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FAQs on Freshwater Stingray Environmental Disease

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:
Diagnosis, 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,

The most common cause of loss hands down with these fishes: Poor environment and/or environmental maintenance. Need pristine water quality; volumes of LARGE size, soft substrates...

Freshwater stingray advice needed      8/30/19
I am writing on behalf of my employer. She is an avid stingray hobbyist, owning very many freshwater rays, half of which are black diamond. She is having problems breeding the diamonds though and asked me to reach out to anyone who might be more knowledgeable about ray breeding. I know it might be a long shot to ask for advice but I am a bit desperate.
<Mmm; have read quite a bit, written some re FW rays, Potamotrygonids>
The rays seem to be having pups fine, but the pups only last about two weeks before losing some color, curling and then expiring. She gets maybe one or two out of every 20 that actually makes it.
<Yes... need to know, have information re mainly water quality (and maintenance therein) and nutrition here. How do folks treat the source water and what is its make-up? What foods are being employed and are they supplemented?>
Any advice at all would really be appreciated, thank you for your time.
<Data please. Bob Fenner>
Re: freshwater stingray advice needed      8/30/19

Thank you Bob for replying,
<Thank you for sharing Holly>
She has a large setup. It's a 2000 gallon system consisting of three large oval concrete tanks, 2.5 feet deep, connected to a small hatchery consisting of multiple 50 gal tanks.
<Ahh! Am wondering, concerned with the accumulation of metabolites here>
fresh water source is well water which flows in constantly.
<Ah, very good>
There are 5hp submersible pumps which feed into sand filters then degassing towers. There are aerators throughout and a bio ball filter before the pumps.
<Wow! Some electrical cost now!>
parameters are normally around or close to : Ammonia - 0.25
<Aye; this NEEDS to be zero, zip, nada. This value alone might account for the trouble here. I'd look into using contactor... resin, carbon... to eliminate all NH3/NH4OH>
nitrite - 0
nitrate - fluctuates between 5 and 20, rarely as high as 40

<This too needs to be addressed. I'd keep NO3 concentration below 10 ppm at all times>
and PH - between 8.2 and 8.4.
<And this is way too high for wild-collected Amazonian rays>

The temp ranges between 81 and 83 Fahrenheit.
The well water was just tested for heavy metals, all came back looking fine.
My employer's friend keeps insisting it could be bubble sickness so she ordered a TGP meter. I tested all over and have seen it up to 95.4 % O2 and 103.7 % residual TGP in the concrete tanks. I can't seem to find much about what levels rays can tolerate but the more I look into it the more I don't think that is it. The rays don't look like they have any visible tissue damage.
<Gas/embolism is not a problem w/ these values. Supersaturation is... and with the use of the towers, likely most all excess gas is released>
I separate the baby rays from the adults into floating baskets when i find them. i have also tried moving them to their own hatchery tank as well but same results. I have tried feeding finely chopped earthworms, live Tubifex worms and finely chopped fish but they are reluctant to eat.
<Mmm; I would further experiment, and provide the young with softer, more acidic water. Do see, read on the Net, Fishbase.org re their natural waters. Quite different than what they're being exposed to here. There are simple/r, inexpensive means to modify water quality. The young will be better off kept in the 50 gallon systems either separate from the recirculated water or very slowly dripped/overflowed>
Thank you again,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: freshwater stingray advice needed      8/30/19

thank you very much, you have been extremely helpful. I'll relay all of this to my employer and try setting up a separate tank for the pups.
<Ah, good. I've visited a few Potamotrygonid hatcheries... your issue here is not uncommon, and easily solved. Bob Fenner>

Lymphocystis and Potamotrygon (RMF?)<I totally concur w/ your stmt.s>     9/9/17
I recently found white cauliflower like white tufts on the side of one of my CA cichlids. Upon much research I've 99% concluded its Lympho. Now my whole 340g system is infected.
<Let's be clear about Lymphocystis -- although there is a pathogen involved, it is almost certainly triggered by the environment rather than being contagious. Some type of stress is usually involved. For example, maintaining Scats in freshwater rather than brackish water, or exposing bottom-dwelling fish to a substrate that isn't kept properly clean. In the wild, heavy metals and industrial pollution are believed to be the main reasons Lymphocystis becomes common in some lakes and seas.>
I was going to rearrange some fish, one of the being some Marble stingrays into the 340 and cichlids to another system. My question do I have to break the 340 down and clean it or will the virus disappear upon removal of the infected fish?
<There is no cure for Lymphocystis, and because it isn't contagious, it isn't something that needs to be eliminated. Treatment is really all about optimising living conditions (and probably diet, e.g., with a vitamin supplement and/or fresh green foods) and waiting for the fish to get better by itself. Lymphocystis tumours will take months, even years to subside, though vets will sometimes surgically remove tumours from big, expensive fish such as Koi. I think you'd be surprised how often Koi receive high-end medical care comparable to cats and dogs! For more mundane fish, time is the great healer when it comes to Lymphocystis. Do remember that Lymphocystis is unsightly but usually not life-threatening (unless the tumour obstructs something important like the mouth, gills or vent).>
Can Potamotrygon even catch the virus.
<Exposed to the wrong conditions for a long time, sure, it's possible. But the virus is probably latent in most aquaria, and not something we normally worry about being "catchy". Killing viruses in aquaria is virtually impossible anyway, though again, some treatments do exist for the high value Koi which are subject to viral infections of various types.>
What steps should I do to clean the system after removal of contagious fish and setup?
<Think about what inorganic stress factors (such as heavy metals, like copper) might be present in the system. Think about the cleanliness of the aquarium generally -- the quality of the water, the frequency of water changes, and the turnover rate of the filter. Low oxygen levels can easily stress big fish like Stingrays and South American cichlids. Diet is probably a factor too, especially when you're keeping cichlids -- most are omnivores in the wild, but aquarists frequently neglect the green content of their diet, and fresh greens are probably important sources of vitamins that help support their immune systems.>
Thanks, Don
<Cheers, Neale.>

Stingray; FW     7/23/17
Hi crew.
I have a newly acquired male motoro stingray and he seems to be behaving weird. I have him in a 220 with a pair of clown knives , an Oscar, a red devil, large albino iridescent "shark" catfish,
<Mmm; you know this fish gets HUGE I take it>
a red tail catfish,

a Lima shovelnose, a Florida gar and a common Pleco. I got him 3 days ago and he is still not eating. I have offered tilapia and cod fillet, chopped market prawns and earthworms, ghost shrimp and some pellets. All items he was
eating previously. I have for the most part kept the lights off to help him adjust. I have a custom built filtration system and do 50 to 80 percent water changes every other day. Tank is bare bottom and the temperature is 79 degrees Fahrenheit.
<Mmm; well; you have a quite an "environmental mix" in fishes here... what are your water parameters in terms of the testing gear you have? Is your water very hard, alkaline?>
He keeps lifting his disc in front of his nose and placing it back down. The cichlids haven't touched him and the red tail catfish just pushed him out of the way and occasionally dog piles on top of him but this is the most extreme I have witnessed. I am aware of how big my fish get and have a suitable home under construction for them. Is this
normal for my ray?
<It is not unusual for Potamotrygonids to not eat for days after being moved; and they really don't like being prodded by other livestock. Do you have habitat where this fish can get out of the light, away from the other fishes?>
What does it mean? How can I get him to eat? Thanks
<I would be patient at this point... keep offering foods via a dowel (wood or plastic), right down in front of this fish daily. It should start taking food w/in a week. Bob Fenner>
re: Stingray     7/23/17

I do know my water has high PH around 8.2 but didn't expect it to be an issue as the water he was in before also had higher ph of around 8.2 , 8.3.
<Mmm; how long was this fish here? This is way too high period. The GH, KH?>
I don't have another set up at this time that would be adequate for him.
Ammonia is 0 and nitrates and nitrites are 0 as well.
<How are Nitrates rendered zip? Highly unusual w/ biological filtration, such large fishes>
I am just nervous as he is my first stingray and I spent years researching before my purchase but assumed since he was 8 inches across he would handle the catfish as he spent his days dog piling with leopoldi Ray's. Is the disc behavior a large concern at this point?
<Not a large concern, but the environment is BobF>
re: Stingray     7/23/17

As of right now the room I keep the tank in is lit by day light through one window and the tank has a small 5 inch LED light bar on it set to a midnight blue on one corner of the tank, where he chooses to be most of the time. I have 2 large pots forming somewhat of a barrier at opposite ends of the tank but nothing to where only the ray can access.
<I would be providing. B>
re: Stingray     7/23/17

He was there for the first year and a half of his life.
<Ah; good. This is a long period to become aquarium-tough>
Nitrates rendered 0 because I just replaced the biological media after a system malfunction during a power outage. It previously sat at 20 which is where I expect it to return to.
I am unsure of KH or GH at this time
<I'd be measuring; lowering if too high (by addition of less hard water).
Bob Fenner>
re: Stingray     7/23/17

What could you recommend that I construct or purchase that only the ray can access?
<Perhaps a raised up few inches PVC pipe array... made of tees or elbows and pipe sections>
An underwater sand box on one corner of the tank to wear he can bury himself ?
<Mmm; no; not necessary to have substrate>
Not too creative with what could be built or bought that only he could enter. I prefer bare bottom so I always know where the barbed venomous fish is and it's easier to clean but I want to make sure he is healthy and happy
<Understood. BobF>
re: Stingray     7/23/17

Have you heard of any other projects that could be built for him to hide?
<Wood and rock suspended overhangs>
I'm not sure if it'll work if the red tail decides to rest on top of it.
Just nervous about his well being. In addition to it being one of a few capstones of a monster fish keeper, and my first ray, they were essentially black listed in my country and now are not allowed to be imported or transferred over state lines. Just want to succeed. Am I likely to have success with this specie of ray with my set up and food I offer?
<I'd try blackworms, grass shrimp...>

Is there anything I could be missing in my set up to make him comfortable in terms of lighting or decor?
<... Please read here:
You're not likely to have success given the mis-mix of species here... The Pleco, other cats... Bob Fenner>
I do have a strong current from the return out of 2 canister filter hoses and another from a sump return and a fourth from a wave maker.

