Fun Archerfish Facts For Kids

Divya Raghav
Oct 20, 2022 By Divya Raghav
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
Read these interesting archerfish facts to learn more about this fish!
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.8 Min

The archerfish is a family of surface-dwelling fish known for its ability to prey on land-living insects and other microorganisms by its ability to shoot water from its mouth. Archerfish, of the order Perciformes, are also called 'spitting fish' because they shoot a stream of water at an insect to knock it down into the water.

Archerfish have a laterally compressed elongated body which makes them look thin in water. They generally live in schools of four to five individuals, and when they spot prey, all the fish of the school start shooting at the target.

If a fish misses the target, it can shoot up to seven streams of water at the insect being aimed at. Since the archerfish prey on land-dwelling insects, they move around the surface of the water.

The archerfish stays near the top of the water without breaking its surface. It is their ability to shoot water on their target which makes them unique and notable.

If you enjoy reading these archerfish facts, then please do read other facts about fish like anchovies and the wels catfish.

Archerfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an archerfish?

The archerfish is fish of ten species. They shoot a powerful jet of water to dislodge the insect and bring their target down into the water, and they have the capacity to spit up to seven streams of water in one go.

What class of animal do an archerfish belong to?

Archerfish belongs to the class of ray-finned fish, Actinopterygii.

How many archerfish are there in the world?

The exact number of these fish in the world is unknown, but the population of archerfish is abundant because of their ability to reproduce in large numbers. Hence we needn't worry about their conservation.

Where does an archerfish live?

They are also found in Northern Australia in mangrove swamps, feeding on insects sitting on the branches of the mangroves. They are also found in various parts of Southeast Asia, like in India and the Philippines.

Australia is more commonly the habitat and range of two species of archerfish, namely banded archerfish (Toxotes jaculatrix) and the seven-spot archerfish (Toxotes chatareus).

Toxotes jaculatrix or banded archerfish is one species of archerfish that live specifically in mangroves. The banded archerfish uses its gill covers by compressing them, forcing the water out of a narrow tube formed by their tongue and mouth to adapt to mangroves.

What is an archerfish's habitat?

The typical habitat and range of archerfish is a river delta and marine, brackish water. The archerfish generally inhabit brackish mangrove estuaries along the coast.

They can exist in both fresh and brackish water. They are most commonly found in shallow and ideally murky water due to their feeding habits. Archerfish generally dwell on the surface of the water to aim at their land-living prey.

Who do archerfish live with?

Archerfish prefer to live in clusters of four to five individuals. Banded archerfish, however, prefer to live in groups of three to five. Since archerfish are predators and can prey on smaller fish, they can live more comfortably in small schools of four to five fish.

How long does an archerfish live?

The average lifespan of archerfish is five to eight years when kept in captivity, and it can go up to 9-10 years in their natural habitat.

How do they reproduce?

These fish reproduce by spawning. They generally mature between the ages of one to two years and start reproducing when they are about 3.9 in (10 cm) long.

After maturing, they tend to swim out of their brackish waters into the coral reefs to spawn. It has been reported that the banded archerfish is one species of archerfish that goes to saltwater reefs to spawn.

Rain that ends tropical dry spells tend to trigger spawning. The female lays 20,000-150,000 eggs. The eggs float on the surface of the water and hatch in about 12 hours. Because of their ability to reproduce in such large numbers, they are one of the most difficult breeds to be kept in an aquarium or tank.

What is their conservation status?

According to the IUCN, archerfish have been put into the category of Least Concern. There are ten species of the genus Toxotes found on the Earth, and each of them has been categorized differently by the IUCN.

Archerfish Fun Facts

What do archerfish look like?

The archerfish has a silver-colored body with a golden fin towards the back. The T. jaculatrix is the most commonly found species of archerfish and has about four to six black vertical bands on its back.

They have a deep laterally-compressed body with a flat head and a dorsal fin towards the rear part of their body, having four spines. Their lower jaw sticks out to help them in shooting water at their prey.

They have large forward-set eyes, which are extremely well adapted to their unique way of capturing their prey.

Their eyes are tuned in to provide them with better binocular vision to judge the distance of their prey and launch the jet of water accordingly. The binocular vision aids in giving them an in-depth perception when targeting their prey.

The archerfish is laterally compressed with forward-looking eyes.

How cute are they?

