Banded archerfish or toxote

Toxotes sp

This fish lives in the mangroves and in brackish water habitats throughout Asia. The archerfish spits strong, accurate jets of water from its mouth at insects and gastropods living in the vegetation above the water, to a distance of over one metre. It keeps water under pressure in its mouth, pointing it upwards. When the archerfish shoots, the gill covers contract suddenly, compressing the water in the mouth and gill cavities. The jet is guided by a groove created in the roof of the fish’s mouth.

From the water, the archerfish aims at land-based prey. To reduce light refraction through the water surface, the archerfish comes as close as it can to being directly beneath its prey. Young archerfish are less accurate in their shooting: they may work together and use group fire to bring prey down into the water.

Lastly, if the prey remains in place despite the shooting, the archerfish can jump out of the water to grab it, to a height of 30 cm.

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Note that the archerfish’s colouring provides efficient camouflage: its dark back is hard to distinguish against the gloomy background of the river, and the dark lateral stripes mimic the shadows created by the vegetation.

Several species of archerfish exist: Toxotes jaculatrix, as in the photo above. The species currently on display is below:

Toxotes sp © Fréderic Fasquel
Toxotes sp © Fréderic Fasquel

See the Archerfish in this video

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Co-production Palais de la Porte Dorée / Esprit sorcier
Main photo credit : Poisson-archer - Toxotes jaculatrix *