The Blue dot Stingray or Taeniura lymma is a member of the family Dasyatidae. This species is indigenous to the tropical water coral reef systems of the Indo-Pacific, from the Philippines to northern Australia. Significant populations stretch from North Central to North West Australia, along the entire length of the Great Barrier Reef and south to northern New South Wales. This species is currently listed as Near Threatened by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) due to habitat degradation and over fishing.
Stingrays have roamed the oceans since long before man declared the planet Earth his eminent domain. Paleontologists have unearthed stingray fossils dating back to over 65 million years ago, predating the mass extinction of giant marine reptiles. Ancient mariners were no strangers to this exotic beast. The Greeks knew the stingray as trygon; the Romans, pastinaca. Hercules, although half-god, lost his finger to the bite of a giant stingray. The great Greek Hero, Odysseus, was accidentally slain by his son Circe after his grandfather presented him with a spear tipped with the spine of a stingray.
Stingrays are cartilaginous fish like their boneless relatives the shark. Blue dot stingrays are greenish tan in color with pale blue polka dots of varying size sprinkled across the upper section of their body. This ray’s body and pectoral fins form a single oval disc shaped unit. The blue dot is not a particularly large ray. Its disc only reaches a maximum of 12 inches in diameter when fully grown. Its tail will grow to approximately 1.5 times longer than its body. Their tails have a bright blue line on each side forming an elongated triangle at the tip. Like most stingray, the blue dot has venomous barbs on its tail used for self-defense. Blue dots are also sold by the aquarium industry as blue spotted stingrays, and bluespotted ribbontail rays.
Stingrays are bottom dwelling species. They instinctively cover themselves with sand as a means of camouflage. Stingrays should only be kept in aquariums with a sand substrate. Courser substrates can damage the stingray’s underbodies and lead to possible infection. Never expose a stingray to copper-based medications. This may result in the animal’s death.
Blue dots will require an absolute minimum tank size of 150 gallons with the majority of the bottom surface area left unadorned. A larger aquarium is preferable. This ray will actually make a suitable candidate for a multi-species fish-only aquarium. They rarely concern themselves with the coming and going of overhead species as long as their substrate domain is not intruded upon. Their barbed tails are not used as a means of predation. However they will not hesitate in using it against an aggressor or even a fish curious enough to start poking around at them. These rays are rated as an aggressive species by the aquarium trade. This is due to their predatory instinct and venomous nature. These are not particularly aggressive creatures but the utmost care should be taken when handling one or performing routine aquarium maintenance.
Blue dots are rated for expert aquarists only. The two main contributing factors to this advance care level are related to its poor adaptation to captivity and its overall condition. This is a hardy species in its natural habitat. Unfortunately it rarely arrives to retailers in pristine condition. Nursing this species back to health is often complicated by its reluctance to feed in captivity. If you live in the Untied States, you may want to look into purchasing a California stingray as opposed to one that is shipped from halfway across the planet. They will generally arrive in much better condition. They are, however, a larger species of ray and will need an even bigger aquarium.
Rays are carnivorous. If it does not eat when it is first introduced to your tank, try feeding it ghost shrimp or small pieces of cleaned squid. It may or may not adapt to frozen and freeze dried food preparations. Chopped shrimp, scallops, squid and fish will provide plenty of nutritional value. Once it starts feeding, it will eat any small crustacean that happens to be living in your tank. They are not suitable for marine reef habitats.