The white crappie is generally deep-bodied and silvery in color, with darker vertical stripes. The dorsal fin has at least six spines, and there are spines on the gill cover. They have been recorded at up to 53 cm.
This species prefers slower-moving water, whether a backwater of a small creek or a large lake.
The black crappie Pomoxis nigromaculatus (Lesueur, 1829) is very similar to P. annularis in character and habits, except that it is darker, with a pattern of black spots.