length and weighs between eight ounces to one pound.

Crappie

Crappie has a stubbier body, grows slightly longer and weighs more.

Age

  • White crappie live 2-7 years.
  • The perch fish lives up to 17 years.

Crappie Diet

White crappie consume the following:

  • Plankton
  • Crustaceans
  • Small fish
  • Insects

Perch Fish Diet

White perch consumes the following:

  • Fish eggs
  • Small minnows
  • Grass shrimp
  • Bloodworms
  • Razor clams

Find out the differences between crappie and black crappie in my article, Black Crappie – What’s The Difference? Hint: It may not be the color.

Crappie Spawn

Crappie spawn in 1-6 feet of water, typically in the backs of protected coves, under overhanging banks, near vegetation or flooded timber. This is beneficial when fishing.

Watching crappie in their habitat and fishing tips.

Fishing

Crappie can be caught year round. Crappie fishing down in Florida from late fall, through March, to early spring is ideal. Fishing methods don’t have to change between the white or black types.

White perch are good fishing in April through June for the spring fawn. They migrate to rivers so fishing near river mouths and the shorelines. Use live bait while fishing because they love it. 

White Crappie and White Perch: Tastes and Textures

One of the most important things people takes into consideration when choosing a fish or fishing is its taste. When comparing the two fish, does one taste like the other?

White crappie tastes more milder than white perch which can be a little sweeter. White crappie doesn’t taste fishy. White perch can taste fishy at times depending where they were caught. White crappie has a smoother texture compared to white perch which is firmer. 

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

White perch has a mild to sweet taste. The texture is moist, firm and they produce flaky white meat.

I conducted original research on tastes by polling many of my readers, clients and members of food groups. 

I asked them which fish, white crappie vs white perch, tastes better?

  • 47% preferred the taste of crappie.
  • 43% preferred the taste of perch.
  • 10% said they had no preference.

To conduct more research, I set up a blind taste test at home. Both fish were cooked and prepared the same way. 75% said they preferred the taste of perch.

Crappie recipes.

Substitutions

When preparing recipes for dinner it’s not always possible to locate the type of fish in a store or catch while fishing. If you have just one of the two fish, you may ask, can I substitute one for the other?

White perch and white crappie can substitute for each other although white perch may taste slightly sweeter. White perch is slightly firmer allowing it to be used for the same cooking methods. Both of them can be deep fried, fried, baked or seared.

Other crappie substitutes include the following:

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

The best white perch substitutes are:

  • Tilapia
  • Snapper
  • Sole fillets
  • Lake trout
  • Branding

When substituting either crappie or perch, both considered panfish, always stick to the following:

  • Same size and weight.
  • Stick with similar fillets, whole fillet or cross section.
  • Stick with skinless or skin when the recipe calls for one.
  • Texture is more important for certain cooking methods. Like using a firmer texture when grilling 1.

The following video explains how to make 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 2. This is especially important for pregnant women, developing children and young infants.

They established a list of best fish, good choices and ones to avoid based on their mercury levels. Therefore, which one has more mercury?

White perch and white 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.

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 especially when fishing 3.

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

Cost

The costs will vary depending on how the fishing is conducted and where they are sold. When purchasing any fish, be sure to check the label. Therefore, which one costs more?

White crappie cost more per pound than white perch. The average cost for fresh crappie fillet is $22 per pound. The average costs for fresh white perch fillet is $11.50 per pound.

I conducted original research on costs by checking various different stores for crappie perch prices.

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

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

I checked Whyte’s Fishery online and found the following prices:

  • Fresh perch, white
    • $9.00 per pound

I checked Doorganics online and found the following cost:

  • Wild perch (white) fillet
    • $14.99 per pound
Kevin Garce checking prices of catfish and seafood in his local supermarket
Checking prices of catfish bass and seafood in my local market

Nutrition Comparison

Below is a nutrient comparison per four ounces:

Nutrient White Crappie (4 ounces) White Perch (4 Ounces)
Calories 137 134
Total Fat 1.3 g 5.3 g
Saturated Fat 0.9 g 1.3 g
Protein 25 g 21 g
Cholesterol 80 mg 107 mg
Sodium 49 mg 46 mg
Potassium 357 mg 346 mg
Iron 0.9 mg 0.4 mg
Calcium 85.8 mg 27.22 mg

Nutrient Resources 4 5

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

White crappie is healthier than white perch due to its less total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. Crappie provides a higher percentage of protein, potassium, iron and calcium.

White perch contains the same nutrients, just less of a percentage. Therefore it is also healthy. The following section discusses many of the health benefit the nutrients in both fish provides.

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

Find out how they compared to cod in my article, Cod – What’s The Difference? Let’s Compare.

White Crappie and White Perch Health Benefits

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

The omega-3 fatty acids 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 6.

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

B Vitamins

The B vitamins provided by both fish 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

The calcium contained in both 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 7.

Calcium also helps the following:

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

Find out how rock bass compared in my crappie comparison article.

Preparing crappie for frying
Preparing crappie for frying

Potassium

Both of them provide 346 to 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 8.

Find out how bluegill compared to crappie in my article.

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 9.

According to Harvard Health, a number of studies have shown a connection between low potassium levels and increased blood pressure 10.

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

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

Mahi Mahi vs Halibut: What’s The Difference? Let’s Compare

Sprats vs Sardines – Are They Different? Let’s Compare

Perch vs White Bass: Which is Better?

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. Sea Grant North Carolina: Fish Flavors and Substitutions[]
  2. FDA: Advice about Eating Fish[]
  3. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Mercury accumulation in largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) in a Florida lake[]
  4. Nutrition Value: White perch fillets, white perch by Turbo Ice[]
  5. USDA FoodData Central: Crappie[]
  6. National Center for Biotechnology: Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease[]
  7. Harvard Health: Key minerals to help control blood pressure[]
  8. American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure[]
  9. National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Effect of the Sodium to Potassium Ratio on Hypertension Prevalence: A Propensity Score Matching Approach[]
  10. Harvard Health: Potassium lowers blood pressure[]

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