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Freshwater stingray care: horrible and honest mistakes to learn from

Freshwater Stingray Care

Water quality is the foundation to successful Freshwater Stingray Care. Every ray keeper knows this, and we all strive to ensure the very best conditions for our prized pets.

We have recently been contacted by two different clients with horrific situations that have been honest mistakes, but the consequences have been catastrophic.

Both these stories are terrible, and we are deeply sorry for the people concerned.  The purpose of this post is to raise awareness for fellow ray keepers and to try and prevent such tragedy for other people.

Story 1

Before starting his 50% routine water change on his tank this ray keeper decided make life a bit easier and buy a standard garden length of hose to stop using buckets to carry water. Happy with his new purchase, he connected the new hose pipe to his water source and started filling his tank.

After a few minutes he noticed all his rays darting around the tank, up the glass and falling backwards toward the bottom. Only having added about 20% freshwater through this new hose. He desperately emptied more water and started filling with the buckets.

But it was too late.  Within 15 minutes four out of his six rays are all dead. Only two survived out of six healthy rays.

The only difference that he did this time around was use a brand-new hose pipe. So, we can only assume that the hose pipe contained a strong chemical of some description that has poisoned the water.

A very harsh lesson to learn from.  Please ensure that you buy any hose pipe from your local fish shop.  Alternatively, please make sure the hose has been thoroughly rinsed before use.

Freshwater Stingray Care

Story 2

Another gent called us with another story about collecting some rays from another hobbyist. Collecting a total of four new rays. Because he only had two poly boxes he bought two black plastic containers to transport the other two rays. The total journey time was only 20 mins back to his house.

Sadly, upon getting back to his two rays in the plastic containers they were both dead and the two in the poly box were alive.

Again, there are possible other factors like stress, ammonia in the tub, lack of oxygen etc, but it does make you think that possibly something in the box contaminated the water?

We hope this post has been helpful.

For more information on Freshwater Stingray Care please read our Freshwater Stingray Guide


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Festival of Fishkeeping 2017

freshwater stingrays at festival of fishkeeping

The Festival of Fishkeeping will see Freshwater Stingrays exhibiting again this year on the weekend of 7-8 October.

First of all, we’re really looking forward to another fantastic opportunity to meet up with so many of our customers. So we hope you’ll stop by and say hello to the team.  This year, we’ll have another amazing display of freshwater stingrays and oddballs for sale.  All available at show prices. We’ll be at the show both days to chat and offer advice no matter what your area of interest or level of proficiency is.  We have a complete obsession with freshwater stingrays, Asian Arowanas and all their tank mates. And with more than 7 years’ experience breeding stingrays and fish we hope you find our advice and tips helpful.


The FBAS Festival of Fishkeeping

This will be the 31st Festival of Fishkeeping hosted by The Federation of British Aquatic Societies (FBAS). It’s the UK’s biggest display of rare breed, tropical fish and reptiles and brings together the very best quality of fish and reptiles from breeders and hobbyists from around the country.  The event will take place at Hounslow Urban Farm in Feltham.  Since the show is all undercover, you can rather stay nice and dry if it does decide to rain.


Hounslow Urban Farm

Your entry to the Festival of Fishkeeping will also give you access to the farm itself. Hounslow Urban Farm is a great venue for the show. Its facilities will make a brilliant day out with the kids if you are bringing the family along too. As one of the UK’s largest community farms there’s loads to keep them entertained.  There are animal encounters and bird of prey displays. A bouncy castle and play zones.  Face painting and crafts.  Hopefully enough to keep them occupied while you check out the fish.

You can get all the information you need from their website or just set your satnav to Faggs Road, Feltham, Middlesex TW14 0LZ


Federation of British Aquatic Societies (FBAS) Festival of Fishkeeping

Founded in 1938, the Federation of British Aquatic Societies (FBAS) is the largest fishkeeping-orientated organisation in the UK.  The FBAS provides backing for Societies’ Shows.  The most prestigious being the UK largest annual Festival of Fishkeeping.

The FBAS Show Rules and Show Standards are outstanding. Most noteworthy, the Federation officiate train and grade the judges. The Federation also ensure all the latest developments are taken into consideration for the continuing quality of the Show Rules at all levels of competitive showing.


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What do freshwater stingrays eat?

What do freshwater stingrays eat

What do freshwater stingrays eat?

