Invasion History

First Non-native North American Tidal Record: 1893
First Non-native West Coast Tidal Record: 1893
First Non-native East/Gulf Coast Tidal Record: 1894

General Invasion History:

Pomoxis annularis (White Crappie) is native to the Great Lakes, Hudson Bay (Red River) and Mississippi River basins from New York and south Ontario west to Minnesota and South Dakota, and south to the Gulf of Mexico, where it is found in Gulf drainages from Mobile Bay, Alabama to Nueces River, Texas (Page and Burr 1991). This species was widely introduced by United States Fish Commission (USFC) and state fish commissions starting in 1894. In records up to the early 20th century, this species was often mixed with Pomoxis nigromaculatus and recorded as 'Crappie' (Smith and Bean 1898). Shipments and stocking by United States Fish Commission continued into the 1930's. Stocking was continued by many state agencies to present. Pomoxis annularis has been introduced on the Atlantic Coast from Georgia to the Connecticut River (Fuller et al. 1999), including the Hudson estuary (Mills et al. 1997) and on the West coast, including San Francisco Bay and the Columbia River (Lampman 1946; Cohen and Carlton 1995). Overall, it has been introduced to river systems in 34 states and Mexico (Lever 1996; USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database 2022).

North American Invasion History:

Invasion History on the West Coast:

The history of the Black and White Crappies is confused, since the two species were often transported in mixed shipments and/or just treated as 'crappies' (Lampman 1946; Dill and Cordone 1997). The earliest record may have been an 1893 stocking of Largemouth Bass and the fry of 'various sunfishes' introduced by the USFC in the Willamette River in Salem, Oregon (Lampman 1946). In 1892–1895, several hundred 'crappie' were introduce in lakes near Spokane, Washington, and Boise, Idaho (Smith 1895). Several catches of 'crappie' were made near Portland in 1903–1905. One of these was identified as a 'Calico Bass' (Black Crappie), but Lampman implies that White Crappie were present also. Both species are common in the Portland area in the Willamette River and Columbia Slough (Farr and Ward 1994; Van Dyke et al. 2009).

Black and White Crappies were introduced to Lake Cuyamaca, San Francisco in 1891, but did not survive. Another shipment was made to the Sisson Hatchery, near Shasta in 1895 (Smith 1895). A USFC shipment in 1908 included Crappie plantings, presumably of both species in northern, central, and southern California. However, there was confusion over identifications of the fishes, with both 'Calico Bass' (Black Crappie), and White Crappie being reported indiscriminately. The first definite state stocking in northern California took place in 1951 in East Park Reservoir in Colusa County and Coyote Reservoir in Santa Clara County. The White Crappie is now widespread in California (Dill and Cordone 1951). They were rare in the Delta in 1963–64 (Turner 1966, cited by Cohen and Carlton 1995). In more recent surveys in the freshwater Delta, White Crappie were rare (Feyrer and Healy 2003; Brown and Michniuk 2007; Sommer et al. 2015; Mahardja et al. 2017), and less abundant than Black Crappie. This was also true in the brackish Suisun Marsh (Matern et al. 2002).

Invasion History on the East Coast:

The White Crappie is not native to the Atlantic Coast. It is established in Piedmont rivers and reservoirs from Georgia to Virginia but appears to be rare on the Coastal Plain (Dahlberg and Scott 1971; Menhennick and Burton 1974; Jenkins and Burkhead 1993). First records in major northeastern rivers are the Potomac (1894), Susquehanna (before 1919), Delaware (before 1919), Hudson (1934); Connecticut (1988). It does not seem to have been introduced further north along the Atlantic Coast (USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program 2022).

In the James, York, and Rappahannock River drainages, the White Crappie is present only in reservoirs in these drainages (Jenkins and Burkhead 1993). Both Black and White Crappies were stocked in the Potomac River by the USFC in 1894–1919 (Worth 1895; Leach 1921). Both crappies 'have become very common in places, notably Little River, Four-Mile Run and in the river near Seven Locks' (Smith and Bean 1898). Early in the 20th century, the White Crappie was more abundant in Potomac tributaries than Black Crappie (Bean and Weed 1911; Radcliffe and Welsh 1916). However, P. nigromaculatus (Black Crappie) is now the dominant crappie in the Potomac, and there apparently have been few records for White Crappie in the tidal river or nearby nontidal waters since the 1970's (Lippson et al. 1979; Ernst et al. 1995; Starnes et al. 2011).

