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FAQs about Rays, Skates, Guitarfishes Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

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

Related FAQs: Batoids 1, Batoids 2, Batoid Identification, Batoid Behavior, Batoid Compatibility, Batoid Selection, Batoid Systems, 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,

Bothersome tankmates can easy upset a Rays desire to feed. Arothron nigropunctatus

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

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Re: Banjo shark help  2/24/11
Hi Bob,
Well no luck with the local aquaria, cause they don't know his history they aren't interested, which is fair enough I guess so I will have to keep him.
He actually seams happy enough at the moment but he won't eat.
<... bad. What foods have you tried? Live, small crustaceans, bivalves partially opened should be accepted. Buying a bag of frozen "mixed seafood" should work in the longer haul>
I have rearranged my tank to give maximum free sand space, and yes it is a chilled system running at 22deg Which has served me well for along time.
<How warm is the water currently in this species range?>
I guess it will be trial and error but I am thinking to treat him like any other ray and see what happens.
If you have any other suggestions or guidance it would be appreciated as my tank was not setup for this, but I get that for being a sucker hey, however I would like to see him survive
<I as well>
Wish me luck
<I ask for your applied learning. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Bulk food source  8/13/2009
Hey guys - just looking for the best prices for buying frozen foods for my sharks/rays/big puffers/eels (not all in the same tank). I searched the site, and found that you mostly recommended Quality Marine - which
isn't shipping right now, and hasn't been for a while. I'd like to buy silversides and frozen squid in bulk.
PS: I decided to go with cownose rays instead of sharks in my big tank.
Can't wait till they arrive.
<Neat animals... For such large fishes, in numbers... I'd be buying "human" seafood, and doing whatever further processing (cleaning, cutting up, storing as such) along with using vitamins for your cartilaginous fishes (see Mazuri.com... WWM re). Look in your "Yellow Pages" analog or electronic for seafood suppliers near you... and a handy chest type freezer (mine's from Costco) for the storage. Bob Fenner>
Re: Bulk food source 8/13/09

Cool - thanks - I've got a Ranch 99 Market down the street (chain of Asian grocery stores, always has excellent fish selection) and I'll see what kind of deal they can make me.
I actually built a fridge into the stand to store food, and I got in on a sweet Mazuri group buy. I'll send the pics when everybody's home. Have two big rock outcroppings on the sides for a large moray as well. Plus a
couple of groupers.
<Ahh, sounds/reads as your project is coming together. BobF>

it's about guitarfish~! Feeding, info.  6/13/08 First of all, I'm sorry for my poor English, because I'm no a English man, hope you don't mind. <Not at all... if you're trying> Can i ask a few questions about keeping guitarfish <Sure> My guitarfish doesn't eat for a few days. It's about 14' i have tried squid, goldfish, shrimp, clam. what can I do now? <What species is this? Please describe your system, and what else you're keeping with it> Do I need force feeding? <No> How to force feed to the guitarfish? (There is also other shark in my tank.) I'm looking forward to your reply. Thank you for your attention. <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>
Re: it's about guitarfish~!    6/22/08
thanks for your reply~! i think it may be the "Rhinobatos cemiculus "filter: upper filter & bottom filter (sorry, i can't find the word) size: the tank is 60" x 22" x 26" there is Brown Banded Shark x4 , Ell x2 ,Remora x1,Grouper x5 <These all need MUCH more room than this... several times. BobF>
Re: it's about guitarfish~!   6/24/08 I'm sorry about that, the sharks and ell is all about 10"but can you teach me how to make the Rhinobatos cemiculus to eat a few days ago, it had only eaten a clam <It may be "just" the environment here... Read: http://wetwebmedia.com/rays.htm the linked files above. BobF> ok thanks you very much! I will do my best <Ah, good! BobF>

SAND EELS... coldwater ray nutrition   4/7/08 Hi can you tell me if sand eels are a good source of nutrition for California round stingrays? <Mmm, no; not by themselves> My little ray is a finicky eater and I am trying to entice him with something new... I am also trying to get cockle... Any idea where to purchase? Thanks Michelle <Yes... look for Gamma Foods... have your dealer order for you through Quality Marine if you can't find otherwise. Likely can be purchased (in bulk) at an "oriental food store". Bob Fenner>

