The Black Moor goldfish (Carassius auratus auratus) is unique among all the other varieties of fancy goldfish. When most people think of goldfish, they think of the brightly colored fancy varieties in orange, red, and/or white. However, the Black Moor goldfish is all black. Everything including even their eyes and fins are black.
This complete guide to Black Moor Goldfish Care will provide some history on the Black Moor as well as teach you everything you need to know to take care of them your Black Moor.
Origins of the Black Moor Goldfish
The Black Moor is a type of telescope eyed goldfish but with black coloration. Take a close look and you’ll see the egg shaped body and bulging eyes that give it its name. The fins are also long and graceful. The Black Moor was selectively bred to obtain these characteristics.
Like all goldfish, the Black Moor descended from the very plain common carp, which is typically a drab olive color. It is believed that today’s goldfish varieties are derived from selective breeding of Prussian carp (Carassius gibelio) or Crucian Carp (Carassius carassius). Carp were grown for food and are one of the earliest forms of fish farming.
Every so often genetic abnormalities would cause some fish to have a little yellow, orange or red in them. The telescope eyes also appeared, leading to names such as Dragon Fish and Dragon Eyes. Legend states that these fish were isolated in their own ponds as interesting oddities. What this did was start to lock in the color patterns as the fish interbed.
Eventually the fish caught the attention of Chinese fish breeders. Historical writings and art suggests the Chinese began selective breeding of goldfish before 1000 AD! Early forms of goldfish were introduced to Japan in the 1500s. Once in Japan, fish breeders further developed the long tail fins and bright color patterns.
The so-called "fancy goldfish" are now found throughout the world.
Types of Black Moor Goldfish
Since the Black Moor is a variety of fancy goldfish, it is no surprise it shares many features of its more colorful cousins. The Black Moor has the same traditional short, egg shaped body. The eyes protrude from the side of the head like other telescope varieties.
Collectors like to classify individual fish by the style of the eyes. Some fish’s eyes stick out like smooth cones. A close look may reveal a less telescoping form that looks like concentric ridges. The other eye form is more balloon like and may even have a tiny inflated sac near the cheek.
These “ocular features” simply appear as the fish ages. The original Black Moors had a fantail but more recent varieties have longer, flowing fins. Today you will be able to find Black Moors at your local pet store with wide tails, butterfly tails, and even ribbon like tails.
It was originally thought that the black coloration was linked to the telescoping eye traits. But Black Moors sometimes produce offspring that are black but have normal eyes.
More recent breeding projects has produced a variety of black fancy goldfish including Black Oranda Goldfish, Black Lionhead Goldfish, Black Ranchu Goldfish, Black Ryukin Goldfish, Black Pearlscale Goldfish, Black Comet Goldfish, and even Black Bubble Eye Goldfish!
Color development in Black Moor goldfish
When Black Moors are young (less than a month old) they often have a brownish bronze appearance. While the young fish have the traditional egg shaped body, they lack the telescoping eyes. As a result, immature Black Moors are not too exciting to look at (to be truly honest!). However, as the Black Moor Goldfish matures over the next six to eight weeks, they will gradually begin to develop their characteristic velvety black color and protruding eyes.
Some goldfish experts warn that warm water will minimize the formation of the black pigment, causing the fish to have a bronze coloration instead. Some aquarists believe that even mature Black Moors can be forced to lose their black coloration if kept in a warm aquarium or pond water. We will cover water quality issues in more depth later!
Genetics and age can also play a role in loss of black color in older fish. Some Black Moors remain black their entire life, while others gradually lose some color in old age.
How to feed Black Moors
In nature, both carp and goldfish have an omnivorous diet. They will forage through the mud and leaf litter eating insects, worms, and bits of plants or algae. Many goldfish and koi breeders claim that this muddy bottom and algae rich diet stimulates strong pigment formation.
It is obvious that a poor diet causes loss of health and color, but most of us don’t want our aquariums to look like a murky green pond. Fortunately, commercial specialty goldfish foods are available. High quality goldfish-specific food is essential for Black Moor Goldfish care. These foods have been specially formulated to meet the specific nutritional needs of fancy goldfish kept in aquariums and ponds.
A basic goldfish pellet will contain a high percentage of plant-based ingredients like alfalfa and kale. However, corn is a low cost ingredient and should not be one of the top ingredients. Starch is what makes fish food pellets puff up and take up space in the food container. It can also increase the floating properties. Floating pellets are available in a variety of sizes and make it easy to see how much food your fish are eating.
Sinking pellets are less “puffed” with starch, have more nutritional diversity, and have less air space. With less starch and air, these pellets will fall to the bottom of the aquarium where the goldfish can pick them off the gravel bed. When using sinking pellet food, be careful not to add too much food at one time. If the pellets end up buried in between rocks and gravel, they’ll rot and foul the water.
But pellets are not the only food your Black Moors will love. Goldfish flakes are also a favorite. However, some fancy goldfish enthusiasts believe that flakes cause constipation and gut troubles. These aquarists believe that sinking pellets are the only way to go.
Any pellets or flakes left uneaten by your fish will dissolve within an hour. This causes the nutrients from the pellets to be released into the water, which will reduce your aquarium’s water quality. Cloudy water from a bacteria bloom is usually caused by over feeding. If your goldfish stop eating the pellets or flakes that you are feeding them be sure to stop adding more food to the tank. If you can, skim out any remaining floating food with a net.
While Goldfish will naturally forage at the bottom of the tank, they can learn to take food from just about anywhere, even your hand!
