» Posted by on Nov 7, 2014 in Blog, Education, Freshwater Fish, Kristen S | Comments Off on Keeping Freshwater Stingrays

Freshwater Fish for Sale – Absolutely Fish, NJ


Keeping Freshwater Stingrays


By Kristen Schmicker


Many customers that come into our store and see our ray tank are surprised when they learn that they are a freshwater fish. They are a challenging fish to keep and require a unique tank set up to house them properly; but with proper guidance and care they can be kept in a home aquarium.
Motoro Stingray

Potamotrygon motoro
Motoro Stingray

High-tech Planted Aquarium

Potamotrygon reticulate
Teacup Stingray

Stingrays are closely related to sharks; they both possess a cartilaginous skeleton and are classified as Chondrichthyes. Instead of a calcareous, or calcium based bone structure, stingrays and sharks’ skeletons are made of cartilage which is actually lighter and less dense than bone. Stingrays also possess a stinger in their tail and should be handled with extreme caution. There are two common stingrays that may be kept in aquariums and they both come from South America; they are the motoro stingray (Potamotrygon motoro) and the teacup stingray (Potamotrygon reticulate). The motoro is the larger of the two; it can grow up to 3 feet in diameter while the teacup will get slightly larger than a foot in diameter. The teacup is the more sensitive of the two and is slightly more difficult to keep.

A tank to keep a stingray should be at least 70 gallons to start, but between 125-250 gallons would allow the fish more room when it grows. The tank should also be wider than traditional tank dimensions; it should have at least a 3-4 foot length and an 18 inch width. A finer substrate such as sand is important since coarse gravels can cut the stingray. A deep sand bed also allows the ray to bury itself and hide. The temperature of the aquarium should be about the same as any tropical fish at 78° Fahrenheit and the pH should be between 6 and 7. Driftwood can also be used to soften the water which is better for the stingrays.

Appropriate tank mates for stingrays are larger peaceful fish. Any fish that is too small risks being eaten by the ray and any fish too aggressive may nip at the ray. Other bottom dwelling fish such as plecos and loaches should be added with caution as there could be competition for space on the bottom of the tank. Some tank mate possibilities include many species of Severums (Red-face Gold Severums or Green Severums), Geophagus and Gymnogeophagus species, and many types of Knifefish (Clown Knife or Black Ghost Knife).Teacup Stingray

Some great foods to give stingrays are blood worms and black worms. Other foods such as mysis shrimp may be given too. The worms or shrimp can be defrosted in water and a turkey baster can be used to make sure the stingray can eat some. After a period of time they may even learn that the turkey baster means food and swim right to it!

Many challenges are involved with caring for a freshwater stingray, but it is well worth being able to watch them thrive in a good home and enjoying their amazing behaviors. If these amazing animals are something that interests you come on down to the store and see what’s in our ray tank! And if you’d like to learn more, talk to one of our Aquarists about setting up your own stingray tank!  

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