Black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) are among the most highly sought-after species in sport fishing, so it’s no surprise that so many people have asked us how to care for black crappie at home and what their proper species profile is. Here are some of the most important things you need to know about black crappie care and species profile, including their natural habitat, tank requirements, eating habits, and more.
Pomoxis nigromaculatus isn’t just the name of your favorite hairstyle; it’s also the common name of the fish that is commonly known as the black crappie. As you can see from the scientific name (Pomoxis nigromaculatus), black crappie are members of the Pomoxis genus, which also includes bigmouth, white, and yellow crappies (the last two species go by different common names). The black crappie got its name from its dark coloring, caused by large black spots on its sides and fins.
In the aquarium hobby, pomoxis nigromaculatus is affectionately known as black crappie or black perch, even though they aren’t really related to crappies at all. They are from the Sunfishes family of fish, which also includes their close relatives the freshwater drum and sea mullet. In most ways, pomoxis nigromaculatus is very similar to their kin, especially in terms of care and breeding in an aquarium setting.
There are many species of fish that can be easily kept in freshwater aquariums, but black crappie Pomoxis nigromaculatus may be one of the most well-known choices. With stunning blue-black scales and beautiful bright white edges, these fish are truly a sight to behold in any home aquarium.
Pomoxis nigromaculatus is also relatively simple to care for, but there are some important things to know about their natural habitat and behavioral traits before you set up an aquarium with black crappies in it. You’ll learn everything you need to know about black crappie care below.
Black crappie description
The black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) is a warm-water fish in North America. Their native range includes most of Canada from Nova Scotia to British Columbia and much of the eastern United States from New York to Texas. It has been introduced into many other parts of North America, Europe, South Africa, Australia, and Asia.
In some areas, it is known by other names, including calico bass and checkered perch. Several different subspecies are recognized across its wide distribution; most are not clearly separable. Black crappies inhabit large rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs, ponds, and shallow backwaters.
They often reside around underwater structures such as fallen trees or bridges. When moving into open water for feeding or spawning they usually make long-distance movements rather than commute between short distances. During these migrations, they can travel upriver at rates of up to 1 kilometer per hour.
Spawning takes place in late spring and early summer when water temperatures reach approximately 18 degrees Celsius. Similar to white crappie, black crappies from nesting groups are composed of one male with multiple females. However, while white crappies generally initiate these groups on their own, they tend to form them after being released directly into an area by fishermen.
Pomoxis nigromaculatus are a species of fish native to North America, Europe, South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. They are also known as black bass or Kentucky bass. The scientific name for black crappies is Pomoxis nigromaculatus. This species is in the genus Pomoxis of order Perciformes of class Actinopterygii, family Centrarchidae, one of four subfamilies in Centrarchinae.
It was first described by Rafinesque in 1819. It’s important to note that the breeding season for pomoxis nigromaculatus varies widely depending on location, generally occurring in late winter or early spring when water temperatures reach 60 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
Black crappie scientific name
The scientific name of the black crappies is Pomoxis nigromaculatus
Black crappie habitat
They are found in freshwater habitats on most continents except Australia. They live in rivers, streams, lakes, and reservoirs with depths up to 20 meters (66 feet). In large river systems such as the Mississippi River System, they can be found living in brackish waters where freshwater mixes with saltwater from river estuaries.
Black crappie size and weight
An average length for black crappie is 11 inches (28 cm) and can weigh up to 4 pounds.
Black crappie tank size
The minimum recommended tank size is 150 gallons, 200 gallons or more is better.
Tank set up
Pomoxis nigromaculatus are active swimmers, so a 200-gallon tank with a tight-fitting lid is ideal. They’re also very social fish, so keeping them in groups of six or more individuals will result in happier, healthier fish. Make sure you provide plenty of hiding places for your fish to retreat from each other when they get aggressive.
Choose densely planted tanks with an open swimming area and lots of floating plants that allow the light to filter down into all areas of the tank. It’s worth mentioning that these fish rarely reach longer than four inches, but they can live up to nine years. Keep only one male per group; males can be identified by their larger anal fin and extending beyond their caudal fin.
Male black crappies are also smaller than females. Because black crappies spawn multiple times during a season—depending on water temperature—you should choose spawning mops to place in your aquarium if you want fries for later harvesting. Larger breeds such as bluegill can be kept in community tanks, although their need for heavily oxygenated water means that black crappies aren’t suitable tank mates unless both species have robust filtration systems and good aeration in common areas of the aquarium.
Black crappie tank mates
Pomoxis nigromaculatus is generally easy to get along with, especially when you can match them up with their own kind. Because they are schooling fish, they enjoy being kept in groups of three or more, so a minimum tank size of 200 gallons is recommended.
When choosing other species to keep with your black crappies, be sure that you choose ones that have similar water requirements and care needs. Also, be sure to provide plenty of hiding places for your fish so as not to stress them out.
