"archerfish." A Dictionary of Zoology. . (December 4, 2016).

Archer Fish

Too low to display

Archerfish have not been successfully bred in aquariums.

Archerfish will often leap out of the water and grab an insect in their mouths if it happens to be within reach. Individuals typically prefer to remain close to the surface of the water.

Brackish Water Warning:No matter how much brackish water fishes may appeal to you, you need to realize that they are not beginner fish. Ditto that on archer fish.

Archer fish image courtesy of L. Zinnato

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  • Archer fish image courtesy of L. Zinnato

    The Archerfish is famed for its amazing ability to shoot down resting insects above the water surface. However jumping out of the water to catch its prey is much more preferred than 'shooting', as the one that caught the insect doesn't always get to it first. When the insect is near in enough, the archerfish will leap out of the water to catch it in its mouth. If this fails, then it will resort to shooting. Generally the fish swim in 'shooting parties'. When prey is sighted they will shoot relentlessly. Each archerfish will shoot at the same insect, when it falls the entire archerfish 'party' rushes towards it, wanting to be the first to grab it.

    Archerfish are able to shoot by putting their tongue against the roof of the mouth, forming a tube. By suddenly shutting their gills, water is then powerfully forced along the tube and out. The tip of the tongue directs the aim. Their large eyes are located near the mouth giving off a binocular vision thus assisting their aim to accuracy. To get a good jet of water, the snout is pointed out of the water with the rest of the body remaining under. Their eyes, however, do not automatically correct for refraction, and they have to learn how to do this. The position of least distortion is directly below the prey, and the fish soon learn that this is the best shooting spot. They can shoot up to 7 times in succession, 2 - 3 meters being the longest range. However they are accurate only around 1 - 1.5 meters. Sometimes the blast of water may not bring the insect down but the weight of the water on its wings brings it down. Young fish start learning to shoot when they are about 1 inch long, their jets reaching 10 - 20 cm.