In the Susquehanna River, 200 White Crappie were released into a reservoir at Hollidaysburg Pennsylvania, on the Juniata River by the PA Fish Commission. Other PA Fish Commission plantings were probably made, based on the apparent interest in this fish (Creveling 1881). However, it was not mentioned in the Susquehanna in 1893 (Bean 1893), but was present by 1919 (Fowler 1919), and is present throughout the River basin now (Denoncourt and Cooper 1975; McKeown 1984). The White Crappie was recorded from the mouth of Susquehanna at Havre de Grace in 1921 (Hildebrand and Schroeder 1928). It was rare in a creel survey in the Northeast River (Elser 1960), and was taken in freshwater spill pools along C&D canal (Wang 1971). In Chesapeake Bay as a whole, it is considered a species that rarely penetrates into brackish water (Murdy et al. 1997).

The White Crappie was not listed for the Delaware River by Bean (1893), but was considered introduced and established by 1919 (Fowler 1919), and was considered an estuarine resident by Horwitz (1986). It was caught in the lower river in 1986 (Weisberg et al. 1996). In the Hudson River system, the White Crappie was first collected in the Mohawk River in 1934, and first caught in the Hudson River proper by 1976. It may have been stocked or entered the Hudson through the Erie Canal (Smith and Lake 1990; Mills et al. 1997; Daniels et al. 2005). The White Crappie was stocked in the Connecticut River in Massachusetts in 1930, and first found in Connecticut in 1988, when it was collected in tidal coves near Hartford (Whitworth 1996; Hartel et al. 2002; Jacobson et al. 2004).


White Crappie (Pomoxis annularis) is medium-sized freshwater fish. It is part of the family Centrarchidae (Sunfishes and Black Basses) which have laterally compressed bodies. They have a spiny and a soft dorsal fin, which are fused. They have 3–8 anal spines, thoracic pelvic fins, and ctenoid scales. Crappies (Pomoxis spp.) have a long predorsal region, with a concave dip over the eye. The mouth is large, with upper jaw extending beneath the eye, and the body is strongly compressed laterally. In the White Crappie, the length of the dorsal fin base is shorter than the distance from the eye to the dorsal fin origin. There are 5–7 dorsal spines, increasing in length rearward, and 13–15 dorsal rays. The anal fin has 6–7 spines and 16–18 rays. The lateral line is strongly arched and has 34–44 scales. The White Crappie reaches a length of 530 mm, but more usually 144–215 mm. The color is gray-green above, or silvery olive, with silvery sides and 6–9 chain-like dusky bars on the side. There are several bands of black blotches on the dorsal, anal, and tail fins (Hardy 1978; Page and Burr 1991; Jenkins and Burkhead 1993; Moyle 2002).


Taxonomic Tree

Kingdom:   Animalia
Phylum:   Chordata
Subphylum:   Vertebrata
Superclass:   Osteichthyes
Class:   Actinopterygii
Subclass:   Neopterygii
Infraclass:   Teleostei
Superorder:   Acanthopterygii
Order:   Perciformes
Suborder:   Percoidei
Family:   Centrarchidae
Genus:   Pomoxis
Species:   annularis


Pomoxis annularis: ( Rafinesque, 1818)
Pomoxys annularis (Nelson, 1876)

Potentially Misidentified Species

Pomoxis nigrofasciatus

The Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) has a longer dorsal fin and 7–8 dorsal spines. The color is silvery-green with numerous irregular black blotches. It is native in the Great Lakes-Mississippi region and from Florida to the James River, Virginia, and introduced north to Maine, and to the San Francisco. Columbia, and Fraser estuaries (Page and Burr 1991; USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program 2022).



