There is an extremely wide range of distribution of the black crappie in the United States.  These organisms can be found anywhere from Southern Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.  This great distribution, however, is mainly due to the relatively recent stocking of black crappies in many rivers and lakes.  The native range of the black crappie is the eastern half of North America, from Southern Ontario to Florida and extending westward to the Midwest.

                                                                                                                                                                                   Thermocline Diagram by Keith C. Heidorn
Pomoxis nigromaculatus prefers to inhabit quiet 
oligotrophic bodies of water, which are clear and generally
poor in nutrients, rather than eutrophic bodies of water, 
which are productive and nutrient-rich.  Because they 
prefer clear water, black crappies thrive in bodies of 
water with populations of carp.  Carp reduce dense plant 
growth, thereby creating the clear water that black 
crappies desire.  Within oligotrophic bodies of water, 
Pomoxis nigromaculatus can be found in various places depending on the time of year.  During the spring spawn in May or June, black crappies stay in shallow waters to raise their young.  Staying in shallow waters reduces the risk of predation for the young developing crappies.  When it starts to get warmer, these  organisms inhabit the thermocline in deeper waters.  The thermocline is a narrow region of water that separates the cold bottom water from the warmer surface water.                                                                
The black crappie occupies a specific niche within its habitat. 
It prefers to live over sand and gravel or near submerged 
logs.  In addition, black crappies usually live in and travel in 
populations called schools.  By living in these schools, black 
crappies are more protected from large predators that share 
their habitat, such as great blue herons, muskellunge, 
northern pikes, and minks.  Groups of Pomoxis 
nigromaculatus also have the ability to attack prey, such 
as mosquitoes, dragonflies, immature bass and bluegills,       A black crappie swimming over a sandy substrate. Photo
and minnows more successfully than a single black crappie.         by Eric Engbretson (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service).  
In order for the black crappie to continue to flourish, however, it must be able to reproduce successfully each year.    


To learn more about the black crappie’s reproduction, click here.
To learn more about other organisms at, click here.