Dasyatis kuhlii not eating  4/5/07 I have had this ray (again, Dasyatis kuhlii) now for 2 weeks, he is about 6-7 inches across. <Wow, small...> I picked him up from a LFS who flew him in special and purposely did not acclimate him to their system (I took him in the shipping cooler and acclimated him to my system within 2 hours of his arrival at the LFS). <A good idea... I would have done the same, encouraged you to do this yourself> He is in an 8¹ x 8¹ x 2.5¹ pond with only a panther grouper, who leaves him alone.  Water temp is 72-73 degrees, with an all soft sand bottom, and only 2 small piles of live rock.  System has been established for 8 months.   My problem is that I have never seen him eat.  He stays buried all the time the lights are on, but when they go off and it is dark he starts swimming and flapping at the surface (you can hear him start 10 minutes after ³dusk²).  I have been throwing live ghost shrimp in just before the lights go out, as well as partially burying small chunks of table shrimp, squid, and scallops every night.  Usually the next morning the buried chunks are still there.  I even put a live Astrea snail in there a week ago, and nothing, snail still scooting along.   Should he stay buried all ³day² long? <Mmm, I wouldn't be overly concerned either with the burying behavior nor the lack of apparent feeding thus far... two weeks is not a long time for such an animal to "settle in"> I tried slipping some food in front of him, and even under his snout, but if he does anything, he just swims away and re-buries himself.  Also ignores any food I throw in when the lights are on that circulates for the grouper to eat (same general menu).  Never actually seen him eat the ghost shrimp, which may be snacks for the grouper.  Any suggestions on getting him (it is a him) to eat? Thanks. Dan <Mmm... well, what you list are all good choices... According to fishbase.org: http://fishbase.org/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=4508&genusname=Dasyatis&speciesname=kuhlii this species feeds on crabs and shrimps in the wild... I would continue to try offering whole, bits of these... perhaps soaked in a vitamin/feeding stimulant like Selcon. Bob Fenner>

Feeding a blue spotted stingray (not ribbon tail)   2/26/07 besides live ghost shrimp, what else can you feed the blue spotted ray? <Not to be disingenuous, but whatever it will eat. Have only seen a handful of this species kept successfully in captivity... All had been conditioned to accept meaty foods... "on the fly" at a particular place, time in very large systems... "seafood stew", "frutti di mar/e" mixes available at human food stores are great for supplying variety here... at low cost... including shellfish, cephalopod, fin fish flesh...> I also have a Cortez ray, but it's teeth and jaws seem much stronger then the blue spotted rays (I've had one prior too in my old tank which already passed away, but now I have a 220 gallon using RO water) and the blue spotted ray can't seem to chew on any krill or chopped up squid, it tries for awhile but can't seem to chew them and then eventually swims away. <Yes... I concur that the Cortez species is much more a "dual" food mode animal... able to crush thicker-shelled bivalves... You'll need to shuck such for your Bluespot> I had this problem prior, making it hard to feed the ray because they had such poor chewing skills versus the Cortez ray, which can chew up stuff like live gold fish no problem. Any ideas? Thanks in advance! =) -- Douglas Chang, Pharm.D. <Do try fashioning a "feeding stick", defrosting such foodstuffs of size, offering them (after soaking in a vitamin/HUFA food-stimulant mix... you can make or buy commercially)... and placing down near the front of this animal... Bob Fenner>

Re: stingray question, health, sys.    1/17/06 Thanks for the info.     Here's some more...The total population consists of 1 leopard ray(20"), 4 southerns (2-3', 2 16") and 4 bat rays (18").  The only animals with red marks are the two large southerns.  We monitor NH3, NO2 and NO3.  NH3 is 0 as well as NO2.  We recently did a large water change and dropped NO3 from near 100 to 25mg/l. <Good> Although we buffer often to reach 8.0 the pH wants to stay around 7.5. <You may want to suggest looking into a source of soluble carbonate to blend in with (your presumed use) of bicarbonate... applying this as a slurry...>      The tank is empty except for substrate which is coral sand.  From reading on WWM it is probably too coarse but we're stuck with it for now.    <Mmm... yes... not likely an issue here if the other Rays are fine>   It is my understanding that when the tank was first set up there was a heavy metal problem. <Very common... in a "previous life" I necropsied cartilaginous fishes as a "consultant"... mainly in public aquariums... Many animals lost to "re-bar" exposure... other sources of metal contamination> I was told this was no longer an issue.  I'm not sure what we would test for and in what quantities.      <I'd test the water, or have it tested... use a pad of Polyfilter in your water flow... if nothing else... to steadily monitor (by color) such presence...>   The primary diet is whole capelin with occasional feeding of peeled shrimp.    <... and vitamin et al. supplementation I hope/trust... Are you familiar with Mazuri(.com)?>   It was suggested to try Baytril (Enrofloxacin) which we have but I'm dubious about effect.    <Mmm, I would not... And feel very uneasy re discussing this on-line...>   Thanks for your input!   <Glad to cooperate. Bob Fenner>

