Crappie vs Catfish: The Differences Between Crappie and Catfish

Crappie vs Catfish
Crappie vs Catfish

Understanding the differences between each species of fish helps to know when to seek them out and what to expect when you catch them. Two of the most popular fresh-water fish in North America are crappie and catfish. While there are some similarities between them, there are some stark differences as well.

Crappie vs Catfish


Crappie are pan fish and part of the genus called Pomoxis. They are found in North America and divided into two groups, white crappie and black crappie. The differences between white and black crappie are subtle as both fishes are roughly the same size.

Crappie are predator fish that will even feed on their own young. Crappie are most active during feeding in the morning and especially evening hours of the day. During the day and night hours they tend to rest and be far less active.


A member of Siluriformes, catfish are best known for their cat-like whiskers which gave them their name. Catfish can be found in every continent save for Antarctica. They are known as an invasive species which means that they can become pests, breeding rapidly and consuming the food supply available at an alarming rate.

In addition to their cat whiskers, most catfish are dark colored and can detect chemicals in the water, alerting them to the presence of food. Catfish do not have scales and some species have spines on their dorsal or pectoral fins that deliver a protein which stings for defensive purposes.

The Differences Between Crappie and Catfish

Both crappie and catfish are quite abundant in North America and are considered quite tasty by those who enjoy fresh water fish. However, there are significant differences between them which will help you choose which one is best suited for your fishing adventure.

Coloring: Catfish and crappie are distinguished by their color scheme. Catfish tend to be dark in color while crappie are striped or spotted. The coloring of both fish helps them blend into their environment.

Size: Both white and black crappie tend to be smaller than catfish at similar ages. This is because catfish continue to grow throughout their life while crappie tend to stop growing when they reach full adulthood. A typical adult crappie is 7 to 9 inches long and may weight up to five pounds. Adult catfish can grow much larger and reach weights of 100 pounds or more.

Bottom Feeders: While crappie tend to feed a few feet below the surface, catfish are known as bottom feeders. This means that they stay on the floor of streams, river, and lakes and feed on the dead material. This means that the tactics used to fish for catfish are far different compared to the techniques used for crappie.

In addition, catfish tend to be nocturnal while crappie are more active in the morning and evening hours of the day.

While there are significant differences between crappie and catfish, they are both quite popular. Especially in North America, crappie and catfish are two of the most sought-after fish because of how good they taste and ease of preparation.


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