Stingray- fresh water- URGENT (RMF, any other ideas?)<<Mmm; no>>       2/28/15
Hi there I bought a stingray about 2 weeks ago and he is developing a black/red spot close to his eye. Also I am concerned be caused near his eyes there is a purple/grayish/bluish color. Please let me know what to do. See pictures below. Thank you!!
<These appear to be some sort of damage to the skin, likely exacerbated by the environment. Healthcare of/for stingrays (and Elasmobranchs generally) is 99.9% prevention, and there's virtually nothing you can do in terms of treatment, so let's review the basics.
Stingrays need massive aquaria. Hundreds (plural) of US gallons for adults. More importantly, the bottom of the aquarium should measure not less than 6 feet in length and 3 feet in width (that's about 200 cm x 100 cm in metric). Depth trivially important, provided the volume of the aquarium is upwards of 200, 250 gallons, and the more the better. Success in (slightly) smaller tanks with juveniles might be possible if you use a sump to maintain substantial, 150+ gallon volumes.
Next up, water quality. Zero ammonia and nitrite, obviously; nitrate should be as low as practical, certainly below 20 mg/l. Lots of oxygen including very high circulation rates (again, marine-grade wet/dry filter and sump probably essential). Water chemistry on the other hand isn't too important, though avoid extremely hard water if possible. To get the near-zero nitrate levels most successful stingray keepers use RO filters to remove the nitrate from their tap water, in which case hardness will be low anyway, and they'll be buffering with Discus Buffer mix. But if you happen to have zero nitrate soft water out of your tap (perhaps you live in the Scottish Highlands for example) then your tap water may well be fine. If, and only if you are providing optimal conditions, stingrays usually heal from this sort of physical damage quite well. In less (even slightly less) than ideal conditions, these sorts of symptoms are often the beginning of the end. I don't have to sugar-coat my words here because folk who keep stingrays are usually very rich, because keeping these fish for any length of time is insanely expensive by fishkeeping standards. If you don't already have Richard Ross' excellent stingray book(s), rush and buy a copy, express delivery (again, money no object for a stingray keeper, and the 10-40 bucks on said books won't phase you at all. Hmm... what else to mention... remove any tankmates likely to cause damage of this type (such as Plecs), as always make sure you've used sand or very smooth/fine gravel rather than cheap aquarium gravel, remove rocks/bogwood roots... the usual. Optimise conditions. You'll have done your research I'm sure, and understand stingrays are insanely sensitive to nitrate (let alone ammonia and nitrite), can't be medicated with standard pet store medications (copper and formalin especially are straight out lethal), and won't forgive even the slightest transgressions on your part. If your specimens are still otherwise healthy, eating, and putting on weight, then the outlook is actually good in a gigantic aquarium with superb water quality. No treatment needed on your part IF you can identify the source of damage and remove it. Otherwise, not so rosy. Hmm... do write back with data on the tank, tankmates if you need some feedback on your system (critical or supportive, as the case may be). Hope this helps, Neale.>


Re: Stingray- fresh water- URGENT (RMF, any other ideas?) /RMF       3/16/15
Hi there I have another problem!! The stingray is sideways. See video attached. Does this mean he is dying?!?
<Very bad.... am reading your prev. corr. below.... DO review what Neale has written; as well as the archived article and FAQs files on WWM for the family. The sand is wrong here... and the tankmates... Do you have salt
added to this water? Not advised for Potamotrygonids. IF you have another established system of size MOVE THIS ANIMAL now.
Bob Fenner>
Re: Stingray- fresh water- URGENT (RMF, any other ideas?)       3/16/15

But he is a fresh water stingray are you sure he should be in salt??
<... AM sure it does NOT tolerate salt... but saw a few brackish water fishes in your video. Don't write: READ. BobF>
Re: Stingray- fresh water- URGENT (RMF, any other ideas?)       3/16/15

I read the email. I DONT have any salt in the tank. All the mates in the tank are fresh water
<Ah, B; sending to Neale for his follow-up>
Re: Stingray- fresh water- URGENT (RMF, any other ideas?) /Neale        3/16/15

Hi there I have another problem!! The stingray is sideways.
<A very bad sign.>
See video attached
<Alarming. For one thing, you have freshwater and brackish water fish (i.e., Monos, Scats) mixed together. Among the freshwater fish are hard water specialists (like the Mbuna) with soft water fish (Oscars). Finally, you have some heavy polluters (Pangasius catfish, Oscars) alongside your very sensitive Stingray. So while the aquarium looks quite spacious and
clean, I'd be very, VERY surprised in water quality was good and water chemistry optimal. What's the nitrate level? What's the hardness? If you can't answer these questions instantly, you shouldn't be keeping Stingrays -- honestly, you need a great deal of skill to keep Stingrays, and absolutely must have those "good habits" like weekly water chemistry and quality tests. You really do need to be going beyond pH and nitrite... if you think those are adequate, again, you shouldn't be keeping Stingrays.
Nitrate is critical because it's a measure of "old" water, and needs to be low, realistically, 20 mg/l or less. If you detect any ammonia or nitrite at all, then the Stingray is at severe risk of death.>
Does this mean he is dying?!?
<Certainly this chap needs to be (carefully, gradually) transferred to optimal water conditions NOW. He's not falling apart and doesn't look especially thin, so there's hope. But at the same time, he's unlikely to recover kept in whatever conditions got him to this sorry state.
Do also check copper levels (a common poison used to treat Whitespot, for example, but lethal to Stingrays) and this may include the need to use a chemical adsorbent (such as Poly-Filter) to remove any copper even after doing substantial water changes. In all honesty, I'm a ways off being convinced you've got the skills to keep a Stingray. Your combination of fish in this tank is random, and while it might work for now, that's more luck than judgment. Scats and Monos have some capacity to survive imperfect conditions, and if yours are okay for now in hard freshwater, then you might be luck for a while yet. But the simple fact you've tried to keep them alongside Oscars and Mbuna suggests you didn't do much/any research, and research is the key to keeping Stingrays. Do rush and buy Richard Ross' book on Stingrays (the Barron's one is quite cheap) and read thoroughly.
Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Stingray- fresh water- URGENT (RMF, any other ideas?) /RMF      3/17/15

He died this morning.
<.... environmental>
Re: Stingray- fresh water- URGENT (RMF, any other ideas?) /Neale      3/17/15

He died this morning.
<Ah, that's truly too bad. But I'm honestly not surprised. Tiffany, you really need to sit down the think (Bob would add: "read"). Your tank looks lovely, for sure, but the selection of fish is random... ill-advised... ultimately incompatible. If you put brackish/marine fish (Scats, Monos) in with freshwater fish, it suggests, at best, a somewhat cavalier approach to fishkeeping. Fine with hardy stuff... Plecs, large barbs, maybe even some of the cichlids which genuinely can adapt to less than optimal conditions. But Stingrays offer you ZERO, as in NO, scope for error. They simply won't accept that. Keeping Stingrays is all about the numbers. Test kits, filtration, water changes... it's all crucial. Before you buy another, please, PLEASE buy a book about them. The Rich Ross one from Barron's costs $15... a fraction of the expense required to even BEGIN keeping Stingrays.
Long-term, yes, you'd probably find these terrific fish. But here-and-now, recognise your lack of skill/care/effort is what killed this fish, and until you can get past that, you won't succeed with Stingrays. Does this make sense? Cheers, Neale.>