Shrimp as ray food, Oblivious questions re a large SW system   1/16/07 Hi I was wondering what kind of protein skimmer I should buy. I have a 150 gallon now with a carbon filter. Is a protein skimmer the same as a filter or do I need both? <Mmm... a skimmer is a type of (marine) filtration device... Most folks find other filtration necessary...> I am in the process of getting a 500 gallon tank. What is necessary to run such a marine tank? <?> Wet dry filter, Protein skimmers? Any other suggestions on product? <Yes... Please read... here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm Too much to relate... w/o knowing what you intend to keep, do what with...> One more question, is ghost shrimp a sufficient diet for my ray? <No> Should I be giving Vitamins if so which ones? <This and much more you need to know and will enjoy is posted/archived on our site... Please see WWM... learn to/use the indices, search tool...> If anyone is in desperate need I can ship ghost shrimp to picky eaters in need. I am fortunate enough to live on the bay!! Thanks Michelle <Ahh, thank you for this kind offer. Bob Fenner>

Urolophus halleri (Round Ray), not eating, not tropical  9/18/06 Hey Crew,   We got a Cali ray that came in to our store last week on Thursday. The ray hasn't eaten yet. It seems like he doesn't want to eat. We have tried frozen squid, krill, gulf shrimp, and live ghost shrimp. None of them have worked. She swims all day and all night and rest for a little bit. Should the ray be eating by now? I've looked at some of the articles on your site and nothing helped. We have been hand feeding and stick feeding.   Thanks,   Ben <... is this fish in "hot water?"... See here: http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=2580&genusname=Urobatis&speciesname=halleri Subtropical... likely needs to just be placed in cool/cold water and allowed to acclimate. Bob Fenner>

Cortez Stingray Care  11/30/05 Hello,  <Jason>  I have a Cortez ray which I've had for many months and he's a really great eater. My problem is I feed him silversides daily, somewhere between 3-7 full size fish cut in half.  <<This animal will not survive long on such a diet - not natural, in the long run not healthy.  Marina>> Anyways my nitrates are very high even with weekly water changes and my refugium. I've read everything I could and can't seem to find any info on feeding rays every other day or every three days to cut down on the waste. Is this possible or is there some other food that sinks to the bottom easily other than silversides that's not so messy? He has a puffer tank mate that's a pig! Thanks for any info you may have. <Let me start out by asking you what size tank the ray is in. James (Salty Dog)>  
Re: Cortez Stingray Care  11/30/05
Hey James, He's in a 125 gallon with a 25 gallon DIY wet/dry/sump/refugium with a emperor 400, Fluval 404, 5 gallons of bioballs in the wet/dry, 80 lbs rock and a 4" DSB. The refugium has Chaeto growing with a BB. The live rock is stacked in the corners and the whole tank is open for him to swim. Both the puffer and ray eat silversides.  <Is this the same as the Thornback or Guitar Stingray? For the waste they produce, a 125 is on the small side. It doesn't surprise me that your nitrates are high. A 300 gallon tank would be more in line. You may want to try using some Chemi-Pure in the Fluval along with changing/cleaning the filter pads on a weekly basis to remove the waste. I see no reason why the ray cannot be fed every other day as they are not that active in small captive systems. James (Salty Dog)>  <<And he's GOT to change the diet he's feeding these animals!!!  Especially for the puffer.  Must, MUST start on shelled animals, krill, crab, shrimp, etc., or both animals will be very short-lived.  Marina>>

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.> 

- Captive Electric Rays - Dear WetWebCrew, <Greetings, JasonC here...> Hate to be such a bother, but you guys are by far the best source of information I have come across. Just think of me as your unskilled apprentice, always curious. My friend just bought an electric ray to put in his 300 gallon tank. <Ohh nooo... please tell me you are joking.> He's had it set up for quite a while and is running adequate filtration and the water quality is fine and stable. We tried to ask the guy at the pet store some questions, but he didn't seem to really now anything. First off, is there any supplements he should use to better prepare the ray for aquarium life? <None... please consider trying to get this ray back in the sea.> We've already used "Cycle" to help ease the transition. <Cycle isn't made for such things.> I've heard iodine is good, or any other essential vitamins/nutrients? Second, what should be done properly regulate its sleep cycle? Right now, the lights are coming on at 10 am, and are going off at 11pm. <Should be fine.> It was my understanding that rays and sharks are nocturnal so we don't want to mess up anything having to do with his natural rhythms. <Not always, but often their food is nocturnal so...> Also, we tried feeding it both live ghost shrimp and skewered squid, neither of which it was interested in. Is this just because its still getting used to its new home? <It could also be because most all electric rays are not tropical fish and need to be in a chilled tank.> How often should he be fed, I've read twice a week, no more, no less. What is the best method of feeding it? Any other important info you could add would be greatly appreciated, Sincerely, Bob Benson-- <Bob, there just aren't enough ways for me to voice my disappointment. These rays are absolutely inappropriate for anything but the largest public aquariums, and for your friend to have purchased and placed it without knowing the care requirements in advance has likely sealed its fate. Please start by picking up a copy of Scott Michael's book, Aquarium Sharks and Rays - detailed care requirements are contained within. But let me quickly quote his book from the section Captive Care: "Unfortunately, due to their selective food habits, electric rays do not fare well in captivity. They feed primarily on annelid worms, both in the wild and in captivity, so unless you have access to a ready supply of these invertebrates, your chances of keeping an electric ray alive are slim." Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Consider poking your friend to do the research FIRST. Sincerely, J -- >

