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FAQs on Freshwater Stingray Disease Treatments

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

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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,

Potamotrygonids are extremely sensitive to many types of medications. Salts, metals, formalin, and most dyes should be avoided.

Fungus on Reticulated Stingray     8/8/13
Picked up new pair of Reticulated (Teacup) Stingrays, the female developed a small fungus on the barb. There were no caps used at the LFS they were purchased from, however it could have already been there just unnoticed when purchased.
They are currently in a 55 gallon quarantine tank, once fungus is removed they will be moved into a 225 gal with a fx5 canister and 55 gallon sump.
My question is, how to treat this fungus outbreak? I've done what I feel to be inferior research, even though its been extensive. I've never owned rays before this. I started a Pimafix regime, read online it was ray safe. Been 4 days and there has been no improvement visible to the naked eye. Can I continue usage and add salt? Should I finish the week of Pimafix, and if not better try salt?
What are your recommendations?
Thank you for your time, hopefully you can help me,
<Hi Devin. Since you're keeping stingrays, money is presumably no object, as you already (hopefully) know that these fish are very expensive to keep well. Basically, prevention is 99% of what you can do so far as stingray health goes. Once they're sick, then you really can't rely on anything bought from an aquarium shop -- including Pimafix. On the plus side, if you can get these fish into optimal conditions immediately, and by that I mean your 200+ gallon system (with mature filter, naturally) then your stingray may well heal spontaneously. That's often what happens with very minor wounds. Paradoxically, most fungal infections happen secondarily to bacterial infections, so the recommended treatment (e.g., by Richard Ross, whose book/s you must surely have read) is injectable antibiotics that get rid of bacterial infection so the fungal infection can fade away. That's where the money no object aspect comes in. Call a vet specialising in fish, because you'll need reliable advice here. Obviously you can't randomly add antibiotics to the water because these have the real potential to cause stingrays harm. Again, Richard Ross goes into all this. You can't use traditional medications like Methylene Blue or Malachite Green either as these tend to be quickly toxic to stingrays. As for Pimafix and Melafix,
some folks have used them successfully, others find they do more harm than good (WWM owner Bob Fenner for one), and as a very general comment, time wasted with these sometimes-useful, sometimes-harmful medications is time you could have used something with a much higher probability of working at less risk, so on that basis alone I'd skip them. The use of salt is an interesting idea. The Potamotrygonidae have some tolerance for salt, likely given their marine ancestry, as evidenced by laboratory work as well as
aquarium hear-say, so in itself it shouldn't cause any undue harm to these strictly freshwater rays. Salt can and does slow down the spread of fungal infections (though rarely bacterial infections) and may provide some degree of support to a fish with an otherwise functional immune system that can drive off a mild infection given that little extra help. But salt is rarely a "silver bullet" in itself, so do review aquarium environmental conditions and any potentially damaging objects in the tank (including tankmates), and act accordingly. But as I say above, at the end of the day calling a qualified vet is the best/only reliable approach for medicating stingrays, and something you presumably budgeted for before purchase, so the minor expense shouldn't phase you (and in any case, will be trivially small compared to the cost of those thousands of gallons of reverse-osmosis water you're going to be getting though during water changes every year!). Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Fungus on Reticulated Stingray (Bob, is Pimafix/Melafix useful on Elasmobranchs?)<<Is not. RMF>>
Without explaining too much into detail, lets just say the area I'm located isn't... stingray friendly.
So vets aren't an option unfortunately. I may be able to call in a favor to a friend who works at a aquarium.
<Ah, next best thing. As I said, provided conditions are optimal in the aquarium, minor wounds can/will heal under their own steam, but if the infection spreads/shows no sign of clearing up, then treating stingrays is troublesome. As Bob says in the subject line of this message, Melafix and Pimafix are not reliably useful when treating this group of animals.>
Thank you for your time, I appreciate the rapid response.
<Most welcome. Do also procure Richard Ross' book; will be money well spent. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Fungus on Reticulated Stingray (Bob, is Pimafix/Melafix useful on Elasmobranchs?)     8/8/13
I found a copy of the book, will be purchasing. Didn't know the literature existed till I found this website.
<Good purchase. Richard Ross is "the man" when it comes to stingrays.>
Again I appreciate your time and your response, I have one more question for you. Promise, this will be the last.
<No need for promising such; we're happy to help.>
The LFS I purchased the rays from has done their best to help me. I called them yesterday about possibly procuring some injectable antibiotics and overnighting them to me, and she didn't know what I was talking about. I explained to her what you had sent me in previous emails, and what I had found online (which contradicted her original treatment plan -Melafix/Pimafix), should sent me an email a few hours later talking about a treatment called Maracyn 2.
<Yes. Widely sold in the US, not necessarily elsewhere. In any case, it's simply Minocycline (Maracyn 1, if you're curious, is Erythromycin, while Maracyn Plus is Sulfadimidine and Trimethoprim. Both Maracyn 1 and Maracyn 2 are relatively mild and seem well-tolerated by most/all fish, and worth a shot, though can't promise anything.>
I looked it up and found some personal reviews by other ray keepers on monsterfishkeepers.com. Was wondering what your thoughts were before I might try this treatment is Pimafix and salt prove to be unsuccessful (as of this morning still no signs of improvement).
<I would rate Maracyn 2 far above Melafix and Pimafix; you can certainly use the Maracyn 2 alongside salt if needs be.>
The 225 is not quite cycled, or they'd have been moved already, should be another few days at the least before that tank is ready.
<Sounds like you have a game plan. Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Fungus on Reticulated Stingray (Bob, is Pimafix/Melafix useful on Elasmobranchs?)     8/8/13