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.>

Freshwater Stingray Disease - Open Sores Spreading Rapidly      10/31/14
Good afternoon
<Wayne... 8 Megs of pix?>
First off, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my email and helping so many others with our baffling questions.
<You'd do the same, given similar circumstances as ourselves>
I have a Freshwater Hybrid stingray (Marble and Motoro) and she's approximately 11 inches. I've had her for awhile now and just recently I introduced some Java Moss to the tank. This plant was purchased online and
I introduced it to the tank without treating the plants first of any diseases. After a couple days, one of my fishes dies and I didn't think much of it (this fish had been bullied and not eating for awhile). That same week I noticed what looks like a burn mark on the bottom of my ray.
The skin appears to be whitefish with dots of blood....and it looks like
it's healing by itself.
<... petecchia... This symptom can be due to a few causes. Potamotrygonids don't "like" metabolite build-up... poor water quality. This is my first guess... what sort of NO3 here?>

I went out of town for a couple days and noticed this mark begins to spread to other parts of the stingrays underside. I immediately put the stingray into a quarantine tank and began treating it with half the recommended amount of aquarium salt and the full dosage of MelaFix.
<... ridiculous. SEE WWM RE>

My water parameters are all within range as I diligently perform water changes and have it tested.
<Of no use to us... WHAT are the readings?>
I've been treating my ray for approximately 5 days now and it still doesn't appear to be getting any better.
<It'll soon be dead from the Melaleuca exposure>
I hate to say it, but it looks like it's some kind of flesh eating bacteria as some parts of my ray's skin is
getting so thin I can see the outline of the skeleton. Furthermore, wherever the infection is, the ray's skin is peeling off as I can see the dead skin hanging off.
Also, the stingray's quarantine tank is very cloudy and I think this is caused by the shedding and peeling of the ray's skin.
<... the scam API product>
I don't have any filter pads in the tank right now because I'm using Melafix. However, I perform 25% water changes every day hoping that it will help the visibility of my tank but it does not.
<REMOVE the "fix", restore filtration, esp. biological NOW>
And finally, my ray still looks very healthy and has an appetite. I fed it twice in the quarantine tank, but I'm trying to limit the feeding until she gets better.
Please take a look at my pictures and let me know what you think. Thank you
<"Bob" Fenner>


Question, Potamotrygonid hlth.  3/8/13
Hey I have a problem with one of my motoro rays that I was trying to find on your site. I couldn't find one that fits what is going on with my ray.
He is his active self but during my routine checkup I notice a major injury on his foot
<On a pectoral fin I take it>
 it started off small and got bigger over the last few days or so and now I see his bone coming out. The tissue is still white like his flesh there is no redness around or in the wound. Should I start medication to the tank?
<? For what?>

And if so what medication ? And is there anything I can do besides normal feeding and water changes.
<Depends on the current water quality, gear...>
He has started to eat less then he does and he try's not to use that foot but its hard for him not to. The tank set up is a 120 gal with two Hang on filters and a canister filter small amount of sand
<Of what sort?>
and that's it's. water parameters are ammonia 0 rite0 rate 30
<30 ppm of NO3 is too much. See WWM re>
 ph 6.0
cannot provide a photo at this time. If you have a article on your site that I must of missed please let me know thank you once again Maria
<... take the long read over what is posted on WWM re the family, and supply the information others have. Bob Fenner>

Question... FW Ray, env. issues 1/14/12
Hello again my favorite fish people!
<If we were faves, why would you clog our email w/ order of magnitude images, against our policy?>
Just wanted to see if you can identify what my rays skin problem or at least try to . I sent a couple of pictures . OK first the ray is eating well like always. The tank setup is a 120 gal
<Stop. Too small.>

with two hang on filters and a EHEIM professional 3 canister filter the water readings are as follow Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate 30 PH 7.6. Notice the skin problem in one spot where she had some sand on her so I tested the water to make sure all is well with Ammonia and Nitrite all was good. Then it went away. All of a sudden when it was feeding time I notice that is was all over most of her body. Not sure what it is she is breathing fine, eating. The larger male does not show any signs of these marks on his body. The sand has been in this tank for about 4 years as well as the larger male. Female is about 1 year and has not shown any signs of distress. Hope you guys can help me out on this one. Thanks once again.
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwraysysfaqs.htm
and ALL the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Question

Sorry I didn't know about your policy of the pictures.
<Can't miss it... It's right before where folks find how to write us:

Sick Marbled Motoro Stingray - White blotches/covering on skin 5/17/11
First of all, thanks in-advance for your feedback. A synopsis of my set-up
is as follows:
240 gallon freshwater tank
2 x Fluval FX5 Canister Filters
1 x Large Airstone/Pump
PH = 5.8 to 6.0
<Mmm, too low to suit me... I'd hedge about mid 6>
Nitrite = 0
Nitrate = 100
<MUCH too high. The likely related source of trouble here>

GH = 180
KH = 160
Temp = 80 degrees
Substrate = Tahitian Moon Black Sand
Inhabitants = Large Royal Marbled Motoro (16 inches) - 3 x Medium Discus (4 inches)- 3 x Medium Clown Loaches (5 inches)
I have just returned from a business trip and noticed that one of the Fluval FX5 filters had become clogged and stopped working. This, I believe, caused a major fluctuation in my Nitrates and they are now reading around 100ppm. I have performed 40% water changes over the last three days in an attempt to lower the Nitrates.
<I'd employ other means on a continuous basis. Please read here:
and the linked files above re NO3>
For my water changes, I have divided a 125 gallon tank into a water change side (approximately 90 gallons) and a quarantine side (approximately 35 gallons). The water change side of the tank is using a Fluval 405 with the same media as the primary tank (I periodically remove Fluval BioMax from one of the primary FX5 filters to seed the Fluval 405 filter for water changes). I also treat the water being used for changes with Discus Buffer to lower the PH and soften the water before performing water changes on my primary tank. This cycles for around two weeks at a time before I perform 30% water changes bi-weekly.
<Reads as a very nice arrangement>
Now for the problem, I awoke this morning and my stingray is covered with white blotches that were not there the evening prior (see attached pictures). Could this be due to the increased Nitrate levels in the tank?
She (the stingray) has not eaten for two days and I assume it is because of the elevated Nitrates in the tank making her unhappy, but I am unsure about the white blotches. None of the Discus or Clown Loaches are showing any signs of stress/white blotches/etc. and are still eating fine.
<Have different tolerances>
The stingray is inactive and is just lifting the front of its disk and staying fairly stationary in the tank. Does anyone know what these white blotches are and how I can heal my favorite pet?
<Improve its world>
I plan to continue to perform water changes to lower the Nitrates back to an acceptable level and have also dosed the system with Amquel Plus to assist with de-chlorinating the new water being used in the water changes and lower the Nitrates. Any other suggestions to get the Nitrates down quickly (and safely)?
<See the above reading>
I feed the stingray blood worm cubes, silversides, and shrimp and use Mazuri Vita-Zu Shark and Ray vitamins at each feeding (stuffed into a piece of shrimp). There is never food left in the tank after each feeding. I have had the Royal Motoro Stingray for approximately 3 years and have had no problems or issues. She is always active and eating incredibly well (until now).
<Mmm, do add to the alkaline reserve, boosting pH as mentioned... this will encourage denitrification moderately as well>
On a side note, I just purchased the Aquaripure Nitrate Filter and am eagerly awaiting its arrival to set-up on the tank. This will help in the long-run, but will not do anything to reduce the Nitrates until the unit is cycled properly (2-4 weeks).
<In the meanwhile, be very conservative re food/feeding>
I would greatly appreciate any assistance that you could offer.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sick Marbled Motoro Stingray - White blotches/covering on skin 5/17/11
First of all, thank you for the fast response. I am panicking a bit right now and do not want to lose my Motoro or Discus. A couple things based on your response.......
1. Do you recommend any other way to reduce Nitrates in an emergency situation (except water changes) (i.e. chemical additives)?
<Only in very/real dire circumstances... which this very likely is not. My far fave is AZ-NO3... very effective, safe>
Due to the large volume of water in the tank, I believe it will take quite awhile to get the Nitrates down doing 40% water changes.
<Mmm, not so... unless something is adding to the situation, they should go down tens of ppm w/ each change. You are vacuuming the substrate?>
I only need something to do as an emergency measure and will follow the suggestions/recommendations contained within your link moving forward. I am also hoping that this Aquaripure Nitrate Filter will help long-term.
The reviews of the system seem positive, but only time will tell. :) Have you heard anything about this particular filter?
<Mmm, not really. Have just looked: http://aquaripure.com/
My long-experience (our corporation tried to engineer/make these at one time... with these anaerobe fed (sugar or alcohol) units is that they are unreliable... too prone to "crashing", usually w/o too tremendous negative consequences... but you'll likely "see", be able to report much more re in the not-too-distant future>
2. PH levels - I agree with you and want the PH to hedge around 6.5, but I believe the increased Nitrates are causing the PH to drop.
<To some degree, yes>
I have a Milwaukee PH probe on the system that allows me to keep a very close eye on any fluctuations.
<Good... restrict such change to no more than 0.1 pH point in a given day if possible>
3. Do you feel that it is Ok to continue to use the Amquel Plus to assist with lowering the Nitrates?
<Mmm, it really doesn't do this. If you'd like we can discuss some of the chemistry here>
I really hate using chemicals in my tanks.
4. Should I add anything else to the water to help the stingray while I am improving her world (i.e. stress coat, etc.)?
<Mmm, I would not... unless you don't/can't trust the new/make-up/replacement water>
Thanks again as I appreciate your knowledge to help me get through this nightmare. :)
<Am very glad to assist you, help ease your mind. Usually I would wait, have Neale Monks respond, as he is far better versed... but he's presently quite busy teaching in the UK, and felt/sensed it was important to reply soon/er>
<And you, BobF>
Re: Sick Marbled Motoro Stingray - White blotches/covering on skin 5/17/11
<Mr. Smith>
How do we define dire situation? :)
<Behavioral anomalies... more than static appearances>
The white blotches are quite scary. I only have about 1-2 inches of sand in the bottom of the tank and typically don't need to vacuum as the stingray usually stirs the substrate constantly as it searches for food.
<I WOULD vacuum half of the tank each change-out session... left or right, the other half next time>
I was under the impression that messing with the substrate could actually cause my Nitrates to spike?
<A matter of degree... IF there is a "good deal" of "mulm/detritus" accumulated there, much MORE NO3 will be expressed than just a "modicum" amount. Put another way, there can be too little to too much material trapped in ones substrate>
Reference PH fluctuations, I guess I need to be really careful given the weakened condition of the stingray. I typically see a PH fluctuation/increase of around .5 whenever I do a large water change (+/- 40%).
<This is WAY too much vacillation... am sure you understand the pH scale is a base 10 log... Human blood pH range is much smaller... you and I would be dead>
Is that too much and should I decrease the quantity of the changed water?
<Is and not the quantity, but its quality... should be nudged a tenth higher pH point...>
I've attached a couple pics of my two tanks...........240 gallon Stingray/Discus and 150 gallon planted Freshwater.
<Ah, very nice. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sick Marbled Motoro Stingray - White blotches/covering on skin 5/18/11
<Steve, am also sending you a note/email re your situation from Neale Monks of WWM... after this>
I hope I am not being a bother, but I have a new development. The white blotches seem to be shedding off?
<Yes; not surprisingly>
One of the Discus is also eating the shed skin off the back of the ray?
<Yes, is their nature>
The skin underneath is a bit lighter, but otherwise looks healthy (see attached). Tested the tank earlier and reading 80ppm Nitrates.
<Keep changing the water, stop feeding altogether...>
I am in the middle of another 40% water change right now, but it seems to be working. Should I add some slime coat regen after the water change to help with healing?
<I would not. This addition may well only add to problems here. I WOULD start adding the baking soda... DO read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwstingrays.htm
AND the related FAQs linked above, particularly Systems... and in turn elsewhere on WWM re water quality, substrate issues...>
<Hang in there... you're doing what best can be done... in an orderly, appropriate manner. B>
Sick Marbled Motoro Stingray - White blotches/covering on skin 5/17/11
> Hello Bob,
<Ave Neale>
> I do think you're spot-on about the water quality issues harming this stingray. Also, the low pH is certainly reducing the functioning of filter bacteria, which do best above pH 7.0, so unless there's a damn good reason to do otherwise, this aquarist should be keeping the stingray in slightly soft to medium hardness, around neutral water. But I'd add one more thing.
The Tahitian moon sand is a glass byproduct, not a natural sand.
<Yes... not benefitting water quality in the slightest>
It is notoriously abrasive. I wouldn't use it with any fish that habitually sits on the substrate, and Carib Sea notably recommends the same thing. There's some debate among aquarists whether no substrate or a smooth silica sand/very fine gravel substrate is better, but either way, you want to minimise physical damage while also ensuring no organic debris settles on the substrate and starts rotting.
<Ahh, will post, share w/ the querior should he write back in. Had thought to have the writer read through our Potamotrygonids area re this and a few other key items, but sensed/thought he was already a bit overwhelmed. Thank you, BobF>
> Cheers, Neale

