Black diamond stingray (Potamotrygon leopoldi) | beginners care guide |

Do you believe that Rays are inhabiting a freshwater environment? Yes, they are. There is a Ray called Black Diamond Stingray that inhabits freshwater habitat. If you wish to rear this unique beauty in your aquarium, this guide will be important for you. 

Quick overview of  Black diamond stingray

Black diamond stingrays or Leopoldi stingrays are the most interesting freshwater “Ray” fish. They are a cartilaginous fish and they do not have any bones. 

They are bottom dwellers and associated with sandy and muddy areas. Also, they are lying near rocky areas and thick kelp forests. The black diamond stingrays can reach up to 24 inches in diameter. The male stingray has a long life span and it is around 19 years. The female fish can live around 28 years.

black diamond stringray

They need pristine water quality and relatively large tanks to grow. They need an ideal water quality parameter to live longer in captivity.  Black diamond stingrays are bottom dwellers and associate with the sandy bottom. They are at high levels of the food pyramid hierarchy. Thus, there is no massive predatory pressure on them. The major predator is humans.

Further, breeding them in captivity is a bit difficult. Due to high demand, this stingray species is more expensive than other freshwater creatures. Moreover, you need a large freshwater tank to rear them.

One look Care guide of Black diamond stingray

Scientific namePotamotrygon leopoldi
Common nameBlack diamond stingrays or Leopoldi stingrays, Polka Dot stingray
Care levelExpert
Native tocentral Brazil, South Asia, Australia, Africa and South America
TypeCartilaginous fish
Color Brown or gray color body, Yellow color spots out lined with black color
Tank size265 gallon  /  1000 liter
Preferred temperature75 – 82o
pHpH 6.8 – 7.6
Hardness18-70ppm
Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite0
Preferred salinity0
Size24 inches  /  60 cm
Growth rateSlow (1-3 inches /year)
Temperament Peaceful
Recommended tank matesSilver DollarsPacuCommunity Cichlids like Angelfish and SeverumsLarge GouramiKnife fishArowanasTinfoil Barbs
Preferred foodSmall fish, invertebrates, or crustaceans(Carnivore)
Feeding frequency3 times per day
Propagation byhuman

Description 

BDS

Black diamond stingrays are native to central Brazil, South Asia, Australia, Africa, and South America. They are commonly found in river systems of Rio Fresco and Sao Felix in the Rio Xingu basin of Brazil. 

Stingrays have a cartilaginous body and do not have any bones. They consist of disks like a round, flat body and short tail. Their bodies are black. 

The white color spots spread over the upper side of the body. These white spots around the eyes too. The double row of small white spots situated at the edge of the black diamond stingrays.

The black diamond stingrays use their tails to protect themselves from predators. The white color diamond-shaped spots spread on their whole body. There are small white color spots chains situated at the edge of their body and tail.

Their eyes are situated on the upper side of their body. These rays can reach 24 inches diameter when they become an adult.

Life span

Black diamond stingrays can live around 19 years and female stingrays can live more than male rays. Most aquarists love to rear this wonderful creature in their freshwater aquariums. Because Black diamond stingrays are very intelligent and interactive with humans. 

Tank requirements

Black diamond string ray

Black diamond stingrays need large space to live in and pristine water conditions. Stingrays are bottom dwellers. 

They are commonly associated with muddy or sandy bottoms. Black diamond stingrays have very sensitive skin. Hence, do not add Sharp-edged ornaments or chip stones to the tank bottom. 

Moreover, coarse grave materials should be avoided. It will damage and injure your black diamond stingrays. Use fine River sand or smooth stones to decorate the bottom of the tank.

You should place aerators, heaters, and filter systems in a hidden place of your tank. If not black diamond stingrays will mess with your devices. Because they highly consider their territory.  

Size of the tank

This variety can reach around 24 inches in diameter. Thus, provide a 270-gallon tank. The tank measures 4 x 2 x 2 are ideal for black diamond stingrays.

Water quality 

Pristine quality water is an essential factor for black diamond stingrays. You must maintain ideal conditions to make your stingray happy. 

If you use chlorinated tap water, add a dechlorinator to remove the chlorine from the water. If not, you can store that water for around 1,2 days to reduce chlorine concentration. Black diamond strings are highly sensitive to chlorine. 

Thus, they are not good for them. Most of the time they can die because of untreated tap water.

Temperature

The ideal temperature for black diamond stingrays is 75 – 82 Fahrenheit. Use an aquarium heater to maintain water temperature. You can install an aquarium thermometer to measure temperature regularly. 

pH range

The pH value should be in between 6.8 – 7.6. You can measure the pH level using digital pH meter. Most freshwater fish like to live in a neutral pH range.

