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Related FAQs: Batoids 1, Batoids 2, Batoid Identification, Batoid Behavior, Batoid Selection, Batoid Systems, Batoid Feeding, Batoid Disease, Batoid Reproduction, Shark, Ray Eggs, Wound Management, Freshwater Stingrays: FW Stingray Identification, FW Stingray Behavior, FW Stingray Compatibility, FW Stingray Selection, FW Stingray Systems, FW Stingray Feeding, FW Stingray Disease, FW Stingray Reproduction,
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Calamity Jane... a Manta birostris... in HI, pic by MichelleL. Gets along with all, as long as not filterable!

Sharks and Rays in Aquariums
Gaining an understanding of how to keep these fishes in captive saltwater systems   

New Print and eBook on Amazon

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Snowflake eel and California stingray    8/11/10
I am a big fan of your site and read it very often. However, I can't seem to find the information I need. I have a 75 gallon tank with a 10 gallon refugium (just started). In the I have about 60 lbs of live rock as well as fine sand as a substrate.
I have a small California stingray and a small snowflake eel.
<Not very compatible. See here for Urobatis halleri if this is your ray: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/rays.htm and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/batoidfaqs.htm . The ray is sub-tropical, the eel tropical. One needs a (very) large sandy bottom, the other a reef with many holes to hide in. Both in a 75 gallon tank? Won't work.>
Both are doing great. Their appetites have been really good. The issue I have been having is that when it is feeding time, the snowflake eel becomes very "energetic". Of course I am afraid he will leap from the tank at some point. But the issue is that he at times will nip at the ray and has taken food from the ray's mouth.
<Another reason to not keep them in one setup.>
I have tried using the tong to feed the eel when he is calm in his rock. But as soon as he sees me, he zips to the surface and frantically swims around. The ray does the same. I cannot separate the eel and the ray during feeding time to appropriately feed them. My question is - is there a proper way to feed an eel as to keep them calm?
<No. Have you ever seen morays hunting in the wild? 'Calm' is not among the first descriptive adjectives coming into my mind.>
I do not want to just drop food in in case it goes uneaten. I also like to control the portions.
<Very wise.>
The eel would probably eat until he explodes.
<No, but it would develop unhealthy fat content and liver disease limiting its lifespan.>
The ray would be too busy swimming his laps to even see the food. I realize the eel should not eat daily, but I understand the ray should since he is so energetic. So there are times when I have to feed the ray, but the eel is not due to eat.
<And another reason why they are hardly compatible. Put them into separate tanks and give both the surroundings and feeding protocols they need.>
Is it possible I am not feeding the eel enough and that is why he is so aggressive during feeding time?
<It's his nature. There is no time for manors if you are a hunting eel and want to kill a wild shrimp, crab or fish in the reef.>
Thank you for all the effort you put in your website.
It is comforting to see that other beginners have made the same mistakes I have.
<It's best to only read about the mistakes of others and then avoid repeating them.>
Thanks Greg
<Cheers. Marco.>

Can stingrays and needle fish survive in the same tank   6/9/09
<... Maybe. B>

Cortez Sting Ray, sys., comp.    2/18/09 Dear Bob, <Chris> I have a friend who wants to give me a Cortez Sting Ray as a Birthday gift. It is eating quite well in his tank. I own a 250 gallon tank with lots of rock and sand bed. The ray is about 4 inches in diameter. I was thinking give it a 10 inch width of sand 8ft long to play. <Mmm, will need more room than this in time... and this is a "cool-water" species... not tropical> The tank is 8ft by 2ft by2ft. I own a lot of snails and hermit crabs. Will Mr. Sting Ray eat those critters or will he be lazy and eat only the food I provide him (Krill, etc)?? <Likely both. BobF> Look forward to your response. Christopher
Re: Cortez Sting Ray   2/18/09
Thanks for your response. So your experience with these guys are that they tend to eat those critters (snails, crabs)? Are they a long lived animal if feeding well? <Urobatis maculatus... see Fishbase.org... elsewhere... Can be long-lived. BobF>
Re: Cortez Sting Ray -- 02/19/09
I went thru your website looking for info on Cortez Rays. I own a Yellow Tang, Tomini Tang, Dussimieri Tang, Djardini Tang, Naso Tang, Scopus Tang, 3 Perculas, 1 Mandarin, 1 Foxface. They are all in a 250 gallon reef tank. If I go ahead and accept the Cortez Ray as a gift will any of my fish harm this ray? <Possibly... more likely the Batoid will "sting" the other fishes though...> Or will they get along great? Look forward to your response. Thanks. Christopher Faiola <Let me try being a bit more straightforward here. Were this my system, I would NOT place a cool-water stingray in it. Clear? BobF>

