• A Stingray Beginner's Guide

    So you're ready for for a stingray. here are a few things you need to know before buying one

    Research
    Well you are reading this so that is a start, but you also need to read up on them from other sources as well. there are a few good books. "Freshwater Stingrays A Complete Pet Owner's Manual" by Richard Ross is one, and aqualog has another. Don't just stop at these two as there are more out there. Also the internet is a great place to gather information but verifying this info to be the correct info is that hard part. As some will be conflicting with each other. One of the best sources of information is your fellow ray keepers. Don't be afraid to ask questions as most of us are more than willing to help out to see if a ray is right for you.

    Tank Requirements
    Now that you have done some research and know a little bit about the ray lets talk about the tanks they need. Stingrays get very big and require a tank with a large foot print. Even the smaller breeds need a large tank, and remember on these a tank with more length and width is more important to height. the smaller breeds (scobina, reticulata, hystrix) require at least a 2'x5' and larger tanks. As they will grow anywhere from
    12"-20"

    While your mid size breeds (motoro,orbignyi, humerosa, leopoldi, henlei, yepezi) will require a slightly larger tank as they can grow up to 20"-30". So you are going to need a tank with a minimum of 3'x6' to house one for life and a gain the bigger the better.

    Now its time to talk about the larger breeds (castexi, Schroederi, Menchacai). these require a very large footprint as they have a bigger disc. They can reach a size of 30"-40" so need at least 4'x8' footprint and like always the bigger the better.

    This is just a guide line for the ray housing requirements and their are more species than i listed and also size variations within these. some will get bigger than i stated while others will stay smaller. Males in general stay smaller than the females, so if size is an issue buy a male instead. A rule of thumb i like to follow is if the rays disc and tail can touch both front and back of the tank, its time to upgrade.

    Water Quality and Filtration
    This is very important when owning a fish of any kind. The number one killer of all fish is ammonia and bad water. As you have read rays get big and they produce a lot of waste. Even when they are pups rays produce a lot of waste you can tell by looking at their poo alone. Much bigger than most other types of fish. So great filtration is a must!

    To start out with this a cycled tank is very important. please don't go out and buy a tank and ray the same day. A month or two to have a good cycled tank is a great way to keep a ray alive.

    Stingrays are very sensitive to water changes so your filtration needs a lot of bio media and mechanical media to keep the ammonia levels down. Plenty of water changes are also very important in helping your filtration out and providing a good living environment for your ray.

    This can be accomplished by multiple cannisters, sumps, HOB's, or OHF's. and even a combination of them all. a good flow rate usually of 6-10x per hour is important to make sure the water is coming into contact with all of the bio media to remove the toxins.

    Water volume is also key. A larger water volume you have the better it is for the ray. This helps as having more water it is more forgiving as it also dilutes ammonia and other toxins so this is a must. One of the easiest way to achieve this is by use of a sump. this acts as a great filter and doesn't take up any floor space and it fits under your tank. when buying a sump get the biggest your able to fit under the tank as a rule of thumb.

    As far as Ph is concerned i feel that keeping your fish into as close to range as your water you do your water changes with is very important. As rays are sensitive to PH changes and temperature changes. so keeping them both close to your water change water is a good practice.

    Also all heaters in the tank need heater guards as rays can burn their disc very easily! sometimes they will burn so bad that it will scar. these can be made or bought and you will be very happy you did it.

    Buying A Ray
    Now that you know more about rays its time to decide what type and where to buy. So what size tank you have comes into effect here so you want to research the type of ray that can live in your tank for life. Now is another good time to ask your fellow ray keeper's where they purchased their rays at so you have an idea of where to start looking. Be patient and find the ray that you like the most not because someone else said it looked good, but because you think it looks good. Remember this is your ray and your future love

    Make sure you are buying from a good source. Most places will allow you to watch the ray eat before buying. So please ask to see this as a healthy ray will eat almost at all times of the day. If the ray does not eat and they say it has just been fed then go back tomorrow and ask to watch again.

