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FAQs on Freshwater Stingray Disease Diagnosis   

FAQs on FW Stingray Disease: FW Stingray Disease 1, FW Stingray Disease 2, FW Stingray Disease 3, FW Stingray Disease 4,  
FAQs on FW Stingray Disease by Category:
Environment, Nutrition, Trauma, Infectious (Virus, Bacterial, Fungal), Parasitic, Social, Treatments

Related Articles: Freshwater Stingrays,

Related FAQs: Freshwater Stingrays, FW Stingray Identification, FW Stingray Behavior, FW Stingray Compatibility, FW Stingray Selection, FW Stingray Systems, FW Stingray Feeding, FW Stingray Reproduction,


Motoro stingrays     11/23/14
I just recently purchased two Motoro stingrays my one has a red spot on the underside and they did look like they were shedding but that has stopped. But now they are inactive and just sitting in the bottom.
Is there something wrong? Please Help
<Going to direct you to some reading first:
Stingrays of all types are EXTREMELY sensitive fish. They need giant tanks, big filters, and keepers for whom money is no object. Not kidding here.
Without any information about your system I really can't pin down the immediate problem. Stingrays almost always get sick because of environmental shortcomings -- the tank is too small, there isn't enough filtration, there's too much nitrate, that sort of thing. Minor injuries actually heal rather well if the environment is good, so a small "bruise" isn't necessarily a disaster if you have the right environment (by which I mean a 200+ gallon tank, several massive external filters, and frequent water changes that keep nitrate below 20 mg/l). On the other hand, once bacteria set into a wound and start an infection, treatment is EXTREMELY difficult. Most fish medications are lethal to them. Forget about popping down to the aquarium shop and buying a bottle of something cheap and cheerful. Such products often contain copper and formalin, and these are deadly to Stingrays. Treatment to injuries is pretty much limited to ensuring optimal environmental conditions, offering a varied diet (no feeder fish, EVER), and waiting for the fish to heal itself. Even if you contact a vet and obtain the right antibiotics (randomly treating with aquarium shop antibiotics is a bit hit-and-miss with Stingrays) and dose
the antibiotics properly (essentially impossible for casual aquarists because they don't know the weight of their fish) there isn't any sort of guarantee the Stingray will heal. So again, to stress, your two new Stingrays are certainly stressed from being moved (they often shed some mucous when exposed to sudden changes, even normal water changes) and quite possibly injured, neither of which you can do much about. But now they're in your aquarium, you absolutely must ensure they have a perfect (not "quite good" or "pretty sweet", but "perfect") aquarium for them. Two specimens will need a massive amount of water, shall we say 300 gallons for a pair of adults? Maybe 200 gallons for a couple youngsters up to a disc width of, say, 20 cm/8 inches. Filtration rated at around 8 times the volume of the tank in gallons per hour turnover, so for a 200 gallon tank, upwards of 1600 gallons/hour (which is equivalent to SIX Eheim 2217
canister filters, or even ONE-AND-A-HALF times the turnover of the gigantic Fluval FX6 which is why Stingray keepers usually end up using marine-grade filters with big pumps and crates of media in a sump under the tank).
Hmm... does this help? Oh, and do rush and buy Richard Ross' book on keeping Stingrays. Essential reading. Cheers, Neale.>

Motoro Ray Problem    5/22/14
Hi, I just stumbled across your website and was wondering if you've ever seen the back of a stingray bubble up like a boil? I work at a pet store and our ray tank has kept rays alive for months before selling them and we usually sell them in better shape than when we got them. I don't have any specific water tests I can tell you but I'll explain the best I can. There are 5 rays in our ray tank, when I left work Monday at 2pm everything was fine. I came to work noon on Wednesday and one Motoro had probably ~15-20% of its back boiled up like a air/fluid filled sack. It deflated and refilled and deflated and refilled, then it popped and it was dead no less than an hour later. Any ideas of what can cause the skin to bubble up and kill so quickly?
<Aaron, there is something called "Gas Bubble Disease" that can happen when the water is supersaturated with (for example) oxygen. Extremely strong filtration alongside a lot of turbulence can cause a higher than normal amount of gases from the air to get dissolved in the water. This isn't often seen in freshwater systems but was/is more common in marine systems and ponds where there's often a lot more air/water mixing, e.g., by waterfalls, fountains, wet/dry filters, skimmers, etc. Very cold water can hold more oxygen than warmer water, which is one reason it's dangerous to add a lot of very cold water to an aquarium or pond because of this.
Anyway, the dissolved gases go into the fish, but then bubble out, damaging the surrounding tissues. With this said, Gas Bubble Disease is rare, and most bubble-like cysts or pockets on aquarium fish are caused by the release of gas by bacteria, usually opportunistic ones that have infected a wound. While you can't be 100% sure, if the bubble on the Stingray was associated with any red or white patches, and especially if there are lots of bubbles on one fish but none on the others, you can probably put your money on a bacterial infection. Since Stingrays are sensitive to all sorts of environmental stresses as well as the usual aquarium pathogens, you will doubtless have a long list of things to review before considering this case closed! Hope this helps, Neale.>

