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A Care Guide For This Impressive Species


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For those who’re an skilled aquarist and also you’re on the lookout for one thing totally different and undoubtedly spectacular so as to add to your assortment, the freshwater stingray is perhaps a species to contemplate. Rays may be difficult to maintain and are costly to purchase, so remember to do loads of analysis on their care earlier than you half along with your money.

These pleasant, fascinating creatures have gotten an more and more frequent sight in specialty fish shops and on-line. However are freshwater stingrays straightforward to maintain, and might you breed them in your house tank?

Preserve studying for the definitive information to maintaining these lovely, enigmatic freshwater fish.

What Are Freshwater Stingrays?

Freshwater stingrays belong to a big household of true rays, very similar to their saltwater family. These rays are additionally shut cousins of sawfish and sharks.

Freshwater stingrays have a cartilaginous skeleton moderately than bone. In addition they possess electrosensitive pores referred to as Ampullae of Lorenzini, which allow the fish to detect the digital impulses given off by all animals. That enables the carnivorous stingrays to detect prey objects hidden beneath the substrate and hunt in full darkness.

The freshwater stingray is present in many various tropical areas of the world, and there are various totally different varieties. Though there are totally different sizes of stingrays, most are giant, and even the smallest reaches as much as a foot in diameter. So, you have to a big tank with highly effective filtration to accommodate one in all these beauties.

Though you may tame your stingray to simply accept meals out of your hand, and lots of even get pleasure from being petted, you have to be very cautious of the fish’s venomous stingers. 

How To Deal with Freshwater Stingrays Safely

Freshwater stingrays, as their identify suggests, possess a row of barbs on their tail. The venomous barb is definitely a modified scale, and the stingray solely makes use of it for protection. 

To dispel a standard fantasy, these fish don’t assault individuals with their stingers and should not aggressive towards people. Accidents usually occur when wild stingrays are stepped on or improperly dealt with. Nevertheless, in captivity, the stinging barbs are periodically shed and changed by new ones. The discarded barbs then fall to the underside of your fish tank.

Are Stingray Stings Harmful?

A sting from the barb of a freshwater ray is excruciating and way more potent than saltwater rays. The venom is produced by cells that additionally produce poisonous mucus. A peptide mixture of pain-inflicting brokers is produced in juvenile rays, whereas grownup fish use inflammatory proteins that trigger tissue necrosis. The efficiency of the venom is influenced by the ray species, weight loss program, and water chemistry.

Stingray venom is cardiotoxic. Nevertheless, most accidents are to the fingers or ft and should not as harmful or life-threatening as a sting to the trunk or nearer to the guts.

Rays solely use their barbs defensively in the event that they really feel threatened. Most accidents to ray keepers are unintentional and may be prevented should you take care to not frighten, harass, or stress your rays.

What To Do If You Get Stung

For those who do get stung, you need to plunge the injured space into highly regarded water, as warmth negates the impact of the ray’s venom. You also needs to search pressing medical consideration. 

The wound itself may not be extreme, however the surrounding tissue might die as a doubtlessly very harmful aspect impact of a sting. If a barb breaks off in your pores and skin, you will need to seek the advice of your physician or get to the emergency room.

Ought to You Clip Your Stingray’s Barbs?

The matter of clipping stingrays’ barbs for the security of keepers is very contentious. 

Though the barbs don’t comprise nerve endings and eradicating them will not be thought to trigger ache, the expertise is undoubtedly tense for the fish. Additionally, the barbs develop again comparatively rapidly, which means that you would need to repeat the method yet again.


Prior to now, virtually all of the freshwater stingrays supplied on the market had been wild-caught. That meant that the fish had been pressured and sometimes carried ailments and parasites. Nevertheless, many of the rays you see in fish shops lately are captive-bred.

Since 2017, some states, together with California, Arkansas, Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada, Mississippi, Utah, and Texas, have banned the possession of Potamotrygon species, whereas Florida and Colorado demand a allow. So, earlier than shopping for a freshwater ray, double-check the foundations for wildlife possession in your space.

Suggestions For Shopping for A Freshwater Stingray

When shopping for your ray, look carefully on the fish to guarantee that the perimeters of the disc should not curling up, generally often known as the “dying curl.” You additionally must test that the ray has no apparent nicks or different accidents.

Ask the seller to point out you the ray consuming. If the ray exhibits no real interest in meals, don’t purchase it. Additionally, we advise that you simply don’t purchase any not too long ago acquired rays. Ask the shop to order the fish for you, and permit them per week or so to settle in earlier than you make your buy and take the fish residence.

New rays needs to be quarantined for no less than one month earlier than being added to your current tank.

Habitat And Origins

Freshwater stingrays of varied species come from the rivers of Australia, Southeast Asia, South America, and Africa. 

In North America, fish shops often promote stingrays of the Potamotrygon genus discovered naturally in South America. Most of those fish come from a selected river system, with most discovered within the Amazon River.

The rays’ most well-liked habitat is slow-moving rivers with a sandy substrate backside. Nevertheless, some species of freshwater rays may be present in flooded forest areas when the wet season arrives.

Caring For Freshwater Stingrays

Stingrays may be enjoyable to maintain, and so they do make nice interactive pets. Nevertheless, these fish should not appropriate for rookies, and they are often difficult to feed and preserve wholesome.

Tank Dimension

As talked about beforehand, most stingray species develop to a big measurement, so that you’ll want a big tank.

