What is archer fish care like?

In this blog we will discuss archer fish care. This blog post will cover topics like archer fish habitat, tank-set-up,diet,health conditions and much more.

Overview

In this blog 

  • Key specifications of Archerfish
  • Habitat of Archerfish
  • Types of Archerfish species
  • Archerfish general and physical characteristics
  • Lifespan of Archerfish
  • Tank set-up of Archerfish
  • Diet of Archerfish
  • Archerfish health conditions
  • Daily and Bi-weekly care tips for archer fish
  • Conclusion

What is archer fish care like?

Archer fish care includes:

  • Water conditions should be monitored regularly.
  • Archers can jump out of water to catch their food, so it’s recommended not to fill the tank till the brim.
  • Archers are surface feeders and tend to ignore anything which goes below the surface.
  • This should not be ignored because the leftovers keep settling down in the bottom of the tank and that accumulation could be injurious to archers health, because this releases a lot of ammonia in the tank and can make the tank cloudy and produce pungent odour.
  • Salinity should be maintained and it’s quite important for the archers.It can be maintained by keeping the minerals concentration high by adding salt to the water.
  • Maintain the temperature and pH in the tank.
  • Remove sick fish if they are showing any symptoms to the hospital tank until they are fine again.
  • Feed a protein rich diet daily.But don’t overfeed them.
  • Feed twice a day.
  • Check if all the tank accessories are in working conditions or not.

Bi-weekly care tips for archer fish

  • Change 25-30 percent of water weekly
  • Clean the tank thoroughly once a month.
  • Check if all the aquarium accessories are in working condition or not.
  • Clean the filters to remove the stuck food particles or dirt.
  • Quarantine new fish for at least 2 weeks before adding them in the main tank.
  • Exclude expired food materials.
  • Exclude aggressive tank mates to avoid stress.

Key Specifications of Archerfish

GenusToxotes
FamilyToxotidae
HabitatBrackish water of Southeast Asia,Northern Australia and  Melanesia
Body length5-7 inches long
Body shapeElongated
LifespanUpto 10 years (aquarium)3-5 years (wild) 
ColourSilver (5-6 stripes)
TemperamentPeaceful but sometimes territorial
Tank-size18 inches- 55 gallons. Maximum capacity- 90-100 gallonsBigger the better
DietPrimarily Carnivorous (Live food)OmnivoresSurface feeders
Care-levelModerate (not recommended for newcomers)
Salinity %Light intensity1-2 percentModerate to bright 
Unique featuresObservational learning and Binocular Vision
Another nameSpinner fish 

Habitat of Archerfish

Archers are native to brackish water, mangroves,and other water systems of Southeast Asia,Northern Australia and Melanesia.

Archers can inhabit both freshwater and saltwater.They prefer dark areas and thick vegetation to shoot their prey above the surface of water.

Types of Archerfish species

Scientific nameCommon name
Toxotes jaculatrixBanded archerfish, most common aquarium fish
Toxotes blythiiClouded or zebra archerfish
Toxotes chatareusCommon large scale archerfish
Toxotes kimberleyensisWestern or kimberley archerfish
Toxotes lorentziPrimitive archerfish
Toxotes microlepisSmall Scale archerfish
Toxotes oligolepisBig scale archerfish

Archerfish general and physical characteristics

  • Archers come in the category of ray finned fish and are considered as one of the most clever aquarium fish.
  • Archer means to shoot down,they got their name because of their accurate hunting skills.
  • Archers are thin,have an elongated body and are laterally compressed.
  • On average archers can grow 5-7 inches long in captivity and 12 inches in the wild,except T.Chatareus (16 inches long)
  • Their large eyes help them to aim their prey from afar.
  • 5-6 vertical silver stripes on their body.Body scales help them in camouflaging.
  • Both dorsal and anal fins are located away from the main body.They have a rounded tail.
  • Specialised mouth for hunting its prey.Archers can shoot down its potential prey with the jets of water.Their aim is inch-perfect and it can reach upto 3 metres.
  • Archers can hit a target over five feet away.Archers can form a tube with its tongue then squeezes its gill covers to fire the jet of water shoots out along the roof of its mouth by positioning itself directly under its prey it minimises the effect of the refraction of water.
  • Archers can even calculate how much water to fire for the potential target.This makes them unique among other aquarium fish.
  • Archers built are perfect for their hunting skills
  • Archers are very good observers & don’t need any specialised training on how to shoot down their prey.They can be trained as well if required.They are quite sharp and catch things quickly.
  • Archers navigate through waters with different salt concentrations.
  • Young archers can tolerate freshwater conditions better than the adult ones.

