Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus)


Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family:    Centrarchidae
Size:    Length: Up to 12 inches (30 cm)
Weight: Up to 4 pounds (1.8 kg)
Diet: Fish, aquatic insects, minnows and crustaceans
Distribution: North America
Young:  10,000 to 200,000 eggs
Animal Predators:  Fish such as the walleye, bass and northern pike; animals such as the blue heron, American merganser, pike, snapping turtle, otter and mink
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Young: Fry or fingerling
Lifespan: 4 to 10 years



·         Crappies are also known by other names such as white perch, calico bass or strawberry bass.

·         White crappies are found in warmer, shallower water than black crappies.

·         The scientific name Pomoxis is a Greek word meaning “sharp opercle” (cheek) and nigromaculatus is a Latin word meaning “black-spotted.”



Black crappies are large, deep-bodied sunfish. They are silvery-green with black speckles and light undersides. Their large dorsal spines act as protection against predators. White crappies (P. annularis) are very similar in looks and size, but are slightly lighter in colour than black crappies and have six spines in the dorsal fin, whereas black crappies have seven or eight dorsal spines. Crappies have an upturned (S-shaped) snout. 



Although black crappies have been introduced to many freshwater lakes and rivers in Canada and on the Pacific coast of America, their native historic range consists of freshwater areas of central and eastern North America. 


Feeding Habits

At dawn, noon, dusk and midnight, black crappies move towards shore to feed. They have gill rakers that allow them to sweep up and eat planktonic crustaceans. However, they mainly dine on the young of other fish, aquatic insects, and minnows. 



At the beginning of the spawning season, males build nests, using their fins to sweep out a disc-shaped area on the sandy or gravelly bottom of a lake or river, within vegetation. The nests are built fairly close together, with as many as 35 nests in a 10-square yard area. Spawning takes place from April to June, in waters that run from 60 to 70° Fahrenheit (15 to 21° C). Crappies begin to spawn at the age of two. Males try to attract females to their nests, where they mate and the female lays 10,000 to 200,000 eggs. She leaves the eggs behind and goes to mate with more males, while the male guards the nest and the eggs until they hatch in three to five days. He then defends them for another three to four days, until they are old enough to leave the nest. During their first year, the fishlings grow to be two to three inches. They eat mainly aquatic insects and plankton until they reach four to five inches, when they switch to the adult diet of mainly fish. 



Black crappies can be found in schools, in deep water amongst underwater plant growth. During the spawning period, they can be found in shallow, warm water. 



Since black crappies are highly popular sport fish, their populations are highly controlled to ensure the success of future generations. They are often used to stock ponds and lakes.