FW Stingrays and Jungle Aquarium Plant Care Solutions - 10/21/10
Hi I've had a stingray for six months and decided that I wanted to plant some plants in the aquarium. I have two Peacock Bass and a Retic. Stingray in the tank, the tank is 90 gall. I will soon be upgrading to at least 180-210 gall, the tank is run by a Fluval FX5 filter. My question is, are Jungle Aquarium Plant Care Solutions fizzing tabs ok to use with the stingray? Because I know rays are touchy about chemicals used in the aquaria and I don't want to do anything rash and hurt or kill the ray. I have searched the web and have come up empty hopefully you guys can help.
<Hello Ron. This is a pretty easy one to answer. Don't use the fizzing tablets. Not only are they pointless so far as plant growth goes -- the CO2 will bubble out too quickly to be much use -- messing about with CO2 will lower pH and stress your fish. It's hard to imagine any situation where the high oxygen, high water turnover conditions stingrays need would be maintained alongside the high CO2, low turnover conditions plants prefer. Plus, stingrays uproot delicate plants anyway, so you're best using epiphytic plants on bogwood roots, such as Java Fern and Anubias, and these couldn't care less about CO2. Likewise, floating plants such as Indian Fern, which would be extremely worthwhile in a stingray tank as nitrate removers, get their CO2 from the air. So far as trace minerals like iron go, you can use liquid fertilisers to add these with each water change, should they be required. Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
FW Stingrays and Jungle Aquarium Plant Care Solutions
<PS. You should either have no substrate or a very thin layer of smooth silica sand, and in either case, rooted plants couldn't be grown. Deeper substrates are hard to clean and tend to promote infections on the ventral surfaces of stingrays, at least under aquarium conditions. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Stingrays and Jungle Aquarium Plant Care Solutions - 10/21/10
Thanks Neale,
I was planning to plant on bog wood anyway I guess I failed to mention it. What other plants besides java fern and the Anubias would grow well on the bog wood I have been doing more research on fertilizers that are safe to use with rays then actually the types of plants that I would like to use.
But I have read in my research that everyone uses black cotton thread to attach plants to bog wood, is this just for looks or does it matter if another color is used such as white, sorry for all the tedious questions.
Thanks again,
<Hello Ron. Java Fern (both the regular kind and "Windelov") and the various Anubias species (there are several) are the best bogwood plants. Bolbitis heudelotii is another option, but it's a finicky species that's difficult to grow. Java moss is another epiphyte but when kept with big fish tends to get destroyed, so I wouldn't spend a huge amount of money on Java moss before trying out a small clump first. Because all the epiphytes grow slowly, you almost don't need to use fertilisers; simple water changes, plus the wastes from fish, should produce enough mineral nutrients. Yes, black cotton is used because it isn't noticeable
underwater. You could use red, white, blue or any other colour if you wanted. I've used rubber bands and lead strip as well. Sometimes you can simply wedge rhizomes or stolons into cracks on the bogwood. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Stingrays and Jungle Aquarium Plant Care Solutions - 10/21/10
Much thanks,
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Teacup Sting Ray Sore Near Hump 8/19/10
I have a 125 gallon tank containing Discus (8), Ram (6),
<These both need much warmer water than the Stingray, so either they'll be too cold or the rays too warm.
Remember, the warmer water is, the less oxygen it contains, and the warmer a fish is kept, the faster its metabolism. That's a double whammy because it means the fish has less oxygen available despite wanting more, and because its metabolism is progressing faster than normal, there's more ammonia in the aquarium, meaning water quality worsens more quickly. Even if the filter handles the ammonia and nitrite, you're still getting more nitrate by the end of each week. So the golden rule is to keep fish towards the low end of their temperature range. For most Potamotrygon, the standard 25 C/77 F is perfect. By contrast, Symphysodon spp and Mikrogeophagus ramirezi need warmer water, 28-30/82-86 F. In other words, there's no overlap.>
Stingray Tank (2),
<Not sure what you mean here? Two Stingrays in this tank?>
Bushynose Pleco (1) and Clown Pleco (1).
<On the whole Suckermouth catfish are BAD choices for Stingray tanks;
the risk is that they'll When feeding today, I noticed a fairly large fleshy open sore on my female stingray.
It is a little larger than a quarter located on her back near the hump. I am so nervous and do not know what to do.
<As little as possible. With Stingrays the use of either salt or vet-prescribed antibiotics are generally safe, but everything else -- copper, malachite green, Methylene blue, formalin, tea-tree oil -- should be treated with extreme distrust. Even antibiotics should be used with great caution, and only if you are 100% sure they are safe, which usually requires consultation with a vet or a demonstrably experienced ray-keeper.>
I have searched everywhere and am unable to locate any information about this. She is eating and then stays under the sand (usually very active). I am concerned that the sand will further irritate her wound.
<It could very easily be a bite from the male, since males "hold onto" females with their teeth. If the wound is on the top of the head or the back itself, then that's where I'd put my money. Otherwise, Suckermouth
catfish can and do latch onto Stingrays periodically, whether accidentally or deliberately is hard to say. Injuries are almost impossible to treat, and it's really a question of relying on the fact that these fish heal very quickly given perfect water quality. If water quality is even slightly below perfect, then the wound will likely get worse.>
Yesterday I added a medium sized, flat, semi course rock to my tank (since removed). I am thinking the ray may have grazed against the rock causing the wound/sore and irritation.
<Possible, but does depend on where the injury is. If the scratch is on the belly or possibly the edges of the fins, then abrasive rocks can be to blame. But injuries to the head and upper surface of the disk are almost always caused by other fish.>
Everyone else in the tank is fine. Are there any diseases I should worry about or do you think it was the rock?
<The only diseases to worry about are secondary infections. If water quality is optimal, then the risk is small and the Stingray will heal. But on the other hand Stingrays die very quickly from secondary infections.>
I am concerned with an infection setting in. Do I need to quarantine (I heard rays don't handle tank changes well)?
<Let's be crystal clear, the Stingray aquarium SHOULD BE effectively a quarantine tank. No tankmates are advised. None. Zip. Nada. You will find very few experienced Stingray keepers advising tankmates, and ALL agree that beginners should keep them on their own.>
I am also concerned that treatment will harm my discus (as they are sensitive to chemicals).
<Modern Discus are as tough as old boots compared to your Stingrays.>
Any advise you can give is very much appreciated.
Thank you,
<Do make sure you have read up on the needs of these fish. 125 gallons is too small for Stingrays, and realistically the tank should be at minimum a couple of metres in length and about half that in width, in Imperial units about 6 feet long and 3 feet across. Depth is unimportant. Water volume for two specimens needs to be at least three times what you have. Water quality needs to be superb: 0 ammonia and nitrite obviously, but also near-zero nitrate, and that means you're doing 25% water changes weekly using RO
water or similar with just "Amazon" salts added (or a 10-25% dose of Rift Valley cichlid salt mix as required) for water chemistry around 3-10 degrees dH, pH 6.5-7.5. Almost all Stingrays die within a year because people buy them without the faintest notion how much work they are. If you don't own Richard Ross' excellent "Freshwater Stingrays (Complete Pet Owner's Manual)" or the Gonella & Axelrod "Freshwater Stingrays" then you aren't properly equipped, if you ask my opinion. Either of these books is
as essential as water and a filter. I hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

