I think it would be pretty fair to say that we all know someone or that we were that someone that had a goldfish in a tiny bowl as a kid. They were a ‘ten-a-penny’ pet, often won at the fair that either died within a few days of arriving or against all odds lived for years and years.
Unfortunately, however amusing we sometimes find these tales, the legacy for the goldfish has been that it is perfectly OK to keep them in a bowl, they are boring, and that they are a short-lived pet not worth keeping. All of these couldn’t, however, be further from the truth!
Goldfish, the Black Moor (carassius auratus), in particular in our case are wonderfully entertaining fish capable of living up to twenty years in the right conditions. They are also fabulously attractive with their shiny appearance and long flowing fins.
A far cry from the ‘fairground fish’ that many would have you put the Black Moor down as did I hear you say? Well yes, you bet! They are every bit as worthy of keeping as any fish species out there and we’d like to tell you more! Want to hear it? Good, then read on and see what our complete care guide has to say!
|Scientific name||Carassius Auratus|
|Common names||Black moor, Telescope goldfish|
|Origin||Asia, China, Japan|
|Lifespan||10 - 20 years|
|Size||Up to 10 inches (commonly 8 inches)|
|Minimum tank size||30 gallons plus|
|Tank level||All levels|
|Water parameters||65 - 75℉ (18 - 24℃), KH 4 - 20, pH 6.5 - 7.5|
Black Moor Characteristics and Care
The Black Moor is a cold-water fish and only one of the several varieties of Carassius Auratus (goldfish) that belong within the carp family group. They can be told apart from their other goldfish relatives by color, body shape, eyes, and fins.
Interestingly the Black Moor body shape and eye formation have led some within the fish keeping world to refer to this species as ‘handicapped’. A term that perhaps is not altogether unwarranted. Poor eyesight and lack of speed swimming can put this otherwise stunning fish at a disadvantage.
Care wise, providing the correct environment, nutrition, and companions are offered, the Black Moor is relatively easy to keep happy and healthy. Below are some useful snippets of information regarding care and other aspects of this delightful aquarium dweller.
Black Moor Color and Appearance
The Black Moor is one of the most popular species of goldfish kept within the aquarium hobby and falls under the category of ‘fancy goldfish’. Fancies are generally any species that display unconventional coloration, body shape, or fins and the Black Moor has all three.
When young the Black Moor will appear very similar in appearance to the common goldfish. They are born with flat eyes and amber coloration that fades into grey and then their trademark black. They are not usually, however, confused with common goldfish as their body shape differs quite drastically.
Unlike the common goldfish which has a long slimline body shape the Black Moor is rounded and stubby. They also have long flowing fins on both the side and anal fins which the more common species does not. These fins are very reminiscent of being veil tail like although technically Black Moor purists insist the veil tail is not a trait of this species.
What is a true trait of this species is the very distinct protruding set of eyes which led to the other common name this fish is known by; the telescope goldfish. This is not a characteristic unique to the Black Moor, however, other species of fancy goldfish also share it.
Color wise the Black Moor is, well black, although as stated previously they do not start out this color. They can also as they age end up being more of a grey coloration, the black fading out. In their prime, however, the black is amazing looking with the fish having a velvet and glistening appearance.
The habitat of the Black Moor (Carassius Auratus)
The Black Moor as we know it today is not a species that you would find in a natural habitat which quite frankly is a good thing. Due to their poor eyesight, poor hunting ability, and difficulty swimming, which we will cover later, they would not be able to compete equally with other species to survive.
Rather, the Black Moor is a fish that has been carefully developed over the centuries in captivity. Thought to have originally been bred in China in the 1700s they are also believed to be the oldest species to date. They were taken to Japan in the late 1700s and later exported to the USA followed closely by the rest of the world.
Black Moor Behavior
A truly peaceful fish that is docile and sweet the Black Moor makes a fabulous addition to any aquarium. Some care is needed, however, when placing them with other species as they do not fare well with faster moving companions. This is due to them being slow but very cute looking swimmers who cannot compete for food.
The slow swimming and motion of the Black Moor can be attributed to their rounded stubby bodies which appear to waggle when they are swimming. Like the non-related Oscar and a few other species, the Black Moor is often compared to a dog wagging its tail in happiness to see you.
Being happy to see you is an emotion that the Black Moor is well known for showing. They are incredibly social and have even been known to recognize individual voices within their household. This may sound crazy but you can take my word for it that it is in fact true.
Another cute and amusing, but actually quite unfortunate, characteristic of the Black Moor is its tendency to be clumsy. They will bump into ornaments and decor within their aquarium with regularity. This is due to them having incredibly poor vision due to their protruding eyes. A problem shared by many ‘telescope’ eyed fish. This means care needs to be taken over the aquarium decor used to prevent injuries. We will go into further detail of this in the care section.
