Stingray Motoro – Freshwater Exotic

Stingrays are very ancient fish with an unusual body shape. Most of them are inhabitants of the seas and oceans, but some groups have adapted to life in freshwaters. Some of them are even suitable for keeping in home aquariums, although they have their own specifics. In our article, we will tell you about the most popular aquarium stingray – motor.

General information

The motoro stingray (Potamotrygon motoro) is a freshwater cartilaginous fish from the River stingray family. Lives in South America. The second name of the species is ocellated ray. He received it for the characteristic rounded spots with which the entire body is strewn.

The motoro stingray has an amazing appearance, it is a real show fish. In addition, stingrays are ancient representatives of the ichthyofauna. Unlike most modern fish, the skeleton of the motoro stingray is not made of bones, but cartilage. This is also the case with sharks.

Local residents in areas of the natural distribution of the species do not really like river stingrays. They are much more feared than the more famous piranhas. The thing is that these fish have a means of protection that is dangerous to humans. Closer to the end of the stingray’s tail, there is a thorn on the upper part. It is a dense process that is predominantly dentin and has characteristic serrations. In a calm state, it is under a thin shell and “floats” in a mixture of mucus and poison. But if someone attacks the fish or steps on it, then the thorn bites into the aggressor, and poison begins to penetrate into the wound along special grooves. The thorn is very difficult to extract, it gets stuck in the flesh like a fish hook. The poison secreted by the stingray is quite toxic – it is a mixture of chemicals that cause severe pain and tissue necrosis. For this reason, you should be extremely careful when handling the motor slope at home.

Approximately every six months, the motoro ramp sheds its spike and a new one is formed.

Nevertheless, if you do not frighten the fish, they very quickly get used to the person. Stingrays recognize the owner and can beg for food, often hand-feed. But just in case, it is still recommended to wear thick gloves when servicing the aquarium.

Be sure to consider the size of adult animals when choosing an aquarium. An adult moto stingray can grow up to 50 cm, and it needs a lot of volumes.

When buying, be sure to pay attention to the condition of the fish. If the stingrays look thin, there are whitish spots or bloom on the body, the base of the tail is thin, there is a depression between the eyes, then it is better to refrain from buying these specimens. In no case should you buy stingrays with the edges of the disc bent upward – this is a sure sign of the imminent death of the fish (most often due to prolonged starvation and constant stress).


The motoro stingray has a disc-shaped body, which is formed as a result of the fusion of wide pectoral fins with the head. There is a noticeable thickening in the center of the disc. A pair of eyes is located on special tubercles. The dorsal and caudal fins are reduced. There is a long tail, at the end of which there is a poisonous thorn.
Below, on the abdomen, there are 5 pairs of gill covers, nostrils, and mouth.

Since, having buried in the sand, the motoro stingray cannot breathe directly, the fish has special holes on the upper body – spiracles, through which water flows to the gills.

Motoro stingray is a large fish, in a suitable volume it can grow up to 50 cm in diameter. The main body color is gray or brown with numerous yellow or white spots, which in nature help the stingray to merge with the ground.

Stingrays are real long-livers. In suitable conditions, the fish can delight you for 15-20 years.


The freshwater motoro stingray is a widespread species. It can be found in a vast area from Colombia to Argentina. It lives mainly in the Amazon basin.

Prefers small riverbanks, lakes, or channels with soft sandy or silty soil. Fish can often be found in flood lakes and ponds during the rainy season.

Care and maintenance

To keep the motoro stingray at home, you should take care of a large aquarium. It is necessary for one fish to have at least 200 liters of water. But ideally, you should focus on aquariums from 500 liters. It is advisable to keep the fish in same gender groups – only males or only females. In rare cases, you can add a young male to a large adult female. Otherwise, the male will attack the partner and can cause serious injury.

The stingray spends most of its life at the bottom, so the aquarium should have a maximum bottom area, while the height is not so important. Be sure to equip your aquarium with a tight lid. Stingrays swimming for food are often able to protrude from the water up to half of their body. They can accidentally jump out of the aquarium or just spill water on the floor. And catching a huge poisonous fish on the floor is not a bright prospect.

The most suitable substrate for keeping motoro rays is river sand. They love to bury themselves in the ground, which helps them to remove excess mucus that forms on the body. Also, fish can hide in the sand if they are afraid of something. Although motoro stingrays are often kept in aquariums without any soil at all.

There is no urgent need to decorate an aquarium for motoro stingrays. You can put a large snag or several large smooth stones inside. It is very important that the scenery has no sharp edges and is difficult to displace. The cover of the motoro stingrays is very delicate; the fish can easily get hurt on sharp edges. Planting plants is usually impractical, they will be dug up and eaten. You can use floating views that create natural shading.

Stingrays are sensitive to high nitrogenous compounds, so careful attention should be paid to the filtration system. You will need a powerful external filter, or better even several since the load will be serious. A powerful compressor must provide good aeration. Motoro slopes are thermophilic creatures, therefore, it is necessary to install a thermostat, which must have a plastic protective casing. It is not uncommon for stingrays to receive burns from contact with the device.

A weekly water change of up to 30% of the volume of the aquarium should be a must. Considering that it is extremely difficult to defend large amounts of water, and it is dangerous to pour tap water directly, use Tetra AquaSafe with every change. It instantly makes the water suitable for fish life, removes chlorine and heavy metals from it. The vitamins in the preparation reduce stress in fish, and natural colloids protect their mucous membranes, which is especially important for scaleless fish such as rays.


The motoro stingray, although it is a predatory fish, treats its neighbors in the aquarium quite calmly. Good partners for him will be large fish floating in the water column – arowanas, pangasius, pacu, discus, shark balu. It is possible to keep fish with large cichlids. Nevertheless, there are cases when large fish were attacked by these predators, and vice versa, when cichlids ate fins on stingrays, so in each case everything is individual.

It is not recommended to plant small fish and small catfish in the aquarium to the rays, they will become a quick victim of the stingray.

Feeding stingray motoro

In nature, the basis of the diet of the motoro stingray is made up of small fish, worms, crustaceans.

Unfortunately, at home, the fish practically does not accept high-quality dry food, so it needs to be provided with a varied natural diet. We must not forget that the metabolism of stingrays is very high, so they should be fed at least twice a day. After transporting fish, feed should be resumed as soon as possible, as malnutrition can kill stingrays.

Alice White

Written by Alice White

Alice White, a devoted pet lover and writer, has turned her boundless affection for animals into a fulfilling career. Originally dreaming of wildlife, her limited scientific background led her to specialize in animal literature. Now she happily spends her days researching and writing about various creatures, living her dream.

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