Stingrays are some of the most interesting freshwater fish around. From the entrancing way they glide in the water to their fascinating appearance, the pure novelty of owning a stingray is a fun venture for any seasoned aquarium enthusiast.
Most species of stingray are a drab brown or gray color, which may turn you away if brighter types of fish are your style. However, there are a few, vivid exceptions like the Black Diamond Stingray for instance.
Black Diamond stingrays have especially stunning patterns along their backs, which may entice you to delve into the curious world of stingray care and breeding.
But what exactly is a Black Diamond stingray, and how do you care for it? Let’s take a look.
- 1 What Is The Black Diamond Stingray?
- 2 Black Diamond Stingray Food and Diet
- 3 Purchasing a Black Diamond Stingray
- 4 How to Set Up a Stingray Tank
- 5 Black Diamond Stingray Tankmates
- 6 How to Breed Stingrays
- 7 Conclusion
What Is The Black Diamond Stingray?
The Black Diamond stingray, also known as the Leopoldi stingray or the Polka Dot stingray, is a subspecies of the Diamond stingray family.
They are also one of the most visually striking freshwater creatures you can own. They are peppered in bright-white spots, which starkly contrast against their jet-black, diamond-shaped disc (‘disc’ is another term for the top of their bodies). That makes their name particularly apt.
The Black Diamond stingray originates from Sao Felix in the Rio Xingu basin, and in Rio Fresco – both of which are located in central Brazil.
They are bottom-dwellers that like to coast through sandy or muddy flats, lying near rocky reefs and thick kelp forests.
Black Diamond Stingray Size
The average Black Diamond stingray can grow to be 24 inches in diameter. As such, be mindful of this before purchasing a tank.
Most stingrays are sold as babies, so even if they appear comically small in their large tanks at first, they will eventually grow into their new environment. It only requires a good two to three years of maturity.
Stingrays can live for surprisingly long amounts of time.
The male stingray lifespan can reach up to 19 years, and a female’s lifespan can be as long as 28 years. If they are well-cared for, they’re long-term pets.
Types of Black Diamond Stingray
They are three types of Black Diamond stingray—Thousand Island, Eclipse, and Big Spot.
This variety has numerous small, white spots peppered all along its body. Its larger spots tend to cluster around the middle of their disc.
Eclipse stingrays have a ring-shaped pattern circling its disc, with dark spots blotting its surface.
This results in unique disc patterns that look they’re forming lines or letter shapes.
As their name implies, Big Spot Black Diamond stingrays were given their name due to the large white spots peppered symmetrically around the ray’s disc.
Each Big Spot’s pattern is unique to that ray alone – like fingerprints or tiger stripes!
All stingray species have long, venomous tail spines. However, marine biologists actually don’t know very much about the toxins produced within them.
While there haven’t been any recorded instances of fatalities due to freshwater stingray ‘stings,’ it’s always a good idea to be cautious when handling any type of stingray.
Be sure to speak with your doctor long before you decide to purchase a stingray. Ask about what should be done in the event that you are accidentally (or even purposefully) stung.
Black Diamond Stingray Food and Diet
In the wild, Black Diamond stingrays eat other, smaller fish, invertebrates like worms, or any variety of crustacean.
They first dig for their prey and then suck them up into their mouths, located on the underside of their bodies.
It’s wise to give your stingrays a diet of meat exclusively – though, in time, your ray may also come to like dried foods. When they are first adjusting to their new home, however, it’s best to start off feeding them a few live blackworms.
Once your new ray grows accustomed to their tank, then you may also start to feed them things like frozen bloodworms, mysis shrimp, raw shrimp, bits of tilapia, live earthworms, or sinking pellet or tablet foods such as bottom feeder tablets, shrimp pellets, and cichlid pellets.
Your ray will learn to take their food from tweezers or they may even learn how to literally eat out of your hand.
Just remember to always exercise caution before you stick your hand into their tanks. You don’t want to disturb or annoy them on accident and end up having to go to the hospital from a venomous sting.
Just take it slow and steady, and, eventually, you may be able to feed your Black Diamond stingray by hand without fear.
Keep in mind that these kinds of stingrays have massive appetites and high metabolic rates to match. As such, they will need to be fed big meals at least twice a day, every single day.
Gathering enough food to keep even one ray happy and healthy can prove to be quite expensive. However, if you have enough money to purchase a Black Diamond stingray in the first place, then this shouldn’t be much of a problem.
If you’re operating on a budget, it’s doable – but be sure to account for this ahead of time.
Purchasing a Black Diamond Stingray
The average price for a single, regular Leopoldi stingray pup is about $500 or so, but premium Black Diamond stingray pups will set you back even further.
The ranges tend to vary depending on the fish vendor, so you should always ask for an estimate before deciding. You’ll need to allocate a certain amount of money to care for these amazing creatures in your home aquarium.
A Note On Ownership Laws
Before you purchase a stingray, another thing to keep in mind is the stingray ownership laws in your state.