You can call him Ray, he's new and not tropical, but hungry Hi:     I just got a California ray yesterday. It's quite small (the disk size is about 3 inches). The fish looks fine and has been stay at the sand bed. However, it does not move much unless my cleaner wrasse is bothering him. I am wondering how should I feed it? I tried swing a piece of squid/shrimp in front of it, buried the meat underneath the sand near him. He just wouldn't eat. I think later I will get a turkey baster to shoot some brine shrimp in front of him to see if that works. Please give me some suggestion, thanks! regards, Howard <Some suggestion? Likely to return the Ray whence you got it. Do you have a chiller on this system? This is not a tropical fish... it might not be eating simply because it is too warm. A cleaner wrasse? Please take the time to read through (use the marine index or the Google search tool at the bottom of the homepage) of our root web: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ Do yourself and future livestock the simple yet essential "favor" of studying re their husbandry before purchasing them. Bob Fenner>

Feeding Rays Hi.  I am a graduate student at Nova's Oceanographic Center.  My thesis requires that I hand feed yellow stingrays (Urolophus/Urobatis jamaicensis), but we are having difficulties getting the rays to feed.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. <There are feeding stimulants that include vitamins and HUFAs. Liquid prep.s are used to soak food items in a few minutes... What sorts of foods are you offering? Hopefully you are using a feeding "stick"... and placing the food down near the bottom of the system. Bob Fenner>

Blue Dot Stingray I have a Blue Dot Stingray and I can not get him to eat. I have tried a lot of food clam , shrimp , krill , and fish but he will not eat yesterday he looked like he was eating some krill but he was not I need help please my tank is 150 gal and the water is fine I also have a Snowflake Eel with him and have no problems at all with him eating. I have had him for 2 weeks. Please help what can I try to feed him and how can you tell if it is a male or female thanks again. Thanks again for any help <Mmm, not an easy fish or even group (stingrays) to keep in aquariums. Easily sexed... they have internal fertilization as the closely related sharks... males have claspers (narrow, tubular processes) for pelvic fins... females have more fan-shaped pelvics. Feeding? Perhaps try a feeding stimulant like the supplement Selcon... soaking a mix of meaty foods in this material for fifteen minutes or so before offering down near the animal (on a feeding stick). Please see WetWebMedia.com re Taeniura lymna here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/rays.htm and the linked FAQs file beyond. Bob Fenner>

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.> 

Algae Thanks again for the fast reply James, I really appreciate your help!  <You're welcome> After 9 days of not eating, I *finally* got my stingray to eat today! For the last couple nights I have been trying to syringe feed him Selcon and Cyclop-eeze to very little success. This afternoon, he was swimming up to the top of the tank and I put the syringe of Cyclop-eeze and he started chewing on it. I put in a tiny piece of frozen krill and he chewed on that too. He had a hard time eating it, by guess is that he is weak from not eating for so long. I gave him some softened frozen squid, which he ate down nicely. So it looks like things are on the up and up. Next step is to get the critters into the big tank. My 150G tank has been odd lately. The sand and the live rock have become inundated with brown stuff. I'm sure it's just diatom algae, but what confuses me is why it is so bad in this tank. My other tanks never had it this bad. I'm using RO/DI water to take out the bad stuff in the water. I'm also using "MarineMix Bioassay" salt mix, which I read was the least toxic of the mixes available. I'm going to add a canister filter soon, that way I can filter out the sand dust and the free floating algae when the sand gets stirred. The ammonia and nitrites are not zero, but out of the toxic zones, but the nitrates are a bit high still. Perhaps the nitrate cycle is causing this algae outbreak? <Yes>  Looks like I still have a little while before the tank is ready after all.  Thanks again, and I have attached a photo of my critters in the medium sized tank.  <Glad to hear things are improving, Mike. I will post a link here on algae control that you should read. Hopefully it will steer you on the right track. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm  James (Salty Dog)>

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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