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FAQs about Rays, Skates, Guitarfishes... 2

Related Articles: Saltwater Ray Husbandry By Adam Blundell, Rays, Freshwater Stingrays, Wounds Articles, Sharks, Cartilaginous Fishes

Related FAQs: Batoids 1, Batoid Identification, Batoid Behavior, Batoid Compatibility, 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,
FAQs by groups/species: Blue Spotted Rays,

Urobatis jamaicensis

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

stingray question... stkg./sel.   7/27/17
<Hi there>
I have available a 20,000 gallon concrete pool . I would like to do a touch tank with it. The pool is saltwater. Since in the summer, water temp gets to 80 degrees, which species of stingray would do best in this environment.
<Mmm; where is this pool (geographically)? Are you interested in catching (likely hook and line) your own specimens? Bob Fenner>
Re: stingray question       7/28/17

We are in Tucson. Was planning on buying stingrays for the pond and maybe involve the local high school which has a marine biology unit at the school.
<Mmm; well; as far as stocking/selection, there are tropical freshwater and marine species that could be utilized. Can you afford to heat the water during winter/cold months? I STRONGLY encourage you to get some hands-on experience with keeping a large marine aquarium before attempting this if going saltwater.
Has this concrete pool been treated with metals (for Algicide)? Bob Fenner>
Re: stingray question       7/28/17

Yes it does have a heater, of course days are mild in the winter 60's and 70's. colder at night. with exception to January.
<.... a heater w/ Cu piping? You haven't read... B>

Cortez Ray; env., no reading       2/16/16
Hi, how's it going?
<Fine; thanks>
3 months ago, I purchased a small, 4 inch Cortez Ray.
<Not a tropical fish you understand>

It's been doing great. A few weeks ago, I noticed that it has two large bumps on its back. What could be causing those bumps?
<Injury, improper environment most likely
It doesn't appear to be sick and it can't possibly be pregnant
<Too small to be sexually mature>
since it hasn't been exposed to other rays since I purchased it and from the research I've done, it's too small to have reached sexual maturity.
Your help is much appreciated! Thank you
<Search on WWM re Cortez Rays... needs to be kept in cool water. Bob Fenner>
Re: Cortez Ray      2/16/16

Thanks for the feedback!
<Certainly welcome. Am sure you've searched the bb's... some state this fish lives in water up to 82 F... I have dived along both coasts where it occurs... the water is never this warm by more than 10 degrees F>
It's being kept in a 65gallon tank
<Too small... again; please, PLEASE simply search/read on WWM re this species care. WE'RE NOT A CHAT FORUM
with plenty of open swimming space, fine aragonite live sand,
15kg of live rock, a yellow tang and a cleaner shrimp.
<Will eat this>

The temperature is at 79F. What should the temperature range be?
<No more than 70. READ, don't write
. B>
and what kind of changes can I make for it to be more comfortable?
Thank you very much for your help!

Deep dives of devil rays solve 'mystery' of warm brain       7/2/14
You’ll doubtless find this story about these Mobula sp. rays worth reading. Turns out they’re diving over a mile down to find food, and have a bunch of adaptations that help to keep them warm while they’re doing that. What’s more, such behaviour was totally unexpected (though makes you wonder if anyone did any analyses of their gut contents before).
Cheers, Neale
<Had never heard of such deep diving... the link? BobF>
<<Did I not include?
Cheers, Neale>>
Deep dives of devil rays solve 'mystery' of warm brain       7/2/14

You’ll doubtless find this story about these Mobula sp. rays worth reading. Turns out they’re diving over a mile down to find food, and have a bunch of adaptations that help to keep them warm while they’re doing that. What’s more, such behaviour was totally unexpected (though makes you wonder if anyone did any analyses of their gut contents before).
<And folks doing gut contents analysis on the Mantas on the Big Island (Hawaii) developed a lavage system for having them cough up food bolus... rather than dissection post necropsy. B>
Cheers, Neale

stingray... Something  4/11/10
I have a Cortez stingray
<A cool water animal>
that I have had about 2 months, he has been eating and very friendly until tonight when I went to feed them he is staying on the side of the glass and will not swim to the top to be hand fed as he usually does, I just checked my water and all is fine. I did a water change two days ago. He is breathing very fast. I don't want to lose him. Any help
<Uhhh... with what? You offer no information re the system, water quality, foods, tank-mates... Read here:
the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

