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FAQs on Freshwater Stingray Behavior

Related Articles: Freshwater Stingrays,

Related FAQs:  Freshwater Stingrays, FW Stingray Identification, FW Stingray Compatibility, FW Stingray Selection, FW Stingray Systems, FW Stingray Feeding, FW Stingray Disease, FW Stingray Reproduction,

Potamotrygon sp. "Paraguay" at Interzoo 08.

freshwater ray growth rate? 1/17./2013
Hi all,
<Chad>
As if I need an excuse to buy a bigger fish tank, I'm looking at getting into keeping a castexi fresh water stingray. My LFS has one specimen in stock that has been living in the shop for a couple of months now, so condition on arrival isn't a huge concern for me. The LFS owner is a real champ and she looks beautiful.
<Ah, good>
I know this will require a bigger tank one day, but I'm trying to figure out if that one day will come in 6 months, or two years. Currently, running a 180gal tank (2ft x 6ft x 2ft) with a Fluval FX5 and an Eheim Pro 2280. Figuring with both filters getting just HALF of their rated flow rates, I'm turning the entire tank 5 times per hour. Water flow and filtration is adequate I think. If I feed her twice or three times a day, how fast can I assume she'll grow? Are rays like Arowanas, and put on 1" every month?
<Some Potamotrygonid species (the larger ones) do grow more quickly than others, but most are slow... a few inches per year maximum> I figure the 180 gal can house a ray up to about 14" disc size if kept alone... am I crazy?
<Not re this>
My plan would be to do a daily water change of 10-15% to reduce fluctuation with large changes, while also keeping new water coming in daily. This would put me at about a 50% change weekly, once you account for dilution of waste and what not.
<Do see WWM re this family>
Lighting is sparse at best right now, as I've had some bulb failures that I never replaced (one Coralife T5 48"). I work at a local swimming pool shop and I have access to tanks and ponds for cheap, but the bigger factor for me is timing. I'm currently renting and planning on buying a house in the next year (just renewing a lease for May 2013 to May 2014. Am I crazy thinking I can keep this ray in my 180 until we buy the new house and I build my dream tank with half of the basement?
<Likely so w/ good care/maintenance> Thanks for any input you can give.
<Again, see WWM. Bob Fenner>
Chad
Re: freshwater ray growth rate? 1/21/13

Thanks Bob,
<Welcome Chad>
I went back to the LFS today to talk to the owner. Turns out it's a boy! Got some work to do around here to get ready, but hopefully he'll be home in the next week or so.
<Ahh!>
Glad to know folks like you are around in case I run into any trouble.
<Many good folks here>
Thanks again.
Chad
<Cheers! BobF>
Re: freshwater ray growth rate, sys. ? - 01/27/2013

Hi Bob,
<Chad; am still out traveling in the P.I.>
Thanks again.  I brought the ray home a couple of days ago. I've dubbed him "Bradbury". He's settling in nicely as far as I can tell. Still trying to adapt myself to the new behaviour/mannerisms of this strange fish.  What's abnormal or concerning behaviour?
<... have you read the materials archived on WWM re Potamotrygonids? Do so>
He seems to spend most of his time puttering around the sand and sniffing corners and walls.  He's still not actively roaming up glass, though I assume he'll start when he gets used to our routine at home.  I've been doing 10% water changes, twice a day, in hopes to keep chemistry "steady-ish" for now.  pH is a touch higher than preferable at 7.3, but he's been living in this pH for two months now at the LFS.  I figured it best to keep things consistent for move-in/acclimation.  Should I slowly work that down?
<... yes; this is gone over on WWM>
On feeding: the LFS had been feeding him live earth worms and told me to swap him over to shrimp from the grocery store. 
<I wouldn't.... one last time... search/read on WWM. B>
Day one, he ate about half of one shrimp, cut into small pieces (no shell). I couldn't resist at least trying to feed him.  From reading WWM, I see that variety is better, so I'm working on getting earth worms to make up a bigger part of his diet.  Trouble is, I don't drive, and the only place selling live worms in Winnipeg is across the city. I guess there's not much market for fishing bait in our -40 degree winter weather. I'm going to have to build a worm box. In the short term, I have access to live ghost shrimp from my LFS.  Is this suitable for the weekend? Or is this a bad idea?  Am I better to go to the fish market and get some squid or pollock?
On maintenance: Water change schedule will soon be 20% daily in one go, but for now I'll stick with the above.  Filtration on the tank is a Fluval FX5, Eheim Pro 3 2080, and two Aquaclear 70 power-heads for extra flow and mechanical filtration.  Is it possible to have too much water flow?  I'm changing the filter floss in the power-heads daily.  My plan is to clean one of the canisters weekly. FX5 this weekend.  Eheim next weekend.  Repeat. Am I overdoing things?  I'm thinking about losing the power-heads and adding a second FX5. Good idea, or waste of money?
Well, this has turned into a Tolkien-esque adventure in email... sorry about that.  But I did at least slide a couple of questions in there...
Chad 

