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FAQs about Rays, Skates, Guitarfishes Identification

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 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,

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

Round ray- nose tilted up    3/7/16
Dear wet web media crew, I have a couple of small round rays. They're about 5 inches in diameter. A lot of the time they like to rest with their noses tilted up, as you can see in the image below. Is this a bad sign?
<Maybe... is this tank chilled? Urobatis concentricus. These fish are not tropical... >
Does it mean anything and if so what could be causing this ? Both are active, I suspect they are bullseye stingrays. They eat silversides, shrimp and fresh marine fish once or twice a day.
<See, as in read on WWM re feeding Rays, and Thiaminase. Don't write back till you do>
The temperature is at a steady 74 degrees
and the water parameters are good. Nitrites and ammonia at 0 and nitrates are at 10. Thank you so much for your feedback! I look forward to hearing from you.
<I look forward to your enlightening yourself. Bob Fenner>

Round rays- frequency of feeding; ID; coldwater    3/8/16
Dear Bob, for some time now I have been doing some reading on WWM. I realize that my stingrays need to be kept in cooler water. However, they currently live with a yellow tang which I am hoping to find a new home for, so right now the temperature is at 74. I purchased my rays around 3 months ago and so far they've been eating very well. I know that they need to be fed a variety of foods to ensure proper iodine and iodide levels are maintained and thiaminase levels are kept under control.
<Ah, good>
My question to you is how often should I feed them?
<Mmm; at this size, temp.... about every other day... just not much... maybe the volume of the end of your pinky digit>
Also, could you help me identify if they are indeed bullseye stingrays?
<Can't tell from your pix... Look for stingrays of California... >
I have some doubts as to what round ray species they belong to. Also, I still haven't found anything about what it means for their noses to be tilted up.
<Likely previous damage... from holding, shipping... in too small a container>
I read through the sharks/rays diseases section of the website but I was not able to find anything.
Your help is very much appreciated Bob. Thank you!
<Glad to help you. Bob Fenner>

Rays in Hawaii?  Batoid ID  7/9/07 What is the difference between a bat ray & an eagle ray? I saw one or the other, today while snorkeling on the Big Island of Hawaii. Aloha, Carole <Hello Carole. A bat ray is, to Americans at least, a single species, Myliobatis californica. It is a member of the eagle ray family Myliobatidae however, so it is technically both *the* bat ray and *an* eagle ray. In British English this species is in fact called the "bat eagle ray" and this is the name under which it is listed in Fishbase and identified by the FAO, though the American Fisheries Society calls it the "bat ray". Eagle rays are a number of different species within the Myliobatidae, such as the spotted eagle ray Aetobatus narinari. Morphologically, there's no difference between the bat ray and an eagle ray beyond those the differentiate them at species level. All have the characteristic big head armed with crushing teeth, all have the same rhomboid shape, all have the whip-like tail. Bottom line: if you can identify your fish as Myliobatis californica, then it's a bat ray, otherwise, simply call it an eagle ray! Stopping by the Fishbase entry for the family will give you some extra information as well as links to photographs of the different species and identification keys. See here: http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/FamilySummary.cfm?Family=Myliobatidae .Hope this helps! Neale>

Cortez Stingray. Sting Ray Confusion....Care Issues, ID, parasites...  - 05/02/07 I have a couple of questions that i <I> can not seem to find anywhere. <I'll do my best to point you in the right direction there chief.> First I supposedly had Sea of Cortez Stingray but looked nothing like a cortez. <Just to clarify we are talking about Urobatis maculatus, right?> It looked more like a Round Stingray, (California Stingray). Is it possible it was a Cortez? <Well I would suggest using google and comparing pictures, animals are from different locals and in my opinion are shaped nothing alike.> Next question is i <I> seen Copepods are a common parasite does that mean all the copepods on my live rock are going to infect a stingray once i <I>put one in my tank?  <There are many different species of copepods, some parasitic though most are not. In general the species you find on liverock are not....now perhaps you meant isopods? That's another story.> I own the Scott Michaels Sharks and Rays book and it said that the Round Stingray water temperature is between 54-72 degrees Fahrenheit.  <Yes is a temperate animal.> Could the Round Stingray thrive in my tank that normally gets up to 82 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer? <Absolutely not, oxygen levels are too low. Adam J.>

