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FAQs on Freshwater Stingray Infectious 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, Environment, Nutrition, Trauma, 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,

Potamotrygonids are VERY susceptible to infectious agents from simple environmental insults, traumas, tankmate mal-interactions.

Potamotrygon, bacterial involvement?     1/6/17
I am trying to find out if Potamotrygon species of stingrays can be infected by Columnaris.
<Mmm; yes... I think so. Try the string, "Potamotrygon and Flavobacterium columnare" and you'll find a few "scholarly articles" linking the two>
A friend recently had new pups appx 7 days ago and now these white spots/patches have randomly started to appear on them. I have treated Columnaris on Scats and cichlids for other bacterial and fungal issues topically with Methylene Blue with great success, but not sure if this would be OK with Stingrays.
<Methylene Blue should be safe; though I don't know how effective>
I also breed them but have never had this issue. Any help would be appreciated, I do have a couple pics he sent.
<I'd do your best to produce and maintain "high quality" water; of low total bacteria count... I.e., massive water changes with soft, acidic new water frequently; over-filtered, uber-aerated... And optimized nutrition.
Bob Fenner>

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.>

motoro rays... Fdg., nutr. dis. 7/13/10
Greetings Crew,
I have two Male Motoro rays. They are about 10' disks now. Both have lived in a 1200 gal tank since they were 4" disk. They have a complete Life support system, reservoir, sand filter, chemical filter ,bio filter, R.O., UV sterilizer, chiller the works! I Back wash the system 2-3 times a week.
They live with discus and an Arowana and a few Blood Parrots they are in an aquarium we custom built in a local Casino. Within the last week they have slowly lost their appetites. They seem to have lost their desire to swim.
One has been bumping into walls and is now showing a lot of trauma to his disk.
He swims upside down and has been puffing from the top. All my water tests are perfect.! They eat krill, bloodworms and any small schooling fish they can catch. I feel the bloods are taking advantage of them. Though the owner doesn't want to let them go! Ughh! To my question...I retrieved the Rays last night and isolated them in their own tank. I don't know what to treat them with. They are swimming about a little more today but the white (picking) areas look bad. And still not eating. Any and all suggestions are much requested.
Thank you
<Hello Ginger. The reasons why Stingrays refuse food are varied. As you correctly surmise, environment is the commonest issue. So yes, checking water quality, water chemistry, and water temperature are all important.
Consider any possible toxins: paint fumes, insecticides, etc. Make sure no-one has been doing anything silly to these Stingrays like feeding them human food "treats". Next up, the use of feeder fish. This cannot be
stressed too strongly. If you have predatory fish and you want them to die, feed them feeder fish. Never, EVER use store-bought feeders.
Goldfish and Minnows are the worst because they not only contain parasites but they also contain large amounts of Thiaminase and fat, and used regularly will cause [a] vitamin B deficiency and [b] damage to the internal organs. Thiaminase is common in some types of seafood and fish, notably prawns, shrimps and mussels. Use Thiaminase-rich foods no more than once or twice a week, and all the rest of the meals must be Thiaminase-free foods. Until quite recently most aquarists had never heard of Thiaminase, but it is now reasonably clear that this is a major source of ill-health and premature mortality.
If you've been using feeders or not taking care of the Thiaminase issue, the damage may be done. A vet trained in handling cartilaginous fish may be able to offer some help, but otherwise there's little you can do. Next up, there's monotony. Stingrays need a varied die, and surprisingly, it needs to include some green foods for fibre. Cucumber, cooked peas and lettuce leaves are nibbled on by hungry Stingrays, and whether they're a major source of nutrients isn't clear, but their value as fibre does seem helpful. Zoos often create mixes with things liked cooked brown rice and carrots! If they won't take greens, then live earthworms are nearly as good, having guts filled with decaying leaves. Finally, there's harassment. Stingrays generally mix poorly with other fish, and Suckermouth catfish in particular can harass them. As for their injuries, if these are nothing worse than scratches, these should heal fine assuming water quality is good. There are no completely reliable medications for treating Stingrays, which is why avoidance of sickness is so important. Potamotrygon spp. tolerate salt quite well, at least for periods of a few weeks, so in some instances slightly saline water may be helpful for external parasites, but generally that isn't necessary. If the Stingray can recover, it will do under its own steam. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: motoro rays [RMF, any ideas on medications?] <<Furan cpd.s RMF>> 7/13/10
Thank you, unfortunately I lost one of them earlier today after writing to you. The other fellow is still struggling with himself. I have offered bloodworms twice to no avail. Is there no treatment to help the healing I could add to his tank?
<No. As stated, a vet who treats sharks and rays may be able to help, but adding "potions" as you'd do with regular fish won't have any positive effects at all. An antibiotic might be used safely, but you'll need to check with your vet or the manufacturer first.>
I have him now isolated in a 500 gallon holding tank. With a soft sandy bottom. The wounds are pretty much all white and some dark patchy areas on his upper side. Thank you for your time with me.
<As stated, if you have ever used feeder fish, you've basically thrown all your chances out of the window. Feeder fish are hands-down the single best way to kill predatory fish short of hitting them over the head with a priest. If you've offered Thiaminase-rich foods too often, again, the damage is already done. It really comes down to this: if water quality is excellent, and the internal organs haven't been damaged by Thiaminase or parasitised by the use of feeder fish, sick Stingrays can get better under their own steam. But if the damage is done, there's really nothing left but praying to the Fish Gods. Cheers, Neale.>

FW Stingray fungus 11/30/07 Hi there, <Hello> I have a problem. I have a 90 gallon freshwater tank with 2 back river stingrays. <A good species for such a size tank: Potamotrygon orbignyi only grows to about a foot across> They are 3 inches long in body width w/ 3 more inches additionally on the tail. My pH is 6.8 nitrite 0, nitrate 0 and ammonia 0. I am using very fine sand along with a small lava rock <Mmm, all reads as good till here... Lava rock is too sharp, may have metal contaminants> setup in the corner. Filtering the system is an Eheim 2128 and Fluval 404. The stingrays are the only fish in the tank. They have been in there for 4 days and have not been eating, however they are active, so active that one of them decided to go into the caves, I presume, and injured/cut his little foot. <? Foot?> I noticed the cut yesterday. I read on your site it's good to raise the temp, which I did and it now sits at 27.2 degrees Celsius. Today he is a growing a white fungus (looks like cotton) on his foot. Also he is curling his fins upward, 95% of the time. He has swam a bit, but mostly to glide along the tank, water and leaps up. I am confused as I do not know what to do as the fish store is telling me to use fungus treatments (use half of the recommended dosage) but I don't want to remove the stingray into a quarantine tank because they are so new and stressed. Please help me.........I can be emailed back at XXXX Thanks again.. <Let's see... it is not unusual for new FW rays to not feed, and these are quite small, likely traumatized in being handled, moved... I am leery of suggesting any "fungus remedy" here as most are outright too toxic, more harmful than helpful. IF you felt it was worthwhile one comprised of nothing but "Sulfa" drugs would be my choice... otherwise, removing the lava rock, placing a pad of Polyfilter (to remove possible metal) in your filter flow path, would be my course of action. Do keep proffering foods... perhaps some small ghost shrimp, live worms... Bob Fenner>

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