Freshwater Stingray acting strange- please help!!!! No data of use     6/1/10
I have a 5" female Motoro stingray. I have had her for a few months. She has been eating well and has been very active. The last two days, she has been staying in one side of the tank, lifting up her disc right in the front of her eyes and keeping it there for a little bit, then rippling her disc to the back and sometimes just slowly turning her self, but she will not swim around the tank like she normally does. I also noticed a small indentation between her eyes. I am not sure what is causing this behavior and what I need to do to help her. thank you so much!
Kate Danner
<Kate... need data... as in system, water quality, history... Read here:
http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwraybehfaq.htm
and here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwraysysfaqs.htm
and the linked files above... Bob Fenner>
Re: Freshwater Stingray acting strange- please help!!!!
She is in a 150 gallon tank with 0 nitrate 0 nitrite 0 amm 6.0 pH temp 81 with weekly 20% water changes water tested two hours ago
Read where you were referred. B
Re: Freshwater Stingray acting strange- please help!!!!
Not much help but thanks anyways
<What... keep reading. B>

Question about motoros, sys., beh.    1/18/10
Hello!
Just a quick question how long does it take for a stingray to settle down when moved into a new tank?
<Does depend on the size of the tank, water quality, and to some extent things like bright light (don't like them) and loud noises (don't like them either).>
Have a 15month old Motoro . He is just showing signs of swimming in the center and on the current in one corner of the tank. Know that means he is stressed.
<If he's actively swimming into one particular water current, that may imply a lack of water circulation elsewhere in the tank. Do remember that the bottom of the tank is furthest away from the air, and therefore contains the least oxygen. Water circulation needs to be very strong at the bottom of the tank, so that oxygen is pulled down from the top of the tank to the bottom, replenishing the oxygen there as fast as possible. Do try adding a powerhead or airstone, and seeing if that helps.>
Everything else is normal.
<Cheers, Neale.> 

A stingrays Question, FW, beh.  02/09/09 Hello! <Hi there Maria> Just had a question about my motor stingray. I had him for about 4 months now and everything is been perfect. I am trying to change him over from ghost shrimp to frozen krill. I got him to eat in the past day 3 krill's as well as his ghost shrimp he likes. But he is acting weird now. He is hiding under the substrate for the past day, when i put his ghost shrimp in he eats them and everything. But what is concerning me is that in less then 24 hours he changed his behavior to hiding in the substrate. I tested the water and everything is perfect so i know its not the water and i did his weekly water change already. I don't know if i should be worried or not and i don't know what to do...help if you can... was thinking it was the sudden change in food because it so happened that is what's new and he was fine up in till today. <Mmm, Motoro stingrays will dig, burrow at times, but in captivity, spend the vast majority of their time exposed generally. What else is in this system stock-wise? Perhaps other livestock is bothering this fish... Even a Loricariid catfish of modest size... Bob Fenner>

Re: A stingrays Question 02/09/09 well he is the only thing in the tank. Its just him, air line, sand nothing else(figured keep it simple). after i sent this e-mail to you he started to act like him self again. I don't know if he is just spoiled and doesn't want to eat the krill. I do spoil him is a fat little boy. But he seems to be back to normal. Don't know was just worried. <When, where in doubt with Potamotrygonids, change a good bit of their system water... Do mix up the diet as well... and be aware that they do at times go on feeding strikes. Cheers, BobF> Re: A stingrays Question Thanks a bunch! <Certainly welcome. BobF>

FW Stingray's, beh.    1/28/09 Hi. I have a couple quick questions for you. I have 2 Motoro Ray's a mail approx 8" and a Female approx 9" Both in a 90 gal tank that is 24" Wide X 54" Long X 19" High. Yes Too small. <Have been visiting this last weekend, out at the Dallas World Aquarium and they had some Motoros wider than 24" on display> They have no tank mates. Just waiting for my 250 gal to Cycle. 36" w X 72" l X 25"H Then they will be moved in. My question #1 At first the Female was aggressive to the mail by biting him often leaving a mark. But now it is he Mail he is biting the female in the same spot over and over. Leaving a mark that stays for weeks. Both rays are in great shape (other than the bite marks) They are fed well, once a day with either frozen Silversides, Brine shrimp, Live blood worms, and 4-5 large earth worms every other week. There is never any food left after about 3 to 5 minuets. Nitrates 0 Ammonia 0 Sorry do not know the PH. I do a 30% Water change every 3 -4 days <Good> ( Small tank) Question #2 Can stingrays as small as mine Bread ? <Bread? As in a cooking technique? I suspect you mean breed... Mmm; no, not yet. But this may be social behavior that is tied-in/related to later breeding> That is all Thank you for you're time Kevin. <Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>  

