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Temporary Stingray touch Exhibits

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Westcoastperson, 24 Dec 2020.

  1. Westcoastperson

    Westcoastperson Well-Known Member

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    So recently I've noticed lots of zoos opening temporary stingray touch pools. What I'm wondering is why would they open these. It cost more money to operate saltwater tanks with life systems to build fences for normal temporary exhibits. Also, are all of the stingrays wild-caught, or was there some stingray boom in aquariums? The whole system is just bizarre, and I wanted to know if anybody else noticed this or had any answers to my questions.
     
  2. DaLilFishie

    DaLilFishie Well-Known Member

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    As far as I know most stingrays are wild-caught. The only rays that I am aware that are commonly bred are the freshwater river rays, marine rays are sometimes bred but mostly not intentionally and it doesn't happen often. What kind of rays are in the pools? Is it all the same species or several species?
     
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  3. Great Argus

    Great Argus Well-Known Member

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    They're popular with the public, and for a small fee feeding the rays is usually pretty popular and thus helps recoup some cost. It's a bit risky for the animals, several such touch pools have failed in various ways causing many or all rays to die.
    Some rays are born in aquaria, majority are still wild caught I believe.

    It's usually Cownose Rays and Southern Stingrays, occasionally Bat Rays or another type of stingray.
     
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  4. Westcoastperson

    Westcoastperson Well-Known Member

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    Shedd actually did a study on this because there wasn’t much info on the subject
    New Research at Shedd Aquarium Studies Impacts of Touch Pool Exhibits on Animal Health | Shedd Aquarium
    I personally prefer seeing rays in large deep exhibits but the only example I think of is SeaWorld San Antonio Aquticas ray tank that gives the rays an option between shallow and deep pools
     
  5. Great Argus

    Great Argus Well-Known Member

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    By "failing" I mean equipment failure and drastic environment change, not the health of the rays themselves. There's been several unfortunate incidents, which have been discussed before on here.

    Depends on the ray really. Some stingrays are found right on the surf line in calm areas, vs the deep sea dwellers and the pelagic rays. Lot of habitat variation in the ray family.
     
  6. Westcoastperson

    Westcoastperson Well-Known Member

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    For cownose rays, I prefer large open tanks because they normally school and they just look more elegant. They also are migratory so it's good for them to have lots of space to move up and down while swimming around the tank.
    For bat rays, they are usually solitary (but can be in close proximity to each other) and inhabit shallow waters so they most likely work best in shallow pools. They could have open tanks but I don't think they would really use all of the available space.
     
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  7. ChIkEn NuGrEt

    ChIkEn NuGrEt Well-Known Member

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    Some places such as the Fort Worth Zoo also have small shark species with the rays.
     
  8. Westcoastperson

    Westcoastperson Well-Known Member

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    I have seen some of those too, also some with guitarfish and sturgeons
     
  9. Great Argus

    Great Argus Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure what vertical space has to do with migration.

    Don't forget Bat Rays can reach almost 6 feet across, much bigger than a Cownose. They would use open space, they're found kelp forests and other deeper water areas.

    Yeah bamboo sharks are often kept in the touch pools as well, depending on the temperature the pool needs to be maintained at. (Bat Rays largely coming from cooler waters unsuitable for bamboo sharks.)
     
  10. Westcoastperson

    Westcoastperson Well-Known Member

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    Cownose ray schools are naturally more circular with varying layers of rays
    Yes, they do require large areas and can be found in deep waters but are also found less than 15 feet from shore and in coastal plains. So maybe the best for bat rays would be a mix of shallow and deep water.
     
  11. TinoPup

    TinoPup Well-Known Member

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    Many places seem to be making these permanent now, which I like. The only one I had to pay to touch the animals at was Omaha. Usually it's pay to feed them, which a lot of people do.

    Aquarium of the Smokies has their touch area as an off-shoot of the main ray/bonnethead pool, so rays can choose to come up to the shallow area or stay in deeper water. It's nearly impossible to reach the animals, though.
     
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  12. Westcoastperson

    Westcoastperson Well-Known Member

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    That's a good example of what touch pools should be, half shelf and half deep. I think the reason it is so difficult to access is that the barrier is very wide. I've seen some aquariums use barriers half that size or less.
     
  13. Great Argus

    Great Argus Well-Known Member

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    SeaWorld also does the half shelf half deep, at least for the carpet sharks. The rays may have been all shallow.
     
  14. Westcoastperson

    Westcoastperson Well-Known Member

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    They do this at San Diego but isn't as large. It's only for some California fish species and surgeons. It's not large enough for the rays to fully swim in
     
  15. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    What other fish species could be good for interactive pools?

    I saw koi carp in Sealife in Paris. They eagerly ate pellets from hands of children, and it was a rather popular and successful exhibit overall. Some zoos keep Red Garra, but it is not optimal: small dull fish.

    Feeding fish from hand might be a popular exhibit. However stingrays and small sharks are among the least suitable fish for that. Probably the idea was first inspired by feeding wild stingrays by scuba divers in Cayman islands and Turk and Caicos in the Carribean. And further aquariums simply copied each other and did not think further.

    Question to fish lovers on Zoochat:
    What fish species is at least 40 cm long, colorful, rather flat or rounded to be well visible from above, has no sharp teeth or sting, shoaling or communal, herbivore or omnivore, lives in very shallow water, is generally hardy and not easily spooked? And preferably freshwater?

    Larger breeds of goldfish could be a good candidate. However, something more imaginative could be possible. What about mbuna cichlids? Imagine a a tank where people can feed mbuna cichlids with lettuce leaves. Would it work?
     
    Last edited: 24 Dec 2020
  16. Great Argus

    Great Argus Well-Known Member

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    Red-tailed Catfish and similar large catfishes. However they may "eat" hands with those gigantic mouths.
     
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  17. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    I checked red-tailed catfish, and some fish keepers train them to eat from hand. However, one angler reports: Whatever you do, do not stick your hand into that huge and gaping mouth. You can cut your hand up pretty badly. So not suitable. :(

    How to Catch Red Tail Catfish
     
  18. DaLilFishie

    DaLilFishie Well-Known Member

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    Most fish aren't tolerant of too much handling, so a touch tank may not be a good idea, but something where you could feed the fish could work (keepers would have to keep track of how much the fish are being fed to avoid overfeeding/underfeeding, and feed more at the end of the day if the fish weren't fed enough during the day. As for species, the only thing that comes to mind that fits your description are large goldfish or koi. If you want to go smaller than 40cm the mbuna cichlids you mentioned could work (I also thought of surgeonfish as a possibility, not freshwater of course, but that's just asking for someone to get a nasty cut eventually, and they are also pretty susceptible to disease). To be honest I think a tank where people can feed the fish is a bad idea, it's just asking for fish to be overfed and who knows what's on people's hands (perhaps mandatory hand washing before feeding the fish could help with that issue) and it would require someone to be supervising the tank constantly.
     
  19. TinoPup

    TinoPup Well-Known Member

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    It's really wide, which kids/short people can climb on a bit, but it's also really high up from the water. You could pay for food which would let you up on a small platform with better access, but I'm not paying to have everyone watch me lol.
     
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  20. Westcoastperson

    Westcoastperson Well-Known Member

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    I've seen sturgeon fish at two different aquarium touch pools, both strayed away from the hands most of the time so I doubt there would be many injuries.
    Rainbow bass maybe but they could mistake children's hands for food. Mooneyes would be another good one and they prefer clear water.
     
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