California sting rays, no data of use   1/11/09 Hi I have 2 California stingrays in a 180 gallon tank. water levels are fine <...> I've had them for 3 years now but I noticed on the smallest ray he has 3 tiny black dots on his body. Do you know what this could be from? Is the water lacking anything? Please help Michelle <... please send along productive information: Make up of the system, its history, tankmates, foods/feeding, actual water test results... Photo/s if you can. Bob Fenner>

California sting rays... Again... Still no data of use, reading 1/15/09 Hi I have 2 California stingrays <Urolophus halleri> in a 180 gallon tank. water levels are fine <Meaningless> I've had them for 3 years now but I noticed on the smallest ray he has 3 tiny black dots on his body. Do you know what this could be from? <Mmm, could be stress... you do have a chiller? Natural coloring... perhaps parasitic> Is the water lacking anything? <How would I, anyone be able to ascertain this? You've presented no data re... the short answer: Sure, could be> Please help. Michelle <... please... don't write... read instead: http://wetwebmedia.com/rays.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Steve the ex-croc man vs. the Ray... about the animal?   9/4/06 Greetings Mr. Fenner, Today is a tragic day for just about anyone who cares for the  planet's animal's and a grieving family of course. I write today  after viewing your website, and seeing your email address. I want to  pose a question about the animal that took Steve' life, we hear being  reported on the news that this creature is a "Bull Nose" Ray of about  7' across, and I was curious about the approximate measure of the  stinger portion of this individual's tail? thanks. warmest regards, Zander Z. Van Draden Zz <Mmm, likely ten to fifteen cm.... do lose these, regenerate... is actually a "sheath" that covers the poison-secreting mechanism... Bob Fenner>

Ray barbs regrowing  10/06/06 Dear WWM, As a librarian working in a marine science library I get lots of questions from the public, one today was "do stingrays regenerate their barbs if they are "removed"?" <Mmm, the "sheaths" that fit over the actual barbs do so... and the venom-delivering barb can if not removed too fully... In public aquariums that use stingrays for display/petting pools, the barbs are removed to the extreme... and do not regenerate> Crikey, I was stumped.  So I headed for the WWM site  - cos those that keep rays are sure to understand them best-  and I found this little gem about the barb of the ray that got Steve Irwin  "Mmm, likely ten to fifteen cm.... do lose these, regenerate... is actually a "sheath" that covers the poison-secreting mechanism... Bob Fenner"   I have read lots of conflicting info. about ray barbs. Please tell me more this about regeneration and about the poison/venom too.   Vicki <Wish I knew of some popular works on these cartilaginous fishes that would cover this "hot" topic. Cheers, 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>

Urobatis jamaicensis in captivity    4/25/06 Hello my name is Riley I have read a lot of  information on stingrays. I currently have a P. reticulatus, but I'm also  interested in marine rays I have researched and found that  Urobatis jamaicensis is the most suitable for life in an  aquarium. I searched your site and found no information regarding this ray other  than ("Urobatis jamaicensis (Cuvier 1816), the Yellow Stingray. Western  Atlantic; North Carolina to Venezuela. To thirty inches wide. Aquarium and Cozumel photos.")  I would like to know the basics and the requirements of   this beautiful animal. <Mmm... you should peruse the article, FAQs on Batoid fishes...> Such as tank size, <Hundreds to thousands of gallons... at least twice the width of the intended maximum size, thrice the length. Height not very important functionally>> eating habits etc. I would also like to  know how to go about purchasing this ray, what sites or sources carry it. Also  what are appropriate tanks mates?  Your help is most  appreciated. Thank you for your time! <Or a referral... to Scott Michael's "Sharks and Rays in Aquariums"... Bob Fenner>