Question about freshwater stingrays  11/6/08 Hi I am new to this site and I had a question. I have two freshwater stingray and a Arowana in a 75 gallon grow out tank with a hydro filter and two penguin bio-wheel 350s. I have had one ray for 4 months the other for 2 1/2 months and the Arowana for about a month. I have noticed odd behavior by the rays they are breathing faster than usual, just sitting upright on the side of the tank and trying to jump out of the tank and they have never acted like this before. The one ray will eat blackworms and chopped night crawlers and the other will only eat blackworms. I have tested the water a bunch on time the ammonia is 0 the nitrates and nitrites are 0 and the ph is 6.5. I do 50 % water changes every 2 weeks. I was just wonder what might cause this weird behavior and the rapid breathing. Thank you in advance. Amber <Hello Amber. Your tank is too small and too poorly filtered for Stingrays, and what you're seeing are general signs of stress. These are indications that it's time to move them to their next aquarium. Even if the only fish you had was an Arowana, the tank would be too small and inadequately filtered. Depending on the Stingray species you have, you'll need at tank at least 90 cm wide from front to back and 200 cm in length from left to right. (The width of the tank should be at least 1.5 times the maximum width of the "disc" of the Stingray species in question; since the common species are 60 cm in disc size, 90 cm is a good baseline width.) Depth isn't critical. Filtration needs to be a serious external canister filter. Hang-on-the-back filters have little value in serious freshwater fishkeeping; they're really only suited to small community tank species. You need something with lots of space for biological media, and offering water turnover 8-10 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. So if you use a 200 gallon tank, the minimum for a Stingray, your filter (or more likely, pair or trio of canister filters) will need to be rated at 1200 to 2000 gallons per hour. There's no getting around this fact: Stingray aquaria are insanely expensive to set up. People who try to economize end up with dead Stingrays. Many books on the topic now available; I'd heartily encourage you track down one or two of these at your local library or bookstore. Cheers, Neale.>

Stingray Beh., FW   6/3/08 Hello, I have a question in regard to Stingrays. After reading all I can find and prepping, planning the system, I have finally purchased a stingray (believe it to be Potamotrygon orbignyi). After QT, of course, I added the ray to my main display. (Cycled of course) It has been eating and swimming quite well. My question is this: I have a bubble wand along the back (about 1 foot wide, used to oxygenate the water because of the higher temps) and the ray spends considerable time there (probably about 1/5 of the overall time or less), 'hanging out.' At times it looks like he's swimming and 'resting' in the bubbles, almost suspended. I don't think this is anything to be concerned with, <Agreed> and the ray acts completely normal otherwise. Am I wrong here? Should I be concerned about this? <Mmm, no> My test results have been zero for Nitrites and Nitrates, I keep the temp at 83 with less than 1 watt per gallon lighting, and I change an insane amount of water (my girlfriend says so at least.. I change about 50% or so a week.) <Good> Also, I feed a combination of bloodworms, krill, plankton (all frozen of course) and every few days I feed the ray a ghost shrimp (I keep them in a 10 gallon and 'gut load 'em' with Microcrabs with Cyclop-eeze). <Good technique> Is this a sufficient amount of variation in diet? <Yes... I'd add garden/earth worms as well> I'll keep reading, of course. Thanks Again for the help!! Eric <This fish, Potamotrygonids period, seem to enjoy bubbles, water movement... No worries. Bob Fenner>

(FW) Stingray lethargic/not swimming properly  11/5/07 I awoke this morning to my stingray in what appeared to be a death curl, turned out he was just resting his fins on the glass and a rock. but I changed 30% of the water as per my usual Sunday regimen, <We share this task, timing in common> but he is extremely lethargic and seems to be dormant after attempting to swim a short distance. He hasn't come up on the side of the glass as he sometimes used to. He seems to be swimming as though he's about to die, like a regular fish with a gas bladder problem would be swimming on its side or upside down on the bottom of the tank. I know he isn't eating as much as he should, he's been extremely thin, but I attempt to feed him at least 3 times a day. The only thing he seems to readily accept is frozen bloodworms. I've been trying live earthworms (both cooked/chopped and live whole/chopped), frozen brine shrimp, fresh cooked chopped mussels, krill, but can't seem to get any acceptance. I suspect the malady aforementioned is directly related to his feeding habits, but what can I do, or is it already too late? <This is a freshwater... Potamotrygonid... I fully suspect goiter... an iodine deficiency here, perhaps other nutritional avitaminoses... Please put the term "ray, goiter, iodine" in the search tool here: http://wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/question_page.htm and read the cached views. Bob Fenner> Thank you, Josh

