Archer fish


Really, he is not known for his beauty or his physical form. This bug measures about 20 cm and moves in fresh water. A life is calculated, around 2 years, and its scales are silver, with black spots on the back.

Its strong point is the hunt, and you can see the movements in this short video that we share ...

The archerfish hunt

The technique of attacking the archer fish is very peculiar. As (I suppose) you will have seen in the video, this intelligent animal approaches its prey, when it is walking over a branch on the water. With an amazing aim, he shoots a stream of water, which the victim lies in the water. The little fish approaches her very quietly and devours her with great elegance.

The shot of the archer fish can reach up to 2 meters

The shot has pinpoint accuracy, and can reach its victims from a distance of between 1.5 and 2 meters, without mistake.

The technique of water shooting has always aroused a particular interest in observers. At the end of the snout, there is a gutter, in which the water is concentrated. Through the tongue the fish presses and the jet goes off as if it were a water gun.

The tongue of the small fish, is very agile and narrows on the tip, to allow this movement. With this muscle you can determine the strength and amount of projected fluid.

Is incredible!

The fantastic technique of this animal was studied by many scientists, who have discovered some more amazing particularity still:

  1. The archer fish regulates the amount of water fired and the power, depending on the distance and size of your prey.
  2. You can also refine your aim by calculating the angles of light and shadow found in water distortion. Keep in mind that the animal's eyes are always submerged, and this makes the task even more difficult.

Archerfish care

At present, there are many people who have these fish as pets, for personal pleasure or simply for their peculiar way of hunting. Here we will detail some tips that you must follow so that this animal lives its life in a healthy and comfortable way:

Fish Tank Size100 liters
Water temperature23º

28º C

gH> 15º
Water temperature23º

28º C

pH7 – 8
FeedingSmall insects and fry
RecommendationIt is advisable to protect the aquarium fluorescents, since it tends to "shoot" on them

Main features

Its common name, archer fish, refers to the mythological archer Sagittarius. It has been given this name for its peculiar way of hunting that we will see later. It has a certain popularity as an aquarium fish, but it is very complicated to care for. It is a species that serves as a challenge to all those who have great experience with aquariums.

Her body is quite deep and her head is tilted. The snout is V-shaped and has some marks. His eyes are large and able to adapt for a vision that gives him the ability to see when there is a prey on it. This way you can react on time and hit it.

When this fish is in aquariums, it usually reaches a length of 15 centimeters. In the wild lengths of up to 30 cm have been recorded. The vast majority have a bright silver color or more pulling white with some black vertical bands.

A part of the black bands have a golden tint that runs throughout their back. The bands take a triangular shape when they are in the middle of the fish on the sides. Under his body has no marks. The outer edges of the anal and dorsal fin are black. His life expectancy in Good condition amounts to 10 years.

Younger specimens are distinguished with the naked eye because they have some irregular yellow patches. They have the most flattened and elongated body with the most pointed head.

Bowfish feed

The diet of the archer fish is mainly carnivorous. They usually feed on insects and spiders that are capable of hunting on the surface of the water. We will see the peculiar way of hunting in the next section. It can also feed on other small fish and crustaceans.

If this species is taken care of in captivity in an aquarium, they will prefer Live invertebrates, small live insects and small fish.

Way of hunting

Since we have begun to describe the archer fish, we have mentioned that it has a peculiar way of hunting. It is a way that this fish has developed for hunting. And is that is able to shoot a pressurized jet of water at its prey through a groove in the roof of their mouths. The water jet comes out very strongly. It is capable of hitting insects and spiders that are placed on the lower branches near the water. Once they fall on the surface of the water, they are quickly devoured.

It seems as if the archer fish, over the years, had learned to know exactly where the dam will fall. They are tremendously fast when it comes to devouring their prey.

To throw the water jet as a shot, you need to lift your tongue against the roof of your mouth. In this way, the jet can be shaped like a tube and the operculum closes quickly to give it strength. Most archer fish they are capable of firing up to distances of 1.5 meters. Some wild specimens whose length is greater, have been seen throwing up to 3 meters away.

Once the dam is shot down, the archer fish swims at high speed to the place of fall. They reach their prey in only 100 milliseconds. On the archer fish there are some studies and his great shot. Hundreds of fish have been analyzed and it has been concluded that they could be trained to hit moving objects. The ability to hit moving targets is a behavior that they learn slowly.


