Fish, Tanks and Ponds

Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Toxotes jaculatrix

Archer fish

Archerfish, Toxotes jaculatrix Archerfish, Toxotes jaculatrix
Photos by Andy Rapson


Toxotes: Greek, toxotes = bowman

General Notes:

Although tolerant of a wide range of conditions archer fish have a strong preference for brackish water with a pH close to 8. They are peaceful with other peaceful fish of a similar size. If you want to see these fish at their best keep them in a tank with overhanging terrestrial plants where you will be able to introduce a few crickets and allow the archer fish to exhibit their amazing hunting abilities.


Archer fish feed at the surface, they catch insects such as flies and crickets. They will also take some vegetable matter and larger specimens will eat smaller fish. In captivity archerfish will accept live, frozen and dried food.


Juvenile archer fish live in groups and are generally quite peaceful, larger adults can still be kept min groups where there are at least five individuals, adults should not be kept in pairs as this will lead to the weaker fish being bullied.

Archer fish can be kept with fish which are to big to eat and which prefer the same brackish conditions.


There are no external differences between the sexes.


There are no reports of this species ever breeding naturally in the aquarium.

Wild status

The  ICUN Red list of threatened species lists T. jaculatrix as least concern. This is a common widespread species with no immediate threats.

Additional information

Archerfish have the ability to spit a jet of water at insects above the water surface. Their aim is generally very good as they have the added ability to compensate for the  refraction of light at the water surface.
They can also learn to hit a moving target with a success rate over 50%.

Information at a glance

pH: 7.4 - 8.2
dGH: 15 - 30
Temperature: 25 - 30°C (77 - 86°F)
Lighting: bright, using plants to create shade.
Diet: Omnivore
Size: 20cm (8in) occasionally more.
Min tank size: 675 litres
Difficulty level: Intermediate
Aquarium type: Community
Swimming level: Middle/top

Distribution and habitat

distribution map for Helostoma temminckii

Origin: Asia and Oceania: India eastward to the Philippines, and south to Indonesia, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, and northern Australia

Habitat: Freshwater; brackish; reef-associated. Occurs primarily in brackish mangrove estuaries, but also penetrates rivers and small streams.


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Toxotidae
Genus: Toxotes
Species: T. jaculatrix (Pallas, 1767)

Other common names:
Archer fish

Synonyms: Sciaena jaculatrix