please help 5/5/11
Please help me I need answers! I have 2 freshwater stingrays mine are "A.K.A" teacup or reticulated stingrays! At least that's what the store I bought them from sold them to me as... I have had them for about 8 months with no problems! They were housed in 125 gallon but we updated to a 180 gallon! About 3-4 days after moving them to a bigger tank I noticed white blotches first on the male on his disc below his eyes and that is the only spot on top of him! But under him they r more... 1-2 days later I noticed the female has the blotches all over her top as well as under! I been doing salt water dips
<I would not do this. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/SaltUseFWArtNeale.htm
Potamotrygonids have a low tolerance...>
(I was told to try by local pet store) which was keeping them from spreading but it don't seem to be healing or clearing up just keeping them from spreading.
<You need to identify and solve the source...>
Needless to say I'm not to sure this is safe for my rays! I been told this maybe a secondary bacterial infection due to an abrasion which in turn has caused these blotches "a bacterial infection"? Is this true?
<Likely so; at least the former>
Also I been racking my brain trying to figure out what would have caused the abrasion!?!
<What is in this system decor-wise? What re the gravel/substrate? Is it soft, smooth? Or the hood/canopy they've been jumping up against?>
From my observation I have noticed there is a chunk of my females disc missing which I have researched and only came up with this happening during breeding. So I believe they might have tried breeding sometime at night (while I was sleeping). Might this be true?
Another thing when I bought my rays and got them home I put them in my tank and they adapted very fast and very well...! They had been very active ray since day one! Very very ACTIVE!!!
<Perhaps stray electricity. I would be checking this as well. Is all aquarium gear that is thus powered wired through GFIs?>
Since I put them in the new tank and they got this funk they have stayed in the sand and wont come out with the light on.
<Something's(') very wrong here... What re water quality tests?>
But in the morning when before I turn on the lights they r out and about?!? I posted a picture of my female who is the worst off. There are 2 of them same picture but in one I have circled the infected area.... PS my rays r housed with 1 black Arowana, 1 discus,
<Social animals>
and 1 clown knife.
<Not really compatible.>
I have 2 very small bristle nose Pleco's
that I got like 2 months ago to clean up algae we had and I have never seen them bother my rays ever... But you never know cause it could happen... Anyway I plan on rehome my Pleco
<... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwraydisfaqs.htm
and the linked files above; particularly systems. Write back w/ data requested. Bob Fenner>

Question about Motoros... fdg... hlth.... env. 6/19/09
I have a 8 month old stingray. My question is simple. He ate well this am i feed him ghost shrimp. Tried to change him to live red wigglers this weekend and he ate about 3. But not he seems disinterested in food. This evening i gave him his 10 shrimp and he didn't even bother to catch them. I check the water and everything was normal ph-6.0 am-0 n-0. So i know its not the water. I know they go on hunger strikes but i was wondering should i be worried?. I looked at your web site to see if other people have the same problem but it didn't really answer my question. He does this i notice only when i try to change his food. Is he just spoiled? Or is he sick?.
Don't know what to think hope you guys can help me out a bit. THANKS!!!
<Maria, you absolutely *should not* rule out water chemistry or water quality issues! These are BY FAR the most common reasons Stingrays stop eating or otherwise behave abnormally.
Because you have a very low pH, 6.0, your biological filter will be working at a very low efficiency, so nitrite and ammonia spikes through the day are possible. In case you're wondering, biological filter bacteria prefer pH to be in the range 7.5 to 8.5, and the lower the pH goes below that range, the less they work, and below pH 6.0 they don't usually work at all. A very low pH also implies minimal carbonate hardness (what you measure with a KH rather than GH test kit) and that means that pH may well vary through the day, so again, take pH readings several times: before you turn the lights on in the morning, around midday, and sometime in the evening, at least. Ideally, you would be keeping a Stingray in water with a moderate amount of carbonate hardness
(4-5 degrees KH) and a pH around neutral (6.5-7.5). But as you hopefully know, making sudden changes to water chemistry will stress a Stingray, so if you do decide to alter water chemistry, you need to do so very carefully and in small steps. If for some reason your Stingray doesn't particularly want to eat the food you're offering him, then try starving him for a couple of days and see what happens. Besides earthworms and river shrimps, Stingrays should receive a variety of foods so that shortcomings on one are balanced by the others. Frozen seafood often works well, and things like squid and cockles are particularly nutritious and lack the Thiaminase found in mussels and prawns. Small pieces of white fish are good, too, and you can buy frozen lancefish that can be used whole. This said, earthworms and shrimps are favourites, so be critical of environmental conditions and fix them, rather than missing this "early warning" and not realising something
was wrong until the Stingray got sick. Cheers, Neale.>