So what exactly do what do freshwater stingrays eat? Making sure your fish have a healthy and varied food diet to eat can help make sure they will thrive and have a long life span.

Stingrays and Arowanas have a high metabolic rate.  So you will find that your stingrays in particular, are continuously on the lookout for food.

Many stingray enthusiasts use sinking pellet food for carnivorous fish with good results. We have tried and tested various diets over the years.  Our stingrays love a diet which includes mussels, baby squid, prawns and white bait.  We can’t help but give them what they want.

If you are pellet feeding your rays maybe try and supplement their diet with frozen fish too.  We think you rays will love you for it.

If you would like to find out more about frozen food for your stingrays we would be happy to share our experiences with you – just let us know.



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Freshwater stingray history

freshwater stingray history

Freshwater stingray history

All stingrays both fresh and saltwater belong to the class Chondrichthyes. This includes all 850 species of sharks, rays, skates and chimaeras. Based on fossil remains it is known that this class of fish have been around since the Palaeozoic period (250 million years ago approx.), however it is believed that the adaption of the flattered (ray like) body only occurred in the Jurassic period some 100 million years ago. Freshwater stingray history is certainly an interesting topic for the fish keeper of today.

The development of the body shape and the loss of a swim bladder enabled these early rays to hide and lay practically invisible to a predator and to its pray. Rays have developed powerful jaws designed for crushing shells and molluscs which is a primary food source for these animals. Fossil remains prove that little has changed in the anatomy of stingrays over the last 50 million years.


Chondrichthyes (Cartilaginous Fish)


Elasmobranchii (Sharks, rays and skates)


Rajiformes (rays and skates)


Dasyatidae (stingrays)


Potamotrygonidae (river rays)



Freshwater stingray history – How did Stingrays adapt to Freshwater?

There are many theories on how the south american stingray adapted to freshwater to create a new family Potamotrygonidae (river rays).  A longstanding hypothesis suggests that before the Andes mountains were created about 80 million years ago, marine rays from the Pacific lived in and around the coastal areas near the Amazon and became tolerant to brackish water. Over time the Amazon reversed its flow as the Andes were formed.  The reversal of the river meant that stingrays became trapped in freshwater.

Another proposal put forwarded based upon DNA sequencing suggests that stingrays evolved far more recently. The theory suggests that marine rays from the Caribbean infiltrated into rivers draining into the Atlantic Ocean. If this theory is correct, then it suggests that the adaptation of the freshwater stingray could have been as recent as 20 million years ago.

It is not possible to know which theory of freshwater evolution is correct.  However it is extremely likely that the did develop from marine rays. Ray fossils prove that freshwater and marine rays have changed little in the last 50 million years.

Freshwater stingray history – The adaptation to freshwater

Sharks and rays are inherently marine animals simply based on their physiology. Seawater is usually saltier than the blood of most fishes, but instead of actively pumping ions and other solutes out of their bodies like marine bony fishes, elasmobranchs simply match their internal osmotic concentrations to that of their external environment. They do this by maintaining concentrations of organic solutes (namely urea and an enzyme called trimethylamine oxide or TMAO) within their bodies. Although urea is toxic to fish, the TMAO counteracts the protein-de-stabilizing effects of urea. Excess monovalent ions that they ingest, namely sodium and chloride, are eliminated from the body via specialized rectal glands.

The Amazon River

Since Amazonian rays live in freshwater, they have exactly the opposite problem of their marine cousins: instead of losing water to their external environment, they have to worry about gaining it, since their internal osmotic concentrations are higher than that of the water in which they live. One result of this situation is that freshwater stingrays no longer have any need for rectal glands, and these structures are now vestigial (greatly reduced in size and no longer capable of secreting salt).

They have also lost the ability to retain urea, allowing them to sever their ties with the ocean and evolve into exclusively freshwater organisms.

Freshwater stingray history – Taxonomy

The family of Potamotrygonidae belonging to the genus Potamtrygon consist of about 20 species of rays. In 1986 Ricardo Rosa re-assessed the taxonomy of freshwater stingrays.  This can be tricky. Most rays are highly polymorphic. This means that variations is patterns, physical structure and tail length are highly common.

The word Morph describes different looking specimens in the same species. In only a few cases the ray has a constant shape and pattern. A good example of a non-polymorphic species is the Tiger Ray which has a consistent colour, pattern and shape between specimens. On the other hand a great example of a highly polymorphic species is the Motoro stingray. This ray has many pattern variants and shapes within its species.