Ammonia, Nitrates and Nitrite level

Generally, most fish cannot live in water that is rich in ammonia. Thus, ammonia, nitrate. Nitrites levels should be at zero. 

If ammonia, nitrates, or nitrites levels exceed 10ppm, your fish are in a dangerous situation. Because a high concentration of these chemicals can kill your fish. 

Fish fecal matter is the main source to produce ammonia. Thus, you must use a good filter system that has a good flow rate. 

The filter system will remove fecal matter and enhance the water quality. Moreover, you can use an aquarium siphon pipe to remove bottom debris immediately from the tank.  

Filter System 

Black diamond stingrays produce huge waste. Thus, filtration systems play a major role in stingray tanks. The biological filter is much suitable for stingray tanks.  

Water change

Make 25%-50% water changes weekly to maintain water quality parameters at a constant level. You can also use a siphon vacuum gravel cleaner to remove the debris and fecal matters immediately from the tank. 

Lighting

Black diamond stingrays prefer dim light conditions, because they are bottom dwellers. When they acclimate to the aquarium conditions they can live under bright light conditions too.  

How to introduce Black diamond stingray to a tank

Do not add your new Black diamond stingray directly to your main tank. You should quarantine them for 30 days in a separate tank. Just after 30 days, you can add black diamond stingrays into your main tank.  

Preferable tank mates for Black diamond stingray

BDS

They feel unsafe when they add most types of fish. Black diamonds are comfortable when they are the top predator organism in the tank. They are not an aggressive fish variety. Stingrays love to live in a quiet environment. 

The large fish are suitable tank mates for them. Because black diamond stingrays cannot eat them. Moreover, you can add bottom dwellers with them. But carefully watch their behaviors. Because stingrays may show some aggressiveness if other species compete with their territory.  

Preferable tank mates

  • Oscar 
  • Severums (especially red-faced gold Severums or green Severums)
  • Geophagus species
  • Gymnogeophagus species
  • Knife fish varieties
  • Arowana 
  • Silver Dollars
  • Pacu
  • Large Gourami
  • Tinfoil Barbs 

How to identify male and female black diamond stingray? 

The female black diamond stingray is larger than the male. 

Male black diamond stingray has sexual appendage on both pectoral fins. Those are known as claspers. 

These appendages are visible in young males too. You can easily identify male stingrays by these appendages. Female black diamond stingrays do not have these types of appendages.  

How to breed a black diamond stingray?

BDSR

The most successful method is buying a group of juveniles and allowing them to grow. When they get mature, they will pair with a compatible partner. 

Eggs fertilization occurs internally. Female black diamond stingray has two uteruses and it allows them to take a litter of pulp from two different males at the same time.  

Breeding Black diamond stingray in captivity needs much expert knowledge and facilities. But aquarists successfully breed them in aquariums by providing special requirements. 

Currently, black diamond stingrays produce commercial levels. Aquaculture farms produce them for the ornamental industry.  

Breeding steps of Black diamond stingray 

  • Take compatible adult pair and add them to the breeding tank
  • Breeding tank size should be large ( length 8 feet, width 6 feet, depth 1.5 feet)
  • Add clean water (pH – around 7, Temperature 75-82 Fahrenheit)
  • The male black diamond stingray inserts his one claspers into the cloace of the female ray
  • Then male stingray releases sperm milt into the female body.
  • The spawning period is quite short and it takes around a few seconds
  • The gestation period is 3,4 months
  • Female fish give birth to 1-12 pups in each pregnancy
  • Newborn pups should remain in the same water 
  • Remove parents from the breeding tank (cannibalism can occur)
  • Use tubifex worms, blood worms, black worms, and ghost shrimp to feed pups
  • The pups become 4 inches size within three month

Generally, baby stingrays are born after nine to twelve weeks after fertilization. You should provide quality feed and more quantity to female stingrays during the pregnancy period. 

The pups were born with a small yolk sac. They survive one week by using the yolk sac. Thus, you do not need to provide food for them in the first week. 

After that, you can feed them with live prey and frozen foods. You can use tubifex worms, blood worms, black worms, and ghost shrimp to feed them. The feeding frequency should be 3, 4 times per day.

How fast do black diamond stingrays grow?

They are not a fast-growing variety. In the natural habitat, male stingrays took 7 years to reach around 18 inches diameter in size. The female grows slower than the male fish. They reach around 22-26 inches at 10 years of their age. 

What do black diamond stingray eat?

They are carnivores. Thus they prefer to eat meat. In the wild black diamond stingrays eat small fish, worms, and shrimps like creatures. 

Their mouth is located at the underside of a flattened body. First, they dig the prey and suck it into their mouth. Until they adjust to the new environment, feed them using a slice of meat or live food. 

