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Potamotrygon orbignyi (reticulatus)
Smooth Back River Stingray, Reticulated Teacup Stingray

 Age of Aquariums > Freshwater Fish > Smooth Back River Stingray - Potamotrygon orbignyi

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Potamotrygon_reticulatus_1.jpg (36kb)
Photo Credit: Josh Weiner

Name: Potamotrygon orbignyi
Size TankpHTemp
Origin: Amazon Basin
35 cm 400 L 6.7 26C


My first teacup stingray was 25 cm in diameter. I purchased it with little hesitation at Wal-mart for 10 dollars. The first tank for this fish was a 230 liter hexagon tank. Then I realized that this fish was growing faster than expected. That summer, I constructed a water garden, that included the addition of many of my freshwater tropical fish. I fed this fish frozen bloodworms and, by the end of the summer, I caught the stingray from my pond and placed it in my custom made aquarium, that was very wide and shallow (250x250x50 cm). There the fish shared the space with two other stingrays. By the fall, the stingray was 45 cm in diameter. The moulted colors of the stingray were remarkably bright (as with all my fish kept in ponds during the summer). The fish still ate bloodworms, but obviously in a greater amount. The sex of the stingray is determined by the claspers (modified anal fin of the males to transport sperm into the female). The reproductive methods of the freshwater stingrays are very similar to their saltwater counterparts, and radically similar to the livebearing mollies, platy's, swordtails and guppies. The stingrays are accompanied by a school of 30 cardinal tetras, 5 brown discus and a possible breeding pair of Apteronotus albifrons (black ghost knifefish). I have had much success with keeping freshwater tropical fish (especially South American species) in man-made ponds. I place many fish in these ponds and pull out, not only more than what I started with, but specimens that appear to be wild caught. Their colors, size and activity level are extremely similar to their wild caught versions.

Contributed by Steve Zepecki

This is a fascinating species for the more advanced aquarist, though as is testified above, their mature size can be daunting at best and should be taken into consideration before a purchase. (I wonder if the salesperson at Wal-Mart had any idea what he/she was selling at the time, aside from a "really neat fish". I'll say no more about Wal-Mart and fish). I would like to add that they are a very affectionate pet, readily eating from your hand (this is truly a WILD sensation!) and allowing themselves to be stroked and petted at times. They are also mishievous almost to a fault, and I have known one in particular which obsessively dueled with the glaring red eye of his tank heater, to the demise of more than one heater until a glass partition was installed. They love to burrow in a sandy substrate, and will stir up a tank worse than a pack of Oscars when frisky. Though somewhat demanding, this is a rewarding species if successfully kept.

Contributed by Shannon Lawson

I just bought a teacup at a local pet store in my area, an man is he cute! Right now, he's in a 110 liter fish tank with a young ropefish, figure 8 puffer, a freshwater knight goby, a small catfish, and some assorted peaceful cichlids. I paid $50, a pretty good deal I guess, but anyway, here I am with this awesome little teacup. I give him shrimp pellets, like I give my other fish and he absolutely loves them! He goes right for those things as soon as I drop them in. Overall, teacup stingrays make sweet pets. I recommend them to anyone who is at a more experienced level with fish. They can be tough to get eating. I've been taking care of fish since I was just about three years old, and now I'm fourteen and I'm absolutely obsessed with them. If you like a cool fish, a teacup is for you!

Contributed by Nate Blanchard

I've owned various species of freshwater stingrays for about five years now. Currently I own four species including the several of the one pictured above commonly reffered to as a 'TEA-CUP' ray. This ray actually is a young form of Potamotrygon reticulatus. They are very hardy as far as freshwater rays go and stay pretty small in comparison with other freshwater rays. They accept a variety of foods and adore earthworms. This by far is my favorite species and I've successfully bred them in the past. The male is a little abusive towards the female during courtship, but no real damage is done. My first litter of pups came when I wasn't around, but numbered about six. The babies fed almost immediately and I had no losses. They are currently being housed in a custom 2.4 by 1.2 by 0.6 meters which is the appropriate tank size for this type of ray, but they can be kept in much smaller aquariums.

Contributed by Thomas Zoutis

About a month ago, I purchased a Teacup Stingray from a local pet store. I had researched them before, and the experts in the pet store said that I must add aquarium salt to my tank because they need it. So I made my new tank into a Brackish tank and added the stingray. The rumors about the difficulty of trying to get new rays to eat was partially true. It took him about 2-3 days to finally eat the bloodworms I was feeding him. There is much debate as to whether or not you can keep them in 100% freshwater or if you have to keep them in Brackish water.

Since his introduction, I have been making 5% water changes to the tank twice a week and not adding salt. He seems happier as time progresses. I put ghost shrimp in the tank because I like the fact that they eat the leftover food from fish, but also because I heard freshwater stingrays will eat them. So I bought 20 ghost shrimp and by the next day, there were only 3 left! My ray didn't look as fat as a fish would, but then I saw pieces of shrimp shell rolling around the bottom of the tank. They are messy eaters. About 1/4 of what they eat is siphoned out through their gills.

A large factor that I think contributes to my ray's happiness is the real wood that I have in the tank. The tannin makes the water slightly acidic (~6.2 pH) and makes the water slightly darker, simulating real rainforest water. I have read they like soft water, but the hardness of my water does not seem to bother him so far. I have been adding distilled water weekly to reduce the hardness. I also have Java fern growing in the substrate and on the wood. I can tell he is a male because of the 2 claspers and has no tank mates yet. I was considering one of the following: silver scats, monos, clown loaches, needle fish, gar, bichir, dolphin fish, or clown knife fish. These tank-mates are ones that I hypothesize that their nature will be compatible with that of a stingray. You need to find fish that will not nip at the ray (clown loaches seem to be the only loaches that do not do this) or suck off the slime coat. This will cause stress and disease for the stingray. So any general tropical fish will be fine, but be wary of bottom dwelling fish.

Gordon (after the lead singer of Sting) is my ray's name. He is very active, especially when chasing the Ghost Shrimp around. One of the most fascinating fish I have ever kept.

Contributed by Sean Eyler

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