10 Main Difference between Manta Ray and Stingray with Pictures

What is the difference between Manta Ray and Stingray?

Manta rays have been confused with stingrays but the two are completely different. They are closely related and at first glance, they may look similar.

They both have large flat bodies, heads attached directly to wide triangular pectoral fins, and similar tail appendages. They belong to the same class of cartilaginous fish.

The main difference between manta rays and stingrays is that manta rays do not have barbs while stingrays have barbs at the end of their tails.

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Difference between Manta Ray and Stingray

Comparison Table (Manta Ray vs Stingray)

Characteristics Manta rays Stingrays
Species There are only two species. There are more than 200 species.
Barb They do not have barbs. They have barbs on their tails.
Habitat They live in tropical and sub-tropical saltwater. They live in warm temperate waters but some species live in freshwater
Mouth location It is located on the front, forward-facing the body. It is located on the underside of its body.
Size They are larger in size and much wider. They are smaller in size and much longer.
When placed in water They are exclusively pelagic. They are generally demersal, preferring to stay at the bottom of the ocean floor.
Cephalic fins They have a pair of cephalic fins on its head. They do not have fins; they have a continuously round head.
Cleaning station visitation They visit the station regularly. They do not visit cleaning stations.
What they feed on They feed on pelagic; zooplanktons. They feed on crustaceans and mollusks.
Sense They do not have electromagnet sense. They have electromagnet sense.
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What is Manta Ray?

Manta rays are very large rays that belong to Manta. They are a type of stingray. There are two species of manta rays. These are; birostris and m. alfredi.

Both the species are cartilaginous and have large triangular pectoral fins and have large horn-shaped cephalic fins. Their mouth is located on the front, forward-facing sides of their bodies.

The cephalic fins are rolled into a spiral when they are swimming. The cephalic fins form a funnel-like structure that assists them in feeding.

They inhabit tropical salty waters. They swallow large quantities of water when swimming as a result they take in large amounts of zooplanktons. Their gill rakers filter the planktons from the water.

They give birth to live pups and the gestation period lasts more than a year. They always visit cleaning stations in order for them to be removed parasites.

They are hunted for harvesting their gill rakers that are used as traditional Chinese medicine. Due to this, they have a protection status in international waters from the Convection on Migratory Species of Wild Animals.

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What is Stingray?

Stingrays are small rays that have cartilage and are more closely related to sharks. They consist of eight different families. There are more than 200 species of stingrays.

They have one or more barbs on their tails. They are used for self-defense. On the underside, there are two grooves that contain venom glands. Not all members have the barbs for example the manta rays.

They inhabit both freshwater bodies and saltwater bodies around the world. Some species are found in the deep oceans while others are found in warm temperate oceans.

Most of them are considered demersal. They inhabit the next to lowest zone within the water column. Some species are pelagic.

Many of the species are becoming vulnerable to extinction due to unregulated fishing. Due to this, some measures have been put in place to protect them.

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Main Differences between Manta Ray and Stingray

  1. There are only 2 species of manta rays while there are more than 200 species of stingrays.
  2. Manta rays are large and wider while stingrays are small and longer.
  3. Manta rays do not have barbs while stingrays have barbs.
  4. Manta rays have their mouth located in the front, forward-facing the body while stingrays have their mouth located underside of its body.
  5. Manta rays do not have an electromagnetic sense while stingrays have electromagnetic sense.
  6. Manta rays feed on pelagic; zooplanktons while stingrays feed on mollusks and crustaceans.
  7. Manta rays have a pair of cephalic fins on their head while stingrays do not have cephalic fins.
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Similarities between Manta ray and Stingray

  1. They belong to the same order.
  2. They both have flattened body shapes.
  3. They both have cartilage and related to sharks.
  4. They both use gills for breathing.
  5. Both have wide pectoral fins.
  6. They both give birth to young ones.

In Conclusion

Manta rays and stingrays belong to the same order. Manta ray is a type of stingrays. They both have flattened bodies and have cartilage on their bodies like sharks.

Manta rays are larger in body size and are wider while stingrays have a small body sizes and are longer. The stingrays have electromagnets that enables them to catch their prey but the electromagnet is not present in manta rays.

The main feature that makes manta rays different from stingrays is the presence of barbs on stingrays.

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