Stingray Issue 8/21/08 Hey Crew I recently purchased a 5" Motor stingray. Having the experience from saltwater fish, I asked the LFS to feed the fish in front of me, and waited a week after arrival. Their display tank had large surface area, but not height, so only problem was that while I was there, I never got the chance to see its underside. After taking it home, I found out this. There were reddening parts of the abdomen and parts of the claspers. I immediately thought that this might of been caused by the substrate, but the LFS has only fine gravel in there, no rocks or sharp objects. Can the marks eventually heal? Here is a picture: <None attached> <Mmm, oh yes to the healing... the reddening could easily have been "caused" by other factors... time prior... in collection, holding, shipping... likely "water quality"... Can/will heal in time with your good care. Bob Fenner>

Another stingray question, beh., no useful info. 6/3/07 Hello again <Howdy> You helped me the other day in confirming that my little stingray is a girl. <Ah yes> I am hoping I can ask you another question. It is so hard to find someone who knows what they are talking about when it comes to the little beauties. <More commonly kept nowadays... but...> Anyways, the little girl was really shy at first, but she has been eating well so far. Over the last few days she has been doing loop-di-loops in her aquarium, wanting me to rub her tummy when she is upside down. This morning she was acting funny, with decreased appetite and it looked like her breathing was a little labored. She is holding the tip of her disc, the "nose" up in the water, higher than usual. It almost looks like she hit something and is sore, but do you have any experience with this? <Yes... can be a bad sign... Indicative of something amiss with the system, water quality, metal-poisoning... the presence of infectious, parasitic disease...> She is still eating, but not quite as much as before. She is moving around, but more slowly and along the bottom. Thank you Stefanie <... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwstingrays.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Angel stingray -- 06/04/07
She decided to get her wings this morning. She seemed so much better and ate when I got up, but an hour later she had checked out. I still don't know what happened, no fin curl at all, just the apparent injury to the "nose". Thank you for all of your help. Stefanie <Please read where you were referred. BobF>
Re: another stingray question -- 06/05/07
Hello <Stef> Thank you for sending the article. You have an amazing amount of information on your website. I am sure you have saved thousands of wet creatures by teaching their humans the right way. <It is our hope...> The only thing that I can see that was different was the PH. It was running a little high, with 7.6, although I was working on bringing it down with water changes with better water and "PH down" every few days. <Mmm, good... Do look into longer-term solutions here... starting with water of less alkalinity, alkaline reserve... Perhaps an in-home Reverse Osmosis device...> Before I bring another little ray home, I will change out most of the water so that the PH is right, <Mmm, do this slowly... as related...> and let it cycle again with new bacteria. I currently have some snails in the aquarium, and they just gave me a dozen babies. Would you like some snails?? :) <Heee! No thank you> Also, in reading your site, you have suggested some prophylactic meds when bringing home a new ray. Where can I get those meds and what dosage would you suggest? <Mmmm... wish I was a bit more careful here... I do endorse the preventative treatment for "worms" and Protozoans for these (Potamotrygonids) and wild-collected Discus/Symphysodon, and a few other groups, but I would urge you to rely on the "chain of supply" to have done such medicine work ahead of your reception, unless you have adequate, separate quarantine set-up...> Again, thank you for your help. I am still sad the little girl passed away, but I am hoping that it teaches me enough to make sure the next one will live for many many years. Stefanie <Thank you for sharing your efforts, inspiration, experiences. BobF>