Another stingray question, beh., no useful info.   6/4/07 Hello again <Howdy> You helped me the other day in confirming that my little stingray is a girl. <Ah yes> I am hoping I can ask you another question. It is so hard to find someone who knows what they are talking about when it comes to the little beauties. <More commonly kept nowadays... but...> Anyways, the little girl was really shy at first, but she has been eating well so far. Over the last few days she has been doing loop-di-loops in her aquarium, wanting me to rub her tummy when she is upside down. This morning she was acting funny, with decreased appetite and it looked like her breathing was a little labored. She is holding the tip of her disc, the "nose" up in the water, higher than usual. It almost looks like she hit something and is sore, but do you have any experience with this? <Yes... can be a bad sign... Indicative of something amiss with the system, water quality, metal-poisoning... the presence of infectious, parasitic disease...> She is still eating, but not quite as much as before. She is moving around, but more slowly and along the bottom. Thank you Stefanie <... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwstingrays.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Freshwater Stingray Hello, <Howdy> I have two freshwater stingrays (not exactly sure what kind), male and female.  My male is continuingly swimming in circles and has not eaten in two days.  Is this normal or should I be concerned? <Not atypical for these fishes to go on periodic hunger strikes... if it doesn't eat for more than a week I'd be concerned, try other foods, soaking them in an appetite stimulant solution. But the swimming in circles is not a good sign. How long have you had these fishes, and how are they housed? Bob Fenner> Roy D. Gray

Re: Freshwater Stingray Unfortunately the male stingray died 1/16/04.  The female stingray I have had about three months, and the male about 2 months.  The female seems fine and very active.  Roy <Sorry to hear of the loss... these fishes are almost all wild-caught (some public aquariums have had live births that get distributed)... and sometimes die of apparently "anomalous" causes. Have you seen the article and FAQs on the family posted here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwstingrays.htm Bob Fenner>

Freshwater Stingray pc. on WWM, ref.s I recently went to your website, Freshwater Stingrays: Family Potamotrygonidae. I was reading the section labeled Selection>>Coloration. Under this section, you indicated that Potamotrygonids are aquatic chameleons. I am currently do a research project on stingray color variation/polychromatism. Would you know where I could find primary or secondary literature that would support the claim you made. <Mmm, the piece was penned several years back... the input may be somewhere in the pet-fish literature listed, or just a first person observation on my part> I am particularly interested in knowing whether stingray coloration changes based upon river color, genetics, or physiological effects. I have attempted to search the  internet and several educational journals on this topic. However, none have offered me the information that I need. Please contact me when you can. -Edna Bonhomme <... If this is an "in depth" search, I encourage you to seek out the posted bibliography along with a current computer search of the group, key terms above. Bob Fenner>

Freshwater stingray I have a freshwater stingray for 2 months she is eating great. I just saw her swimming upside down and doing weird things .  Her breathing is a little rapid what is wrong with her, I like her and don't want anything to be  wrong. >> Check your ammonia and nitrite levels. Sometimes rays can swim in strange ways in the current of the filter. Is she doing this all the time? Is she still eating? Thanks, Oliver

Freshwater Stingray She died 8 minutes later.  She was eating great.  Everyday about  1-2 dozen grass shrimp.  She was about 5-6 inches round.  I really  enjoyed her and want to get another, but I want to know why or what happened so  this doesn't happen again.  I got her from the local pet shop.  She  was just gray with the yellow spotted tail.  I researched everything  and thought I set up good.  she would only eat the shrimp, I tried worms,  krill, she killed two molly's i had in the tank with her 3 day's before she died  (didn't eat them though)  Any suggestions, or places to get another one  when I am  ready (different Kinds of stingrays) . Also, any  information to help in the future.   Thank You Joy (I live in  Florida, I don't know if that has anything to do with  it) >>Dear Joy, rays are sometimes a bit sensitive, if the fish was eating well at your place for a while it seems you were doing things right. A ray would not kill fish without eating them, so something in your tank was wrong enough to kill your mollies as well. Maybe they died of ammonia or nitrite poisoning. Feeding shrimp can foul the water quickly. On another note, now that you mention you are in Florida: All freshwater stingrays are prohibited in your state and as far as I know can not be sold in Florida or kept by Florida residents. You may want to research this with your local USFW department. Good Luck, Oliver

Freshwater stingray growth rate  - 03/11/2006 Hello I have one question. Can I keep a freshwater stingray in a 55 gallon tank until I have the room and the money for a bigger tank. Thank you >> That depends on the species. Make sure to understand that all but one or two species of freshwater rays get over 3 feet in diameter, and are less than ideal aquarium fish. To keep a small ray in your tank until it grows is possible, but I would not recommend it. Good Luck, Oliver

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