Last, but not least, Black Moors spend every waking moment looking for food. They are incredibly greedy and will eat all day long. This means live plants that are tasty to them will always be in danger of being gobbled up. Not so tasty plants stand the chance of being uprooted and left floating. Black Moors also sand sift spitting mouthfuls everywhere which can damage delicate plant leaf.
Taking Care of the Black Moor
An incredibly hardy fish the Black Moor is relatively easy to care for as long as you provide for its needs. These include the right size aquarium, adequate filtration, suitable decor, and the correct nutrition. All the aforementioned are readily available at fish stores and online.
A single Black Moor requires an aquarium that is long rather than tall and capable of holding approximately 30 gallons (110 liters) of water. Each additional Black Moor you add, should you choose to, will need a further 10 gallons (35 liters) of water each. This species is sociable so will enjoy being in groups rather than alone.
Exceptional filtration is also high on the list of requirements for the Black Moor as they are big eaters that create a lot of waste. Many experienced keepers recommend filtration that can recycle the capacity of the aquarium water at least 4 – 5 times per hour. This means if you have a 30-gallon aquarium, for example, you should be looking at a filter that is capable of 120 GPH at a minimum.
What aquarium decor do Black moors like?
Black Moors like a fine gravel bottom that they can sift through and live plants. As stated previously, however, live plants can be a food source for Black Moors, or at the very least uprooted and damaged. If you do choose live plants ensure they are hardy and a species with a bitter taste.
You should also choose decor for a Black Moor aquarium that caters to their clumsiness and long delicate fins. Sharp rocks/objects and even fake plants will be a hazard that they may damage their eyes and fins upon. The same is true for caves and tunnels which could prove too narrow for their protruding eyes to pass through. If you are at all worried about the roughness of decorations, you can try them using the tights test! To do this simply run a pair of ladies tights over the decoration in question. If they snag on the decor, it is unsuitable as it will also snag on the Black Moors fins.
Regarding lighting the Black Moor does not have any specific requirements, and nor does it have any when it comes to an aquarium lid. Black Moors do not have a tendency to jump, so lids do not have to fit tight. Rather their main purpose is to prevent water evaporation. Further aquarium set up details can be found in our rather marvelous (even if we say it ourselves) Starting a fish tank for beginners – complete guide.
You will notice right at the beginning of the guide that we cover the main difference between cold water and tropical water aquariums being the inclusion or non-inclusion of a heater. This, a rule of thumb, however, does not quite fit the Black Moor who is indeed a cold water species but CAN benefit from the addition of a heater to their home.
Black Moors are most comfortable at temperatures between 65 – 75℉ (18 – 24℃) but can thrive at them up to 77℉ or 25℃. This means that they are suitable for both cold water aquariums and lower temperature tropical ones. A bonus if you’d like the best of both worlds I’m sure you’d agree?
However, this isn’t the main reason why you might choose to keep a Black Moor in an aquarium with a heater, rather it is more to do with their health. This particular species of fancy goldfish is, in fact, susceptible to changes in water temperature (even a couple of degrees) which can be detrimental to their wellbeing. Adding a heater means a constant water temperature for them keeping them in the peak of health.
Please note, regardless of whether you choose to keep a Black Moor in a heated aquarium or cold water aquarium they should not be placed near doors, windows, radiators, or other sources of heat or cold. All the aforementioned sources can affect the temperature of an aquarium and could be harmful to your fish.
Are Black Moors hardy fish?
Black Moor as stated previously is an incredibly hardy fish but can still fall foul of some of the common fish diseases. These include ich, swim bladder disorder (SBD), tail or fin rot, and less commonly cloudy eye. In the majority of cases, these are due to poor water quality and lack of care for the aquarium. For more details on these diseases and others, including treatment, please see our comprehensive guide to fish disease.
As just stated water quality is highly important within an aquarium to prevent your fish from becoming ill and to keep them healthy and thriving. This is especially true in a species such as the Black Moor who have a tendency to produce huge amounts of waste which turn into harmful toxins if left in the aquarium.
You cannot, as some people mistakenly believe, rely on high powered filters to do all the work for you. It is true, they do keep aquariums clean and safe for your fish but not for unlimited time periods. Rather, filters just extend the time between maintenance from (without a filter) every day to weekly.
Maintenance should involve a water change of 25 – 30% weekly ensuring that water replaced is of the same temperature as already in the aquarium. You should also clean the substrate thoroughly using a gravel vacuum if possible for efficiency, wash ornaments, and rinse filtration in aquarium water.
