Rays: 12 Tips for prospective owners (by bUrPz)

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MFK Member
May 6, 2005
To all fellow MFK members.....some useful tips for ray newbie wrote by my buddy!!!!

Rays: 12 Tips for prospective owners (by bUrPz)

1. Research
Don't just rush out and buy a stingray on impulse. Find as much information that you can regarding the care of stingrays. A book that is highly recommended by all stingray enthusiasts and often referred to as the Stingray Bible is "Freshwater Stingrays from South America" a book by Dr. Richard Ross published by Aqualog. This book contains all the information that you will require to properly care for your ray. Including information regarding the danger that they present because of the venomous sting they carry on their tail.

2. Commitment
Ensure that you have the time/
commitment that these demanding
fish require. If cared for correctly
they may live for up to 20 years and
most of them grow to over 18" diameter.

3. Tank setup
Buy/setup the correct size of aquarium. A minimum tank size for even small Teacup sized rays would ideally be 75 gallons. The larger the tank the happier the ray. Substrate is a matter of preference either bare bottom or sand (non silica) or smooth fine gravel. Lighting is also a matter of preference; a single florescent tube is more than adequate. One must have item though is a heater guard because rays burn very easily. Tank decorations/ornaments are also optional although any item that is to be included in the tank must be smooth & free from any sharp edges that may damage them.

4. Filtration
Ensure that you provide the correct filtration. Always buy a filter unit that has a capacity that is far greater than the tank it is to be used with. Rays eat a lot and so produce a large amount of waste. Because of the amount of waste rays produce it is vital that your aquarium is fully cycled. Also use a filter/power head that will provide a good flow rate through the aquarium. Rays enjoy living in fast moving well-aerated water.

5. Water quality
A basic guide to the water quality that most rays require is as follows: Newly acquired rays require a pH range between 6.5 - 7.0, but once acclimated most rays can survive within a pH range of 6.0 - 8.5. The main thing is to ensure that the pH stays at a constant level. Rays are very intolerant of fluctuating pH levels. Ammonia - 0 ppm, Nitrite - 0 ppm, Nitrate 5 - 10 ppm. In order to keep the water parameters at these desired levels large weekly/bi-weekly water changes must be carried out religiously. Temperature - 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit.

6. Feeding
Rays will readily eat a wide variety of foods once acclimated. Suitable foods are as follows: Blood/black worms both live & frozen, Live Earthworms Frozen Krill, Live Ghost/River shrimp, Whitebait, Raw Prawns, Pieces of fresh cut fish, Cockles/Mussels & Live Feeder fish. Live bloodworms & Earthworms are a good starter food for a newly acquired ray.

7. Tank mates
As a general rule any fish that will fit into a ray's mouth will be eaten. Rays are fragile sensitive fish so you must choose any tank mates carefully to avoid adding an aggressive fish that my kill or upset your ray. Newly acquired rays are best kept alone until they adjust to their new surroundings & begin to eat & gain weight.

8. Choosing the correct type of ray.
The cheaper more commonly seen rays generally referred to, as Teacup rays are unfortunately not really suitable for the novice ray keeper. Although it is wise not to purchase any ray that is under 6? diameter. Small rays are very delicate & unless you have experience in their husbandry they are very difficult to keep alive. The rays generally referred to, as Teacups are usually either Potamotrygon Histrix or Reticulata. Although they are both very attractive rays & normally available at very affordable prices they are very difficult to keep. For a first ray I would recommend a Potamotrygon Motoro or Leopoldi. Both of these rays are very hardy & relatively easy to care for. They both cost more than you would pay for a Teacup but it will be money well spent because they are far more tolerant of water parameters etc.

9. Buying a ray
Never buy a ray that will not eat. A healthy Stingray will never refuse food. Ask the supplier to let you see the ray feed. A good LFS/Supplier should always be prepared to do this. Look for signs that the ray is healthy: A healthy ray should always be active & have a nice fat tail with no sign of the protruding pelvic bones showing (2 small triangular shaped bones, one either side of the tail at its base where it meets the disc) or a hollow dent in its forehead.

10. Acclimatizing your new ray
Once you have bought your new ray & hurried home don’t rush and pop it into its new home like you would with a regular fish say after you have floated the bag in the tank for 15 minutes. Rays are very sensitive to changes in water chemistry. Because of this it is essential that you slowly adjust the water that the ray came in to suit the water in your tank. The easiest way is to first remove about 1/3 of the water out of the bag the ray is in & then connect an airline to your existing aquarium to use as a siphon & use a clamp to reduce the water flow to a steady drip. Then slowly add the existing tank water into the bag. Once you have replaced slightly more water in the bag than you have taken out you are ready to put the ray into its new home. Also leave the lights off for the first few days to allow the ray to adjust to its new surroundings.