Sting Ray <Rajid> ID   6/18/06 Hi All, <Hello Pat> The following isn't really an aquarium question, but you've all been very helpful in the past and I figured I'd take a shot. Last night I went for a late swim (North Shore, Mass, High Tide at around 2 am) and a walk on the beach. I was making my way along a concrete path that at the time was about two feet above the water when I came upon a stingray (thank god I had a flashlight) laying gills up on the walkway. Said walkway is about two feet wide and was exposed to splashing waves, which is how I figured the little guy ended up there, although there were also seagulls around that may have plucked him from the ocean and dumped him there I guess. Upon closer inspection I noticed gill movement. Using my shirt as I sort of glove, I picked him up by the last third of the tail and gave him a quick look over. He offered some struggle but seemed weak. Knowing that fish need to be acclimated to water to prevent shock, I considered carrying him that way to a shallow tide pool to reintroduce him, but I figured that this method of travel (it would have taken ten minutes) would do more harm than good so I simply plopped him back into the water. He seemed stunned for a moment but then swam off. Getting to my real question here, is there any way I could find out what kind of ray (or skate) this is? It was over all tan to brown in color, about 18 inches in length and almost the same in width, with the tail being about the same length as the body. The disc was more diamond shaped, though less so than I have seen in the Atlantic stingrays occasionally offered on marine e-tailers. Lastly, I didn't notice any kind of "sting" on the tail, but it was covered with small spikes, <<A species of skate... Could see fishbase.org (http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Summary/FamilySummary.cfm?ID=19) and search re the Rajids of the area, look at pix... Or take a look/see at Humann/DeLoach's ID works... RMF>>  all pointing towards the rear. Any chance of an IS based on this poor description? <Pat, might take a look here, see if any of the photos can help you ID the ray.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/rays.htm  Other than that, I suggest Googling, same as I would have to do.  James (Salty Dog)>   <<Googling what James?>> Thanks as always, <You're welcome> Pat C
Re: Somedays, some responses...  get working on that I2 pc.   6/19/06
Bob, I guess, Googling Atlantic Rays/skates.  Probably should have stated, but figured he would know what to Google.  What bothers me on these type queries is that it is just as much work for me to Google for the info as it would be for him, and without a photo, how could I possibly give an accurate ID of the ray/skate with my limited knowledge of them.  Some people just want you to do their research or homework for them. James <I figure that folks such as this don't actually know... much about Google, computers... or distribution/keys to wildlife. B>
Re: Somedays, some responses... get working on that I2 pc. AdamJ's input   6/19/06
Bob and James, I will often refer these kinds of folks to online resources.  WWM, fishbase and Google are runaway favorites. Adam <Heeeee! From the mouths of "babes"! Thanks Adam. B>  

Florida Freshwater Stingrays ...?   - 05/19/2006 I caught (and released) all these rays in the St. Johns river. The river dumps into the Atlantic ocean about 300 miles north of where I catch these fish. What am I catching? <I believe they are (Bob, correct me if wrong) Dasyatis sabina, known as the Atlantic Stingray.  They are known to populate freshwater rivers during the warm summer months and do reproduce and complete their life in a freshwater environment.  And, they do populate the St. Johns River. James (Salty Dog)>


Ray on the dailies - Dasyatis sabina? 8/25/05 Hey, Bob! Got a question for yah.... On the dailies I saw the fellah with the "ray"/skate, and the link to his prior email which included an image of the animal. Is it possible that this is Dasyatis sabina, the "Atlantic stingray"? <No hon... Look at the rostral area... this is a rajid, a skate> I have read some articles about this species being found in purely freshwater conditions, reproducing and living out their entire lives....  I certainly don't know if this is true, or even remotely accurate.  Here's one of the articles I've read, which includes an image that very closely resembles our querior's animal: http://www.ecofloridamag.com/archived/stingrays.htm . Somewhere along my travels across the web, I have also read that the animals collected and sold as "freshwater" in the hobby are almost always collected in brackish or marine conditions, and few survive long at all.  There goes my dream of legal freshwater rays in CA.  Sigh.  Thoughts? -Sabrina <Few and dismal. BobF>
Re: Ray on the dailies - Dasyatis sabina?  8/26/05
Is it possible that this is Dasyatis sabina, the "Atlantic stingray"? <No hon... Look at the rostral area... this is a rajid, a skate> To be quite honest, I have absolutely no clue what, of the rostral area, can be seen to differentiate a skate from a ray.... <Ahh, sorry re... the "nose" or region just ahead of the eyes let's say... is elongated, flattened... like a... skate! in Skates, family Rajidae... Also the thorny dorsal spines are indicative of the family... distinguish it from the many Ray families of Batoids>   My apologies, in any case.  This whole mess (and so very many others that we see every day in WWM questions) certainly drives home the need for emphasizing one's responsibility to research PRIOR to purchase - I'd like to put something about this in the book, perhaps as a section of its own, under Introducing Fish....  or in the section on compatibility....  or maybe preceding the fish profiles.  What do you think? <An excellent (consistent) idea, plan> In any case, I think I'll type something up tonight, if not for the book, then for posting on WWM, perhaps.  Shall I send it your way for editing/adding-on, if you wish? Thanks, -Sabrina <If you'd like... I am accumulating our notes, articles... on folders on my active desktops... BobF>