    Examine the ray closely to make sure it does not have any external parasites or redness. If you see any make sure the owner is aware of this. Most cases they will be aware even if they say they are not. If this is your first ray i would go to the next vendor even if offered a good deal.

    Size is important again. Small rays are cheaper in most cases and seem the way to go, but smaller rays are more sensitive to change than the larger rays and sometimes are picky eaters and might not eat at all. So sometimes its best to spend a little extra money and buy a 6" or larger ray as they have lived this long and are eating great. Also ask what the seller feeds the ray and buy some if you don't already have.

    Acclimating The Ray
    Now that you have purchased your new ray its time to get it in the tank. There are a few methods for this: Now if you bought close to where you live or a few hours away a good method is the "drip method". What you do is put your ray in a bucket if its not already in one. Then you take an airline and create a siphon between your main tank its going in and the bucket. this slowly fills up the bucket and lets the ray get use to your tank water slowly. after your bucket is filled you want to drain it out as much as you can to make it easier to handle. then slowly dump the ray into your tank.

    Another way of doing this is taking a cup and you take a cup of water out of the bucket and then you add a cup of your tank water every 5 mins for a half hour to an hour or so.

    The other method is best used for when you have your ray shipped and it has been in a bag for 12 hours or more. This is called the squirt and drop method. Since the ray has been in the bag water for so long and is making it slowly toxic you will want to have your chems ready (i use AmQuel). You want something that removes ammonia, chloramines, and chlorine. and as soon as you open the bag you squirt some of this in and then put the ray into your water. while keeping as much of the bag water out.

    This keeps the toxic water out of the tank and gets the ray out of the water fast. as floating the bag or raising the temp and opening the bag is actually making it more toxic for the fish so this removes those toxins fast.

    Its best to have a quarantine tank for your ray this way you can watch the ray and make sure it doesn't have any parasites or eating problems. Introducing new fish its always better to quarantine for a few weeks so you don't introduce parasites into your main tank

    Feeding The Ray
    Alright now that your new ray is in your tank its time to feed. A healthy ray will usually eat right out of the bag. Sometimes they are a little stressed and it takes longer though. I usually keep lights off for the ray to settle down for a few days and this helps when feeding.

    Hopefully the seller told you what the ray was eating before you bought it so now use that information. Try to stay away from live feeders as they can carry parasites. Feeding a variety of things is good for a healthy ray as it replicates their natural diet. mp, tilapia, pellets, fish fillets, blood worms, black worms, and earth worms are some of the things to start out feeding. see what they take to and feed them what they will eat worry about transferring them onto other foods later. Feed the ray until it stops eating and has a big hump on the back. Then net out the remaining food so it doesn't rot in your tank.

    Some rays take time to start eating so don't stress out. Sometimes it even takes up to a week or longer. Just make sure you are doing water changes for pristine water conditions. Also keep the lights off as the ray might be stressed out. and lastly make sure you are offering a variety of foods.

    Other Things You Need To Know
    Now if you are thinking about adding tank mates to your stingray remember: stingrays are an effective predator. this means whatever will fit into its mouth will end up there in most cases. Also you need to know some tank mates will bite at the rays disc, tail, and eyes. this can stress and even kill your ray. And just because the tank mate worked with someone else's ray doesn't mean its ray safe or that it will work out. So be careful when buying your rays tank mates.

    Also medicating a ray. Please make sure you identify before you medicate. Rays are very sensitive to medications so using the wrong type or too much can kill your ray. So make sure you identify the problem if its parasite, fungus, or bacterial. then purchase the ray safe meds to fix the problem.

    Asking questions and posting pictures will make this easy to do. So if your unsure ask.

    Thank you for taking the time and reading this. hopefully it will help in your future purchase and keeping of these magnificent creatures as they will bring joy to your life and quickly become your favorites. And remember the more you research and know before you buy, the better prepared you will be.

    Happy keeping,
    Jeffers
    This article was originally published in forum thread: A Stingray Beginner's Guide started by Jeffers View original post


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