After they acclimate to the tank condition you can give dried foods for stingrays. Surely, they will love dried foods too.

Following foods can be used to feed your black diamond stingray.

  • Live Blood worms
  • Live black worms
  • Fish
  • Frozen blood worms
  • Mysis shrimps
  • Raw shrimp
  • Tilapia muscles
  • Earthworms
  • Sinking pellets (Bottom Feeder tablets)
  • Shrimp pellets
  • Cichlid pellets  

How to feed Black diamond stingray?

You can use tweezers or sticks to feed black diamond stingrays. They are intelligent creatures and can train them to eat food from tweezers. 

Do not add your hand into the tank. Because you disturb them and they will be annoyed about it. If they bite your hand you have to be admitted to the hospital because of the venomous sting.

You can slowly train them to hand-feeding.  

Feeding frequency

Keep in mind, this variety has high metabolic rates and massive appetites. Hence they need lots of food to eat. You should provide big meals at least twice a day. They will live happily and healthy when they get enough food. 

Predators of black diamond stingray 

Adult back diamond stingrays are large creatures. In the food web, they are at higher levels. Moreover, they have compressed disk-like bodies.Due to the above factors, predatory stress is minimal. 

When they swim above the bottom, their light color undersides allows them to hide from predators. Because sunlight arrives from the upper side of the water. 

The black diamond stingrays also have strong venomous spines on tails and it is defense them. The major predator is humans who harvest them. 

Is a black diamond stingray good or bad for your aquarium? 

BDAR

Yes, they give unique beauty to your aquarium. Most aquarists love to rear organisms that have different body colors, shapes, and beauty. Further, stingrays do not rearmost fish lovers due to a lack of knowledge about them. 

Black diamond stingrays are bottom dwellers. Hence, you can rear them at the bottom water layer. 

Therefore, other varieties have enough space in the middle and upper water layers. You can add stingrays into the community tank with big fish. Then they will live peacefully. 

Hence, the black diamond tang is good for your aquarium and they will decorate it. Keep in mind stingrays produce many fecal matters and it can change your water quality parameters. 

You can overcome this issue by adding a good bio filter to the aquarium.

Do not add them with small fish like a guppy, molly, and swordtails. Because, If these fish fit with the stingray’s mouth, they consider them as prey. Thus, add tank mates that do not match with stingray size. 

What is the minimum tank size for stingrays?

They need quite big tanks. The minimum requirement is The 270 gallons tank. The tank with 4 x 2 x 2 feet is ideal for them. They grow around 24 inches in diameter. Because of that they need relatively big freshwater habitats. 

Related topics 

Are they hard to keep?

They need pristine water conditions. If you can maintain these water quality parameters, it is not a difficult task. Keep in mind, a high level of ammonia can kill them. 

Further, they produce a high level of waste products. Thus, you need to install a good bio filter in your tank. 

Moreover, they grow quite big and you need to have a big tank. Black diamond stingrays are bottom dwellers and you should create bottom habitat accordingly. You should select ornaments carefully. 

Sand or soft gravel are recommended. If you can meet these requirements, it is not difficult to rear them in your tank. 

Is it legal to own a saltwater stingray?

It depends on the government regulations of a particular country. Some countries have regulations and policies to prevent saltwater stingrays rearing at aquariums. 

In 2017, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Texas, Arkansas, and Utah prohibit owning Potamotrygon species. Some countries introduced new regulations and people who have a special permit can rear them. 

These legal conditions change from country to country. Thus, you should take rough knowledge about prohibited species before you purchase them.  

Why are black diamond stingrays so expensive?

Due to increasing demand, black diamond stingrays have become one of the most expensive stingray varieties in the world. 

Naturally, they are associated with few river systems. Because of that, they are a rare variety. Moreover, they produce only 8-12 pups per one spawn. Thus their population growth is slow.

The cost is ranging $6,000-$80,000 per pair. Most fish lovers like to add them to their fish collection. They want to create some biodiversity in the tank. Therefore aquarists try to purchase rare varieties rather than common freshwater varieties. 

The high demand and prices encourage fish breeders to breed them in captivity. Now they breed them in captivity and you can purchase them for around $100 -$200 because of that. 

How big do black diamond stingrays get?

They can reach around 24 inches (2 feet) in diameter. It is quite a big size. They have a high metabolism rate and they have a high appetite. 

Thus, they need many foods and produce a large amount of wastes as fecal matter. Further, they need bigger tanks to breed in captivity.

Credit to: Alex HC

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About Dr.Chamika

Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. I am a passionate fish keeper, with10 years of experience. My mission is to help other aquarists experience the joy of fish keeping.