500 Gallon stock list, SW FO, not mixing rays, sharks...    8/29/08 I'm looking into getting a 500 gallon tank Dims are 96"Lx 48"Wx 25"H, <Ahh, a very nice "shape" indeed> and I'm doing some pre-leg work. This is the fish list that I have in mind. The compatibility is based off of Blue zoo Aquatics quick facts chart <A worthwhile endeavour/project... though such charts/lists should not be considered/held as sacrosanct> and some of the FAQ's section from your site about Shark compatibility. Can you give me your opinion of what will and won't work together. I'm also going to try and get these fish in a smaller size. I already know filtration is going to be key, so what type of filtration or protein skimmer would you suggest for a system this size with a stock list of this level? 1 White spotted Bamboo Shark or a male and female pair 1 Blue spot stingray or Cortez which ever works better <Mmm... I would not place this ray here... nor really mix most any Batoid with Elasmobranchs... not really compatible... Sharks eat rays... they are their principal predators in the wild> A mix of about 20 Chromes: 10 Bicolor, 5 Green, 5 Blue <Food for the sharks> A mix of about 12 Altheas: 3 Square, 3 Lyre tail, 3 Disbar, 3 Resplendent <... Mmm, also food... And I would not mix such small numbers of any but the Pleurotaenia... see WWM re> 1 Bicolor Fox face Rabbit fish 2 Indigo Hamlet 1 Blue Tang 1 Blonde Nash 1 Spotted Unicorn 1 Horseshoe Filefish 4 Blue streak cleaner wrasse <Mmm, no... see WWM...> 1 Yellow head wrasse 1 Checkerboard wrasse 4 Pork fish 1 Zebra eel I know it may be a bit over crowded but that is why I came to the experts, thanks for all your answers. <Mmm, not really answers, but a request that you start over... what you list won't work. Either the sharks, and possibly some of the larger (start and finish size) fishes toward the end of your list... scratching off the Hypoplectrus, the Gymnomuraena... Take your time at this stage... I assure you, better time now than real troubles (induced) later. Bob Fenner>

Shark and ray tank 07/20/2008 Howdy, <Howsit?> I really hope that this does not sound ignorant! I have been searching the questions about rays, but I am not sure I have my answer. I have kept a 220g tank for the past two years rather successfully. I am thinking about building a bigger tank (8ftx4ftx2.5ft) I have successful kept a pair of small marbled cat sharks, because they are smaller species in my 220, thus the reason for the new tank. Would the pair of sharks and a small ray coexist in this next tank (about 600g)? <Mmm, possibly... The ray should be a tropical, stinger-less species or one that is "fixed"> Based on my research and LFS all signs point to yes, but I respect your opinion more than either of the above mentioned. I try to be the most responsible aquarist possible and I want to make sure that as the sharks grow they have the proper amount of space. Thanks for taking time to read my inquiry you guys and gals are fantastic! Jesse <Thank you, Bob Fenner>

New Yellow Ray Parasites? Incompatible Ray Mix, Disease    6/14/06 Hello,     I just got a 5" baby yellow spotted stingray from a local wholesaler. He was caught off the Florida Keys. I have a tank with a full grown Cali ray that I added him to. <... not compatible... one is tropical, the other a cool water species...> He seems to be doing ok, I got him to eat shrimp and krill. The problem I'm having is I don't have a QT tank and he was never QT before I got him and he has some kind of parasites. <Typical... cartilaginous fishes often have worm and crustacean ectoparasites collected from the wild> They look like little black flat worms, kinda like a little leech. I tried to get them off with my fingers, but his back is too slick. I can see him itching with the sides of his discs. There is around 10 or so on him. The move like flatworms. What can I add to the tank without hurting the rays and what can I do to keep them from spreading to my Cali ray (which I've had since he was a baby without any problems)? The tank has a deep sand bed, rock and the 2 rays. Thanks <See WWM re Ray Disease, Ray Systems, Marine Worm Parasitic Disease... Bob Fenner>