Narcine brasiliensis (Lesser Electric Ray) Care 10/11/05 I have a quick question. <Okay, Adam J with you tonight.> I was in the Gulf of Mexico off of Florida and caught a Brazilian electric ray. <Yes, Narcine brasiliensis, very common in Florida waters.> My wife talked me into bringing it back home to Arkansas to put in our marine aquarium. I don't have any access to any annelid worms that he may eat. Do you have any suggestions of where I can purchase them? <I wood use Google and search for methods of culturing your own.>  Do you know of any other food sources that he may eat? I've got other marine fish in there from the Gulf, and don't necessarily want him to eat them, but if it means his survival, that's ok.  <Very unlikely for the ray to pick on fish, in fact it may be the opposite. Fish such as Marine Angels and Triggers are known to pick at the skin and eyes of sedentary rays.>  I should have gone with my instincts and let him go. He is pretty small right now. Do you think he may adapt to any other food? <This ray is one of the most difficult to keep because of its feeding behaviors. No public or private aquaria (that I know of) has ever coaxed one into eating prepared foods. However they have been known to accept a few other types of foods other than annelid worms such as: Ghost Shrimp (though these are not very nutritious), Adult Clam Worms (Nereis virens), Lug Worms (Arenicola cristada) and other small/slow moving crustaceans.  As I'm sure you have gathered this animal is not for the faint at heart. Even public aquaria who attempt to keep this animal have many difficulties getting the creature to eat and adapt to captivity. They are also prone to bacterial infections and parasites such as marine leeches (Branchellion ravenelli) and straight from the ocean without QT I am willing to bet there are parasites to be found on your specimen.  To be honest it is best left in the ocean (though DO NOT return it for fear of contamination) If you do get the animal to eat I would look into vitamin supplementation as well. And please keep in mind the adult length of this species at nearly 20', this animal will eventually need a tank with a foot print of at least 24' by 60' as an adult. Also for more general care look into Scott Michaels book, Sharks and Rays.  And BE CAREFUL! This animal can and will emit mild electric shocks.> In His Name, Pastor Shawn <Adam J.> 
Re: Lesser Electric Ray 10/12/05
Thank you for your help.  <You're welcome.>  Yes, I've discovered their little gift of shock a few times in the Gulf.  <That doesn't sound pleasant.>  I'm used to getting shocked as I've been an electrician for twelve years. I've never gotten to the point where I like it though.  <Doesn't seem like something anyone would ever get used to.> <<Marina can attest to the truthfulness of his words: you do get to liking it.>> In His Name, Pastor Shawn <Glad to have helped, Adam J.>

Sting Ray Care  10/4/05 Hi, <Hello, Adam with you tonight.> I Love stingrays and have had very good luck with California Rays (Urobatis Halleri) <Very neat temperate species.> and extremely bad luck with a (Taeniura lymna) Bluespot Ribbontail Ray throughout my aquatic career.  <This is not surprising at all.  Often they die within the first week or two of captive life and rarely accept food.  Even when they occasionally accept food they seem to go on hunger strikes at times and often never resume feeding.  Very rare that this animal is kept successfully long term. This one is best left in the ocean.>  I have been lucky enough to obtain a baby Bali Bluespotted Stingray (Dasyatis Kuhlii) which is currently residing in my 50 gallon quarantine tank. <Ahh yes this 'look alike' species is much hardier. Generally they are easily coaxed into taking frozen fare such as fresh market fish, squid, krill, any meats of a marine origin really.  You should have a fine layer of sand on the bottom of the tank, at least 3' in which t can bury itself when threatened.  Coarse sand will cause irritation to its smooth skin, which can lead to bacterial infections and even death.  You'll also (eventually) need a tank of at least 300 gallons with lots of surface area and minimal rockwork.  Keep in mind that as with all elasmobranchs this species is sensitive to stray electrical voltages, heavy metals, and high nitrate levels.>  I have tried to search both WetWebMedia and the web and have not found much information on care about this stingray. Please help me learn to provide the best possible atmosphere for this animal. <I also will take this opportunity to plug Scott Michael's book 'Aquarium Sharks and Rays.' It is filled with tons of good general information. However I will say that I disagree with many of the listed tank sizes for some species. I believe all sharks and rays should be treated to X-large spacious tanks (not closets) or left in the ocean.> Obsessed Aquarist Dinesh Patolia <Adam J.>

