The Fish That Excels at Archery

Archerfish, from the genus Toxotes, looks like any ordinary fish. Its about 10-12 inches and has a narrow body with a pointed face and mouth. But its most special skill... its extraordinary aim.

The archerfish gets its name from the unique way it hunts its prey, by shooting jets of water at them. The force of the water is strong enough to knock insects off the branches and leaves that they might be sitting on.


The archerfish usually live near and around mangroves. They live brackish waters which is where both fresh and saltwater mix. They can be found in costal waters near East Africa, South Asia and Australia.

This makes it easier for the fish to hunt, since small insects are often found in tropical climates and in mangroves.

Diet and Hunting

The archer fish mainly hunts insects, smaller fish, and crustaceans. But what is special about the archerfish is that they hunt prey near the surface of the water. An archerfish has exceptional eyesight that is able to see clearly through water and take aim and insects sitting on branches above the water.

When shooting the water, the archerfish uses its mouth and tongue and form a tube, Then it forces the water out quickly through a small opening, which increases the force of the water. This force is strong enough to knock insects perching on branches near the water. It can also feel like a sting when it hits human skin.

The archerfish may have good eyesight but it cannot aim with the refraction of water. To get around this problem, archerfish tend to get right underneath their prey and shoot straight up at the insect since there is no refraction in the water when looking up. But at time shoot at an insect requires doing it from the side with refraction. This comes through practice. As does the judging distance and height of the prey.


The archerfish can spawn up to 3000 eggs at once and young archerfish hatch within 12 hours of being laid as eggs. Once they hatch archerfish are on their own, learning to hunt for prey and practice their shooting skills by themselves.


The archerfish population is widespread but decreasing since their habitat is being destroyed. Due to pollution of water and clearing of mangroves, archerfish lose their habitat. Another reason to their reduction is that archerfish are often captured to be sold as pets, and even eaten as seafood in some countries. All of this leads to a slow decrease in population.


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