Stocking Levels, Marine  12/13/05 Hey, 3rd email <Huh?, Hello.>       Can I have a Cortez ray with a lion???? in a 100 gallon? <Depends on what species of lion you are referring to but generally speaking this specimen alone will need a tank larger than 100 gallons. As for the ray, multiply that 100 at least five times to get the space needed. So short answer; NO.> Thank you <Welcome, Adam J.>

California Stingray I am looking into purchasing a California Stingray (Urolophus halleri) from the internet site "Flying Fish Express." I would like to add him to a 75g with a 6 inch porcupine puffer fish and 2 1/2 foot peppered moray eel.  <you can stop right there, my friend. Two problems...one: stingrays are best kept in species specific tanks because of their feeding habits and vulnerability. It is an unwritten rule that never be kept with pecking/toothy browsers like full size angels, puffers, triggers, etc. And two: the sugar fine sand necessary/recommended for the skin health of the stingray will be a sloppy messy field day for Pufferfish species that love to blow puffs of water at the sand in search of crustacea and keep the tank milky cloudy most days of the week. Furthermore... a 75 gallon is really tight quarters even for small stingray species in the big picture. My advice... postpone the stingray for a larger species tank and enjoy a greater diversity of fish in the 75 gallon.> The tank has excellent water parameters (0 nitrite, 0 ammonia, and nitrates stay around 10ppm which I was told was very good). I do weekly - by monthly water changes and think the tank is ok to handle one more fish. Opinions on this? <indeed...as above, no stingray please> Anyway, I owned a f/w stingray a number of years ago (outgrew the tank, gave him away to a friend with a much larger tank),  <the common destiny of most stingrays...if they are lucky and don't simply stunt and die prematurely from complications in crowded undersized aquaria> and would *love* to have another if at all possible. I've found numerous sites that state a 75g is min size required,  <perhaps a minimum without tankmates and still not your best bet/responsible even if true> and the stingray should be ok with everyone in the tank.  <I would advise much to the contrary and politely disagree> I would be hand feeding him so the puffer didn't steal his dinner. The eel is also hand fed with no probs. <hand-feeding none of these species is recommended> Max size of this guy is 9 inches, excluding the tail. The substrate is an aragonite/Aragamax mix, but I'd be willing to change that to pure sand  <pure sugar fine sand would be necessary...else likely lesions and sores in time> or add sand to the mix if that's not soft enough for their sensitive stomachs. Thanks and appreciate your time to answer these questions! <I truly hope you realize your dream again with this beautiful animal in a bigger display without such unnatural tankmates. Best regards, Anthony>

Hassling Wrasse! WWM Crew, <Scott F. here tonight!> Hello again.  You guys have been so helpful in the past, I thought I'd pose another question.  The California Ray has been, as I've e-mailed to you before, acquiring sores.  At first I thought it was the substrate and high nitrates (down to 20 ppm now), but I sequestered her until she healed, and rearranged things to where she could bury in the sand rather than the gravel-like substrate.  The wounds reappeared anyway.  The culprit turned out to be the Moorish Idol (I never would have suspected until I witnessed it myself). The Moorish Idol now resides in a different tank.  There is also a cleaner wrasse in the tank with the ray, which ceaselessly attempts to 'clean' the wounds.  Now, the Ray HATES that.  She always hated the cleaning though, even before she had any wounds.  Is it possible the wrasse is hurting her? <Well, the wrasse may not be causing more injury to the ray, but the resulting stress from the "harassment" definitely is not doing her any good!> It doesn't seem to be the case because she's not getting worse, she's healing.  Very rapidly.  But I keep getting complaints (The tanks are here at the museum where I work) that the wrasse is "attacking" the ray.  Am I accurate in thinking the wrasse is not actually hurting the ray, though maybe aggravating her? <Yes- I really think that the wrasse may be causing additional stress to the ray, which is the last thing a recovering animal needs! So-you may want to remove the wrasse> Thanks for your time.  If you say to leave the ray and the wrasse together, I'm just going to post a sign explaining the behavior of these two creatures. Rochelle. <Give the wrasse a vacation! Take Care! Scott F.>

