Black Crappie
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Top view adult.
  • Bottom view adult.
  • Head-on view adult.
  • Close-up flank.
  • Close-up head.
  • Close-up mouth and snout.
  • Close-up tail.
  • Close-up dorsal fin.
  • Close-up anal fin.
  • Close-up pectoral fin.
  • Close-up pelvic fin.
  • The sides show extensive dark mottling; the dorsal fin base length is about equal to the distance from the dorsal fin to the eye.
  • The sides show extensive dark mottling; the dorsal fin base length is about equal to the distance from the dorsal fin to the eye.
  • Close-up dorsal fin: The two dorsal lobes are broadly joined to appear as one; there are usually 7-8 dorsal spines.
  • Close-up dorsal fin: The two dorsal lobes are broadly joined to appear as one; there are usually 7-8 dorsal spines.
  • Breeders are similar to non-breeders except for darker pigments and black heads.
  • Breeders are similar to non-breeders except for darker pigments and black heads.
  • Breeders are similar to non-breeders except for darker pigments and black heads.
  • Side view young-of-year: Juveniles are similar to adults except for a more elongated body.
  • Side view yearling: Juveniles are similar to adults except for a more elongated body.
  • Side view yearling: Juveniles are similar to adults except for a more elongated body.
DescriptionSimilar Species
Family
Sunfishes (Centrarchidae)
Body
Mouth and snout; Mouth terminal and oblique, with pads of tiny teeth on the jaws. No barbels. Body patterning, color, and scales: Black dark green or gray with silvery-blue reflections, sides silvery white, belly white. Sides with extensive irregular black blotches and mottling, giving body dark cast (paler in fish from turbid waters). Dorsal, caudal, and anal fins with dark mottling and/or whitish spots on a dark background; pelvic and pectoral fins lightly pigmented. 34-44 ctenoid lateral scales. Body shape and size: Body laterally compressed, deep and thin; elongated oval in cross section. Typically 200-300 mm (8-12 in); maximum in Wisconsin about 400 mm (16 in).
Fins
Tail, dorsal and other fins: Slightly forked or round tail. Dorsal fin with 2 lobes, broadly joined by a membrane and appearing as one fin, the first 6-9 (usually 7-8) spines and the second with 14-16 rays. Pelvic fins thoracic. Adipose fin absent. Anal fin with 6-7 spines and 17-18 rays.
Distinguishing Characteristics
See similar species information.
Breeding Adults
Similar to non-breeders; may be darker and more conspicuously marked, especially the head.
Juveniles
Similar to adults, but markings less pronounced and body less deep and more elongated.
Hybrids
None known from Wisconsin.
Compare Similar Species
Dorsal Spines
Crappie, BlackUsually 7-8, rarely 6
Crappie, WhiteUsually 5-6, rarely 7
Dorsal Fin Base
Crappie, BlackLength about equal to distance from front of dorsal fin to eye
Crappie, WhiteLength clearly less than distance from front of dorsal fin to eye
Pigment Pattern on Sides
Crappie, BlackWhite background color, but black mottling and blotches dominate, giving fish a dark cast (fish from turbid water be pale); mottling less pronounced in juveniles
Crappie, WhiteMostly white on sides, with dark mottling, usually organized into diffuse vertical bars; bars most pronounced in adults
Similarity Index
Crappie, BlackN/A
Crappie, WhiteSmall juveniles very similar, adults moderately similar
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