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Freshwater Fish Identification

Black Crappie

Pomoxis nigromaculatus

Specimen Photo

Other names: White perch, calico bass
Status: Texas game fish

Description

Pomoxis is Greek for "opercle sharp," and refers to the fact that the fish's gill covers have spines. The species epithet nigromaculatus is Latin and means "black spotted." The black crappie is easily confused with the white crappie. However, it is deeper bodied than the white crappie, and silvery-green in color. There are no distinct vertical bars, rather there are irregular black blotches. The dorsal fin has seven or eight spines. Males do not develop specialized breeding coloration during spawning season.

Angling Importance

Black crappie predominate in the acidic waters of east and northeast Texas. Black crappie over 3.5 pounds and almost 4.5 pounds have been captured from Texas public waters and private waters, respectively.

Biology

Like other members of the sunfish family, black crappie are nest builders. They nest in the spring, generally when water temperatures reach 60F. The biology of black crappie is very similar to that of white crappie. Growth in terms of weight is very similar between the two species. White crappie tend to have higher growth rates in terms of length, but black crappie are more robust in body construction. Black crappie adults feed on fewer fish, and more insects and crustaceans, than do white crappie.

Distribution

The native range of the species was very similar to that of the white crappie, except that it extended slightly further north into Canada and east to the coastal plain south of Virginia. Currently, populations of black crappie can be found in each of the 48 contiguous United States. In Texas, black crappie are native to the central portions of the state exclusive of the Edwards Plateau, and have been widely introduced. However, black crappie are abundant primarily in clear, acidic waters of east Texas.

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