Skates are the only fish that look like Stingrays. Both these fish are cartilaginous fish with pectoral fins and eyes located on the top of their heads. Moreover, both have gills on the underside of their body. Though Skates look like Stingrays, certain things like their tails differentiate them.
Let’s now learn about the similarities and differences between Skates and Stingrays. But first, let’s talk about the characteristics of Skates.
Characteristics Of Skates
Skates are cartilaginous fish belonging to the Rajidae family.
They are found in most parts of the world, from tropical to near-Arctic waters.
If we talk about physical appearance, Skates have a flat and rounded body with a whip-like tail and wing-like fins.
Their mouth and gill openings are on the underside of the body.
Besides, they have large pectoral fins that nearly extend from the snout to the base of their slender tail.
Being cartilaginous fish, Skates have skeletons made of cartilage instead of bones.
Moreover, many Skates have openings on the top of their heads called spiracles.
The spiracles allow Skates to lay on the ocean floor and breathe.
They also assist in breathing oxygenated water while the Skates are buried in the sand on the ocean floor.
Skates mainly feed on fishes, mollusks, and crustaceans in their natural environment.
Another unique feature of Skates is that they are found in all sizes.
While big Skates grow up to 8 feet in length, most Skate species measure around 3 feet.
Also, they can be found in shallow waters as well as deep waters of more than 2700 meters (8900 feet).
Similarities Between Skates And Stingrays
Skates and Stingrays look similar in appearance at first glance.
Given below are some of the prominent similarities between Skates and Stingrays.
- Skates and Stingrays belong to the same class Chondrichthyes.
- Both these fish are Elasmobranchs. They are cartilaginous fish, meaning their skeleton is made of cartilage instead of bones.
- Another similarity is that both these fish are grey and have five pairs of gill slits located centrally on the underside of their body. Besides, both have flat bodies. Their dorsal and ventral regions are pushed together, making them appear like a kite.
- Skates and Stingrays have pectoral fins that are flat, expanded, and fused to the head. Moreover, both fish have their eyes located on the top of their head.
- Also, their swimming pattern is similar. Both of them swim by undulating their large wing-like pectoral fins.
- Skates and Stingrays also share similar feeding habits. In their natural environment, they feed on oysters, clams, shrimp, crabs, and other invertebrates.
- In addition to appearance and feeding habits, Skates and Stingrays have similar behavioral traits. Both these fish are bottom dwellers.
- Skates and Stingrays are usually found on the seafloor, camouflaging to protect themselves from predators. They bury their bodies in the sand and sneak up on the prey as it passes by.
Alright! Now that you know about the similarities between Skates and Stingrays, let’s also learn about the differences that set them apart.
How Do Skates Differ From Stingrays?
Skates and Stingrays share certain common features that make them look similar.
However, specific differences in their body shape and tails help us identify them easily.
Following are the most prominent differences between Skates and Stingrays.
- Skates fall in the order Rajiformes, whereas Stingrays are in the order Myliobatformes.
- Skates are usually smaller than Stingrays.
- Skates and Stingrays can be distinguished by their tail shape. Stingrays have long tails with a whip-like end, while Skates’ tails are short, thick, and rounded.
- Skates don’t have stinging or venomous spines on their tails. However, they do have spikes or thorn-like structures along their back. On the other hand, Stingrays have stinging spines on their tails for self-defense.
- Skates are round or triangular-shaped with elongated noses, whereas Stingrays have typical diamond shape noses.
- Skates’ pelvic fin, the one that’s closest to their tail, has two lobes. In contrast, Stingrays have only one lobe.
- If you closely notice their mouths, Skates have smaller teeth than Stingrays.
- Skates have a prominent dorsal fin that’s small and located at the end of their tail. The dorsal fin of Skates helps them to move quickly through the water. In comparison, Stingrays either have no dorsal fins or are tiny in size.
- Another significant difference between Skates and Stingrays is their reproductive process. Skates are oviparous, meaning they lay eggs. On the other hand, Stingrays are viviparous, meaning they give live birth to young ones.
Can Skates Be Kept In Home Aquariums?
Skates are not suitable for home aquariums as they need special handling.
Unlike other aquarium fish, Skates can’t survive without proper care.
Some Skate species can grow too large and need a lot of space. So they can easily outgrow a medium-sized tank.
You may keep Skates in a large tank, but they need special attention.
Skates are very sensitive and delicate fish. If you don’t provide them with enough space and food, it can be fatal.
Moreover, Skates are usually not preferred in home aquariums as they eat small tankmates.
Although Skates are not preferred by many aquarists, some public aquariums house certain Skate species.
They house them in large tanks with plenty of space to swim.
Besides, these aquariums replicate their natural habitat by keeping sand or gravel at the bottom for camouflaging.
They also feed them the same food that they are used to in the wild, such as crabs, small fish, crustaceans, shellfish, and shrimp.
Can Skates hurt humans?
Skates are harmless to humans and are not poisonous as they lack stinging spines.
They are commercially harvested for their wings. The wings of Skates are considered to be a delicacy.
Besides, you can also use skates’ wings to make pet food, fish meal, and lobster bait.
Do Stingrays swim in shallow waters?
Stingrays are known to swim in shallow waters near the shore.
Some species of Stingrays are also found in deep and warm temperate oceans around the world.
Most of the time, Stingrays are found hidden on the ocean floor.