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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.
Distribution Asia and Oceania:
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.
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.
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!!
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