FW Ray... hlth. 12/30/09
Hey guys I was checking around your site for some information before wasting your time with questions so I'll keep it short. I have a P. reticulata ray and it seems to have lost a lot of its tail during transportation (the stingers are basically a cm from the tip of the tail).
It's not injured any more, but I was wondering if the tail would ever regenerate?
<Often times can/does... "if" the area is not "too" decomposed back>
The specimen is still small around 5 inch disc diameter. The other question was I need to design a final custom tank for her and had a few questions. I've heard acrylic was lighter than glass but hard to work with,
<Not hard, just different to cut, anneal (rather then glue)... have done extensive work w/ both>
plus I like the no shattered glass aspect. Are acrylics hard to seal?
Would you recommend acrylic or glass for a large shallow ray tank 6'x3'x18"?
<Acrylic over glass myself>
Finally would a tank this size be able to be supported by a standard floor (1st or second story) due to the surface area spreading the weight or would I be better off on the concrete basement floor?
<Yes... think of the weight per square foot, inch of a lady in high heels... may need to have the stand/base shimmed to level. See WWM re both material use in tank construction and stands...>
.....Thanks in advance for your time.
Sorry I just remembered one more thing...Does Potamotrygon reticulata possess 2 stingers or is the second one a replacement for the 1st as it is shedding off?
<... One... are you referring to claspers? Bob Fenner>
Re: ray...sorry last email was an accident... Acrylic tank const. 12/31/09

Thanks alot
<There's no such word>
for your help..sorry for confusion I accidentally sent the last email
before typing anything. You better be getting paid for answering questions
<Nope. Something of much greater and lasting compensation; the knowledge of having help others of earnest need, desire>
because you obviously know what you are talking about. When you say annealing acrylic tanks I have a few questions. Would this be accomplished with a heat gun?
<No; solvent. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/diyacrylic.htm
and the linked files above>
The FAQs I've read about acrylics involve sealant
<Not sealant... as in, there's nothing "left" between joints>
rather than heat. I'm assuming attaching them by essentially melting them together would create a much better seal (assuming I don't end up creating gross melted uneven corners).
<There is such a process as "sonic welding" of large acrylic panels... as in for large, mainly public aquariums; but in your case solventing is what will be done>
I forgot to ask would a 6'x3'x18" acrylic need center bracing <... depending on the thickness of acrylic used>
or is there enough surface area already?
<Enough for what?>
And finally to clarify "> Sorry I just remembered one more thing...Does Potamotrygon reticulata
> possess 2 stingers or is the second one a replacement for the 1st as it is shedding off?
> <... One... are you referring to claspers? Bob Fenner>"
I meant the stingray is apparently female but has two stingers on it's tail. Is this a species I.D. characteristic or can many species possess more than one stinger during part of the shedding process (i.e. will she lose the second stinger). The further back stinger appears to be partially unsheathed from stinging or maybe the stinger shedding process that I'm not 100% familiar with. Once again thanks so much -Nigel
<Yes to the shedding of multiple stingers. Usually there is one functional, with one more growing to replace it. BobF>

Emergency! My Motoros are in danger :[ (RMF, second opinion?) -- 11/10/09
After probably about a year of reading your site and procrastinating, I decided to purchase some beautiful p. Motoro Stingrays.
<Hope you bought a book first. And a gigantic aquarium. And an R/O filter.
Seriously, only about 1 in 100 aquarists have the funds to keep these fish properly, and the sad truth is that most Stingrays end up dead within a year, often within 3-6 months. There's an excellent book by Richard Ross on Stingrays published by Barron's that sells for less than $10. By my reckoning, if you can't afford this book, you can't afford Stingrays.>
I've owned them for about a year now, and they've been thriving in their 6'x4'x1' tank.
<Cool. But after a year, they're ready for a bigger tank.>
I use 3 "heavy duty" sponge filters, for lack of a brand name on the item.
<Fair enough. But this should probably be augmented with some type of canister filter that can remove solid waste on a continual basis. Organic matter that collects on the substrate is a have for bacteria, and this in turn makes it more likely infections will develop. There's a ongoing argument about whether the tank should even have a substrate, some suggesting a clear glass bottom is easier to keep clean. While that may be overkill (and isn't much loved by the Stingrays) there is certainly much to be said for a canister filter with massive turnover (8-10 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour). This will remove silt and debris quickly.>
I do 30% water changes every 3-4 days, and sometimes a 50% at the same rate, depending on how messy their tank looked.
<Hmm... pre-emptive maintenance is critical here: you clean the water such that there never is any mess in it.>
Perhaps a silly way of doing things. PH 7.2, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrates always low, sand substrate. There are no plants or rocks. Just filters, sand, and fish.
I feed them 1-2 Nightcrawlers a day, and small amounts of Krill at night.
Once every 2 weeks I give them each 2-3 Ghost Shrimp to play around with.
Well on to the subject, sorry for the rambling. I woke up one day, and my tank almost looked like milk.
<Eek! Likely a bacterial bloom thanks to excessive organic material in the water.>
I could see about 5-6 inches into it, but nothing more.
<Can we assume this wasn't silt (from the sand) or a diatom bloom?>
When I finally found my stingrays they were alive, but having a lot of trouble breathing.
<Does sound like a bacterial bloom. Silt and diatoms are harmless, if unsightly.>
I instantly water tested and everything looked fine, but I did a water change nonetheless (it'd been about 2 days since the last one).
<Your water tests don't measure bacterial counts, and that's the issue.>
This seems to have only made it worse. I rushed up to the store who's employees I've trusted for a long time, and they said everything should be fine just wait it out.
<Almost never a good idea with Stingrays. The best approach is to do a series of water changes across the day, maybe 25% every couple of hours, so that you can totally flush out the system. Obviously, water chemistry must be identical, so check the pH of both old and new water. Don't do this if you're using tap water that experiences pH changes after it's been drawn.
If you're using RO water and hardening it with, for example, a small quantity of Rift Valley salts (the ideal approach) then this shouldn't be an issue.>
I come home and my female is floating on the top breathing through her spiracles!
<Not sure they can do this. Do you mean she's gasping at the surface?
Again, suggests a bacterial bloom; bacteria consume oxygen, creating eutrophic conditions, removing oxygen from the water, suffocating the fish.>
At this one I did another 50% water change (2 in one day) and loaded the tank up with dechlorinator. I had feared I wiped out my bacteria colony, because apparently my city adds chlorine at this time of year.
<The RO filter you should be using should sidestep the issues.>
I'm not really sure where to go from here, and I really don't want to lose my stingrays :[
<Indeed. I really cannot stress too strongly that the problem is likely environmental, and more specifically, a tank too small for these fish. In the short term, massive water changes while keeping water chemistry stable
will help, and adding a sump to the tank may increase the volume adequately to get you through the next few weeks or months. But longer term, Potamotrygon motoro needs a much bigger tank than you have, and I suspect eutrophic conditions in the tank are at fault here, and noxious to your livestock. Cheers, Neale.><<I do concur w/ all you've stated Neale. BobF>>
Re: Motoro Stingrays in danger! -- 11/10/09