It is difficult to differentiate sex between male and female. Its reproduction in captivity is very difficult. It is necessary to have them in very large groups if you want to raise. There is no way to force them to reproduce, but you have to let it happen on its own. Until today, they have only been reproduced sometimes in aquariums and by accident.

When you get to fertilize the female almost 3,000 eggs are left floating to have better hatching possibilities. When this occurs, it is advisable to transfer them to another taque until the eggs hatch. It only takes about 12 hours. The fry eat insects and food on scales that are floating. It is better not to give him food that is not alive, so that they do not get used to it.

This fish is very famous and complicated to care for, but if you are an aquarium expert, it is a challenge.

Archery Fish Characteristics

It has a triangular shaped body that is mainly silver. Many elongated spots adorn the side of these fish, as well as black and yellow marks on the dorsal and anal fins. These fish they have the remarkable ability to spit water on insects above water, with amazing precision. Even more remarkable is the ability to compensate for the visual distortion caused by the water surface.

Archerfish Feeding

The archer fish They are carnivorous, just like piranhas. The Archerfish too It can be fed with live foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms and can also be trained to accept flake-based food.

In nature they feed almost exclusively on insects and other small animals that knock down. In the home aquarium you can train the archer fish to shoot down small insects located between the water and the glass cover of the aquarium.

Did you know that Nudibranchs are they also carnivores?

Archerfish Behavior

Archer fish often hunt in teams of several fish shooting at a single target. Once the target insect has been hit, the fastest and closest fish wins the prize. The fish that knocks down the prey is not always the one that ends the meal, so the archer fish prefer to jump out of the water to grab the prey before another fish.

How is the archer fish

Scientific name:Toxotes jaculatrix

Name common: Archer Fish / Band Archer Fish

  • English English:Banded archerfish
  • French / Français:Poisson archer
  • Catalan / Català:Peix arquer
  • Italian:Pesce Arciere
  • Portuguese / Português:Peixe Arqueiro
  • German / Deutsch:Schuetzenfisch
  • Russian / Русский:Полосатый брызгун
  • Romanian / Română:Peşte arcaş
  • Swedish / Svenska: Sprutfisk


Order: Perciform

Family: Toxotidae

Archery Fish Habitat

The Archery Fish It is found mainly in brackish water areas. Mangrove estuaries are its primary habitat, although occasionally it moves upstream to freshwater rivers. It is associated with the reefs and has been reported to be near vegetation.


  • Length: 25 cm
  • Habitat: Coastal areas, mangroves of river mouths (estuaries).
  • Distribution: India, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Borneo and northern Australia. In Southeast Asia and Oceania.
  • Customs: Social species, brackish water.
  • Feeding: Omnivorous (especially terrestrial insects: grasshoppers, crickets, spiders, also plant matter and, to a lesser extent>)

Archery Fish Care in Aquariums

Archer fish do better when stored in large schools in fairly large aquariums. In addition, they also prefer aquariums with many hiding places and a lot of plant growth. Aquarists should take into account the selection of aquarium plants that do not pile up on the surface of the aquarium because archer fish spend most of their time swimming near the surface. The archer fish aquarium should also have a fairly low water level so that there is enough open space to help foster the natural hunting instincts of the archer fish.

The archer fish they are generally peaceful and they make excellent additions to most brackish water aquariums in the community. Large specimens, however, can sometimes fall prey to small tank mates.

Lineage Confusion

The band archer fish, together with its relative large-scale archer fish (Toxotes chatareus) are sometimes grouped together and sold together under the same archer fish tag, however, they are different species, it is also confused with the archer fish of Small scale (Toxotes microlepis) with the latter is more difficult to distinguish, we will know these species to be able to differentiate it without problem.

Toxotes chatareus

They are distributed throughout Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific and Australia, they can live in brackish or fresh water, inhabiting mangroves and estuaries, as well as upper waters in slow-moving rivers.

Toxotes chatareus

They are of a moderate size, usually between 15 and 20 centimeters, rarely, they can reach up to 40 centimeters in total length, the Toxotes chatareus can weigh up to 700 grams, it is believed that this species of archer fish has a life expectancy between three to five years.

This fish has five or six spines, the fourth of which is the longest and twelve or thirteen dorsal soft rays also has the archer specimen.