One thing that everyone agrees on is that overfeeding fancy goldfish causes nothing but problems! In addition to water quality issues, overfeeding can cause digestive problems for fancy goldfish. The “unnatural” egg shape of Black Moors and other fancies places their stomach and intestinal tract in a compact position. To avoid digestive problems, the best advice is to feed small amounts of food several times a day. However, beware that Black Moor Goldfish will always act like they are hungry. So don’t fall for their tricks and overfeed your fish!
If you would like, you can easily supplement a commercial diet with fresh vegetables. You can chop up small bits of zucchini, peas, or even bananas for your Black Moor. However, be sure to remove any uneaten food after 30 minutes.
If you want to find out more on feeding goldfish, we have a an article on goldfish food you can check out.
Black Moor Goldfish and Color enhancing and high protein foods
The natural color enhancing food ingredients used to boost red, orange and yellow coloration in goldfish are of no value to Black Moor Goldfish. Black Moor skin tissue contains specialized cells called chromatophores that store pigments. The black coloration is caused by “melanophores": that contain the black pigment melanin. This causes the Black Moor to have a velvety black appearance.
Goldfish color-enhancing foods normally cannot boost the melanin and may cause the fish to lose their desirable black coloration. I do not suggest feeding Black Moors color-enhancing foods.
In addition, Black Moore Goldfish are built to digest mostly plant matter. A high protein food is unnecessary and is generally not recommended as daily food.
Tank mates for Black Moor Goldfish
While Black Moors are quite hardy, not all fancy goldfish make for good roommates. Black Moors, with their elongated eyes, move slowly and can’t “zero in” on food as quickly as other goldfish varieties. This means they can miss out at feeding time.
Some types of goldfish can be somewhat aggressive and “butt heads” while competing for food. It is best to only keep goldfish with similar temperaments together in the same aquarium.
Suggested companions include other telescope eye and bubble eye varieties. Most aquarists like to keep two or more Black Moors together as a single variety fancy goldfish tank.
Aquarium Setup for Black Moors
Goldfish, with proper care, can live for over 10 years. Although you can purchase small Black Moors, they can grow to over ten inches in length in a short period of time. It’s OK to keep one or two baby Black Moors in a 10 gallon aquarium but be prepared to upgrade to at least a 30 gallon aquarium as your fish grow.
I recommend the following 20 gallon aquarium kit for new Black Moor Goldfish owners. A 20 gallon aquarium can hold 2-4 Black Moors for quite awhile. In addition to the tank itself, this kit also includes a filter, heater, LED light, and some other small items. Just add gravel, water, and some fish and you're ready to go.
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A good power filter will go a long way in helping to keep the water clean and clear. Look for a filter that has mechanical filtration to remove floating particles plus activated carbon. Activated carbon adsorbs dissolved organic compounds that build up in all aquariums. Many of these organics will gradually discolor the aquarium water and give it a tea-like tint. Change the cartridge or filter media at least once every month. After about 30 days the filter media becomes clogged and won’t purify the aquarium water.
If you buy the aquarium kit I recommended above you won't need to purchase a filter. However, if you are looking for a new filter our top-rated power filter for 2021 is the AquaClear Power Filter (available on Amazon). This filter provides mechanical, chemical and biological filtration through its multi-stage filtration system and comes with a 2-year warranty. It is offered in a variety of sizes so be sure to select the appropriate size for your tank.
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Maintaining clean water is another essential item in caring for Black Moor Goldfish. You should change about 20% of the water once a month to dilute algae-promoting nutrients like nitrate and phosphate. You should also regularly use a gravel siphon (Our top pick: 7-in-1 gravel pump and cleaning kit on Amazon) to vacuum out sludge and organic debris that clog the gravel bed.
Dirty aquariums are a breeding ground for fish disease pathogens. Maintaining a regular cleaning regimen will ensure your tank stays clear and clean as well as help keep your Black Moors healthy. See our article on cleaning fish tanks for a more in depth discussion on fish tank cleaning procedures and schedules.
While goldfish don’t need tropical water temperatures, the aquarium water should not undergo dramatic temperature changes. An aquarium heater (in depth article here), set to about 70°F, protects the fish from an accidental drop in water temperature.
Water conditions for Black Moor goldfish
Maintaining good water quality is important for all fish. Goldfish are no exception. Fortunately, Black Moors don’t require any special conditions compared to other goldfish. Below is a list of water parameters suitable for keeping a Black Moor Goldfish aquarium.
There is one important thing to keep in mind when it comes to Black Moor Goldfish care:
Aquascaping a black moor goldfish aquarium
All goldfish are notorious diggers, including Black Moors. If the sand or gravel is small enough, they’ll sift through it looking for bits of live foods. But don’t allow any food to work its way into the gravel bed. It will simply decay and cause water quality problems like cloudy water, algae growth, and nitrite spikes.
You can use any aquarium safe gravel or sand (in depth article on sand here) but if you’re using plastic, silk or even cool water live plants, goldfish will try to dig them out. Larger smooth pebbles placed around the base of plants will discourage digging.
Resin caves and other ornaments will be explored by the fish. However, as a general rule of thumb, you should avoid any ornaments that are sharp or pointy with Black Moors. Telescope and bubble eye goldfish don’t see as well as other fish. It is easy for them to scratch or poke themselves on sharp sticks and rocks.
Final thoughts on Black Moor Goldfish care
Fancy goldfish are a fun and fascinating segment of the aquarium hobby. Black Moors are a favorite fancy goldfish variety with their friendly personality and playful behavior. Black Moors are easy to care for and will provide years of companionship and enjoyment.
The key to keeping Black Moors happy and healthy lies in giving them good water quality and a proper diet. Just follow our simple Black Moor Goldfish care steps and your Black Moor aquarium will be an aquatic showpiece for years to come.