I really hate to spam you guys, and I apologize for this.
<Not a problem.>
I somehow forgot to add this to my last query. My female Motoro also has a large hump on her rear right side. It's raised higher than the left sides hump, and it appears to be causing her rear to float. She's been
constantly fighting to get back to the sand.
<Can't be specific, but likely a reaction to anoxic, or poorly oxygenated, conditions in the tank. Especially at the bottom of the tank (which is why Stingray aquaria need massive water circulation that pulls water down and across the substrate). Treatment options are very limited with Elasmobranchs generally, so would concentrate on optimising water quality and chemistry. Do read here:
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Emergency! My Motoros are in danger :[ -- 11/10/09

Thank you so much for the quick and informative reply!
<Happy to help.>
Yes she was gasping at the surface.
<I see. Fish do that when oxygen levels at the bottom are insufficient, and given the cloudiness of the water, there's good reason to assume that there's either insufficient circulation or else something in the tank using
up the oxygen. Bacterial decay is the classic example. Look for organic matter, clogged filters, uneaten food, stuff in the substrate, etc.>
Aside from water changes is there anything else I should be doing? I can afford whatever it takes at this point to keep them alive. Would adding some airstones help?
<Extra circulation, including airstones, would help, but whether they'll fix the problem I cannot say. Your immediate concern is to change the water as quickly as possible without exposing the fish to dramatic water
chemistry changes. You also need to clean the aquarium, check the filter, sift the substrate, and check for any other problems. Cheers, Neale.>

Dying Stingray
Hi There,
My neighbor's house flooded and they had nowhere to keep their 2 stingrays.
They are smaller than my hand. It was an emergency situation and all I had to offer was a 10 gallon. (I have 2 reef tanks and one fresh plant tank).
<My fish ended up in a bathtub when this happened!>
We put the 2 stingrays in the 10 gallon and the female was dead within hours.

<Oh dear.>
We used sand, water, and media from their original tank. This is day two and the male swam up then went upside down. I freaked, flipped him gently back over, and did a 5% water change. He is currently sitting flat, right side up, with labored breathing. (has been this way for about 5 hours now) His skin is patchy white (could be the white sand) I added Amquel and a more powerful filter. My question for you is: I just brought home a 220 gallon reef ready Starfire tank. It is currently brand new, never been used. Should I try and set my 220 gallon up for him or do you think he's just going to die?
<More chance of surviving if the 220 was set up. Sheer volume of water would mitigate against likely problems.>
I would love to save him and give him back to my neighbor in 2 months when he's allowed back in his house. If it's futile, I don't want to set it all up for fresh water since we will be starting to cycle it as a reef tank down the road. I just read up on them and found out how incredibly sensitive they are to ammonia etc... I have not got the water parameters done yet as I am just in the process of getting more chemicals to use for testing. Please, please give me any advice to save this poor little guy.
<Your instincts are sound here: set up the 220, get the Stingray in there STAT, and then plug in filters, heaters as/when you can.>
Thank You SO Much,
<Was away yesterday fossil collecting, so didn't get too read this message until this morning. Hope not too late! Good luck, Neale.>

FW Stingrays: Sudden Death\Neglected Tank\Toxic Water\ Textbook example of
how NOT to keep a stingray 6/27/2009

<Hi Zeep.>
I had a Motoro stingray for roughly 10 months now, and an Arowana as its tank mate for about 7 months.
<I hope this tank is huge...>
They co-existed fairly well for the most part.
<Not the best choice of tankmates. Stingrays are best kept in a species only tank in my opinion.>
The ray got a little nick here and there every now and then, but for the most part she was left alone.
<and stressed...>
She was a very active ray, always moving around, digging in the soft sandy bottom. Every now and then she would swim up the side of the tank. She ate bloodworms from my hand and never showed any signs of death curl. I never had any issues with feeding her either.
<OK. Hand feeding isn't really advised on a ray that is classified as "A dangerous venomous fish".>
As far as I could tell, she showed no signs of illness. Her underside was a very light pink, borderline white.
Nowhere near as red and blotchy as when I first got her, so I figured it was just her normal underside coloring. She had one black spot in the middle of her underside. I cant remember a time that I have not seen this spot, and I have seen a few other pictures of peoples stingrays with the spot before, so I assumed it was normal.
<Could be.>
My tank is set up with a nice Eheim Pro II canister filter which does the trick perfect.
<Hmm.... how big is this tank?
An appropriate sized tank for a Motoro ray needs a lot more filtration that one Eheim.>
I have a UV sterilizer hooked up in the tank as well to help with the water a bit more. Even with the set up however, I still had rather rapid brown algae growth on the sides.
<Excess nutrients.>
However, I figured it was just because of the blackwater extract that I put in there every now and then.
<No, that will not cause excessive algae growth.>
The place I bought her from said they added a little bit of that to her tank every week, and she enjoyed it.
<Likely so.>
I had a few live plants growing over in a corner of the tank. They thrived and she left them alone for the most part. I only had to replant them about three or four times when I first got them. After that, she left them alone just fine.
At first I use to change about 25% of the water every other week. However after a few months of that I got lazy,
<...and the downhill slide starts...>
I know shame on me. I proceeded to do it about once every two months for awhile. Every water change I would add some Seachem Prime, and some Tetra AquaSafe.
<Why both? They perform the same function? Also, stingrays should have soft acidic water.>
Every other water change I would give the filter a little bit of a cleaning as well. I'd give the sponges and media a little rinse. Nothing too much though, just enough to try to keep the filter in check.
<So you produced a nitrate factory.>
I also place a Hagen Phos-X bag in with the media of the filter. I replace that every time I clean the filter. For the past 3 months however, I have been adding small doses of API Algaefix.
After reading your site a bit, I now realize this was toxic, and I shall refrain from using it again, but at the time I knew nothing of it.
<Research before adding anything, particularly for difficult species, like Stingrays.>
Well a little bit ago I hit a real lazy streak and went roughly 4 months without cleaning the tank.
<The downhill slope is getting steeper and we can see the cliff...>
Every now and then I would top off the tank with tap water treated with the prime and aqua safe.
Today was the day I ended that streak and cleaned the tank. At 10 AM I started to clean the tank, and I did about a 40% water change on it. I also did the filter maintenance today, and that includes putting in the new Phos-X bag.
<What else? How did you clean the filter?>
However, I also added one more step into today's cleaning. See, I have always had hard water in my area, and no matter what I tried, I could never fix it.
<Use Reverse Osmosis water.>
So I decided to try the API Water Softener Pillow. It was more of an experiment then anything, I just wanted to see if it would possibly help even a little bit. Not having much hope in it however, I bought the
smallest one I could find, one for a 20 gal tank.
<Not knowing how large your tank is, I cannot say for certain, but this is unlikely the cause.>
I wanna say at about noon I was done with it all, the tank was back up and running and I was done disturbing the waters. Everyone was just fine, she acted normal as she always has. I continued to periodically check up on the tank throughout the day, and everything was fine every time I looked.
I am a night owl who is currently job searching. With that said, when I checked up on them to feed and shut off the tank lights at roughly 2:20 AM, much to my horror she was upside down on the sand and stiff. The last time I Saw her alive was roughly 9 PM, and she still looked just fine.
<...off the cliff and into a free fall.>
I took her out and bagged her up. I examined the body for any sort of clues to her death. The only 'battle wounds' she had were the ones she has had for some time now.
<From the Arowana?>
Nothing too serious, and they were healing up just fine. I failed to find any fungus growth, parasite infestation, or any sort of oddities like that.
<Not likely to find anything like that. There is very little that kills that quickly.>
The only thing I found (which I guess would make me a liar, cause it does qualify as an oddity) was near that black spot on her underside. Her skin had started to turn a tint of green next to that black spot on her underside.
<Could be morbid lividity>
I know my water conditions were nothing desirable, but I did what I could when I could, and she always seemed ok. took a reading of my water shortly after I disposed of her body. NO3 was reading at about 30, closer to 20.
My NO2 was at .5 and ph was sitting at a solid 7.
<So the water was toxic. What about ammonia?>
Like I said before, my water has always been hard no matter what I tried to do. With that said my KH was at 240 and my GH was at 180. However, those are as high as the test strips went, so they very well could have been higher then that.
<Test strips are notoriously inaccurate. Buy a regular test kit>
So with my novel now done, I was wondering if someone could help pinpoint the cause of her death.
<Unfortunately, very easy to determine. Toxic water conditions caused by neglect.>
Was it the water quality that killed her?
Could it have been the water change that did it?
<You likely destroyed the biological filter when you cleaned the canister filter out.>
Did the Algaefix take its toll on her?
<Not likely.>
Do you think one of my plants are toxic and she ate it?
<No, Stingrays are carnivores>
Possibly some of the chemicals I am adding, aside from algae, caused her death?
<They certainly weren't helping, but no.>
I'd like to get another ray, but I'm going to wait for a few more months till we move.
<I would not recommend it. They need huge systems, hundreds, if not thousands of gallons and pristine water quality Read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/fwstingrays.htm  and then read every linked page at the top.>
So any advice for next time would be highly welcome.
<Unless you are prepared to invest the time and work required to care for one of these animals, I would go with something easier and more forgiving.>
<Do read the articles on the following pages related to maintenance and biological filtration.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaintindex.htm >
Thanks for any advice, Zeep.