Do not mix with: goldfish or any goldfish type fish since these are cold-water fish that require different care.
Keep in mind that some species may harass them; if you do keep them with other schooling species, be sure to give everyone plenty of space.
Black crappie breeding
Once ready to spawn, the female crappie digs a nest in sandy substrates by using her tail to create ripples in the sand and simultaneously stirring up sediment from below. Each female may lay between 1,000-3,000 eggs which are then fertilized by male crappies.
Males stand guard near nests during the incubation period of about three weeks until the larvae hatch. The majority of larval mortality is attributable to predation by larger fish species that feed on tiny prey such as newly hatched black crappies. After hatching, black crappie fry spends their days hiding amongst aquatic vegetation or bottom substrate before eventually migrating into deeper water.
It is during these first few months of life that much population control occurs naturally. An especially abundant food supply could result in more young surviving; conversely, if conditions don’t permit adequate survival rates for a particular cohort, growth rates will be reduced accordingly.
Because many predators target juvenile crappies as prey, it makes sense why populations appear cyclical based upon how many young survive within the first couple years post-hatch.
Are Black crappie aggressive or peaceful?
Black crappies are a relatively peaceful species of fish. In terms of personality, they’re not going to be much different than most other types of sunfish. That being said, if you keep them with more aggressive species such as largemouth bass or pike they might become a little more territorial. If that happens, it’s best to separate them into their own tanks so they can live peacefully without fighting other fish all day long.
Black crappie care
Pomoxis nigromaculatus are hardy fish that can tolerate a wide range of water conditions, but they do have some requirements. They need good oxygenation, so make sure to perform regular small water changes with a gravel siphon to maintain a clean environment. In addition, these fish prefer cool temperatures around 65°F (18°C) in order to thrive.
To keep them healthy, you will also want to feed them live or frozen foods like bloodworms and brine shrimp. For information on where to buy black crappie fish, please contact your local pet store for more information on purchasing one for your aquarium!
Black crappie food
Pomoxis nigromaculatus is an omnivore that feeds mainly on small aquatic organisms such as insects, fish, crustaceans, mollusks, worms, and plant matter. It prefers live bait to artificial lures. They feed at night more than other sunfish. One of their favorite meals is midge larvae found in its wintertime habitat in shallow water along shorelines.
This scrappy little predator will gorge itself on these minute creatures until it can’t swallow another bite. As a result of overfeeding themselves on midges, many crappies die each year from what is known as Midge Bloat. Black crappies are also very fond of snails. They use their sensitive barbels (whiskers) located around their mouths to dig into the mud for hours at a time looking for tasty snails hidden underground.
Pomoxis nigromaculatus can live in soft to moderately hard water conditions. The pH should be between 6.0 and 8.0 with a dH (water hardness) of 6 to 25 degrees. They will tolerate alkaline conditions but do best with some degree of acidity. Maintaining neutral hardness is optimal for them.
When it comes to temperature, they are relatively adaptable, as long as you keep it somewhere within their range: 64-77°F (18-25°C). If necessary, you can drop down to about 50°F (10°C), although there are more suitable species for cooler tanks. They aren’t too picky about carbonate hardness levels. Alkalinity should remain steady at 2–6 dKH, unless you have very soft or acidic water.
Black crappie lifespan
This species is known to live for a minimum of 15 years.
Parasites and diseases
Pomoxis nigromaculatus can be susceptible to parasitic infections. Fish that are infected by parasites may exhibit symptoms of lethargy, color changes, or difficulty swimming. The fish may also have small puncture wounds around their mouths or dorsal fins where a parasite attempted to burrow into their bodies. If you notice any of these symptoms, discontinue feeding your fish for several days until they are cleared up.
If you’re planning to keep your fish in a community tank, choose tank mates that are both big enough to eat black crappies and non-aggressive. If you have any other tank fish that are capable of eating them, think again before introducing your pomoxis nigromaculatus. Of course, if you do have aggressive or large predators in your tank, be sure to provide enough cover for these little guys by planting lots of live plants or decorations.
Some known predators of pomoxis nigromaculatus are pike, perch, large catfish, sunfish, largemouth bass. The black crappie is also a favorite of pike and perch. If you’re keeping your fish in an aquarium or other small container, consider choosing a large enough tank for them to thrive without being eaten. A 150-gallon tank can house a small school of fish (usually three to five fish), while a 250-gallon tank can comfortably hold up to ten small individuals.
Do pomoxis nigromaculatus make good pets?
Pomoxis nigromaculatus is not considered to be good aquarium fish but will do well in a community tank or pond setting. They should be kept in groups of no less than 6 individuals as they are sociable fish who enjoy being around other black crappies. They are excellent eaters as they love live foods such as worms, brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, bloodworms, and feeder fish.