The White Crappie (Pomoxis annularis) is a freshwater predatory fish. Adults can mature at 1 year, but more usually 2–3 years, depending on latitude, at sizes of 142–200 mm (Hardy 1978; Jenkins and Burkhead 1994; Moyle 2002). Spawning takes place at 14–23°C, in freshwater. Adult male fish move into shallow water, ~0.1–06 m deep, near shore, and nest in colonies. Eggs may be deposited on algae, leaves, or tree roots, or in an excavation in the substrate (Hardy 1978; Wang 1986; Jenkins and Burkhead 1993; Moyle 2002). Males guard a nesting site against other males, and court females. Females may spawn with more than one male, and males may spawn with more than female. Females can carry 970–326,000 eggs. Males vigorously guard the eggs through hatching to the postlarval stage. Eggs take 1–4 days to develop at 14-24°C. The postlarvae swim in schools in shallow, weedy waters (Hardy 1978; Wang 1986; Jenkins and Burkhead 1993; Moyle 2002). Adults in Virginia typically live up to 7 years, but one specimen lived for 9 years (Jenkins and Burkhead 1993).

White Crappies inhabit sand and mud-bottomed pools and backwaters of creeks and small to large rivers, and lakes and ponds, often associated with vegetation, and often with turbid conditions. (Hardy 1978; Page and Burr 1991; Wang 1986). They appear to be tolerant of alkaline conditions and sensitive to low pH ((Jenkins and Burkhead 1993; Moyle 2002). Based on their distribution, they tolerate ice-covered waters, and temperatures at least as high as 29°C (Hardy 1978; Page and Burr 1991). White Crappies appear to be rare in brackish water, but they have been collect at 6 PSU in Delaware Bay tributaries (Hardy 1978). They tend to school and often remain near logs or other cover. Adults have long, fine gill-rakers, and are capable of feeding on zooplankton, but are also predators on aquatic insects and fishes, including Threadfin Shad (Dorosoma petenense) and Mississippi Silversides (Menidia audens) (Moyle 2002). Predators include other fishes, birds, and humans.


Zooplankton, fishes


Fishes, humans


Black Crappies, black basses, sunfishes

Trophic Status:




General HabitatNontidal FreshwaterNone
General HabitatFresh (nontidal) MarshNone
General HabitatGrass BedNone
General HabitatCoarse Woody DebrisNone
General HabitatTidal Fresh MarshNone
General HabitatUnstructured BottomNone
Salinity RangeLimnetic0-0.5 PSU
Salinity RangeOligohaline0.5-5 PSU
Vertical HabitatNektonicNone

Life History

Tolerances and Life History Parameters

Maximum Temperature (ºC)29Field (Hardy 1978)
Minimum Salinity (‰)0This is a freshwater fish.
Maximum Salinity (‰)6The maximum is a field record from Delaware River estuary tidal creeks (DE) (Smith 1971)
Minimum Reproductive Temperature14Field (Hardy 1978)
Maximum Reproductive Temperature23Field (Hardy 1978)
Minimum Length (mm)140Jenkins and Burkhead 1993
Maximum Length (mm)530Page and Burr 1991. A maximum of 344 mm was seen in Viriginia reservoirs (Jenkins and Burkhead 1993).
Broad Temperature RangeNoneWarm temperate-Cold temperate
Broad Salinity RangeNoneLimnetic-Oligohaline

General Impacts

The White Crappie appears to be uncommon or rare in tidal fresh and brackish waters. Generally, they are well-regarded as a pan fish, but are mentioned on websites less frequently than the Black Crappie (P. nigromaculatus). However, they are a popular sport fish in their native and introduced range.