Archerfish isn't actually cute. They are a beautiful species of fish with fascinating adaptabilities, like spitting a jet of water at insects 7 ft (2 m) above the surface of the water.

How do they communicate?

There is no information about the communication of archerfish, and the methods they use to communicate are not known. What is known is that archerfish are aggressive and tend to be temperamental. So, if they are bred in an aquarium, it is very important to check compatibility before any other fish is kept with them.

How big is an archerfish?

An archerfish generally grows to 5-8 in (12–20 cm), however, the banded archerfish can grow up to a maximum length of 12 in (30 cm) and the seven-spot archerfish can reach up to a maximum length of 16 in (40 cm).

It is said that archerfish bred in an aquarium or tank would be of a smaller size than ones grown in a natural habitat.

How fast can an archerfish swim?

Archerfish are said to be very fast swimmers. Their exact speed is not known.

How much does an archerfish weigh?

The weight of an archerfish is not yet known, but they are generally lightweight because they are small.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names to a male and female archerfish, but it is nearly impossible to determine the gender of this fish. This is another reason which makes it difficult for archerfish to be bred in an aquarium.

What would you call a baby archer fish?

There is no specific term for a baby archerfish. It is generally referred to as an archer fry.

What do they eat?

Archerfish generally feed on insects and land-dwelling microorganisms. However, their diet also includes crickets, insect larvae, grasshoppers, spiders, worms, zooplankton, and crustaceans.

Are they dangerous?

The archerfish species are in no way dangerous to human beings. They are perfectly safe and can even be bred in tanks, provided there are several other things that need to be taken care of before adopting archerfish.

Would they make a good pet?

Archerfish do not make good pets (for human beings) because they reproduce in great numbers and because it is not possible to determine their sex. Moreover, archerfish require large water tanks to reside in, making them unsuitable to be kept as pets. This doesn't stop people from adopting them as pets.

Did you know...

The US Navy in the 1940s had a submarine named after archerfish for its ability to capture its prey by shooting a stream of water from its mouth at its prey. The submarine was called the USS archerfish.

USS archerfish is notably remembered for sinking Shinano, a Japanese aircraft carrier, in November 1944, and Shinano happened to be the largest warship ever sunk by a submarine.

Archerfish predators include humans, birds, and larger fish.

Can archerfish live in freshwater?

The archerfish are fish that are found near brackish water, but they are known to adapt pretty well to freshwater habitats, too (due to their highly functional muscles).

How far can an archerfish shoot?

An archerfish has a mouth shaped like a squirt gun, and it can shoot a jet of water at its target for up to 7 in (2 m), and it can shoot seven streams of water with one mouthful.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these milkfish facts and pumpkinseed sunfish facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Archerfish coloring pages.

Archerfish Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Crickets, mealworms, spiders, live brine shrimp, and other live food in water

What Type of Animal were they?

Carnivore

Average Litter Size?

20,000-150,000 eggs

How Much Did They Weigh?

N/A

What habitat Do they Live In?

coastal settings and mangrove estuaries

Where Do They Live?

india, new guinea, australia, philippines, southeast asia, and oceania

How Long Were They?

5-8 in (12–20 cm)

How Tall Were They?

N/A

Class

Actinopterygii

Genus

Toxotes

Family

Toxotidae

Scientific Name

Toxotes

What Do They Look Like?

Silver with a gold tint

Skin Type

Scales

What Are Their Main Threats?

human beings, larger fish, and birds

What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern

india new guinea australia philippines southeast asia and oceania

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Written by Divya Raghav

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Accounting and Finance, Master of Business Administration

Divya Raghav picture

Divya RaghavBachelor of Commerce specializing in Accounting and Finance, Master of Business Administration

With a diverse range of experience in finance, administration, and operations, Divya is a diligent worker known for her attention to detail. Born and raised in Bangalore, she completed her Bachelor's in Commerce from Christ University and is now pursuing an MBA at Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Bangalore. Along with her professional pursuits, Divya has a passion for baking, dancing, and writing content. She is also an avid animal lover who dedicates her time to volunteering for animal welfare causes.

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Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

Pradhanya Rao picture

Pradhanya RaoBachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

With a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Christ University, Bangalore, Pradhanya's passion for the English language and literature led her to explore the field of content writing, where she has gained extensive experience in writing, reviewing, editing, and fact-checking. She has also earned certifications in Google Ads Search, Google Ads Display, and Social Media Marketing, showcasing her proficiency in digital marketing.

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