What Is the Difference Between Bream and Crappie?

What Is the Difference Between Bream and Crappie

If you ever wondered “What is the difference between bream and crappie?” you’ve come to the right place. And trust me, your not alone.

To better explain the differences, allow me to break it down for you in the easiest way possible.

What is a Bream (Fish)?

If you’ve only ever fished in Europe or North America before without “crossing the Pond” to fish in the other locale, you might assume that the fish you call “bream” is the same as what those on the other side call “bream.”

As a matter of fact, however, these are two entirely different fish!

In Europe, the term bream refers to a specific fish, or group of fish unlike anything we have in the United States.

European Bream can refer to a variety of freshwater fish with deep narrow bodies, small scales and a shiny appearance.

Common species of ‘Bream‘ in Europe include the Common Bream, Bronze Bream, or Carp Bream.

European Bream
European Bream

In North America, The term bream is often used as a generic term used for sunfish. This includes common sunfish such as Bluegill, Redear Sunfish, Pumpkinseed, Flier, Longear Sunfish and many more.

In the USA, when we say ‘bream‘ or sometimes spelled brim, we are almost always talking about a smaller panfish or species of sunfish.

So, the next time your talking to someone and they said they caught bream, if its in the united states It most likely means they caught sunfish (probably bluegills etc).

But if its in Europe, they probably caught the actual bream fish!

What is a Crappie?

The term ‘Crappie’ refers to one of two popular species of fish found in North America. That is either the Black Crappie or the White Crappie.

Both of these fish are members of the sunfish family, and are sometimes colloquially referred to as bream or perch (depending on the regional dialect and angling-slang).

(Did I just make up a new word? Angling-Slang? Ha!)

Crappie are the second most popular freshwater fish in North America, just behind the Largemouth Bass. They are found all over the continent, they are excellent to eat, and a lot of fun to catch (especially in the spring).

So, What is the Difference Between Bream and Crappie?

Well first, let me be clear: A crappie is a specific type of fish in North America, and a bream is generic name for sunfish or smaller-sized panfish. (The exception being bream found in Europe as I discussed above).

So what are the differences? Well besides the fact that they actually belong to different taxonomic families, there are several differences between bream and crappie that can help you distinguish them.

Black and White Crappie are very distinct, and rarely confused with other species.

Black Crappie
Black Crappie

In the United States, bream typically refers to any smaller sized sunfish.

Bream also known as bluegill
Bream (common bluegill)

In Europe, bream refers to one of the specific bream (minnow) species of fish.

European Bream
European Bream

Bream vs Perch

Ok this is another one that can be a bit confusing….

In North America, the term “perch” is a blanket term that can cover different fish in different families. For example, Yellow Perch belong to the family Percidae while White Perch belong to the family Moronidae.

But you’ll often hear anglers say “Were going perch fishing”…well what kind of perch?! This can often be answered by the region they are fishing. For example, in the deep southern united states, fishing for yellow perch is not very common.

Whereas up north and in the midwest, fishing for yellow perch is extremely popular!

See Also: The Best Baits To Catch Yellow Perch

A bream is not a perch- a perch is its own classification of fish with the most famous being the Yellow Perch and Walleye.


When it comes to fisherman slang, and the different terms used by anglers…its about as clear as mud. But with a little bit of research, you will begin to see the patterns, and similarities between terminology.

Crappie is a specific fish species, and bream can refer to a large number of species most likely in the sunfish family.

If your in Europe, you are more likely to catch the actual bream fish, and therefore may not be familiar with the slang used in the United States.

Don’t even get me started on fish nicknames…I think I’ll save that one for another article. Thanks for reading!