In aquariums, they can reach about 20 centimeters in length, compared to 40 centimeters in the wild it is larger than the banded archer fish, sometimes they are caught by fishermen and they are described as reasonable meals.

The spines are generally shorter in samples collected from freshwater individuals than brackish water, it also has three anal spines and fifteen to seventeen soft anal rays, it has 33 or 34 scales of the lateral line, the tail is almost square , the anal fin is unitary and the third anal column is the longest.

In general, the body is blackened, but sometimes silver or gold, the dorsal side is a greenish-brown hue, the pectoral fins are light or can also be dark in color, on the other hand the pelvic fins can be darker and strongly pigmented, the long sail archer fish is white and usually has six or seven dark spots, alternating between long and short, along the dorsal side of the fish.

A dark spot can also be observed at the base of the caudal fin, the color of these spots may become darker or lighter depending on the time of day, the environment and stress, the spots of the young fish are darker than those of older fish, startled or stressed fish are darker than unstressed fish. Those found in murky water may be completely white, it is not known whether this species has sexual dimorphism.

Toxotes microlepis

Small-scale archers inhabit rivers and large estuaries in Asia and the Indo-Pacific, are distributed along the basins of the Mekong and Chao Phraya River, as well as waters of the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and Borneo, can be found near the banks of the mobile and permanent waters, usually with the protruding plants.

Toxotes microlepis

Some aquarists believe that small-scale archery fish is traded more frequently, it can be sold with others as a single species.

These small-scale archers do not need brackish water as other members of their genus do, although they can also live in it, therefore, it is often sold as a freshwater archer fish.

This fish is described as a freshwater archer fish, because it does not develop in salt water during its life as some other archer fish do, it is found upstream in estuary more often than other species of the genus, small archers scale have a pointed snout and large eyes, the back is flat and the belly is curved, it only has a dorsal fin, with four to five spines, the fourth column is longer than the third, on the other hand the second dorsal column is slightly shorter than the third anal column, which is shorter than soft rays.

This small species prepares to eat in an aquarium, observe in this video a very curious activity that happens in fish tanks.

It usually has 40 to 42 scales of the lateral line, although some specimens found in the Mekong had 34 to 37 scales, the species Toxotes blythii was previously thought identical to the Toxotes microlepis, differences in structure and coloration caused the division of these species leaving the first as a new breed.

Like other archers, they have dark wedge-shaped bands or spots on their sides, which can be yellow to silver, reach a maximum length of 15 centimeters in their natural habitat and 12 centimeters in captivity, is smaller than the band archer fish, the small archer fish is continually confused with this as indicated above.

Both species have four or five wedge-shaped rods on their sides, however, the bars of the bar archer fish extend to the dorsal fin while those of the small archer fish do not, stop below the fin dorsal, with another dark spot on the fin itself, also has a snout shorter than the other archer fish.


These fish are of nature school, it is necessary to have at least four specimens in the tank, however, they can be aggressive with others of their own class if they are of different sizes, it is best to only keep a single sample or avoid the combination of archery fish of different sizes.

They will be fine in a community brackish water tank, they are predators that eat smaller fish, but they are generally not aggressive with other types of fish, as long as the tank mates are not aggressive and do not try to compete too much for the upper areas of the tank.

Other brackish fish such as four eye fish, large Mudskippers or Mollys can make good tank mates, such as Monkeys, Scats, and puffs.


Archers often when they are young are freshwater fish, but for long-term care it is recommended that they move to brackish water, in some pet stores sometimes they do not indicate this information to their customers due to employee failures or they simply assume that people know about this, if they don't move into a saline environment this will lead to many different diseases in fish.

The archer fish usually does not get sick if it is kept in an appropriate aquarium, that said there is no guarantee that you will not have to deal with health problems or illness, any object that enters the aquarium can bring batteries that make the fish sick Not only does this apply to fish that enter, but also aquatic plants, substrates and decorations can harbor harmful microorganisms.

Be very careful and make sure to properly clean each object and animal to enter or quarantine anything that you add to your instituted aquarium so as not to disturb the balance, the archer fish is very resistant once established in a tank.

A good thing about the archer fish is that, due to its resistance, an outbreak of disease can often be limited to only one or a few specimens if it is known at an early stage.