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Occasionally, a well-acclimated specimen will fail to gain weight, even though you are offering enough food. Several things may cause this problem; most likely possibility is that it is not competing efficiently for food against other fish in aquarium, or it may have a parasitic infestation. Stingrays occasionally do not seem to learn where foods can be found during feeding times, and are always in wrong part of tank during those times. In these cases, it is helpful to hand-feed such specimens. By this I do not mean feeding with your hands. Although some aquarists do this with stingrays, I do not recommend it because of possibility of being accidentally stung. Remember that stingrays are wild animals, and no matter how accustomed your specimens become to your presence, it is impossible to always accurately predict their response to humans. Instead, you should always perform hand-feeding of specimens with long forceps or a similar instrument. Stingrays generally avoid metal objects and appear to be frightened by metal; however, because they can sense metal, they will quickly learn that when there is a metal object in aquarium, food is being offered. In this way, you can teach your stingray to feed directly from forceps, and selectively feed it more food.
Simply hold a night crawler (or a piece of night crawler) in forceps, and hold worm in aquarium so that ray can touch it with its fin. It should eat worm immediately. After a few feedings in this manner, allow forceps to touch ray while it is eating worm. It will quickly learn to associate forceps with feeding and soon you will find that ray will pounce on forceps as soon as it touches it, eagerly looking for a treat!
How Much and How Often
The key to having well-fed stingrays in your aquarium is providing plenty of food. Unlike most fish that swim quietly between feedings, stingrays search constantly for food, looking under and around tank ornaments, moving driftwood, rocks, filters, and even other fish! This high activity level translates to a high metabolic rate, which means that while searching for food rays continue to burn energy. If they use up energy looking for food, but do not find any, they will lose weight. To compensate for this loss of energy, it is essential to provide adequate food. I cannot stress this enough. Hobbyists sometimes tell me that they feed their rays three times weekly, thinking that this is adequate. Stingrays should be fed at least twice, and usually three times, daily. In spite of these frequent feedings, rays will still constantly look for food between feedings!
When feeding significant quantities of live feeder goldfish, it is wise to add vitamin B1 to feeder supply. Goldfish contain enzyme thiaminase, which destroys thiamin, or vitamin B1, and this vitamin must be replenished. It should be your practice to add one 50-mg tablet to each 500 gallons (1893 L) of water every two weeks. You can add tablets directly to sump of wet-dry filter; or as an alternative, tablets can be added directly to tank.
Brendon Turner maintains The Animal Gazette - a weekly edition of helpful articles for pet owners. Visit AnimalGazette.com for information about cats, dog breeds and tropical fish.