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>

Ray question Hi Bob, I am looking for some information on a "clear nose" guitarfish/skate. I don't know the scientific name.  <Maybe give a go on fishbase.org with the common names> I am trying to see if it would be compatible with my system (600 gallons). I was wondering if you knew the water temperature range for this animal, max size and if there are any reasons that this animal would not do well in captivity. <Mmm, this is at least a handful of species... most all coldwater...> I am also seeking the same information on a stingaree (pretty dark blue with yellow spots), i.e. scientific name, temperature, tank adaptability. I was told it was an Atlantic Ray, but I'm not sure I believe the fish store. <Again, another generic term... 42 species listed on fishbase for this...> Thanks for the great web site, Brian <Need more input to have better output my friend. For such an investment, you would do well to read the new Sharks and Rays book by friend Scott Michael. Bob Fenner>

Caught a Skate? Thanks for the reply Bob. Fishbase.org is an excellent reference site. <Yes... a treasure of cooperation...> I'm not 100% convinced that it was one of the two skate species you suggested, by that may in part be due to it being a bit dark at the time.. I guess I was kinda hoping id caught some strange and rare exotic fish, who knows perhaps I did! <Agreed and agreed... there are more fish species to be described... crosses...> Since last email I checked out the rest of your site and your resume and saw that you also breed tropical fish (or at least know a bit on the subject), which is interesting because I actually breed angel fish myself (check out my (kinda dodgy) angel fish breeding site http://users.senet.com.au/~mribbans/pages/angel.htm ) <A very nice "page"... do like your descriptions... e.g. how to sex angels...> Anyway another quick question then I'll leave you alone.. In my girlfriends tank (we have one each) she has two bristle nose catfish but a few months ago they have both slowly changed colour from dark brown to an orangey cream colour. I was wandering if this is normal or whether perhaps we have something that isn't a bristlenose?? <Likely are what they are... Bristlenose Loricariids of some sort... maybe shifting into a reproductive color phase.> Thanks again Bob! Cheers, Mark Ribbans <Be chatting mate. Bob Fenner>

What did I catch?? Hi there, I stumbled across your web site and found your email address because I have a question I hope you might be able to answer.. <Okay> A few weeks ago I went on a fishing trip to the Coorong a peninsula which is in SE South Australia. <Yes> Anyway we were chasing mulloway and I hooked on to what I thought was a sting ray but when I pulled it out of the water I saw that it had a shark like tail with small spiky lumps all over it and no barb. It was reddish in colour on the top and white on the bottom and measured probably 90cm across.. <A skate, related to rays...> I think it may have been a skate but if you have any other ideas, some info or perhaps a piccy that would excellent! <Perhaps a Raja lempreiri or R. whitleyi... these are the Skates most common to S.E. Australia. You can see their images on fishbase.org.>  Thanks! Mark Adelaide, Australia <Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Eagle Ray Hello Sir: <Hello> My daughter is in first grade and has a project about Eagle Rays. She needs to do a flow map describing how the eagle ray looks from birth to adulthood. In addition she has to mention the names it is called.  I have looked everywhere but I can't find what are the names for the baby Eagle rays, young and so on.  We also need to know how the Eagle Ray adapts to its environment.     Can you help us? <Let's see. First off THE eagle ray you are likely concerned with is Aetobatus narinari to science. Go to fishbase.org: http://www.fishbase.org/search.html?server=NRM-Stockholm and insert this scientific name and you will find images, its many names around the world. A more general search on Google with the name "eagle ray" will grant you the rest of the information you seek. Bob Fenner> Thank You, Catherine

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.> 

Ray question, and tank repair/bracing Hi,  I was at my LFS recently and there was a ray there.  I asked what kind and they said  it was a Bluespotted Ribbontail.  I didn't think it was but I thought I guess they are right.  It was white with a lot of dark whitish spots on it.  I was thinking it was a yellow stingray or possibly a Cortez stingray.  But the question is are ribbontailed rays white when they are born?  This one probably had a 4-5" disc width and I can't get any pictures of it either. <Mmm, the only Ribbontail ray, Bluespotted or otherwise that comes up on fishbase.org is Taeniura lymna, http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?genusname=Taeniura&speciesname=lymma go see there, click on the one pic, look at the others... then look up this animal on www.WetWebMedia.com, not a hardy aquarium species.> I also have another question.  The support beam on the top of my aquarium has fallen in on one side (one side is in the water).  The other side is barely hanging on.  We called around and my LFS said that my aquarium is shot (all the water would fall out).  We immediately started draining the tank. <Good idea... for safety's sake. The brace can be repaired, re-installed...>   Right now there is about 6" of water in it.  It is a 200 gal. tank so I estimated there is probably about 40 gal. left in it.  I took my eel to the LFS and they are going to take care of it for me.  I currently have a bamboo shark egg and some snails in it.  The shark still has a few months before it will hatch.  Nothing is on in the aquarium right now.  I was wondering will the shark be ok with no water flow or anything? <Not likely. Better to set up filtration like a canister or sponges with air or powerhead drive...> Also we are going to try to repair the beam.  What do you think our chances are that it will still work and not break? <Very good if done "properly"... I would "double up" the current brace... with either more glass/pieces on top, bottom or along the two sides at the top. Bob Fenner> Thanks
Adam Siders

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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