Though the tank peak isn’t necessary, the aquarium for freshwater stingrays needs to be no less than 72” to 84” in size and between 24” and 36” huge. You should utilize a 75 to 90-gallon tank for juvenile stingrays, however adults should have no less than a 180-gallon to be snug.

Tank Setup

Rays wish to burrow down into the substrate, so nice sand is crucial. Be sure that any decorations are easy and don’t have any tough surfaces or sharp edges. When adorning your tank, remember to go away numerous open area on the underside in order that the rays have loads of swimming space and scape to bury themselves within the sand.

Your tank heater should have a guard fitted round it. Select an in-line design or put the heater in a sump in order that the rays don’t burn themselves. Tank lighting needs to be subdued and set on a 12-hour night time/day cycle.

Water Parameters

Stingrays are extraordinarily delicate to water circumstances, particularly to ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates. For that purpose, it’s essential to have understanding of the Nitrogen Cycle and the way it works.

These fish additionally produce huge quantities of ammonia relative to their measurement, so that you’ll want an enormous tank with a really environment friendly organic filtration system. You’ll additionally want to hold out frequent water modifications to maintain pristine water high quality.

Most freshwater stingrays require a relentless water temperature between 75° and 82°F. The water pH needs to be within the vary of 6.8 to 7.6, with an alkalinity between 1° and 4°. Ammonia and nitrites have to be zero, and nitrates needs to be beneath 10 ppm.

You shouldn’t add salt to the tank, and lots of stingray homeowners use DI/RO water, along with a hint factor restorer. 

Habits and Tank Mates

Freshwater stingrays spend most of their day on the tank backside. The rays’ eyes and spiracles (gill inlets) are sited on high of the fish’s physique in order that they will keep hiding beneath the sand, ready for prey to seem.

Stingrays hunt by leaping out of the sand, trapping prey animals beneath their our bodies. With regards to selecting tank mates for rays, essentially the most suitable fish species are:

Tank mates for freshwater rays have to be peaceable fish, and huge sufficient to not be eaten, so that they don’t bully the rays. Higher water degree swimmers are your best option in order that the rays have the underside of the tank to themselves.

Fish species to keep away from embody Plecos and different suckermouth catfish, as these have been seen sucking on the rays’ gentle our bodies, inflicting damage and stress.

Feeding Freshwater Stingrays

All freshwater stingrays are carnivores. Within the wild, the fish eat primarily crustaceans and different fish.

In captivity, most keepers discover that their rays settle for stay blackworms and earthworms as an introduction to frozen meals, together with bloodworms and mysis shrimp. You too can feed your rays uncooked white fish and uncooked shrimp, and captive-bred rays may be supplied sinking pellets and pill meals.

As soon as your rays have settled in, you may usually prepare them to take a portion of meals from tweezers or your fingers.


Breeding Freshwater Stingray

It’s thought that every one freshwater stingray species are livebearers. Feminine rays have two uteruses, which means that they will concurrently carry two litters of pups from two totally different male rays. 

Nevertheless, until you’ve gotten numerous area and time for this venture, breeding rays in captivity is tough.

Widespread Species Of Freshwater Stingray

Though there are various species of freshwater rays to be discovered within the commerce, you solely see a couple of of these in fish shops. 

Tiger River Stingray (Potamotrygon tigrina)

Tiger River rays are fairly standard within the commerce, though not a lot is understood about them. These fish are one of many bigger species of Amazonian rays rising as much as 28” in diameter. These fish from the Peruvian Higher Amazon area are additionally probably the most delicate to water high quality. 

The vast majority of Tiger River rays are wild-caught, costing upward of $750.

Ocellate Freshwater Stingray (Potamotrygon motoro)

This species is among the mostly present in residence aquariums. These fish come from South America, particularly the Orinoco, Amazon, Mearim, and Río de la Plata river basins.

These rays are one of many best species to take care of and develop to measure as much as 24” in diameter. You’ll be able to anticipate to pay as much as $300 for an Ocellate ray.

Atlantic Stingray (Hypanus sabinus)

Atlantic stingrays are native to the US. Freshwater rays are discovered within the St John’s River in Florida. In distinction, others migrate between ocean, brackish, and freshwater environments, trying to find meals from Mexico north to the Chesapeake Bay.

These rays are one of many smallest species, measuring as much as 12” in diameter. They’re additionally one of many most cost-effective rays at round $100, and they’re available.

Black Satan Stingray (Potamotrygon leopoldi)

These rays are uncommon in nature and are consequently probably the most costly fish within the interest.

Black Satan Stingrays come from the Xingu River tributary of the Amazon, and that is the one place the place these uncommon, lovely fish exist within the wild. Due to their rarity, the export of those fish is banned, though you’ll find captive-bred specimens, as these fish are comparatively straightforward to breed.

You’ll be able to anticipate to pay as much as $1,500 for a Black Satan Stingray, which may attain 18” in diameter.

Porcupine River Stingray (Potamotrygon hystrix)

The Porcupine River Stingray comes from the higher reaches of the Rio de la Plata and is a extremely popular alternative for first-time ray homeowners. 

These rays are comparatively low cost, are much less delicate than different species. They’re additionally comparatively small, reaching as much as 16” in diameter. You’ll be able to anticipate to pay as much as $250 for one in all these lovely rays.

In Conclusion

Freshwater stingrays could make a spectacular addition to your assortment, though their measurement and sensitivity to water circumstances make these creatures difficult to maintain efficiently.

Many areas prohibit the maintaining of stingrays, as many species are threatened within the wild, so remember to test the foundations along with your native authority earlier than you spend your money on one in all these lovely animals.

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