Black Crappie Fish (Pomoxis Nigromaculatus)

Black Crappie Fish

Last updated on August 10th, 2022 at 12:34 pm

Black crappie fish, Pomoxis nigromaculatus, is a freshwater fish found in North America. This warm water species usually inhabits large rivers and other large bodies of water in areas with a moderate to swift current. Due to its occurrence in slow-moving waters, black crappies are more tolerant of low oxygen concentrations than their relatives.

They have been shown to tolerate severe hypoxic conditions for weeks on end, making them especially hardy fish. The black crappie was originally described as Lepomis gibbosus by Günther in 1868. Recent studies based on mitochondrial DNA support a close relationship between black and white crappies, Pomoxis annularis, resulting in their reassignment to one genus Pomoxis.

Black crappie fish are most prevalent in the southeastern parts of the United States, but can also be found in northern regions like New York and Michigan. They are popular game fish that were at one time considered to be endangered species but have rebounded well since then.

They are popular game fish found in North America, where they are native to freshwater systems throughout the Mississippi Valley, as well as in other areas such as the Great Lakes.

The black crappie fish, also known as the Pomoxis nigromaculatus, has a number of different common names including black calico bass and speckled perch. It also goes by the scientific name of Pomoxis nigromaculatus, but this more academic name is rarely used outside of the classroom.

Origin and descriptions

Black Crappie Fish

The black crappie, Pomoxis nigromaculatus, is a fish species of freshwater and brackish waters. Black crappie fish are native to the eastern United States and its range extends from Canada all the way down to Florida and across to Texas.

It is also called papermouth or spotted bass. They are so-named for their dark coloration and for their lips – which are actually barbels that allow them to feed on small organisms on or near bottom sediments.

Black crappies can also be found throughout North America, east of Central Canada, and north of Mexico; in some bodies of water, black crappies may be isolated by certain lakes or ponds due to their smaller populations compared with white crappies. The largest concentrations are in Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Louisiana; these states account for over 90% of black crappie landings by weight.

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Species profile

Pomoxis nigromaculatus, better known as black crappie fish, is one of a few freshwater fish that is common in Tennessee. Also known as papermouths or specks, they are part of a larger family called, Centrarchidae.

Named for their dark, vertical bands that resemble a minnow’s schooling pattern, these schooling fish like to hang out in deep-water habitats with woody and aquatic vegetation—perfect for hunters fishing under lily pads.

Black crappie fish tend to grow between 8 and 12 inches, weighing up to two pounds each; some rare specimens can grow as long as 14 inches and weigh three pounds or more. They inhabit a wide range of North American freshwaters but prefer slow-moving streams with plenty of covers like submerged trees, reeds, lily pads, or boulders.

Black crappie scientific name

The scientific name of the black crappie is Pomoxis nigromaculatus


Black crappie fish live in lakes, ponds, rivers, and reservoirs throughout North America. Some black crappie fish live on salty water and some live on freshwater. Freshwater black crappie fish are found in Canada, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The black crappie fish is a popular freshwater sportfish that is fished with bait or with a lure. It lives in waters 10 to 40 feet deep but likes quiet waters most of all.

Black crappie fish size

Averaging around 8 to 12 inches, black crappie fish can reach lengths of up to 14 inches and weigh around 3 pounds.

Black crappie fish tank size

The minimum recommended tank size for this species is 150 gallons, although larger tanks, such as 200 gallons, are always better.

Tank Requirements

Black crappie does best in a freshwater aquarium with high oxygen levels and moderate water movement. They are relatively inactive, so a minimum of 150 gallons is recommended for keeping them. A larger tank of about 200 gallons is preferred, as these fish like to school together in an environment that allows each fish plenty of room to swim freely.

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Although they are usually not aggressive toward other fish, they have been known to occasionally nip fins or skin when kept with species that are smaller than themselves. Unless you plan on having several specimens of similar size, it’s best to house them alone or with very large companions.

Like many other bottom feeders, crappies appreciate leaf litter and aquatic plants on which they can graze if kept in an unfiltered setup; however, keep in mind that these fish prefer bright lighting rather than subdued light.