Delayed reactions to stingray stings  9/24/05 Saw a child who was stung in the front of the ankle by a stingray 3 weeks ago. He soaked his foot in hot water, and it got better. About a week later, he started to get these small dense bumps in the sting area. They continued to increase in number. About a week ago, he was swimming in a pool and slightly scraped his forehead and nose. Now those same bumps are developing in these areas. They itch slightly and are not painful. A few more come out each day. Any ideas? <Mmm, yes... I would take this child to his pediatrician, ask for a referral to folks who deal in such matters... There are two or more components in such stings... some involve the immediate trauma, venom... others more latent infection... Bob Fenner>

Atlantic Turbo Ray?  What? - 09/17/2005 Hi Bob <Crewmember Sabrina with you this afternoon.> I have an Atlantic Turbo Ray in my tank I put it in last week it is about 6" in dia. <First learn what this animal is.  Start here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/rays.htm .  "Atlantic turbo ray" doesn't even come up in a google search.  Your fish store, or their dealer, or their transshipper, has invented this name, most likely.  Find out what the animal is, and be prepared to return it or give it appropriate living conditions.  I do not believe ANY marine rays collected for the aquarium hobby have adult sizes less than 18" in dia.  This means you'll be needing several hundreds of gallons for the beast at its adult size.> Two questions are it safe to keep in my tank and what will it eat. <I know nothing about your tank, therefore could not even begin to tell you if this mystery ray is safe in your tank.  Assuming this is a Dasyatis species, it should eat meaty foods, like pieces of fish and shrimp.  You may need to get it started eating with live shrimp.  Best to get reading!> Thanks  Edward Demsky <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Stingray sting 8/23/05 My husband and I were on vacation in Corpus Christi Texas and he got stung by a stingray. I took him to the emergency room and they stuck his foot in hot water, took an x-ray, and gave him some antibiotics. It is now 2 weeks later and he is still having some pain in his foot and he is very tired, nauseated, has diarrhea, and sweats a lot even though he is not hot. Could this be because of the sting? Thank you, Amber  <Amber, Sting Rays have one or more barbed stingers and two ventrolateral venom containing grooves that are encased in a sheath, so to speak.  When a victim is stung, such as your hubby, the stinger apparatus then injects a protein based toxin into the wound generally causing immediate intense pain.  The injury may occur without envenomation since many rays lose or tear off the sheath covering the venom gland.  In your hubby's case, sounds like the gland was intact.  And yes, your hubby's symptoms are included along with others listed below. Syncope Nausea Vomiting Diarrhea Diaphoresis Muscle cramps Abdominal pain Seizures, and Hypotension Have hubby keep taking his antibiotics as the doctor prescribed.  Hope he is feeling fine soon.  James (Salty Dog)>

