E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Pomoxis nigromaculatus (Lesueur, 1829)
Black Crappie
Family: Centrarchidae
Photo of species

© Mike Pearson  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #78322)

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Source: Distribution map provided by Don McPhail for E-Fauna BC
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The Black Crappie is an introduced species of sunfish in British Columbia that originates in eastern North America but has been widely introduced across North America for sport fishing. It is a small to moderate silver- to white-coloured fish with black mottlings. Habitat includes quiet water areas with clear water and abundant aquatic vegetation with sand/mud bottoms, including ponds, lakes, streams and sloughs. Diet includes crustaceans, insects and other small fish species. Like other sunfish, this is a nest-building species. It matures at 3 years of age and reproduces in the spring when males excavate depressions in or near vegetated areas, usually in water depths of 5/6 feet. The black crappie is a schooling species that does not go into semi-hibernation in the winter, and continues to feed (Ontario Fish Species 2011)

According to Carl and Guiguet (1958): "Crappies were first noted in British Columbia in Hatzic Lake in 1933 (Hart, 1934), and since that time they have been discovered in many other lakes and backwaters connected with the lower Fraser system. Black Crappies and their cousins, the White Crappies (Pomoxis annularis), are widely spread in Washington and Oregon, where they were first released in 1890 and 1892. No record is available as to how Black Crappies reached British Columbia, but it is assumed that they were the result of transplantation, probably from Washington, the nearest source."

Other common names for this species throughout its range include: black crappie, calico bass, crappie, crawpie, grass bass, moonfish, oswego bass, shiner, speck, speckled bass, and strawberry bass (Florida Museum of Natural History 2011).

Read more about the Black Crappie here.

Species Information

This introduced species of fish is moderately sized (usually less than 300 mm in BC), has a deep, laterally compressed body, 36-40 scales along the lateral line, 7 or 8 well-developed spines in the dorsal fin. Colour of the dorsal, anal and caudal fins is irregular pale (yellow to light green) spots against a black background. For a detailed description and discussion of this species, refer to McPhail (2008).
Source: McPail, J. D. 2008. The Freshwater Fishes of British Columbia. University of Alberta Press, Edmonton.


Species Biology

Inhabits lakes, ponds, sloughs, and backwaters and pools of streams (Ref. 1998, 10294). Usually occurs among vegetation over mud or sand, most common in clear water. Forms schools (Ref. 1998). Feeds early in the morning, from midnight to 2 am (Ref. 1998). Individuals up to 16 cm feed on planktonic crustaceans and free-swimming, nocturnal, and dipterous larvae; larger individuals feed on small fishes (Ref. 1998, 10294). May be preyed upon by other fishes (Ref. 1998).

Source: FishBase. Page, L.M. and B.M. Burr 1991 A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 432 p.


BC Distribution and Notes

This is an eastern North American species. It is not a benign addition to our fish fauna: most small native fishes have disappeared in lakes containing black crappie (e.g., Whonnock Lake near Ruskin). It is not clear if these extirpations result from competitive interactions, predation, or both. What is clear is that this species should never be introduced into waters where they do not occur.

Source: Information provided by Don McPhail for E-Fauna BC.
Global Distribution

North America: widely introduced throughout USA that native range is difficult to determine; presumably Atlantic Slope from Virginia to Florida, Gulf Slope west to Texas in the USA, St. Lawrence-Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins from Quebec to Manitoba in Canada south to Gulf of Mexico.

Source: FishBase. Page, L.M. and B.M. Burr 1991 A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 432 p.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
ExoticSNAExoticNot Listed
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Range and Status Information Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2023-09-23 5:05:14 AM]
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