Regional Distribution Map

Bioregion Region Name Year Invasion Status Population Status
M040 Long Island Sound 1988 Def Estab
P260 Columbia River 1893 Def Estab
M060 Hudson River/Raritan Bay 1976 Def Estab
M130 Chesapeake Bay 1894 Def Estab
M090 Delaware Bay 1919 Def Estab
P090 San Francisco Bay 1951 Def Estab
GL-I Lakes Huron, Superior and Michigan 0 Native Estab
GL-II Lake Erie 0 Native Estab
G130 Pensacola Bay 0 Native Estab
G140 Perdido Bay 0 Native Estab
G150 Mobile Bay 0 Native Estab
G160 East Mississippi Sound 0 Native Estab
G170 West Mississippi Sound 0 Native Estab
G180 Breton/Chandeleur Sound 0 Native Estab
G190 Mississippi River 0 Native Estab
G200 Barataria Bay 0 Native Estab
G220 Atchafalaya/Vermilion Bays 0 Native Estab
G210 Terrebonne/Timbalier Bays 0 Native Estab
G230 Mermentau River 0 Native Estab
G240 Calcasieu Lake 0 Native Estab
G250 Sabine Lake 0 Native Estab
G260 Galveston Bay 0 Native Estab
G270 Brazos River 0 Native Estab
G280 Matagorda Bay 0 Native Estab
G290 San Antonio Bay 0 Native Estab
G300 Aransas Bay 0 Native Estab
G310 Corpus Christi Bay 0 Native Estab
G320 Upper Laguna Madre 0 Native Estab
G330 Lower Laguna Madre 0 Native Estab

Occurrence Map

OCC_ID Author Year Date Locality Status Latitude Longitude


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Elser, Harold J. (1960) Creel results on the Northeast River, Maryland, 1958, Chesapeake Science 1: 41-47

Ernst, Carl H.; Wilgenbusch, James C.,; Morgan, Donald L.; Boucher, Timothy P.; Sommerfield, Mark (1995) Fishes of Fort Belvoir, Virginia, Maryland Naturalist 39(3-4): 1-60

Farr, Ruth A., Ward, David L. (1992) Fishes of the lower Willamette River, near Portland, Oregon, Northwest Science 67(1): 16-22

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Hildebrand, Samuel F.; Schroeder, William C. (1928) Fishes of Chesapeake Bay, Unites States Bureau of Bisheries Bulletin 53(Pt. 1): 1-388

Horwitz, Richard J. (1986) Fishes of the Delaware estuary in Pennsylvania., In: Majundar, S.K., Brenner, F. J., Rhoads, A. F.(Eds.) Endangered and Threatened Species Programs in Pennsylvania.. , Philadelphia. Pp. 177-201

Hughes, Robert M., Gammon, James R. (1987) Longitudinal changes in fish assemblages and water quality in the Willamette River, Oregon, Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 116: 196-209

Jacobson, Paul M. (1980) Studies of the Ichthyofauna of Connecticut, Storrs Agricultural Experiment Station. Papers 82: 1-39

Jenkins, Robert E.; Burkhead, Noel M. (1993) Freshwater Fishes of Virginia, American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD. Pp. <missing location>

Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary (1994) <missing title>, <missing publisher>, <missing place>. Pp. <missing location>

Lampman, Ben Hur (1946) Coming of the Pond Fishes, Binfords & Mort, Portland, OR. Pp. <missing location>

Leach, Glenn H. (1921) Report on the propagation and distribution of food fishes., In: (Eds.) Report of the United States Bureau of Fisheries for 1919.. , Washington D.C.. Pp. <missing location>

Leidy, R. A. (2007) <missing title>, San Francisco Estuary Institute, Oakland. Pp. <missing location>

Lever, Christopher (1996) Naturalized fishes of the world, Academic Press, London, England. Pp. <missing location>

Light, Theo; Marchetti, Michael P. (2007) Distinguishing between invasions and habitat changes as drivers of diversity loss among California's freshwater fishes., Conservation Biology 21(2): 434-446

Lippson, Alice J.; Haire, Michael S.; Holland, A. Frederick; Jacobs, Fred; Jensen, Jorgen; Moran-Johnson, R. Lynn; Polgar, Tibor T.; Richkus, William (1979) Environmental atlas of the Potomac Estuary, Martin Marietta Corp., Baltimore, MD. Pp. <missing location>

Mahardja, Brian Farruggia, Mary Jade Schreier, Brian Sommer, Ted (2017) Evidence of a shift in the littoral fish community of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, PLOS ONE 12(Published onoin): e0170683