Stingray Questions - 08/21/2005 Hello, I was wondering if you could answer some questions about stingrays for me. <We'll certainly try our best!> I saw some the other day and was very intrigued by them, I can't seem to find out what species it was though! I have scoured the internet and came to your site. <Ahh, welcome.  Much, MUCH information to be had here....> The ones I saw had a blunt nose and ranged in color from dark to light grey. <Far too many possibilities to even begin to guess.  Have you seen here:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/rays.htm ? > I was also wondering what kind of tank and accommodations they would need to keep one (or more) as a pet. <Some in-depth research will be required of you, here....  As they are Elasmobranchs, they are dramatically sensitive to metals, electric current....  Water quality must never be anything but perfect....  And perhaps the most daunting, I know of no saltwater species available in the hobby that would survive long in less than several hundreds of gallons (you read that right!).  But as challenging as they are, they are doubly rewarding.  There is far too much information than can be exchanged in a mere email....  Consider picking up Scott Michael's book, "Sharks and Rays"....  and keep in mind that, in my opinion and the opinions of many others, his minimum tank size requirements are drastically small....> I was wondering if you could tell me the different species, hopefully the one I saw, and maybe some pics? <Take a look at that link I gave, and also look for the Scott Michael book.> I looked on your website but haven't had much luck finding anything but will keep looking. Love the site! <Glad to hear this!  I hope you find it to be a great source of information.> How difficult is it to have a ray? <Very.> What is the average price of them? <Varies dramatically.> Thanks so much for your time! Jessica <Mm, another thought for you, Jessica - have you considered the freshwater stingrays of genus Potamotrygon?  If you are not in California, you might find these a less expensive, (slightly) less difficult animal to care for....  But still a very great challenge in animal husbandry, to be sure!  Take a look here:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwstingrays.htm and elsewhere on the 'net for a great wealth of information.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>
Stingray Questions - II - 08/22/2005
Well I have looked at quiet a few pics and think the one I saw was a bat ray. <A VERY large, coldwater animal....  If you're ever near Monterey, CA, do please "meet" the ones at the Monterey Aquarium - they are in a "touch" pool, and quite friendly.  They feel like velvet.> The only thing is some of them look like the one I saw and some look totally different! About the freshwater rays though, what is the smallest species available? <Possibly P. scobina....  12"-14" in diameter....  Only needs a couple hundreds of gallons for a pair.> How sociable are they? <Extremely.  Most are.> Is it humane to have their stingers removed? <Absolutely not....  And the extreme probability of bacterial infection that usually results from doing so is highly likely to kill them.  Besides, the stinger will be shed/regrown regularly; removing it is pointless.> Do some people have their teeth removed? <Not willingly, I'll bet!  Oh, you mean the *ray's* teeth?!  No, certainly not!  This would undoubtedly end up killing the animal, and would serve, literally, NO useful purpose.  The animals do not sting or bite with intention unless they are harmed into doing so.  I have handled a number of freshwater rays (even hand fed them!) with all their teeth and stingers fully intact, and never been shown anything but interest in whatever food was in my hand.  I even observed one being administered an antibiotic injection (for bacterial infection from having its stinger covered with a plastic tube!), and the creature did not even flinch.  Step on one, and it'll sting you, sure.> What is the smallest salt water sting ray? <Available in the hobby?  Possibly the "blue spotted"....  at only a little less than a couple feet in diameter.  VERY rarely does this animal survive collection and handling....  will die shortly after purchase, most times.> Are there any that live in brackish water? <Some that venture into brackish water....  Including Dasyatis sabina, the Atlantic stingray.  There is even a colony of this species that is now generations removed from marine environs and now exists entirely in freshwater.> Thanks again! Jessica <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

My newest addition! Misplaced skate 7/14/05 I acquired my first stingray <Uhh, mistake number one... this is a skate... family Rajidae> Saturday, July 9th;  I have attached a picture of my "Stinger" (my two year old daughter named him).   He is doing wonderfully!  I have done a ton of research online but it is very limited.  I have purchased a few books but have yet to receive them. <Mistake two... too late> I was wondering if I might ask you a few questions? 1.    I bought him at Big Al's Aquarium Superstore, it was described as a salt water ray converted to fresh water (my guess is because I am in Florida and fresh water rays are illegal to own, sell, keep, breed, etc.).  Am I to treat and feed him like a true fresh water ray? <... is not a freshwater species... will be dead soon if kept in such... Mistake three> 2.    I kept the diet that the store had him on-frozen silversides, krill and bloodworms.  According to some articles I have found he is considered undernourished (you can see the "dent" between the eyes).  I started with one block of food twice a day but he still seems hungry so yesterday he got four blocks.  Am I in danger of over feeding! <Nope> 3.    Is it a male?  I see what I consider "claspers" at the stinger base. <Me too... I don't have claspers, but I see these also on the photo> 4.    In 900 gallons I keep four koi (2 small/2 med size); four large comets (one is in the picture); 6-8 feeder goldfish; and Stinger-is there room for another ray? <... no> I would appreciate ANY advice you can send my way, I am so fascinated with him and it has only been a few days! <What can I say, write? This fish is doomed... of the two hundred or so species of skates, none are strictly freshwater. Enjoy this animal... while you can. Bob Fenner> Thank you,
Ronny Peltcs

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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