As of October 2015, the following states have prohibited fishkeepers from owning any Potamotrygon species:
Colorado and Florida do not strictly prohibit you from owning a Black Diamond stingray, but both states do require you to have a permit.
When you go out and buy your Stingray, make sure the edges of its disc are not curled upward. This is a surefire indication that your potential stingray is dead.
In fact, this unfortunate phenomenon is aptly named the “death curl.” However, disreputable vendors may try to pass this off to you, as they may otherwise seem fine – albeit stationary.
You should also avoid buying any stingrays that look injured or ones that don’t seem to have any interest in food.
How to Set Up a Stingray Tank
Keep in mind that adult Black Diamond stingrays can become quite large. As such, you will need a large tank to accommodate their size.
A tank measuring 4 x 2 x 2 feet will be the most suitable, especially if you plan on caring for many stingrays at once. The minimum aquarium capacity should be around 265 gallons.
Black Diamond stingrays should be kept in freshwater that is anywhere between 68 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit and has a pH between 6.0 and 7.5.
Plants and Substrates
Remember, Black Diamond stingrays are bottom-dwellers, so it’s best to have few furnishings or substrates dwelling at the bottom of the tank for them.
Stingrays also have very sensitive skin, which can be easily damaged by any rough ornaments scattered around.
To prevent your stingrays from injuring themselves, you should line the bottom of the tank with a thin layer of fine river sand or smooth stones.
Any coarse, gravelly materials, including your typical aquarium gravel, should be avoided. Your stingrays may also uproot and eat any plants you locate inside their tank, so be aware of what kinds you choose beforehand.
Curious stingrays will also dislodge any filter tubes, aerators, and heaters they see poking up in their territory. As such, make sure to keep these devices hidden where your ray will not mess with them.
Your Black Diamond stingray may also burn themselves on any open aquarium heaters, so you should always keep these devices hidden under a PVC sheath or some heavy rocks.
Black Diamond stingrays are bottom-dwellers, so they are used to mostly dim lighting that won’t strain their eyes.
However, once they begin to settle into the aquarium, most rays will learn to be active under brighter lighting as well.
Be sure to provide an easy transition process to avoid illness or stress, but after a few months, you can customize the tank more liberally.
Since Black Diamond stingrays will consume a great deal of food, they will obviously produce a lot of waste, too.
This is where a large, biological filter will come in handy. You should clean out the filter whenever it appears to be malfunctioning or clogged with waste or other debris.
Keep to a standard, routine tank cleaning process, and your stingray will be able to live happily!
This video shows an example of Black Diamond Stingray care.
Black Diamond Stingray Tankmates
Stingrays feel most comfortable when they are the top predators of their habitats. As such, they are usually unsafe to keep with most other types of fish.
It’s not as if they are particularly aggressive fish. They just prefer to live a quiet, mostly undisturbed life at the bottom of your aquarium.
Go Large with Upper-Tank Fish
A black Diamond stingray’s ideal tankmate should be fairly large, so it doesn’t get eaten, and should be content with occupying the upper parts of the shared tank.
You can add a couple of other bottom-dwelling species into the mix; however, just know this may lead to a competition between your ray and these species. Each will prefer a large territory and may fight!
The ideal breeds to share tank space with your Black Diamond stingray include a few types of cichlids, such as Oscars or Severums (especially the red-face gold Severums or the green Severums), Geophagus and Gymnogeophagus species, and many types of knifefish.
Many aquarium enthusiasts also like to pair their stingrays with arowanas to create a more dynamic-looking tank environment.
Don’t just dump your new ray into any environment too quickly, even if your aquarium set-up is otherwise perfect.
Instead, you should quarantine your Black Diamond stingray for at least 30 days before introducing them to any new fish.
As always, this introduction of tankmates should be a gradual process, or it could result in unnecessary stress or conflict for all involved.
How to Breed Stingrays
First off, you should be able to tell the difference between a male stingray and a female.
Male stingrays have a sexual appendage on each pectoral fin, known as a clasper. You will be able to clearly see these appendages, as they extend backwards from the inside of their fins.
These appendages should be visible even in a young male stingray. If these appendages are not visible at all, then you can easily conclude that your stingray is female.
Generally, it takes anywhere between nine to twelve weeks after fertilization for Black Diamond stingray pups to be born. During this time, you should feed any pregnant female stingrays far more than normal, as they are using up a great deal of energy to provide for their yet unborn pups.
These pups are usually born with a small yolk sac attached to their bodies at birth, and they will eat from this sac for about one week. After this, you should introduce them to live prey and/or frozen foods several times a day for their meals.
Tips for Breeding Effectively
Rays tend to be very picky when choosing a mate, so just putting a male and female in the same tank may not yield any pups whatsoever.
The best way to get your stingrays breeding is to buy a group of juvenile rays, put them all in one huge tank, and allow them to select their own partners from there.
This video goes into more details on breeding Black Diamond stingrays.
Black Diamond stingrays are easily one of the most visually appealing freshwater fish you could own as a pet.
They are quite a difficult breed of fish to care for, but they still make an excellent addition to any home aquarium!