Question about freshwater stingrays 11/6/08 Hi I am new to this site and I had a question. I have two freshwater stingray and a Arowana in a 75 gallon grow out tank with a hydro filter and two penguin bio-wheel 350s. I have had one ray for 4 months the other for 2 1/2 months and the Arowana for about a month. I have noticed odd behavior by the rays they are breathing faster than usual, just sitting upright on the side of the tank and trying to jump out of the tank and they have never acted like this before. The one ray will eat blackworms and chopped night crawlers and the other will only eat blackworms. I have tested the water a bunch on time the ammonia is 0 the nitrates and nitrites are 0 and the ph is 6.5. I do 50 % water changes every 2 weeks. I was just wonder what might cause this weird behavior and the rapid breathing. Thank you in advance. Amber <Hello Amber. Your tank is too small and too poorly filtered for Stingrays, and what you're seeing are general signs of stress. These are indications that it's time to move them to their next aquarium. Even if the only fish you had was an Arowana, the tank would be too small and inadequately filtered. Depending on the Stingray species you have, you'll need at tank at least 90 cm wide from front to back and 200 cm in length from left to right. (The width of the tank should be at least 1.5 times the maximum width of the "disc" of the Stingray species in question; since the common species are 60 cm in disc size, 90 cm is a good baseline width.) Depth isn't critical. Filtration needs to be a serious external canister filter. Hang-on-the-back filters have little value in serious freshwater fishkeeping; they're really only suited to small community tank species. You need something with lots of space for biological media, and offering water turnover 8-10 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. So if you use a 200 gallon tank, the minimum for a Stingray, your filter (or more likely, pair or trio of canister filters) will need to be rated at 1200 to 2000 gallons per hour. There's no getting around this fact: Stingray aquaria are insanely expensive to set up. People who try to economize end up with dead Stingrays. Many books on the topic now available; I'd heartily encourage you track down one or two of these at your local library or bookstore. Cheers, Neale.>

Stingray issue 7/22/07 Hi there, My question is about my fw stingray. I currently am housing 3 fw stingrays, 2 Motoros and one reticulata (teacup). Motoros are 12 in and 6 in and teacup is 6 inches . I have had them for about a year in a 265 gal with a large Pacu and 14 in silver Arowana. As of late the smaller Motoro has been swimming above where the air bubble wand and filter outtake meet. Its def out of character for her. I am using a Fluval fx5, an emperor BioWheel and Eheim canister for filtration. One of her eyes seems cloudy and closing. I lost the first ray I had a year ago and he showed some similar signs. Ammonia 0 nitrate 0 ph 6.0. Temp about 82. I feed rays jumbo night crawlers I get from bait shop and once in a while feeder goldfish but not to much. I added Pimafix. She also has a little red around her mouth. The swimming funny really has me thinking somethings up. She eats and has not lost any weight. Any helpful hints. I would really appreciate any help your site is the best. Oh and substrate is sand very easy on them. <Greetings. As you probably realize, freshwater stingrays are exceptionally difficult fish that are only suitable for very advanced, highly experienced fishkeepers. When it comes to disease, the problems are that [a] we don't really have a textbook list of stingray diseases yet and [b] many of the medications safe with bony fish are dangerous to cartilaginous fish. Now, as a general rule, when fish swim into the filter current it is usually because this is where the water quality is highest and the oxygen concentration highest. Likewise, when fish show red patches on this skin (signs of irritation) then again, water quality is something to think about. In your case, you need to be reviewing a variety of things. Ammonia and nitrite obviously (you say the former is 0, but how regularly do you test it? try testing over a week and at different times of the day, especially shortly after feeding). Nitrate needs to be as close to zero as possible, which you say is the case. But water chemistry is also important. Stingrays aren't that fussed about pH and hardness, but they are bothered by changes. So if you're manipulating your water supply to get the low pH and hardness levels you have, check to see you're being consistent. Another issue is air or water pollution: it's easy for things like paint vapours and tobacco smoke to end up in the aquarium, and these will irritate/poison the fish. Yet another issue is filter turnover. For a stingray, I'd recommend not less than 8x the volume of the tank in turnover per hour (i.e., marine quality filtration and twice that for regular small community fish like guppies and tetras). Given your aquarium is 265 gallons, that means you need filtration around 2120 gallons per hour, minimum. Your Fluval delivers about 600 gallons per hour, the Emperor 280 gallons per hour, and the Eheim I don't know how much because you don't say the model. But it needs to be *at least* 1240 gallons per hour to even make the baseline your stingrays need. Since even a really big Eheim like the Professional 3 is only producing a "mere" 450 US gallons per hour turnover, your tank is very likely (almost certainly) under-filtered. Some more general advice. Melafix and Pimafix are largely useless as treatments. While they sometimes work for some people under some conditions, they're too inconsistent to be relied on, and therefore of no value with expensive fishes like yours. Another problem is diet. Stingrays feed on a variety of animals in the wild including small fish, but never Cyprinidae. The nearest Cyprinidae are hundreds if not thousands of miles away from where they live. Why do I mention that? Because Cyprinidae -- things like goldfish and minnows -- have high quantities of Thiaminase that breaks down Vitamin B1 over time. They also contain a lot of fat. Fish that eat them in the wild, like pike, presumably are adapted to this, but most other predatory fish do not seem to be, and long term both these issues cause damage. Bob Fenner has written at length on the issue of feeder goldfish and marine predators like Lionfish. Since your stingray is, basically, a marine fish that happens to be living in freshwater because it got trapped on the wrong side of a newborn mountain range, your stingray likely will react the same way to a high fat, high Thiaminase diet as any other marine predator (i.e., poorly). On top of this, feeder fish are the Number 1 best way to introduce parasites and bacteria into your nice clean stingray aquarium. To be honest, whoever advised you to feed cheap "parasite time bombs", sorry, feeder goldfish, to something as delicate and easy to kill as a stingray deserves to spend some quality time on the Naughty Spot. The ideal foods for stingrays are either terrestrial foods (like earthworms), marine foods (like mussels and prawns), or "clean" frozen foods (like bloodworms and lancefish). All these will be safe because they have no chance of introducing parasites or bacteria into the aquarium likely to harm a freshwater stingray. Over here in the UK, live estuarine river shrimp are widely used with success and these match very closely the preferred staple diet of freshwater stingrays in the wild: large crustaceans. As you realize, stingrays have teeth adapted not for catch fish but for crushing shells. Finally, the whole sand issue in aquaria for stingrays is debated endlessly. There's some good evidence that dirty sand can trap bacteria and cause infections. This has been observed on catfish barbels for years (erroneously put down by some people to "sharp" gravel wearing the barbels down). Catfish generally shrug off such infections and re-grow their barbels when conditions improve, catfish being, fundamentally, very hardy animals usually adapted to swamps and other horrid environments. Stingrays do not have this level of robustness. So double check the sand is spotlessly clean. You should be stirring it weekly and siphoning out any detritus. Many stingray keepers prefer to keep their rays in tanks without sand to side-step this issue. Finally, do check the fish aren't able to burn themselves. It is *extremely* common for stingrays to burn themselves against the heater. The heater should be either inside the filter or covered with a plastic mesh of some kind (called "guards" and these often come with the better heaters anyway). Hope this helps! Cheers, Neale.>