You've been a wonderful help, I appreciate the feedback.
<Glad to help.>
Good news, water tested out last night, tank was cycled.  I put the pair of rays into the tank and fed slightly on the heavy side. Both ate their fill and I turned the lights off. This morning I went in to check them, the fungus is completely gone.
I'm treating the tank with the Maracyn 2 and some salt to make sure, keeping it at 50-60% of recommended dosage.
<All sounds very positive.>
But, in regards to your reply, for my knowledge bank, you wrote that Maracyn 2 is Minocycline, Maracyn 1is Erythromycin, and  Maracyn Plus is Sulfadimidine and Trimethoprim. What is, doesn't have to be well defined if you can keep it basic, the differences? The Maracyn 2 box proclaimed to treat bacteria which caused certain ailments, are the other two for the same?
<Okay, here's the deal. All these are antibiotics. They kill bacteria. But no *one* antibiotic kills *all* kinds of bacteria. Some kill one sort well, another a second sort, and so on. Kind of like how the air force has a dozen kinds of airplanes, but there's no one airplane good at everything, so depending on the mission, you choose a particular airplane for the task.
You wouldn't use an F15 for a job where a Hercules would be better, or vice versa. The tricky bit when choosing which antibiotic to use is that you cannot say which antibiotic would be ideal without first identifying the bacteria your fish has -- which obviously needs a microscope, a tissue sample, a Petri dish, and about 4 years medical training...! Anyway, aquarists either go with the Maracyn 1 and 2 combination at the same time, which kills off many kinds of common bacteria, or try one and then the other a week later if the first didn't work. Some aquarists will have a hunch about which Maracyn works better for a certain complaint in a certain species, but without a microscope and appropriate study, they really are making educated guesses. I don't personally have any experience with these
because Maracyn products aren't sold in the UK; by law, if you want to use an antibiotic on a pet animal, you need to consult with a vet, which removes the uncertainty but of course limits your range of quick, cheap options. Anyway, going with the Maracyn 2 makes sense if you've found some fish keepers for whom this works well. Hope this makes sense! Cheers Neale.>
Re: Fungus on Reticulated Stingray (Bob, is Pimafix/Melafix useful on Elasmobranchs?)    8/9/13

It did make sense, and again I appreciate your time. No matter how much research I conducted, I still feel as if I have an inferior knowledge base when keeping these beauts.
<They you'll really enjoy keeping these fish and reading Richard Ross' book alongside the aquarium, and a few months from now, you'll be telling me what to do!>
Have a good one! If I ever have any other ray related questions, I will be sure to shoot an email out to you.
<Glad to help. Cheers, 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>

