Introduction to Archerfish

The archerfish (Toxotes jaculator) is a brackish water perch like ray finned fish which belongs to the family Toxotidae under order Perciformes of Class Actinopterygii. It is also known as banded archerfish, Spinner Fish, Archers etc. It is native to the waters of southeastern Asia and northern Australia. It is found in salt water, usually near the coast, as well as in brackish and fresh water. It is reef associated fish which also occurs near overhanging vegetation.  It is best known for its ability to shoot down insects and other small creatures resting on foliage or mangrove roots.

Archerfish’s Overview

The banded Archerfish has moderately elongated and laterally compressed body with a pointed face and large eyes.  The dorsal side of the body is yellow greenish or brownish in color while the flanks are pale gray to silver in color. The dorsal fin is yellowish green and it is located towards the posterior end and its base is shorter than that of the anal fin. The caudal fin is dirty green while the anal fin is silver in color. In the juvenile stage it has yellowish green to brown dorsal side and silvery ventral side. The dorsal and anal fins are situated far back on the body with slightly rounded caudal fin. The pectoral fins are clear or dusky in color while Pelvic fins may be darker and heavily pigmented.  Dorsal fin bears 4 spines and 11 to 13 soft rays while anal fin contains 3 spines with 15 to 17 soft rays. It has four to six black bars vertically across its body, of which, the first runs across the eye and the last bar is located just before the tail. The second bar is located behind the operculum, the third bar is seen just below the origin of the dorsal fin and fourth bar below the soft dorsal fin while fifth is situated on the area between the anal fin and caudal fin. The lateral line is curved upwards at the area between the fourth and ninth lateral scales. The archerfish grows up to 30 cm in length and its life span ranges from 5 to 10 years.

English Name: Archerfish, Banded Archerfish

Scientific Name: Toxotes  jaculator

Origin: Asia, Oceania, India and eastward to Phillipines

Size: 10 to 12 inches (25 – 31 cm)

Water Temperature: 68 – 82 0F

Water pH: 7.0 – 8.0

Behavior:  It is generally peaceful species but it can become territorial with their own species.

Breeding: Breeding is unknown. Some suspect they breed in saltwater condition.

Care Level: Easy to medium

Life span: 5 to 10 years or longer

Tank Size: A minimum of 100 gallons

Compatibility: Archerfish lives best in a group with at least 3 Archerfish. Good tank mates for Archerfish are Scats, Monos, Silver Needle Noses, Puffers, White Tip Shark Catfish, and the Fan Dancer Goby.

Housing archerfish

Archerfish needs warm water usually between 68 and 820 F. The bare minimum they should be kept in an aquarium is 45 to 55 US gallons but a larger tank is highly recommended. Archerfish are best kept in an aquarium with rocks and shallow water and with plants that grow up above the surface. It is able to jump out of the water to capture prey on overhanging branches. For this reason a tall canopy is required to prevent their jumping out of the aquarium. Water level in the tank should be a few inches below the top. The tank should have screen top so the insects or other supplemented feed that you bought from a pet store for feeding your archer fish, can stay inside the tank.

Feeding Archerfish

The Archerfish is omnivorous fish which accepts a wide range of foods. In wild condition archerfish feeds mainly on insects, spiders, crustaceans and small fish. In captivity they greedily take all sorts of dried and frozen foods including a diet of bloodworm, prawns, shrimp, tablet food and good quality floating pellets. During the day, the Archerfish comes to the surface to feed on floating matter. It is also able to capture prey by jumping out of the water and seizing it from low overhanging branches.  The Archerfish usually grow fast when you supply a lot of food, so do not overfeed them. Feedings should be supplied twice a day.

Breeding Archerfish

The breeding habit of the archerfish is not well known. It becomes mature at the age of 1-2 years and about 10 cm in length. Breeding occurs in the wet season. During breeding period it goes to saltwater reef to spawn. The female archerfish lays 20,000 to 150,000 eggs at a time that are about 0.4 mm in diameter.  These eggs float on the surface of water.  Eggs hatch in around 12 hours. It rarely breeds in captivity. In captive condition the eggs should be transferred to another tank for ensuring the survival of the fry.  For breeding in captive condition you should get a group of archerfish together in aquarium.  The fry should be fed items that can be taken from the water surface, such as small insects and other floating foods.  Live foods are the most easily accepted, although the fry should be introduced to prepared foods as early as possible to prevent them getting too attached to live food.

Archerfish for sale and where to buy

Archerfish are sometimes available in local pet shops or aquarium fish markets depending on the availability and popularity of the fish. You can usually find Archerfish from hobbyists or online vendors. Check out below for where to buy Archerfish or where they are being sold at.