Stingrays are certainly one of the most wanted aquatic pets among enthusiasts today and, as a surprise to some, they can be freshwater as well. These amazing creatures are highly intelligent and can learn to interact with their humans in an amazing way.
Also, they are surrounded by a sense of mystique and surely make one of the most unique pets one can ever own. But these fantastic carnivorous are not suitable for everyone.
Indeed, they require lots of space and attention from their keepers. In order to understand whether this shark-related animal is ideal for your home, here comes its full care, facts and profile sheet.
Although most people think of ocean waters when stingrays are mentioned, there are actually some species which are commonly found in freshwaters.
Indeed, the freshwater stingray loves inhabiting the Amazon River, but some versions can easily be found around Southeast Asia, Australia, and Africa.
Mostly, they spend their time at the bottom of the rivers, meaning that they can adapt well either to sandy-bottomed waters or to heavily planted areas during the rainy seasons.
They enjoy spending their lives across tropical and subtropical environmental conditions.
If you are going to keep freshwater stingrays, here are the tank, water and substrate requirements you should know about:
– Tank Size & Filtration
If you decide to adopt a freshwater stingray, please be prepared to it needing a fairly large tank with pristine water conditions. This is vitally important in order to provide a safe yet suitable home for your new pet.
The minimum size where to keep a fully-grown specimen should be not less than 180 gallons, although you can keep it for some time in a somehow smaller tank during its baby and juvenile phases.
And, more importantly, you should aim to have a longer tank rather than a higher one. Indeed, with these creatures spending most time at the bottom of the tank, they require lots of horizontal space to move around freely.
Furthermore, they are extremely sensitive to water conditions and need to have pristine water at all times. That means you should plan ahead and invest into a powerful and highly efficient filtration system.
Ideally, this should take care not just of the biological filtration, but also of the chemical and mechanical ones. Along with a good filter, you will also need to perform regular partial water changes to ensure your pet is getting all the attention it deserves.
Freshwater stingrays produce a relatively large amount of ammonia when compared to their body size, so keeping their water clean is crucial.
– Water Parameters
Once that you have found your ideal permanent tank, you should be careful to setup its water parameters correctly.
First of all, they require stable temperature levels which can recreate their natural tropical conditions, so anywhere between 75- and 82-degrees Fahrenheit. Next, the pH level of such water should be from 6,8 to 7,6 while the alkalinity can range anywhere from 18ppm and 70ppm.
Once again, freshwater stingrays are overly sensitive to any unideal water state, so please always keep track of its parameters and intervene as soon as there is an oscillation. Ammonia and nitrite have to be at zero at all times, while nitrate levels should never exceed 10ppm.
Bare bottom aquariums can be a simple and safe choice for these amazing fish. However, these cannot really offer the natural stimulus which these creatures need to thrive. Therefore, a fine sand substrate might be the best solution possible.
Stingray’s love being buried beneath the sand, often leaving only their eyes to be noticed. This is all part of their natural instincts and it is always suggestable for keepers to stimulate such behavior as much as possible.
– Plants & Decorations
Since the roots of plants can often be more of a disturbance rather than an advantage, it is better to avoid heavily planted tanks for these bottom feeders.
However, plants that are able of growing onto driftwood and smooth rocks, such as anubias or java ferns, or even some sorts of floating plants such as duckweed, are all more than welcome.
When it comes to decorations, the golden rule here is to avoid sharp objects. Indeed, your delicate pet can easily get injured on these, so please make sure to choose smooth rocks or Brazilian driftwood.
Feeding & Diet
Freshwater stingrays are carnivorous. They enjoy live food portions containing white fish, but they actually seem to prefer invertebrates, so including these into their regular diet will certainly make them happy.
These can be shrimp, mussels, bloodworms and similar, but you can also offer your pet some occasional land insects such as crickets.
The best part when feeding these amazing fish is not having to worry about separating shells or heads from their meals, as they are among those which feed by mastication. Indeed, these pets can literally chew their entire meal out, leaving all the important nutritive values intact.
When there is no time to head to the market, you can simply feed your pet with meat-based sinking pellets, too. And when doing so, you can actually teach your stingray to eat either from tweezers or even from your hands (at some point)!
Although being carnivorous and fairly strong, freshwater stingrays can function pretty well with several tank mates, as long as they are carefully selected.
If you can afford the space, the best option is probably adopting some more stingrays. However, other fish can also work simply fine.
Make sure to choose those which are decently sized to avoid them becoming a meal, but also those species which mostly spend time at the upper levels of the tank. This will ensure they do not disturb each other and can live into a tranquil environment.
Here are some examples of functioning tank mates:
- Silver Dollars
- Large Gourami
Freshwater stingrays breed through internal fertilization. When sexually mature, the male specimen will hold onto the female by biting her, and he will impregnate her with the help of his modified pelvic fin.
Next, the female is to produce the eggs which will hatch internally, to finally give birth to live babies.
Breeding freshwater stingrays in captivity is not a mission impossible, but it is rather hard to achieve.
Indeed, the largest obstacle is related to the actual space amount you would need to provide to your pets, as well as the time and efforts you will have to ensure in order to condition them properly and raise their babies.
A fascinating fact about these creatures is that the females own two uteruses, so they can actually get pregnant with two different males at the same time and bring life to their babies afterwards.
Also, once they reach maturity, they can basically breed again as soon as they bring life to the previous babies.
Are Freshwater Stingrays Aggressive?
Freshwater stingrays should not be characterized as aggressive creatures. Indeed, although they are strong and feature several natural advantages in fighting off their opponents, they actually tend to have a fairly docile behavior.
They love spending their time at the tank bottoms, waiting for their food and exploring their territory.
Male stingrays, as an exception, can get quite aggressive during the mating process, as they will start biting on the bodies of their female partners and strongly taking them over.
Other than that, your stingray pet will be a rather peaceful one, and will often try interacting with you and your family members.
How Long do Freshwater Stingrays Live?
When proper conditions are provided during their life in captivity, freshwater stingrays can survive anywhere from 5 up to even 10 years.
Are Freshwater Stingrays Dangerous?
As all stingrays, freshwater versions of the species also feature a venomous barb. However, this is only used when their wellbeing is seriously compromised. These spectacular creatures are really peaceful pets, and you should either aggressively bother your pet or to step on it in order for it to sting you.
To conclude, freshwater stingrays are not dangerous, but they surely do require a bit of attention from the humans who handle them.
When choosing the most suitable pets for their home, many aquarium enthusiasts look for those animals which are perhaps a bit unusual, rare or special in any other way. And freshwater stingrays are exactly one of those super-unique fish to brag about.
They are quite fascinating once you get to know them, and there are still so many things about these creatures that we need to fully understand and learn (for instance, how long they live in their wild habitats).
On top of that, these shark relatives are highly intelligent, meaning that they will often interact with their humans and happily form a relationship with them. But, once again, they are not a good fit for everyone.
These special pets do require lots of attention and even more space. If you find yourself being suitable to offer all the necessary conditions for freshwater stingrays to thrive, you certainly will not be sorry for adopting one or two.