Eels/stingray cohabitants? Hello! <Hi there> I currently have two tanks housing a 9-10" Bluespot stingray and 2 eels (20" Tesselata and 15" Blackedge) respectively.  I would like to create a habitat for both the eels and ray to live together.  Am thinking of establishing one 300g tank to do this. <Ahh, a good size system>   Have already solved the cave, substrate, surface area and water flow issues on paper and am about to begin creating a working prototype.  What I need to know is:  can these animals live together without menacing or trying to eat each other? <Yes... given attention to feeding, general husbandry (big skimmer, large water changes...>   Some folks say yes, others say "good luck with that!"  Would very much appreciate your expert opinion on the viability of such a venture.   Thank you in advance!   Vicki <Should be a spectacular exhibit... given one or two "piles" of caves, soft, deep substrate for the ray, attention to getting foods to all, a secure top to prevent eel escape...  Bob Fenner>
Re: eels/stingray cohabitants?
Hooray, hooray!  I'm relieved to know I won't be putting my animals at risk (especially my ray).  I should have the new system ready to go no later than the start of summer then.  THANKS for the fast reply. Vicki <And you, for your earnest involvement, enthusiasm for our hobby, life. Bob Fenner>

Stingrays Hi Crew, <Hello Joe> Just a quick one for you.  I have a 220g FOWLR tank, with tangs, clowns and a couple triggers (niger, Humu Humu).  My LFS is getting in a blue spotted stingray and was wondering if it would be compatible with my set-up.  Also, are they a difficult fish to care for ( I was going to make sure it was eating before I buy it), do they have specific needs, will they eat my small perculas, knock over my live rock etc. <Not a good choice. Rarely live for any time in captivity. Please see here re Taeniura lymna: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/rays.htm> P.S.  The other fish I was considering is either a queen or emperor (juveniles) angel.  I've read on your site that the queen is easier, I have access to an emperor though and was wondering if it is that much more of a difficult fish then I would not buy it.  By the way how long would a juvenile take to get the beautiful colors of the adult. <Depends on several factors w/in (feeding, water changes...) and w/o your control but a few to several months to years from whatever size you're referring to> thanks for your help Joe <Bob Fenner>

Mixing stingray species I'm going to get a southern stingray is it compatible with my blue spotted stingray? -Carrie <Should be okay as long as there is sufficient space for both (hundreds of gallons). The Blue-Spotted is not easily kept, mainly due to shipping, handling damage enroute from the wild. Bob Fenner>

