Archerfish | Toxotes jaculatrix
Others / Toxotidae / Archerfish
Toxotes jaculatrix Archerfish 
Synonyms: Labrus jaculatrix, Sciaena jaculatrix, Toxotes jaculator
Physical description: The Archerfish is moderately elongated and laterally compressed with a pointed head. The eyes are large and set fairly far forward. The large, deeply cleft mouth points upward toward the surface. The dorsal and anal fins are situated far back on the body. The body is silver to white and marked with 4-6 black bands that run vertically from the top of the back to the middle of body. The first runs through the eye while the last runs across the caudal peduncle. Some fish may be marked with irregular yellow markings. The caudal fin is silver to yellow in color, while the anal fin is black.
Size/Length: To 10" (25 cm)
Similar species: Other Toxotes species.
Habitat: Found in brackish water (occasionally fresh) estuaries and mangrove swamps. Southeast Asia and Australia; India, Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, to the Soloman Islands.
Aquarium: A tank measuring 40" (101 cm) with a capacity from 45-55 gallons (170-209 L) is minimal, with larger tanks being preferred. Archerfish prefer tanks at one-half to three-fourths full. Use plants that grow above the water surface that can tolerate brackish water. Provide hiding places with heavily planted areas, rocks, roots, and wood. Leave some open swimming areas.
Water chemistry: pH 7-8 (7.5), 10-18 dH (12), 77-88°F (25-31°C). A 1-2% addition of salt is required. Add 7.5-15 tsp. of salt to every 10 gallons (10-20 g/10 L).
Social behavior: The Archerfish may be skittish when kept with larger fish. Archerfish form schools and should be kept in groups. Avoid combining Archerfish of different sizes as they may lack cohesion, with larger fish harassing smaller ones. A peaceful, calm fish recommended for a brackish water community tank.
Suggested companions: Monos, Scats, Puffers, Arius catfish, Mudskippers
FOOD: Takes food from the surface. Live: Insects; flies, spiders, crickets, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, beetles, cockroaches, meal worms; worms; insect larvae; crustaceans; small surface fish. May occasionally takes flakes and pellets.
Breeding techniques: Breeding has been accomplished accidentally on a few occasions. The pair spawns close to the surface and about 3000 floating eggs are laid. The eggs should be transferred to a rearing tank where they hatch in 12 hours. Feed young small insects and live food that can be taken from water surface.
Breeding potential: 10. Breeding has only been accomplished on a few occasions and details are little.
Remarks: Archerfish have the ability to shoot stream of water from their mouth to knock insects and small animals from plants above the water. They have excellent eye sight and spend the daytime hours patrolling just below the water surface for prey. When an insect is spotted, the fish takes aim, with the tip of its snout just above the water surface, and shoots. The stream of water usually will find its target, knocking the insect into the water. The Archerfish has incredible accuracy-over 99% of shots of adult fish hit their targets. The way the Archerfish is able to shoot down its prey is actually fairly simple. The tongue and the roof of the mouth form a tube that measures about 1/16" in width. When the mouth is filled with water, the sudden closure of the gills forces water through the tube and out of the mouth. The fish can control the duration and the range-up to 5 feet (1.5 m)-of the water stream. Young individuals learn how to shoot when about 1" (2.5 cm) long, but lack the characteristic accuracy of adult fish. Accuracy and range increases with size and age.
Difficulty of care: 6. The Archerfish is a robust, interesting brackish water species that requires a diet of live foods.