If your filtration system does not provide adequate aeration, your crappies will be more active and healthy if you remove their cover stones periodically and place a gentle airstone on top of the bare substrate. Also be sure to provide them with ample places to hide from more aggressive species, such as catfish. Adding bogwood or lava rock will give your black crappie places where they feel safe while at rest.

Black crappie fish tank mates

Black crappie fish can be kept with most other fish species that are of similar size. They prefer to be kept in groups of three or more, however, they will do best if you plan on getting a group of them. They’re usually compatible with other freshwater fish such as bluegill and redear sunfish. Barbs and rainbowfish should also work well as tank mates for them.

Black crappie fish breeding

Black Crappie Fish

Black crappie fish are opportunistic spawners that can reproduce at any time. The natural spawning season is from early spring to late summer, and in most parts of their range, peak spawning activity occurs in May.

They begin to move into shallow waters just prior to and during spawning. In some areas they spawn over a protracted period; elsewhere, they may complete spawning within a day or two. During mating, one female may be attended to by several males who fertilize her eggs in rotation. After laying her eggs, a female usually leaves immediately for deeper water.

Fertilized eggs sink to the bottom where hatching takes place some days later. The young remain near the surface where they feed on zooplankton until they reach an average length of 4 cm (1.6 in). At that point, typically after 6 weeks, a dark lateral band appears on each side and vertical bars develop along their bodies.

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At 9–10 months old, black crappies mature sexually and are about 18–22 cm (7–8 in) long. Sexual maturity comes earlier for females than males—females require only 7 months while males need 8-9 months before they are capable of reproducing effectively. Although both sexes become sexually mature when about 1 year old, few fish live long enough to reproduce after age 2.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

Black crappie fish can be rather aggressive and they will not hesitate to attack anything that is threatening their young. Other fish or even people are not safe from their wrath. They are very protective of their territory and their young, especially towards other species of fish that could pose a threat to them.

Black crappie fish care

Black Crappie Fish

Black crappie fish live in schools of twenty to thirty, so it’s a good idea to keep at least that many if you have a small tank. They can be kept alone, but aggression may become an issue. If you keep them with other species of fish, they should be fast swimmers. In fact, they shouldn’t associate with slower fish at all.

Schools are territorial, so stick to one school per tank; these guys won’t fight among themselves. Because of their school behavior, and males and females look alike when young, you might want two males for every female, especially if breeding is your goal.

Plant cover is optional; provide some cover in case your shoal is timid or just likes hiding during daylight hours. A 150 gallon tank is sufficient as long as water conditions are perfect. Maintain water temperatures between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, pH levels between 6.0 and 7.0, and water hardness between 5 to 12 dH. Change 20 percent of the water once a week. Clean up excess algae from glass walls often — these fish enjoy grazing on algae-covered surfaces!

Black crappie food

These fish are omnivores and will eat just about anything — flakes, pellets, or veggies are fine. You can also serve them protein foods like bloodworms, daphnia, brine shrimps, and so on.

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Black crappie fish lifespan

The lifespan of black crappie fish is between 10 to 15 years, with an average age of 12 years old. While scientists are not entirely sure why black crappie fish live longer than other fish species, they suspect it’s because of their ability to adapt to a wide range of habitats and water conditions. These particular fish can survive in both fresh and saltwater environments, even very brackish conditions that other species cannot tolerate well.

Parasites and diseases

Black Crappie Fish

Parasites are one of the biggest threats to fish populations in North America. Take black crappie fish for example. Black crappies have been affected by parasites like sharp nose and broadnose shiners, which in turn pass a number of diseases on to crappies. Outbreaks of columnaris disease, caused by bacteria infecting gills, can wipe out large numbers of young crappies in a given water body at once.

And quill worms—worms that burrow through fins and skin—can debilitate larger black crappies as well. Fortunately, there are actions you can take to avoid catching these parasites while fishing, such as keeping your tank clean and ensuring perfect water chemistry always.


Black crappie are prey for larger fish, such as trout and walleye. They are occasionally eaten by humans too.

Do they make good pets?

They’re not considered suitable for home aquariums because they need a large room to swim around and prefer warmer water than most indoor aquariums can provide. But if you have a pond outside your house, crappies might be just what you’re looking for. They can be aggressive with other fish in their habitat, but if given enough space, they should keep to themselves.