Freshwater stingrays getting body slime (water cloudy) 3/28/07 first here's info on the stingray tank: INITIAL TANK SET UP: 125 gallon tank installed on December 15, 2006 with RO water and smooth/fine gravel. Added BioSpira and the following day added around 20 small African Cichlids to cycle tank. <Mmm, mistake... I encourage folks NOT to cycle with livestock... for a few good reasons: Principally the very real chance for introducing pathogens (disease, parasitic organisms). Secondly, the production of fright chemicals there from... And lastly, because it's unnecessary to the tanks development and stress to the life involved...> One month later: Low PH = 6.0; Ammonia = 0; Nitrite = 0; Nitrate = 0 More set up info: 175 gal wet/dry filter, Mag Drive Water Pump 1200 gph, dual T5 Light Fixtures, black magic 12x12 carbon pad, white/blue filter pad, 8W UV sterilizer, 2 ChemiPure, two 250W heaters (hidden) <Good note> set at 82.5 degrees, RO Unit for water changes/top off. <Mmm, the low pH... what was the start? What does your alkalinity test/s show?> Added air bubbles at the back of the tank wall on 3/16 using a Rena Air 400 pump and added 2 plastic plants to hide the tubes. No other decorations in the tank. LIVESTOCK: Removed Cichlids. Added 2 Potamotrygon Motoro Rays (4" and 6") on Monday, Feb 5, 2007. Rays were very active and eating. Added 4" Silver Arowana on March 12. Arowana hardly ate. <Typical... and a bit hard to train to do so in such a large system> MAINTENANCE INFO: I do a 25% water change (30 gal) weekly. I also add 30 ml RO Right and 5 ml Prime during water change (RO water is aged in a 40 gal bucket at 82.5 degrees to match the main tank water). I add 60 ml Waste Control weekly to tank. <I would skip this last... unnecessary and perhaps a source of trouble here> I clean filters and all pads (replace when nec..). <And only do "about half" of these at any given maintenance interval... To preserve nitrifying et al. useful microbial activity> Water was perfect until March 21 when the ammonia reached 2 <More than deadly toxic> and nitrates 40. <Danger... this is way too high, by at least double... your bio-filtration, perhaps circulation are inadequate...> PH is still 6.0 and nitrites 0. Performed 20% water change on 3/21 with 25 ml RO Right and 10 ml Prime. Performed 25% water change on 3/24 with 60 ml of Amquel Plus & NovAqua Plus + 30 ml RO Right. The tank seemed cloudy after the 3/24 water change. <Not good. Likely bacterial... rather than just chemical, physical... From? Excess food? Inadequate circulation, filtration?> Performed another 25% water change with the same additives (60 ml Amquel Plus & NovAqua Plus + 30 ml RO Right) on 3/26. Ammonia went down to 1 <Very dangerous... needs to be zip, zero, nada> and nitrates to 10 but water is still cloudy. On 3/27, water is still cloudy and the stingrays are less active with body slime. I performed a 35 gallon water change on 3/27 with 30 ml RO Right and went back to using 12.5 ml Prime. Rays are a little better but the water is still cloudy hours later. Did I do something wrong by changing from Prime to Amquel Plus and NovAqua Plus? <Mmm, no... but if it were mine, I would not add any of these water conditioners... period. You're using RO water? It has no sanitizer, excess metal et al. in it to remove...> This stingray tank is at my work and my boss was overfeeding the ray a variety of frozen silver sides, prawns, blood worms, krill, shrimp which caused the ammonia and nitrate spike. I instructed him to lessen the feedings to 2 very light feedings a day (recently did not feed the stingrays Sat thru Mon). The Arowana started as a picky eater and we tried live crickets and feeder fish which also might of caused the ammonia and nitrates to go up. We will no longer feed live foods. <Mmm, or move this Bony Tongue fish for a few months into a smaller system, where it will be easier to train to take offered foods... This IS what I would do> What can I do to fix the situation? How can I clear up the cloudy water? <First, stop with the water conditioners, over-feeding... look to (GET AND USE) BioSpira to boost your nitrification, rid the system of measurable ammonia)... LOOK INTO and GET more biofiltration... perhaps a nice large Eheim canister filter... packed with their bio-media... See WWM re... a nice one-time investment...> Should I add Melafix and/or Pimafix for the body slime/fungus? <No... these are worthless "Melaleuca Leaf" extracts... that will do more likely harm here than good... You don't want to forestall nitrification any more...> Am I doing too many water changes and/or adding the wrong additives (RO Right, Prime vs. Amquel+/NovAqua+)? THANK YOU IN ADVANCE! - Michael <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files above... And I take it you have read my article on Potamotrygonids archived on the site, and our FAQs files on FW rays. Bob Fenner>
Re: freshwater stingrays getting body slime (water cloudy) 3/28/07
Thank you for replying. <Welcome> I have "Bacter Boost" a Marc Weiss product. I used this in my home tank back in Sept 2005 and kept it refrigerated since then (I don't see an expiration date on the bottle). <I would not use this... or actually any of this companies products...> Can I use this product or should I just buy BioSpira? <Only the Marineland product is endorsed (oh, obviously by me) here> For the product you recommend, do I add directly to the sump or in the tank? <Directly to the sump is best> Should I continue 25% water changes to remove the ammonia or just use Bacter Boost or BioSpira to increase the beneficial bacteria? <Please see WWM re... there is a not too fine line between the benefits of such dilutions versus the stultifying effects on nitrification, other stress caused therein> Are the bioballs in my 175 gal wet/dry not enough where I need to get an additional canister filter? <I would remove the bioballs period... Again, all this, including the rationale is archived on our sites> Thank you again. I'll start reading your article while I await your answer. <Real good my friend. Life to you. Bob Fenner>

Freshwater stingray illness 3/20/07 Hello, I read your website often and really appreciate the help you provide. I have researched for over a day and still can't find anything that helps. Local pet stores are completely clueless. I have a Potamotrygon ocellata freshwater stingray (about 6" diameter) that I've had for about a month now. He has been acting extremely weird, turning on his side in the middle of the tank, and even flipping upside down. <Not good...> He does try to eat when I put frozen brine shrimp in, but he seems to struggle moving and is breathing heavily. Obviously he is typically active, swimming up the bubbles and around the walls. I have recently done a 25% water change, and the water is testing pretty normal, except for ph (ammonia and nitrites nil, nitrates around 5 ppm). The ph was way out of whack after the change (a little over 8). <Much too high as you seem aware... these fishes (the entire family) live in soft, acidic settings> I used a small amount of ph decrease to take it down around .4 over the last 24 hours, <Dangerous... such changes need to be made much more gradually... and not in the main system, but by way of water change water that has been adjusted outside...> I know you can't change too much at a time. His skin looks alright, with the exception of a small lighter discoloration between his eyes toward his front. <Also a bad sign> He has some small black dots toward his rear and tail but I believe those have been there (I'm grabbing at straws here). I am 24 and have kept fish almost my whole life, especially freshwater, but I'm totally lost here. If you could provide any help I would really appreciate it. Thanks. Chad <... Something else likely is amiss with the environment here... There is much to discuss, make known... most of it you can surmise by reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwstingrays.htm and the linked files above. Read... Now. Bob Fenner>

Motoro sting ray... RMF rant on the new trade, poor env., poisoning, lack of useful info. - 02/15/07 Hello, I have a motoro stingray with a sand substrate. <Hopefully not silicate... but smooth...> I was using new Tetra Tec filters with internal heaters to protect the ray but the impellers kept failing. <What is happening with the "new" Tetra? And while we're at it... Aquarium Systems salts? Oceanic Tanks...? What gives with the "consolidation" of the pet-trade anyhow? The big owners are doing a crap job of "managing"...> I switched to Filstar Canistar filters <Am not a fan of...> and had a mild algae bloom. I treated the tank with a small amount of "algae fix" <NO!!! Toxic...> which corrected the algae issue but now she refuses to eat. <Poisoned...> It has only been three days and I have tried bloodworms, ghost shrimp, and krill all of which she used to love. All levels are fine <... worthless> and she seems fine but I would like to know if there is anything I can do to get her back to eating regularly? <...> I do not think that the filter change is the problem because I changed the filter on another ray tank at the same time and that teacup ray is eating normally. I did a water change but she still refuses to eat. Bob Fenner had some great advise which helped in setting up for both my ray tanks and I hope that he or anyone else can help with this question. Please advise, Thanks, Joe <Please take the (re)read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwstingrays.htm and the linked files above. I would do a series of water changes to remove the algicide, make sure the water is warm, soft, acidic per this species requirements... and be patient at this point. BobF>
Re: motoro sting ray 2/18/07
Bob, THANKS! She is again eating and doing well. Joe <Ahh, thank you for this good news, update. BobF>

You can call him Ray (FW) cuz' that's what he is I've had my ray for about a month now. He is a fresh water ray from the St. Johns River in Florida. He used to eat from our hand during the first week, however, we can't seem to catch him eating now. It doesn't look like he's touching the stuff we leave in there. We're giving him tetracycline that our pet store ray specialist gave us. We've been keeping the filter off because the medicine, but have been doing 10% water changes every other day. His pH is at about 8, he's got a glass bottom (no gravel). The problem is that he doesn't seem to be eating, and his Left eye is clouded over. He's been on his medicine for about four days now. He looks a lot better than he did a week ago except for his eye and eating problem. Please Help us, thank you. <Hi Luke, Please head over to this link and do what you can to provide the conditions mentioned there. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwstingrays.htm Make sure you read down to the bottom of the page to see the disease section. These guys need a lot of room, filtration, low pH (below 7) and are sensitive to some meds. More at the link above. Craig><<This is actually not a permanent freshwater denizen... RMF>>

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