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Yellow Stingray

(Urobatis jamaicensis)

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 Quick Care Facts

• Care Level: Expert   • Temperament: Semi-aggressive   • Maximum Size: 14"
• Minimum Tank Size: 360 gallons   • Water Conditions: 72-80° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.020-1.025
• Diet: Carnivore   • Origin: Tropical Western Atlantic, Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico
• Family: Urotrygonidae   • Species: Rays   • Aquarium Type: Fish Only

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Native Habitat and Species Information

Yellow Stingray native habitat, distribution, behavior & aquarium compatibility.

The Yellow Stingray (Urobatis jamaicensis) is found living throughout the tropical western Atlantic, Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. They inhabit shallow inshore waters, where they are typically found foraging in sandy or muddy flats near coral reefs or rocky formations. They utilize sandy flats and areas of sea grass in order to forage for small crustaceans and mollusks, while also using the deep sand and sea grass for protection from larger predatory fish species.

Yellow Stingrays are one of the more suitable ray species for the home aquarium as they grow to a modest 14 inches in diameter and about 20 inches in length. Like other stingrays in the Urotrygonidae family, Yellow Stingrays have a venomous tail spine which can inflict a painful wound. While adult specimens still require a large aquarium of 350 gallons or more, they can successfully adjust to aquarium life given the right conditions.

Yellow Stingrays are born at approximately 6 inches in length and can grow to about 14 inches in length. The overall length of their body and tail combined can reach about 24 inches in length, while the width of their disc typically reaches about 12 to 14 inches in diameter. Yellow Stingrays generally reach their adult size in about 3 years; however, they often grow more quickly in the aquarium environment where they receive regular feedings. The small size (for a ray) and overall hardiness of the Yellow Stingray makes it suitable for large aquariums maintained by advanced aquarium hobbyists.

Yellow Stingray are able to adjust their colors and patterns very rapidly to match their current surroundings, which helps them blend into their environment to avoid predators and trick prey. Most specimens exhibit one of two color schemes that feature either a dark green or brown background with a lighter white, yellow or tan top pattern or a light tan or yellow background with a darker green or brown top pattern. All combined, their unique swimming style, body shape and color changing abilities make the Yellow Stingray an incredibly interesting aquarium species for advanced hobbyists with larger aquarium setups.

Aquarium Care

How to successfully keep Yellow Stingray in the home aquarium.

Stingrays need large aquariums with plenty of open sandy areas and small rocky formations in order to provide them areas to swim, hunt and seek shelter. While small specimens can be raised in smaller aquariums, adult Yellow Stingray will need an aquarium with a foot print of approximately 8 feet by 3 feet in order to give them the necessary swimming room they need. Hobbyists should only purchase Yellow Stingray if they have a large 350+ gallon aquarium available to house the species as an adult.

It is recommended that ray aquariums have a deep sandy substrate in order to replicate the natural habitat and feeding patterns of the ray. The natural behavior of burying themselves and searching for food in the sand will help keep the sand bed turned, which helps prevent dead spots from decaying food matter. Strong water flow, mechanical and biological filtration are required to maintain the overall water quality of the aquarium. Large bodied fish like stingrays and sharks produce large bio-loads that require strong filtration systems to be handled properly.

It is highly recommended that the stingray aquarium have a large sump, protein skimmer and plenty of water flow to keep dissolved oxygen levels high. Lastly stingray and shark aquariums should be well covered to prevent these strong fish from accidentally escaping from the aquarium.

Like their shark cousins, stingrays are not suitable for all aquarium environments or tank mates. Yellow Stingray should be kept in FOWLR aquariums with compatible fish tank mates. Many fish species like Angelfish and Triggerfish will pick at the stingray, which can cause damage and stress. Generally speaking fish that pick at the rocks or have sharp teeth are not usually well suited for shark and ray aquariums.

Since the Yellow Stingray feeds primarily on mollusks and crustaceans in the wild, they should not be kept with these species within the aquarium unless they are intended as food. They will not generally bother sessile invertebrates like corals or clams, but their large size and swimming motion makes them too destructive to be kept in most reef aquarium environments.

Feeding & Nutrition

How to feed and provide proper nutrition for Yellow Stingray.

Yellow Stingrays are nocturnal feeders in the wild, spending much of the day laying under a covering of sand. Once nighttime falls, they forage in the sand for a wide range of mollusks, crustaceans, shrimp, crabs and worms. Given time, Yellow Stingrays raised in aquarium environments will adjust to daytime feeding. They can be fed a wide range of marine meaty foods including: frozen feeder fish, silver sides, raw shrimp, clams, squid, mussels and other similar marine based meaty foods.

Hobbyists should experiment with both the amount of food being fed and the frequency of feedings to determine the ideal balance between nutritional health and controlled growth rate. Initial feedings 3 times a week an amount of food the ray will consume within 5 minutes is a good starting point. Monitor the girth, overall health and growth rate of the ray to adjust the feeding regimen accordingly.

More Information

Caution - This species has a venomous tail spine.

Caution - This species is Venomous, and should be handled accordingly as these animals have an extremely painful sting. If you do get stung immediately soak it in hot water and call a doctor!

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