11. Also do not add medication/chemicals unnecessarily.
if you must use salt, ensure it's fully disolved before pouring it to your aquarium. Adding salt directly may burn your ray disc and can be proven fatal.

12. Do not buy converted ray
(meaning those converted from seawater to freshwater).

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Fire Eel
MFK Member
Feb 17, 2005
New Jersey
Great Tips!

Just an addition:

1. An alternative to the Dr. Ross book : "Freshwater Stingrays from South America"
would be "Freshwater Stingrays : A complete pet owner's manual" series by Barron's. Both are are written by Ross and contains the same tips and instructions but with less pictures and ray id guide. The latter can be bought for less than 15 shipped.

6. Some people prefer blackworms to bloodworms as food for rays . BW are a bit bigger than bloodworms for one and bloodworms are said to be more prone to carry diseases and parasites than blackworms.

9. Always buy from a reputable LFS or Seller. One that is known to be knowledgeable to rays. Ask around and do your research before you buy.

I also strongy suggest to check out either of the books mentioned above before purchasing a ray. Those 2 costs less than 30 dollars each and would be very educational and would come in handy for future reference if you were to keep rays. :)

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Stingray Master
MFK Member
May 6, 2005
Tropical Island
zhuangsw said:
Guys, need ur help. i just bought a small pdr about 5inches yesterday.

it is always staying still at a place, not moving much, it is still breathing. But the ray doesnt have body curl.

is it going through the stage of stabalizing? hope it isnt something bad.

it doesnt seem to be eating(through the mouth at the bottom) the ghost shrimps nor the blood worms. today, i had to use a stick to push the lumps of bloodworms to the opening hole behind the eyes and let it 'breathe' them in. manage to let it get abit in..

is it normal for new rays to be like that?
got any advice?
Bro, it is best you leave it alone for now. Do not distrub the water unnecessarily.
It is tring to stable down from all the stress related transfer, & water differents.

Give it about a week.
If it remains like that, it's going to be a worry. :shakehead


Gold Tier VIP
MFK Member
Sep 13, 2005
You have given everyone excellent advice. My oldest ray I bought in 1989. I have kept Stingrays for many years and might suggest a few more tips.

1. When either acquiring new stingrays or raising babies from my adult rays I put them in a 50 gallon tank with many guppies (over 100), give no direct lighting for a couple of weeks, & loads of snails. After they are eating well I introduce them to some of the foods you recommended. I also add lots of rosey reds and goldfish. I breed all the feeder fish myself to avoid infection. I feed mine a lot of floating and sinking pellets (trout, catfish, dog and cat pellets). They learn to corral the floating pellets against the glass. As the rays grow I of course move them in larger tanks. Normally I move them to 180's and then to larger tanks.

2. Watch the tankmates you keep with them. My largest male Leopoldi lives in a 15,000 gallon tank and has killed several arawanas. He is only about 22 inches, but he has killed arrawanas over 24". He gets them when they come near the bottom to pick up pieces of fish at feeding time. He jumps on them and attacks the head area killing them. In the same tank there are many small fish that avoid the ray and never get caught. (Several cichlids, leporinus, Metynis etc.

3. Don't keep more than one male in the same tank. If the you have a male in a tank and he attacks a young female. It is very probable that the ray being attacked is an immature male.

4. I have had problems with fish bothering or killing rays over the years. My Large planiceps (48"+) and other shovel nose catfish (42") have eaten rays up to 12". My Giraffe catfish harasses rays. Large Black Sharks (18" to 24") will get on top of them and chew holes right through them. Large Clown Knives (24"+) really bother them when eating pellets. Most of the fish that can severely injure them I have now placed in my other large tank.


Stingray King
MFK Member
Jul 2, 2005
Spokane, WA
VMDapproved;1897206; said:
Ok I am a beginner, and am beginning to get scared away from stingrays. Are they really as difficult as everyone seems to make them out to be. I have been researching for about two months now, just general knowledge and care. I have started preparing the tank, about a week ago. I am a beginner to Stingrays, not fish. I have been a loyal fish lover and collecter for about two in a half years now. ok now back to the subject, for example every website will tell you to have a bare tank, but every picture posted has plants and rocks in the tank.... I just need a little help, is it better to buy form a breeder? There is only one fish store that sells them where I am from, does that really matter? The fact is, I really want this and have done everythng in my power to learn as much about them as I can. Please help, convence me that this is a good investment....
The biggest thing new raykeepers fail to realize is that you will probably need a much larger tank than you assume that you need.

Also, the quality of rays that most new raykeepers buy is very poor, and leads to quick death. Make sure you buy a healthy ray, and you shouldn't have many problems.
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