Massmann, William H.; Ladd, Ernest C.; McCutcheon, Henry M. (1952) A biological survey of the Rappahannock River, Virginia, Virginia Fisheries Laboratory Special Scientific Report 6: 1-152

Matern, Scott A.; Moyle, Peter; Pierce, Leslie C. (2002) Native and alien fishes in a California estuarine marsh: twenty-one years of changing assemblages, Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 131: 797-816

McKeown, Paul E. (1984) Additions to ichthyofauna of the Susquehanna River with a checklist of fishes of the Susquehanna River drainage below Conowingo Dam, Proceedings of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science 58: 187-192

Menhinick, Edward F., Burton, Thomas M., Bailey, Joseph R. (1974) An annotated checklist of the freshwater fishes of North Carolina, Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society 89: 24-50

Mills, Edward L.; Scheuerell, Mark D.; Carlton, James T.; Strayer, David (1997) Biological invasions in the Hudson River: an inventory and historical analysis., New York State Museum Circular 57: 1-51

Murdy, Edward O.; Birdsong, Ray S.; Musick, John A. (1997) Fishes of Chesapeake Bay, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.. Pp. 57-289

Page, Lawrence M.; Burr, Brooks M. (1991) Freshwater Fishes: North America North of Mexico, Houghton-Mifflin, Boston. Pp. <missing location>

Radcliffe, Lewis; Welsh, W. W. (1916) A list of the fishes of the Seneca Creek, Montgomery County, Maryland Region, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 29: 39-45

Raney, Edward C. (1950) The James River Basin- Past, Present, and Future, Virginia Academy of Science, Richmond. Pp. 151-194

Raney, Edward, C.; Massmann, William H. (1953) The fishes of the tidewater section of the Pamunkey River, Virginia, Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences 43(12): 424-432

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Smith, C. Lavett, Lake, Thomas R. (1990) Documentation of the Hudson River fish fauna, American Museum Novitates 2981: 1-17

Smith, Hugh M. (1895) A review of the history and results of the attempts to acclimatize fish and other water animals in the Pacific states., Bulletin of the U. S. Fish Commission 15: 379-472

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Sommer, Ted and 13 authors (2007) The collapse of pelagic fishes in the upper San Francisco estuary., Fisheries 32(6): 270-277

Starnes, Wayne C.; Odenkirk, John; Ashton, Matthew J. (2011) Update and analysis of fish occurrences in the lower Potomac River drainage in the vicinity of Plummers Island, Maryland—Contribution XXXI to the natural history of Plummers Island, Maryland, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 124: 280-309

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Van Dyke, Erick, S. Storch, Adam J. Reesman, Martyne J. (2009) Seasonal composition and distribution of fish species in the lower Columbia slough; Completion Repor, City of Portland, Bureau of Environmental Services, Portland OR. Pp. <missing location>

Waldman, John R.; Lake, Thomas R.; Schmidt, Robert E. (2006) Biodiversity and zoogeography of the fishes of the Hudson River watershed and estuary, American Fisheries Society Symposium 51: 129-150.

Wang, Johnson, C. S.; Kenehahan, Ronnie (1979) Fishes of the Delaware estuaries - a guide to the early life histories, EA Associates, Towson MD. Pp. <missing location>

Weisberg, Stephen; Himchak, Peter; Baum, Tom; Wilson, Harold T.; Allen, Russell (1996) Temporal trends in abundance of fish in the tidal Delaware River, Estuaries 19(3): 723-729

Whitworth, Walter R. (1968) Freshwater fishes of Connecticut, Bulletin, State Geological and Natural History Survey of Connecticut 101: 1-134

Whitworth, Walter R. (1996) Freshwater fishes of Connecticut, State Geological and Natural History Survey of Connecticut 114: 33-214

Worth, S. G. (1895) A review of the history and results of the attempts to acclimatize fish and other water animals in the Pacific states, In: (Eds.) Report of the United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries for 1893. , Washington D.C.. Pp. 78-138

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DOI: 10.1111/ddi.13666