site logo

Main Index > Detailed Fish Profiles > Miscellaneous species > Archer fish
11 visitors reading profiles


This page will give a completely detailed profile of the selected fish, from A to Z. The profiled fish will be chosen randomly by Badman, and will come from the complete genre of tropical fish. New profiles are added on a regular basis. If you would like to submit a profile for the site please contact me. Don't forget to let us know you experiences with this fish by filling out the

  comment form.
This profile was written by Tracey, a Senior Member on the  World Cichlids Online   web site. This is a great resource and you should check it out.  



Archer Fish

Toxotes jaculatrix



    Melanotaenia lacustris is a popular rainbowfish in the retail community. This species is known for the brilliant turquoise color and bright yellow or orange spawning stripe that they possess. This is one of the larger growing rainbowfish species, often reaching 5 inches and over. They are a peaceful schooling fish suitable for community aquariums. However, I found mine to dominate my mixed community rainbowfish tank because of their size. This fish grows quickly and in my opinion is not suitable for aquariums less than 75 gallons.
Quick Stats

    Listed tank sizes are the minimum
    Size: Up to 12" (30.0cm) although usually smaller in an aquarium
    Tank: 55 gallon minimum, leaving space at the top
    Strata: Top
    PH: 7.0 to 8.0
    Hardness: Medium to hard. dH range: 18+
    Temperature: 77 to 88°F (25-31°C)


    Family: Toxotidae
    Order: Perciformes
    Class: Actinopterygii
    Genera: Toxotes
    Species: jaculatrix


Scientific Name:

    Toxotes jaculatrix, Toxotes jaculator, Sciaena jaculatrix

Distribution Asia and Oceania:

    From India eastwards to the Philippines, and south to Indonesia, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and northern Australia

Common Names:

    Banded Archerfish, Archer Fish

Image gallery:

    Additional species photographs


    Badmans' Forum

General Characteristics:

    With one of the most unique hunting styles of all the tropical fish available in the hobby, Archer Fish are also one of the most misunderstood when it comes to habitat and water requirements.

Archer Fish

    Their strange body shape, almost flat on top with a swept back dorsal fin, is ideally suited for hunting at the surface of the water. Their eyes are large and located towards to front of their heads and give them excellent upward vision. A silver, metallic base color and large black stripes descending from the top of the fish to around halfway down the body give an Archer excellent camouflage from its unsuspecting prey. Their ability to compensate for the refraction of light on the surface of the water is second to none and is what allows them to hunt small insects on overhanging branches. Their trademark name comes from their hunting method, shooting thin jets of water skywards in an attempt to knock said insects from their precarious perches. Once this has been accomplished, they swiftly pounce on the struggling food morsel and consume it. Archers have been observed knocking down prey from up to 6 feet above the water level with an accuracy of 99%. They are also accomplished jumpers and will leap from the water to grab insects from very low hanging branches.

    One thing that is often overlooked with Archers is that they are in fact brackish water fish, not freshwater. It is true that they will survive for a certain length of time in freshwater, especially when younger, but to keep these fish long term, a brackish environment is required.

Aquarium Setup:

    As mentioned, Archers are brackish water fish. While they will tolerate full fresh water whilst still juveniles, a salinity of 1 to 2% is required to keep these fish long term. This equates to between 7.5 and 15 teaspoons of salt per 10 gallons.

    Due to the size and schooling nature of these fish, the minimum tank size for Archers is 55 gallons, with larger tanks being better. Tall tanks are also recommended, as they allow for the extra airspace above the water line that these fish prefer. Archers prefer their tanks between half and three-quarters full, so this means that a larger than normal tank is often required. Their tanks need to be a good mix of open swimming spaces with heavily planted areas containing hiding places. Plants need to be of a kind that will live in brackish waters and still protrude above the surface of the water. Tree roots and pieces of driftwood are excellent for providing cover and will simulate the Archers natural environment of brackish mangrove estuaries.

    Substrate should be sand or very fine gravel to simulate what these fish would find in nature. Filtration is very important as these fish are used to very clean water filtered by the plant life in the mangrove areas. They are robust fish, but this should not be taken to mean that they will tolerate poor water conditions.


Archer Fish
Archer Fish



    Around 90% of an Archers diet in the wild consists of live insects and this should be simulated in a tank environment if possible. They will eat insects from the surface of the water as well as shooting them down from overhanging branches, so it is possible to feed without having to cope with insects flapping around above the water line. Some have even been known to take prepared foods such as floating pellets and flake, but this is more the exception than the norm. Any sinking food will be ignored, Archers vision is all directed upwards. Once the food has passed by them on its way to the bottom they are no longer able to see it.

    Almost any sort of insect is eaten with relish, flies, spiders, crickets, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, beetles, cockroaches, meal worms, earthworms and insect larvae. They will also take small crustaceans and surface swimming fish especially as they get larger. It might be possible to get these fish to eat the Beefheart Recipe, although given their preference for live food, this may take some doing.


    Archers are peaceful fish and can often be spooked by large, boisterous tankmates. They are also not especially tolerant of other species of Archers, so it's best to keep them with their own kind. Any other tankmates must be able to tolerate the brackish conditions these fish require, so Mono's, Scats and smaller Puffers are all a possibility.


    Breeding Archers has only been accomplished on a very few occasions, usually when least expected. There is no known way to sex Archers, which means that groups must be kept if you want your fish to breed. The pair spawns at the surface and up to 3000 floating eggs will be laid. To ensure the survival of the fry, the eggs should be transferred to a holding tank, where they will hatch in around 12 hours. 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.

    This is one fish that totally fascinates me and yet another that I would like to be able to keep one day. They do require a little extra work, given their need for a brackish environment, but I honestly think they'd be worth it. Imagine having a little piece of the Discovery Channel in your own home!!

Your comments:


Please remember that the following comments are personal experiences and may or may not apply to your setup. Use them as guide to help better understand your fish, like us all individuals will behave differently under different circumstances.


From: Aaron
G'day.. I've had an archer for about a year now, he eats quite the variety of bugs and I find he will lose interest in a certain food item if I repetitively give him the same stuff.. I haven't yet transitioned him to brackish water because it's winter and I am struggling to keep his water warm enough as is... Serious bit of advice for anyone planning to own one of these marvelous creatures.. Invest in couple of bug catchers... They seem to like a variety, and mine for the most part will not go near flake or pellet foods what so ever... Mealworms and crickets make up the majority of his diet... But you can see it in his eyes, he prefers to catch his food.. And he definitely prefers shooting at flying insects, won't shoot things unless they can fly lol.. But will jump 9 times out of 10... Out of all my fish, he is my faveourite by far :)
From: Michael
A briliant fish. iv had mine for about 6 months now. he stays at the top of the tank always moving around looking for things to eat. i have quite a bit of surface movement in my tank from the air bubbles and pump. when itcomes to feeding time i turn off everything including the lights. he eats big fat juicey mealworm because they float on the surface long enough for him to eat. he does turn a dark colour when hes unhappy and is quite a scardycat but hes a beautiful colour and very bright and interesting. if you dont have any smaller fish in yor tank hes perfect for the top of the tank where very few fish seem to go.





Privacy Policy | Contact Badman's Tropical Fish
Copyright ©
All rights reserved. Reproduction of any portion of this website's content is forbidden without written permission.