FW Reticulated Stingray - Eye problem Hi, <Hello there> I purchased a FW reticulated ray from my LFS about 2 weeks ago. He has been doing well, apart from a small appetite. In the last 24hrs I've noticed what looks like a small cotton ball/fuzz (looks like pocket lint) on top of his left eye. At this point I'm not sure if it's ich <No...> since it appears to have grown over night. I've done 25% water changes twice a week and water quality is normal. Any Ideas? Drew <Perhaps resultant from a scratch in capture, moving... Maybe summat to do with the environment... size of the system, what's in it, the substrate... or water chemistry (soft, acidic?)... Likely transient... You have read on WWM re Potamotrygonids in captivity? Bob Fenner>

Motoro ray with cloudy eyes Hello, I am first time user of your service and fairly confident in my abilities as an aquarist, but happened to be reading your section on stingrays and thought maybe you could help me in determining whether a film (very light) over my motoro rays eyes could be dangerous.... this condition just appeared today and to most people would not even be noticeable... <Anything that deviates from the norm is cause for concern, or at least research.> I pay very close attention to my fish and as he is one the more expensive fish I am always concerned about his safety... <Understood! And what an incredible animal - one of my favorites.> He is housed in a 100gal tank with a wet dry and a magnum 330 canister he has been in there for about two years and was treated twice for ich due to bad feeder stock that didn't seem to have it when they were introduced into the tank... <Ugh.... Do try to find suitable foods aside from 'feeder' fish - all too often illnesses do move from feeders to the fed - as you have experienced. This is often the death of large predatory fish. Either breed your feeders yourself so you know they're safe, or find suitable alternatives (of which there are many).> Tankmates are an albino Oscar that was introduced very small and has never picked on him a fire eel and a small (new) Bala shark that exhibits no signs of illness <This really is a bit much bioload IMO - and not quite the greatest mix of species, at least for the ray, which does best in a pH of lower than 6.0, to even as low as 5.0, really, too low for the other species you have. Rays really do best in species-only tanks, or at least with fish that tolerate or thrive in such low pH as well.> the water quality is good and the second treatment for ich will be finished in 2 days... neither time he was treated for ich did he actually show signs but it was preventive.... <May I asked what med you used? Rays are scaleless, sensitive fish, and many/most meds are pretty harsh on them. If you never saw ich in the tank, I don't believe it should have been necessary to treat for it. Cloudy/filmy eyes are usually the result of some water parameter being out of whack - specifically, what are your pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate readings? Extremely sensitive animals such as these rays will show effects of environmental factors being out of whack at even extremely low levels. A water change is probably the very best remedy available for you.> as far as Popeye I honestly don't know of that ever affecting a ray but I suppose its possible... I will be paying very close attention to him for the next few days and if there is any information you may have for me it would be greatly appreciated... as I'm sure you well know many common fish medications can harmful to rays and if he does have Popeye do you think a broad spectrum like maracyn2 would be safe for him <I seriously doubt that you're dealing with Popeye. Truly, cloudy eyes usually clear up after a good water change or two. I'm guessing it might be related to a nitrate problem, in this case, as you already mentioned feeder fish and have large predators in the tank. Check your water, fix if necessary. -Sabrina> Thank you.

Possible growth on Fresh water Stingray (URGENT) Hello my name is Thomas Merrill. I have had two Motoro Stingray for about six months now. Everything has been great. Today I noticed a small red sac attached the anus of my male stingray. He is still acting healthy and eats when ever food is presented. Attached are a couple Photos I just took. Do you have any idea what this is, and if not do you know where I might ask? If you do know what it is could you please tell me about it and how I could possibly treat it? Thanks, Thomas Merrill <Thomas, sorry to say the attachments did not make it through (please resend). These "goiters" or tumors are not uncommon in captive freshwater rays... and almost always can be corrected with the addition of iodine/iodide to the animals foods. Please look to the fish stores, online suppliers for such supplements and administer them to the fish's foods ahead of feeding. Bob Fenner>
Possible growth on Fresh water Stingray (URGENT) - Follow-up
Thank you so much for your reply. Here are the attached files. <Mmm, on viewing the image, I'm more inclined to think this may be a case of a prolapsed colon... I would cut back on this fish's food and offer it only smallish meaty food items (bite size or smaller). Bob Fenner>

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