Reticulated Stingray 6/27/09
I have some questions regarding my female reticulated stingray. She is about 5.5-6 inches in diameter.
<Still a pup!>
First off, I should mention that I am the aquatics manager at a local pet shop. I am very knowledgeable about freshwater fish (still learning about salt which I don't have at my store). Water parameters: Ammonia 0 PPM, Nitrite 0 PPM, Nitrate 10 PPM, PH 8.0, using API liquid test kit.
Temperature is 80F.
<All fine, though the pH is a bit on the high side.>
I live in an area where our tapwater is pretty hard and alkaline, (about 140-150 PPM). I will soon begin doing water changes with RO water to dilute that down.
<Very good.>
The tank is a 140 gallon with 2 Aquaclear 70's and a Magnum 350. I don't use any carbon filtration currently.
<While carbon is generally redundant in freshwater tanks, there's probably an argument for using it in Stingray tanks, at least as a precaution, and provided it wasn't used at the expense of biological media.>
I currently have only 2 pieces of driftwood in the tank with fine gravel.
Tankmates include 5 small (for now) angelfish, 3 clown loaches (also small for now), 3 German blue rams, and 1 black ghost knife.
I feed once daily with HBH rainbow color flake food, New Life Spectrum Thera+ 1MM sinking pellets, and my choice of live earthworms, krill (frozen), bloodworms (frozen), and brine shrimp (also frozen). I also put in about 10 or so ghost shrimp and replace them when they are all gone (she really has to work to catch them!) I alternate the earthworms and krill every other day.
She loves the live and frozen both, and I think she may eat some of the pellets, but its hard to tell.
<All sounds very good.>
Ok so on to the question. I ordered her for my store about 4 months ago.
By the time I get fish here, they have already been acclimated to the type of water we have here in MO. I instantly fell in love with her and decided to buy her. It took me 2 weeks to get her eating anything (at the store, where I might add I have almost identical water quality in my systems).
She slowly went from worms only to the variety I have her on now. After about 5-6 weeks, I noticed some unusual bumps had appeared on the top side of her disc.
<Potamotrygon species do develop additional spine-like structures called denticles on their bodies, usually around the middle of the back towards the region where the tail and body disc meet. These denticles look like little teeth and should be arranged in longitudinal rows, making it quite easy to tell these normal structures from the symptoms typical of underweight Stingrays.>
They almost seemed to appear overnight (or in a very short time). They are almost symmetrical only appearing about 1/2 an inch from the outside of the disc on both sides from head to tail. Each bump (about 2-3 MM in diameter)
look to be made up of 3-5 smaller bumps all pushed together (kinda like a bunch of grapes). They are semi-transparent but retain some of her skin color (which I should mention, has always been a little on the pale side compared to some of the other specimens I have seen). These bumps don't ever move and have not increased or decreased in size since I first noticed them. However about 3 weeks ago, another set of bumps (about the same size as the others) appeared just behind her left eye (once again, seemingly overnight). She is a great eater and her behavior has not changed any through all of this.
<Again, I suspect that this is all normal ontogeny.>
She seems as active as I have read they will be, she actively forages for food, and pounces quickly when she finds it. I have had her home for about a month now.
<Usually, lack of appetite is the first sign of problems, so if she's eating, that's good.>
Earlier this week I treated the tank with Quick-cure in the hopes to rule out external parasites. I did 2 treatments, but on the third day I noticed that my water was a little cloudy, and there was no change whatsoever in the bumps. She did however darken in color a little on the second day.
None of the other fish in the tank have shown any sign or symptoms of illness, and if it weren't for the bumps I would call Chloe (that's her name) a perfectly healthy and active stingray. Is this anything you have seen or heard before regarding FW rays (or any FW fish for that matter)?
What can I do to make them go away and improve her color other than get the PH and alkalinity down?
<Before doing either of these things, do make sure you can keep them both stable; Stingrays are more bothered by water chemistry that changes between water changes, rather than the pH not being precisely optimal for the species.>
Is this problem going to threaten to kill her? I thank you very much for your time. I have referred to your website countless times both at work and at home to answer questions that I don't know. I have been researching this problem for months now and can't find an answer. This is the best pic that I could get to turn out. The darker spots closer to the outer edge of the discs are the ones I am referring to.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Reticulated Stingray 6/28/09
How much water would you suggest I change out at a time and how often to achieve my final water, which I hope to hold at about 60-70 PPM with a PH of 6.7-6.8.
<In theory, you can change as much water as you want per water change, provided pH and hardness stay constant. But in practise it's wisest to do relatively modest changes, around 25% per day, one or more times per week, as required to keep nitrate levels at the low levels you're after. If you're also changing the water chemistry from one set of values to another, this is even more important, so do small, frequent water changes that nudge the pH and hardness levels rather than dramatically change them. Cheers,

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