Three characteristics easily distinguish black and white crappie. Black crappie have seven to eight dorsal spines; white crappie usually have six. The dorsal fin base on black crappie is equal to or slightly longer than the distance from the rear margin of the eye to the origin of the dorsal fin base; the dorsal fin base is shorter on white crappie. Finally, the sides of white crappie have 8 to 10 vertical, dark gray reticulated bands that are lacking on black crappie. Other distinguishing characteristics of the black crappie include 35 to 41 lateral line scales, 14 to 16 dorsal rays, five to seven anal spines, and 16 to 19 rays. The back is usually light gray to light lime green. The sides and venter are lime green with a silvery sheen. Dark mottling is scattered across the body. The dorsal, caudal, and anal fins have several alternating light and dark wavy bands. Adult size: 12 to 18 inches.