Lifespan of Archerfish

Archer can live upto 10 years in a well maintained aquarium.They are brackish water fish and can adjust in freshwater too but not for too long.This could be one of the reasons for their shorter lifespans in aquariums.Brackish water is must for them.

Tank set-up of Archerfish

  • Tank size and water conditions
  • Decorations and suitable plants for archers tank
  • Compatible tank mates for archers

Tank size and tank water conditions for archer fish

  • Archers are bigger in size(fully grown), a large tank of 18 inch would be perfect for them which can hold water upto 55 gallons.In short bigger the tank, bigger will be the space for them to swim, hunt and hide.
  • Archers are mainly brackish water fish but can adjust in freshwater, if the salinity is maintained in it.
  • Optimum temperature for an archer’s tank should be in the range of 77-88Fahrenheit.
  • Optimum pH for an archers tank should be in the range of 6.0-7.5 (alkaline)
  • Water hardness should be moderate, dGH-dKH of 10-30.
  • Archers can brackish water fish mainly but can survive in freshwater conditions too, by maintaining the proper salinity i.e 1-2 %.
  • Install filters to keep the tank clean.Filters play a vital role in the tank by removing the unwanted materials.A good quality filter should be fit in the tank to maintain the hygiene.
  • Archers have the tendency to jump out of water, so make sure the lid is properly placed.

Tank set-up important conditions for archers:

  • Temperature- 77-88 Fahrenheit
  • pH of the tank – 6.0-7.6 (alkaline conditions are Preferred)
  • Water hardness – dGH-dKH of 10-30 (moderate)
  • Salinity in the tank- 1-2 % is Preferred.
  • Install good quality filters.
  • Bare bottom tanks or planted tanks both are fine.

Decorations and suitable plants for archers tank

Archers don’t need heavy decorations in their tank.You can add sand in the bottom, some rocks and driftwoods and plants of your choice or better go ahead with salt tolerant plants.

Anubias nana,moss ball and java ferns are some of the most common live aquarium plants,almost added in most of the aquariums.

Plants keep the environment healthy by providing oxygen and filtering out the dirt naturally.Artificial plants can be added if you want your tank to look colourful, it’s totally up to the individuals.

  • Sand
  • Rocks
  • Driftwood
  • Anubias nana
  • Moss ball
  • Java ferns
  • Artificial plants

Tank-mates for archer fish

Tank mates play a major role in aquarium life.Compatible mates will shoal together and won’t compete for resources.They will live peacefully and will let others too to live peacefully in the tank.

So it’s very important to keep suitable members for the archers tank.Aggressive fish can your archers and can create problems for them.Maximum 5-6 members are recommended in a tank.

Compatible tank-mates for Archers:

  • Scats
  • Knight gobies
  • Mudskippers
  • Monos
  • Four eyed fish
  • Puffers
  • Mollies

Note : Avoid small fish as tank mates, they end up becoming the snacks for your archers.

Diet of Archerfish

Archers are omnivores and can feed on wide varieties of food.But it’s quite difficult to feed them as they prefer to eat live food by shooting them down with the jets of water.

List of some of their favourite food:

  • Insects (spiders, cricket,mosquitoes,flies and cockroach)
  • Dry seaweed
  • Juveniles (small and young fish)
  • Mealworms
  • Freeze dried plankton
  • Crustaceans

Archerfish health conditions

Archers are also prone to a wide range of disease if they are not getting the suitable water conditions.

Archers are brackish water fish and being a saltwater fish it needs that proper environment to thrive well.If they are kept in freshwater for a longer time they might get sick and can ultimately die.

  • Fin rot
  • Ich
  • Dropsy

Conclusion

Archers are famous for their outstanding hunting abilities.One of the few aquatic predators that can hunt prey outside its element. Archers are predatory fish and prefer live food mainly.

They mind their own business and rarely get aggressive.Their territorial behaviour is due to non-compatible tank mates who compete for space and resources.

Archers are recommended for experienced fish keepers because it’s quite difficult to feed them. 

Frequently asked questions :

Are archers easy to care for?

Archers are extraordinary fish and are quite popular for their hunting skills.They are surface feeders and don’t eat anything which goes below the surface.Not so easy to care for and its mainly recommended for experienced aquarists.

Do archers need training to catch its prey?

Archers are very smart and intelligent hunting fish.They have a very good observation quality and can learn by observing other archers in the same tank.They can even be trained by keeping the live food on the hanging rod on top of the tank.

Are archers high maintenance fish?

No, archers are not high maintenance aquarium fish but not easy to handle due to their predatory behaviour.They like to feed on live food and a high protein diet is best for them.In my opinion, archers are mainly recommended for experienced fish keepers.

Reference

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archerfish
https://www.fishlore.com/aquariummagazine/feb08/archerfish.htm
https://badmanstropicalfish.com/archer-fish-care/

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