A Ray Of Hope? Hi, <Hi there. Scott F. here with you today> I have just acquired a Taeniura lymna.  He is about 6-7" and was at the LFS for  only 4 days before bringing him here.  I place him in a 7" (220 gal) with mostly angels as tankmates. <Yikes! Please be sure to quarantine all new arrivals for a minimum of three weeks before placing them in the display tank...Better for everyone...>   I have looked everywhere and cannot find much info on these guys.  Even on your site, there really isn't much.  I've also heard that Bob has one of these beautiful creature's?? <I don't believe that he does have one...It's one of the worst of a pretty bad family of fishes to keep in captive systems. I don't like to sound negative, but I think that, despite your good intentions, you purchased a fish that really should not be kept in captivity. These fishes almost always starve to death for lack of available food sources in captive situations. They need a huge sand bed area, filled with infaunal life. If you can get this fish to eat prepared foods (like Mysis, frozen Cyclop-Eeze, or the like would be among the better choices), it will still have a very difficult time adapting to captive life...Sure, you might have the one in a million that does, but I'm afraid the odds are not in your favor.> Do you know what he feeds his? how he feeds it, temp he keeps it at etc.  Also, my French is a little nippy with it...is this a big problem?? Can the ray defend himself? Or is this too stressful? <Well, the added challenge of a nippy tankmate is really reinforcing the odds of failure, I'm afraid. At best, he fish may hang in for a while, but if you are going to have any chance at all, I'd recommend a tank of his own...> Thank you so much  I for one have really truly appreciated all the help I've received from you guys.  My French would not be alive today if it weren't for you!!  Hopefully now you can help me with Raymond! Thanks again, Lynn <Well, Lynn- I'm afraid that we cannot be of too much help here. Regretfully, retailers continue to stock these beautiful, but non-viable (for aquarium use) animals. The best thing that we can do for them is to vote with our wallets, and not buy them. Once there is no market for such animals, there will be no reason to import them. I know that you meant well, and I encourage you to do your best with this animal, but please read up and know the odds ahead of time when you decide to purchase ANY animal, especially one with such a difficult reputation. Do your best...Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>
A Ray Of Hope? (Pt. 2)
Thank you,  just wanted to let you know that I returned the ray the next day.  He was looking stressed to me, and what little info I found... encouraged me to return him.  After getting your opinion I am glad I did so.  I'll not make this mistake again. Thanks again Lynn <Well, Lynn- I'm glad that you were able to get him back to the dealer. I can only hope that they can find this fish a more suitable home (perhaps a public aquarium?). Despite this unfortunate experience, I think that your compassion and enthusiasm will serve you well in the future...Don't be discouraged...Keep learning and growing in the hobby, and share with others! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Brazilian Electric Ray in captivity - 4/15/04  Hello guys, quick question for you. I have a friend who has a 300 gallon tank with a couple of Banded Sharks about 14" long and a couple of tangs. Temp. is set at 78. He just recently added a ray but was not sure what type it was and was getting different information as to the species from different people. I took a look at it and was not having much luck either but I finally came across a picture of the ray on your website and it was described as the 'Brazilian Electric Ray'. A few questions, on the description of this ray it said it was subtropical, is it okay at 78 degrees? <Hmmm...The range of this species, if this is what it really is, is quite extensive. It ranges from Florida/South Carolina throughout the Caribbean and down to Brazil. Tropical temperatures should be fine.> Another question, do you actually need to come in contact with the ray to be shocked or by just simply putting your hand in contact with the water? <Close or direct contact with the ray may cause shock and the shock can be quite severe.> Are the other fish safe with this ray in the tank? Specially the sharks? <The sharks should be fine, but the tangs could become dinner. That all depends on the size of the tangs and the size of the rays. The electric rays (genus Torpedo) that we have worked with are notoriously difficult to get to feed in captivity.> Should any special precautions be taken when putting hands in the water? <Always. Simple as that!>  Thanks, information on this ray does not seem readily available, any info. you can provide would be greatly appreciated. <Again we have had a hard time getting the electric rays to feed in captivity and it may also be a problem with members of this genus. They likely will need live food (fish - make sure they are marine fish) as a major component of their diet, at least initially.> 

Sting Ray Companions for now? I have a 55 gal "long" aquarium - 48"x13"x20" with 2 reef Chromis in, that finished the cycle period and is now left over ( I am transferring them to my reef very soon) . I have a Round California Stingray (only 3" D baby) in Quarantine in my 20gal. I have Another reef tank so I am pretty experienced with the fish keeping hobby, so imp trying something new. I am upgrading to a 125 later this year and am hoping to put the stingray in there when he gets a little bigger. I am actually asking about what fish would be good partners for the ray? I am thinking of a small bamboo shark that can go into the 125 (later in about march I was thinking to get the new tank). However I want some actual fish in there too. I have seen rays and bamboos do pretty well with a small baby humu. I would just like to know what fish will be a good bet for now, that I might be able to upgrade when they get bigger to my large tank, since that is what I'm aiming for. So I was also thinking about maybe a small yellow tang (I have a LFS that gets in many baby fish, and are much smaller than the other LFS have). So please let me know what is a good addition , even if they do need a bigger tank when they get bigger, since I will provide them with one, no questions asked. Are, they're any good SMALL tangs, triggers (humu is the only "small" one I found) butterflies etc.... just as long as these fish will be good with the ray. Thank you very much Chris >>>Greetings Chris, First, some info on tank size. 125 gallons is a *small* tank. The minimum tank size for any of the cat or bamboo sharks is 6 feet in length, by 24 inches wide. This amounts to a 180 gallon tank. Again, this is the minimum size, not only for the sharks but for the ray as well. You should know that I'm not just quoting numbers from some book, but speaking form experience. I've kept these animals in the past for several years. Secondly, most triggers are very poor tank mates for cat sharks, bamboo sharks, and rays. I've seen them lose eyes to curious triggers on more than one occasion in store display tanks. Appropriate trigger species would be the niger, Bluejaw or crosshatched triggers. Tangs are fine, as are angels, larger damsels, groupers and lionfish. Again, a large tank is needed for some of these fish, larger than 125 gallons. I suggest you budget for at least a 180 gallon tank. Cheers

Sharks and Rays in Aquariums
Gaining an understanding of how to keep these fishes in captive saltwater systems   

New Print and eBook on Amazon

by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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