Difference Between Stingray and Manta Ray

Stingray vs Manta Ray

Cartilaginous fishes are interesting creatures with many distinguished characteristics they share among them, yet the differences within the group are also fascinating to know. Stingray and manta ray are two of such cartilaginous fishes exhibiting some interesting differences between them. Their characteristics and the important differences between them are discussed in this article.


Stingray is rather a group of fishes than a single species. Indeed, stingrays are members of the taxonomic Suborder called Myliobatoidei, which includes about 100 species that are classified under eight families. Stingrays, sometimes called stingers, have a small body that measures about 35 centimetres in length. It is important to notice that they can be dangerous for other animals including humans with their ability to sting by the venom glands located at the underside. However, stingrays do not usually execute venom attacks on humans, but occasional stings have caused local traumas, painful swellings, and muscle cramps.

Stingrays have one or few barbed stings at the ventral side of the tail, and this stinging ability is important for them to spike the prey animals. These are carnivores; however, they do not use their dorsal eyes to locate the prey. Stingers are blessed with an excellent sense of smell, and they have electroreceptors, which are used together to identify and spot the prey animals. Stingrays are widely distributed in all the tropical and subtropical marine waters while some species can live in temperate seas, as well. Despite the worldwide distribution, many of their species have been identified as either vulnerable or endangered.

Manta Ray

There are two species of manta rays known as Manta alfredi and Manta birostris, and in the common tongue, reef manta ray and oceanic manta ray respectively. They are very important members among all the rays since their body sizes are enormous. In fact, manta rays are the largest rays with more than 7 metres of widths. The usual bodyweight could reach up to 1350 kilograms in an adult manta ray. Their triangular shaped main body has paddle-like lobes in front of the mouth. The mouth is large and located anteriorly with 18 rows of teeth on the lower jaw. These enormous creatures are found at both tropical and subtropical marines. Manta rays show an interesting behaviour that they let other fishes (such as remora, wrasse, and angelfish) feed on the particles remain in the gills. Therefore, manta rays get rid of unwanted materials plus parasites. This behaviour is an excellent example for mutualism. These interesting elasmobranchs are dorsally dark coloured and ventrally light coloured.

What is the difference between Stingray and Manta Ray?

• Stingray is a group of rays with about 100 species while there are only two species of manta rays.

• Manta ray is much larger and heavier than stingrays.

• Stingray has barbed stings but not manta ray.

• Stingray could be harmful for humans, but there are no accidental attacks on divers from manta rays.

• Manta rays are found mostly around tropical waters and barely in subtropics, whereas stingrays inhabit tropical, subtropical, and occasionally temperate marine waters.

• Manta rays get their gills cleaned from other fishes frequently but not the stingrays.