Crappie vs Fathead Minnows: The Differences Between Crappie and Fathead Minnows

Crappie vs Fathead Minnows
Crappie vs Fathead Minnows

Two of the most common freshwater fish in North America are the crappie and fathead minnow. Both species of fish can be found in the rivers, ponds, streams, and lakes of most of the United States and parts of Canada. So, it’s not surprising that there are similarities between both species, but there are some notable differences as well.

For those who fish or who are simply interested in the freshwater fish of North America, learning more about crappie and fathead minnows provides interesting insight into the fish that inhabit this part of the world.

Crappie vs Fathead Minnows


Crappie belong to Pomoxis genus and is a small freshwater fish found in most of North America. There are two basic types of crappie, white and black. However, the differences between the types are rather small. The fish can grow to around three pounds and from eight to ten inches long when they become adults.

Crappie are carnivorous, consuming smaller fish, insects, crustaceans, and even their own young. They are mostly docile during the day but will feed at dawn and during twilight. Crappie are also known as silver perch and goldring.

Fathead Minnows

Belonging to the cyprinid family of the genus Peepholes, the fathead minnow is a freshwater fish that can be found in most of North America east of the Rocky Mountains. Called the fathead minnow because its head and eyes seem rather large for its body, this species of fish is rather small in size, but quite popular as bait for larger fish. The fathead minnow is most famous for making what is known as a Schreckstoff or distress signal.

Some similarities between crappie and fathead minnows include where they live and toleration for different types of environment. From the cold waters of Canada to the far warmer areas of Texas, you can find both species thriving in locations around North America.

Differences Between Crappie and Fathead Minnows

While similar in the sense that both are freshwater fish and occupy mostly the same locations around North America, there are distinctive differences between crappie and fathead minnows. Perhaps the biggest difference apart from their appearance is the feeding habits of both fish.

While crappie are carnivorous and feed on smaller fish, crustaceans, and insects, fathead minnows are bottom feeders and are satisfied with the remains what was living creatures. However, fathead minnows will also feed on phytoplankton and algae. It is not uncommon for crappie to feed on young fathead minnows if given the chance to consume them.

The fathead minnow is considerably smaller than crappie and of different coloring as well. Another difference is the chemical alarm system that fathead minnows have which warn others that predators are in the area. When their skin cells are damaged, it releases a chemical that causes nearby fathead minnows to flee. No such system exists in crappie, who are predators and have little need for this chemical.

Overall, the differences between crappie and fathead minnows are striking. However, they are both popular fish for their own reasons which is why they maintain such a strong interest for those who love to fish in North America.


Leave a Comment