Banded Archerfish (Toxotes jaculatrix)

Banded archerfish

Last updated on July 10th, 2022 at 10:46 pm

The banded archerfish (Toxotes jaculatrix) or simply archerfish, are perciform fish in the genus Toxotes, Toxotidae family, and the sole member of its genus. Their range includes India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Philippines, and Australia with sporadic records in other parts of the world.

They are one of the fish that shoots water, the adults are usually found in brackish water (freshwater with some salt content), but may also be found in coastal marine waters, especially at river mouths and estuaries which offer shelter and an abundance of food from the sea such as planktonic crustaceans.

Toxotes jaculatrix is an ornamental tropical fish that is now found in the wild in several different areas, including Indonesia, India, Taiwan, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines. Banded archerfish care requires small water tanks with frequent water changes, so they’re ideal for beginners who are interested in keeping fish but don’t have the space or time to care for larger species.

Origin and descriptions

Banded archerfish

Banded archerfish are native to Eastern India and Australia, where they can be found in freshwater creeks and rivers. It is considered a tropical fish, but it does well in cold temperatures of about 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The banded archerfish is a member of one of only three known families that eat primarily insects and larvae.

These fish have been observed eating ants, termites, bees, wasps, and even other smaller fish. Because of their tendency to hunt prey from above water, archerfish use their pectoral fins as a fishing rod while hovering over their target. Their mucus-covered tongue is then used as bait to attract prey; when an insect or small fish lands on their tongue, they quickly snap shut and swallow their meal whole.

Species profile

Banded archerfish

Banded archerfish belong to the family Toxotidae. They are also known as banded bowfins, banded pygmy perches, and short-barbeled archerfish. They are native to the freshwaters of Australia and Papua New Guinea but have been introduced in many other areas around the world including Hawaii, Florida, southern California, and parts of Africa. The fish is named after its unique hunting technique where it shoots water droplets at insects and small fish from above like an archer shooting arrows.

Violet Goby (Gobioides broussonnetii)

The fish uses a special organ called a pharyngeal pouch that is located inside its throat for spitting out water jets at prey up to 10 feet away from itself. It can shoot more than 50 times in a row without taking a breath! This species gets its name from two broad black bands that run along each side of its body and continue onto their fins.

Scientific name

The scientific name of the Banded archerfish is Toxotes jaculatrix


Banded archerfish are native to fresh and brackish waters, estuaries, mangroves, and coastal rivers throughout Southeast Asia. Their habitats are shallow waters with substrates of sand or mud. As juveniles, they may be found in freshwater areas. Banded archerfish are considered invasive species in some areas and can often be found in habitats where they aren’t native.

Banded archer fish size

They can grow up to 9-10 inches (23-25 cm) in length.

Archer fish tank size

Due to their big size, the minimum recommended tank size is 55 gallons, although larger tanks, up to 90 gallons, are ideal.

Tank mates

The archerfish needs to be kept with only other freshwater fish. Banded archerfish have been known to eat smaller fish, so it’s important that they are not kept with anything smaller than themselves.

Some good tank mates are tetras, barbs, rasboras, danios, gouramis, and other peaceful fish. The archerfish can be kept with other species of archerfish as well. If you have multiple archerfish in your tank make sure they are not all males or all females. They need to be kept in a group of at least three to four. The reason for that is that they will become lonely if they don’t have any companions to interact with them.


Banded archerfish

Hobbyists have not reported any cases of breeding. Experts believe this fish migrates to a full seawater environment to reproduce. However, it is nearly impossible to replicate this condition in an aquarium.

Platystacus cotylephorus (Banded Banjo Catfish)

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

The banded archerfish is a peaceful and relatively docile member of its genus. They make for great aquarium fish, which makes them a favorite for hobbyists all over. However, if kept in an unsuitable environment or given poor care, they can become aggressive and territorial. The most important thing to remember when caring for them is that your level of interaction with them should be limited, but not absent.

Banded archerfish care

Banded archerfish

The banded archerfish (Toxotes jaculatrix) is a carnivorous fish found in freshwater areas of Southeast Asia. They are so named for their ability to spit water at insects or other prey, knocking them into their open mouths. The water jet is produced by changing some of its saliva into a bubble and discharging it from its mouth via its gills. To date, no one has been able to determine how they do it. It’s like magic!

Keeping banded archerfish is a good way to have a pet fish without having to maintain an aquarium. A 55-gallon tank with heated water and stones or caves for hiding is sufficient. Like other saltwater species, banded archerfish need plenty of calcium in their diet.

What they eat

Their diet is largely comprised of crabs, shrimp, and worms. Banded archerfish are ambush predators. They hide in wait in rock crevices and on submerged trees for unsuspecting crustaceans and insects to pass by. When a meal swims near enough, a banded archerfish will shoot it with water from its mouth before quickly snatching up its prey with its sharp teeth. They shoot their water jets with impressive precision.

Water parameters

Banded archerfish prefer clear, warm water and plenty of hiding places, so they’re most commonly found in small ponds with lily pads and rocks. However, when necessary they’ll also use coral caves or artificial burrows.

These fish require a pH of 6.0 to 7.8, and a temperature range of 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Extreme temperatures, particularly below 60 degrees or above 84 degrees, are harmful to them. The water must also be well-oxygenated and free of ammonia or nitrites. Finally, each fish requires at least 55 gallons of space in which to swim around comfortably — bigger is better!

Top Hat Blenny Fish (Omobranchus fasciolatoceps)


They can live up to 2 years with proper care

Parasites and diseases

Fish are susceptible to parasites and diseases, just like any other creature. Banded archerfish are not immune, so they often carry parasites with them. You can observe some of these parasites when you look at their fins and gills. For example, if a tiny worm is attached to your fish’s gill, that’s an indication that it has Ichthyophthirius multifiliis on its body. This parasite is commonly referred to as Ich for short.

Do they make good pets?

Yes. Their peaceful nature makes them an excellent addition to most brackish water community aquariums. However, larger specimens may prey on other smaller aquarium inhabitants. These fish are carnivorous. In the wild, their primary food source is insects and other small animals that they shoot down.