Teacup Stingray and Its Venomous Barb

Published on July 12, 2019
Teacup Stingray and Its Venomous Barb

A freshwater teacup stingray also referred to as reticulated or longtail stingray is the ideal species of stingrays anyone would want to have in their home aquarium. Although it is illegal to own one in a few states, these rays remain a fascinating pet for many aquarists.

You can’t blame them—freshwater stingrays may have a poisonous barb and possess a predatory behavior very similar to sharks, but they are harmless to humans unless intentionally threatened. They also exhibit beautiful patterns and colors that can upgrade a simple household aquarium into a 3D underwater screen.

These sand dwellers could be so fun to watch either hiding under the aquarium substrate or swimming around freely. Being the smallest stingray species, teacup stingrays adapts well with a few tank ornaments and even tankmates.

A house aquarium is having a mini version of the real sea world. However, we know that you might have doubts with bringing in a few fish friends for a teacup stingray because of their known likeness to sharks.

Well, we have collected all the information you need to get to know these rays more. Know how to nourish them and identify which fish are their friends or their meals.

What to Feed Teacup Stingray?

Freshwater stingrays are carnivorous. So do not underestimate your teacups because they do prey on smaller fish like a shark would prey on these small stingrays too.

When they are in their natural habitat in the eastern Pacific Ocean from Baja California to Colombia, they hunt bottom-dwelling bony fishes and crustaceans. If you would take care of teacup stingrays in your home, that menu will change.

Here are the foods in that new menu:

First Foods

shubunkin fish food

By michelle jo (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This category refers to the diet for newly acquired stingrays. Your stingrays would have to be familiar with a whole new food list so that these little foods could help them with that.

You can use the following as first foods:

  • Blackworms
  • Tubifex Worms
  • Mosquito Larvae
  • Small Shrimp
  • Live Adult Brine Shrimp

Blackworms and tubifex worms are the most basic first foods. Stingrays usually accept them quickly, so they work like magic.

For teacup stingrays, blackworms also work. However, smaller pieces like the mosquito larvae, small shrimp, and live adult shrimp are for them.

Shrimps have little nutrition in them though, so we advise that you prepare other food items to accompany shrimps tp nourish your teacup stingray.

Live Foods

You should give blackworms and tubifex worms in quantities enough to still have a small amount left in the tank for the teacups to have later. You want to avoid feeding them a minute after minute, so keeping live foods in the tank is a practical thing to do.

Non-Live, Non-Aquatic Foods

  • Earthworms
  • Redworms
  • Night Crawlers

Most of the foods under this section are large. Teacup stingrays have tiny mouths so they need these foods chopped for them so they can eat them well.

If a ray ingests a piece of food and continuously spits it out and ingests it again, then it is just an indicator that the food is too big for them. Now, a lot of stingray owners see this happen with their pets often.

That is because it takes some time before they develop a technique to get used to these chopped and non-aquatic foods.

Commercial Stingray Foods

Commercial foods, commonly frozen goods, are not the favorite of stingrays but are less prone to carrying diseases or parasites. If you are a busy aquarist, we recommend this solution for you to feed your pets even with a hectic schedule.

Here are the two most common commercial foods that freshwater stingrays easily accept:

  • Brine Shrimp
  • Pellet Foods

There are other types of frozen food for stingrays, but if you want to skip the challenge in making your pet take and ingest it, then stick to the two above.

Which are the Best Teacup Stingray Tank Mates?

Freshwater teacup stingrays are still predators to smaller fish, so it is essential to pick their tank mates that aren’t just going to die after a few minutes in the aquarium. Stingrays have such vibrant patterns you want to accompany with an equally graceful fish.

Now, there are many types of colorful fish you might mistake for a good tank mate, so we listed down some of the ideal teacup stingray tank mates for you:


Severums, also known as Banded Cichlids, have the following characteristics you might enjoy being a part of your aquascape:

  • Flashy scales with a gold background color
  • Variety of gold and green across its body
  • Semi-aggressive, so a perfect fit for a stingray
  • Can eat frozen foods and live worms just like stingrays

Since these fish love swimming around, they require ample space just like your stingray. That means that they are not the types of fish that need a bunch of rocks to enjoy their tank life.

Keep in mind that every freshwater stingray has a sensitive exterior that doesn’t work well around ornaments such as rocks. Those could injure them seriously.

Surinamensis Geophagus

This tank mate might be the flashiest of them all. Its other names are Redstripe Eartheater, Mother-of-Pearl Eartheater, and Opalescent Eartheater. Don’t they sound extravagant?

Don’t they sound extravagant? Well, they have iridescent blue-green scales and some smudgy-looking dark blotch on their sides that made them pretty.

Here are other winning traits.

  • Burrows a lot like stingrays so having sharp ornaments in the tank is not advisable
  • Blends well in any decoration from little stones to plants
  • Eats frozen foods and worms as well

A small downside here is that they could grow up to 12 inches so they might take up too much space in your tank. So it’s whether you don’t take them or maybe consider that it might be time to upsize your aquarium for more of these fascinating pets.

We think these fish are worth that move. Is their beauty easily maintained? We vote, yes!

Silver Dollars

Just like what the name suggests, these fish are round and silver. They are almost like lucky coins when displayed in an aquarium.

Here are the things that make these silver things a good teacup stingray tank mate.

  • Unlike the other two fish, this one only grows up to 6 inches, so it doesn’t need much room.
  • Herbivore, so it won’t be sharing food with other fish that are usually carnivores.
  • Low maintenance

We saved the best for last. If you feel the perfect tank mate for your ray is one that doesn’t require too much work, this one is for you. It is as impressive as the other fish in terms of looks also.

Their size is also perfect so that they wouldn’t be impeding your teacup stingray and its long venomous barb.

Freshwater teacup stingrays may seem too aggressive with their infamous venomous barb. However, they are still fit as a tank mate for smaller fish.

They need to be with fish that share the same attitude as theirs--temperamental. Now, they may sound like they could harm humans, too, but that is if they feel intentionally threatened by your interactions with them.

You can even hand-feed them some of their foods as they might not sink as quickly as hoped. Considering that, this shows how having a teacup stingray in your home aquarium is not as crazy as most would say.

Last, they are friendly freshwater creatures that can both make your home alive and live with other fish that could also do the same for your abode. We hope that we could help in your quest of providing a new home for a teacup stingray.

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