Water conditioner should also be added at every water change to the new aquarium water to remove chlorine. This may seem like an obvious statement to be making but it is still a common belief in some fish keeping circles that goldfish do not need this vital addition to their water.
Please note should you need to remove your Black Moor from the aquarium to perform maintenance great care will need to be taken. Black Moor fins and eyes are very delicate and could be easily damaged or injured during the netting process.
Introducing a Black Moors into your aquarium
It is important to check that they are healthy and swimming around normally. Most Black Moors that you find in pet stores will be of an age where their coloration and eyes have fully developed so pay close attention to them. Sick Black Moors will have less shiny scales and may show grey and faded coloration. Check the eyes for any signs of clouding and the fins for signs of rot or infection.
Once you have chosen your Black Moor and got them home, it is important to acclimate them to your aquarium. Sudden changes in temperature can be detrimental to this species so you will need to either use the floating bag or drip method. Personally, I would use the floating method over a period of around an hour.
To use this method, simply float the bag for approximately twenty minutes in the aquarium and then slowly add some of the aquarium water over the next forty minutes at regular intervals. Finally, carefully release your Black Moor into his new aquarium being careful not to injure or damage the fins or eyes.
What do Black Moors Eat?
It is difficult to state what the natural diet of the Black Moor would be since they do not exist in their current form in a natural habitat. However, over time, and presumably through trial and error on the breeders part a healthy and nutritious guide has emerged and become established.
As omnivores, Black Moors will eat almost anything! They thrive on both dried and live foods with a flake or floating pellet being the easiest for them to eat. As treats, you can also give insects, algae, larvae, brine shrimp, live feeders, and vegetables such as mashed peas, broccoli, and lettuce. Please note, however, that protein should only make up at the most 30% of the Black Moor diet.
How many times a day and how many days a week you feed is optional. The general rule of thumb would be once to twice daily in the amount of what they will eat in three minutes. A day of fasting can also be included to prevent constipation and to digest previous meals. Remember Black Moors are greedy and will eat and eat so are incredibly easy to overfeed.
Breeding and Sexual Differences of the Black Moor
Unless a female is holding eggs, in which case she becomes rather fat, it is virtually impossible to sex the Black Moor. Males do, however, tend to be smaller and slimmer than females but this alone is not a definite indicator of sex.
Black Moors have a courtship ritual which will indicate a pair ready to mate. This is lucky considering that breeding is best done in an environment separate to other inhabitants in their aquarium. When ready to mate the male of the pair will swim around and chase the female in a friendly non-aggressive manner for around two days.
At this point, it is a good idea to set up a breeding aquarium of around 20 gallons that contains plenty of bushy plants such as Anachris. The female will release her eggs within these plants when the male pushes her into them encouraging her to do so. Before this will happen, however, you will need to encourage the spawning by slightly raising the aquarium temperature from a base of 60℉ over a few days. An average of three degrees per day rise is recommended.
Once the spawning starts the female Black Moor will release somewhere between 1000 and 10,000 eggs into the plants which the male will then fertilize. The resulting fry will be born 5 – 6 days later. If you want any left to grow up, however, you will need to remove both the parents straight away as they will eat their own young!
Fry should be fed on small pieces of live food or specially prepared foods designed for egg-laying fish until they are large enough to be re-homed or placed in your aquarium.
Suitable Tank Mates for the Black Moor
As one of the most sociable and docile species available finding tank mates for the Black Moor should be incredibly easy. However, it is not since they do not fare well having to compete for food with faster swimming species than themselves.
Good tank mates for Black Moors include other fancy goldfish such as the Telescope eyed fancy goldfish, the celestial eyed fancy goldfish, Orandas, and the lion head fancy goldfish. Corydoras suitable for lower temperatures like Peppered Cory and bearded Cory which are actually sub-tropical catfish and love water temps around 16-18 deg. however, don’t keep them in temperatures lower than 15 deg. Other small bottom feeders also make good companions especially since they will clear up some of the waste the Black Moor produces.
It is a sad truth that the Black Moor are probably not big hitters on the ‘most wanted fish species’ list and they may not be everyone’s cup of tea with their funny movement and over large eyes. They are, however, one of my firm favorites and I think they should be given a chance to become one of yours.
I really cannot say enough to sing the praises of this cool, sociable, and delightful looking cold water dwelling guy. Black Moors are fun to watch, interact with, care for, and will give you hours of pleasure.
And don’t forget that all-important greeting they will give you, a tail wag as you walk through the door! Who doesn’t want that after a long day at the office, and who could ask for more?