How to Keep Your New Freshwater Stingray
The inside scoop from Aqualand Pets Plus about Potamotrygon species

 
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Freshwater Stingray Factoids

Origin

South America

Sex Difference

Claspers at base of male’s tail

Maximum Size

18 to 36 inches

Housing

Very large aquarium.  Shallow okay.

Substrate

Sand or small rounded gravel

Temperature

About 80o

Attitude

Never bothers other fish too big to eat

Foods

Worms , shrimps, fish, snails

Water

Demands clean water

LA
Intriguing female stingray but maybe a little sinister looking?


Origins.  Although freshwater stingrays reproduce in captivity, all the ones you’ll see for sale were captured from the wild.  They come from South America.

Diet.  You won’t keep these guys if you feed flake foods.  They want live or frozen foods.  Favorites include ghost shrimp and red wigglers.  Supposedly they can pop open those mini-clams -- too expensive to find out.  They like frozen blood worms, plankton, and krill.  Remove any uneaten food immediately.  They will eat live fish at night.  Feeder goldfish and rosy reds work best.  Avoid guppies and other livebearers that pick at them all day.  If you try a crayfish as a tank cleaner, take off his claws.  Your ray will wind up eating him sooner or later.

LA
Use a substrate with a contrasting color to show off your stingray.

LA
Stingrays do their best to blend into the woodwork.

Colors.  Many different patterned stingrays appear on the market.  Most sport a mottled or spotted pattern on a neutral colored body.  They change colors to camouflage against being eaten by predators.  Some experts say they do not change their colors.  Others say they darken their melanophores (black pigment cells) to blend into the color of their substrate.  Some say toemahtoe.  Some say tamater.

LA
You can photo stingrays more easily when they're DOA.  Note the claspers.

LA
You can see your stingrays claspers better on top.  Four of them came DOA in this pack.

 

Sexes.  Males have “claspers” at the base of their stinger.  They use these to grasp the females during copulation.  You can spot these claspers even on the young ones.

LA
Very attractive pattern on this female stingray.  

Size.  You find them for sale at three to eight inches across.  They get lots bigger.  Even the so-called “teacups” grow to 18 inches across.  Give them a big tank.  You will need 100+ gallons or bigger to house your stingray.

Sam Musilli, Mansfield, Ohio, October 21, 2008
Hey, sorry about this. I hate to be one of those people that have been caring for whatever for a month and argue with you, who has 30+ years of experience. But I work at a pet store here in Mansfield, Ohio, and we have reticulated stingrays for $59.99. They only get about a foot long. Also, they are debarbed. I am only 17, and we may order from a different wholesaler than you. I just thought I would let you know.

A:  Nothing wrong with being 17.  I think I was 17 for nearly 10 years myself.  I'm glad you're interested enough to report the facts.  I'll add your input to my stingray page (and look a little deeper into the reticulateds).  I just checked today's 10/23/08 prices (because I order today) to see if retics were available.  They're not, but I'll keep my eyes peeled or at least open.  Thanks for your input.  LA

Thomas Zoiutis, New York, January 17, 2009
My name is Tom, I live in New York and I am an avid freshwater ray
enthusiast. I am writing in response to Sam from Ohio's response to your
article. The information he provided you is false about the size of
Potamotrygon reticulatas. They often grow to about 18 inches in diameter and 24 inches in length.  I currently house 3 retics in my 600 gallon custom built aquarium. All rays grow to a substantial size including
even the smaller black rays and will require a large aquarium of over
100 gallons when fully grown. It would be cruel to keep them in anything
smaller. Perhaps the rays Sam deals with are mal nourished and have been
stunted in their growth. I'm not trying to come off as a know it all.
Just trying to help spread the right information and perhaps save some
animals from being miskept.

A:  Thanks for your input.  I always agree with anyone that agrees with me.  Go figure.  I'm adding your report right below Sam's report.  LA

Tank Mates.  Stingrays ignore fishes too large to eat.  However, larger fishes like cichlids will munch on them.  Avoid the plecos also.  They give them hickies.  Arowanas usually make good mixers with them.  Your arowanas stay at the top.  Your rays stay at the bottom (most of the time).

Plants.  Forget plants.  Stingrays like to roil up their substrate in search of tasty morsel.  They also like to flip their substrate onto their backs to camouflage themselves.  And since you want a thin substrate (or none), plants won’t survive at all.  You can add weighted plastic plants.  Or maybe plants in good-sized pots.  

LA
Stingrays are not quite so leathery looking underneath.

LA
Bare tanks work fine for stingrays.

Substrate.  Some hobbyists keep their stingrays in a bare tank. Others use sand or small, smooth gravel.  Most agree that rough edged gravel will injure your ray.

Temperature.  Since rays come from South America (the warmer parts), you need to keep yours warm – 80o.  You’ll need a submersible heater.  Econo heaters aren’t big enough to do the job.  Cover your heater or your stingray could injure itself when your heater turns on.  Actually, make that WILL injure itself on uncovered heaters.

 

Water Conditions.  Stingrays cannot endure dirty water.  Ammonia and nitrites will kill them.  You need good filtration and frequent 25% water changes to keep your ray alive.

Breeding.  Oddly enough, stingrays breed in captivity.  Their eggs develop and hatch inside the female’s body.  The baby stingers come out alive and ready to rock and roll.  They get along well with their parents.  Your biggest challenge:  Finding a male and female of the same species.  Many look quite similar to us but not to the rays.  And when you order them, you’re not always sure what you’ll get.

Care of the Fry.  Give your fry the same foods as your adult stingrays.  Remove any uneaten non-live foods even more efficiently.

Price.  You’ll rarely see these guys for sale under $100.  The less common stingray species cost much more.

Their Name.  Obviously stingrays get their name from their long tail with a “stinger” on the end.  Do not think those stingers won’t sting you.  The pain from their stinger can incapacitate you.  In the regions they come from, the locals fear them more than piranhas.  The stingray’s habit of lying beneath the mud or sand makes them dangerous to anyone wading in the shallows.

Last Word.  You’ve probably figured out by now that stingrays are not a good “starter fish.”  You’ll need a considerable investment to keep your ray alive – before you shell out for the fish itself.  Don’t buy a stingray then try to find out what it needs to stay alive.  Just because you see a young one in a bare 10-gallon tank does not mean you can keep your stingray that way for long.  If you attempt that strategy, your stingray will wind up in your freezer.  We hear they’re good eatin.’  Avoid that stinger -- even on dead stingrays.  LA

Neda Ariania, Iran (I think), July 12, 2010
Hi, to see the first spawning of stingrays in Tehran, Iran, please: look at these links:
 

These freshwater stingrays were born on the 7 / 7 / 2010.

Thanks for your great website.

A:  Khayli mamnoon.  I'm adding your report and the links to my stingray page.  I couldn't tell if the photo was copyrighted.  I hope it was okay to include it here.  I encourage everyone to take a look at the three links.  LA

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