Archer fish care is vital for all aquarists to learn, and this is what we are going to discuss in this article, one step at a time. Whether an Archer fish is a peaceful seafarer or an aggressive member in a school of fish, how to take care of Archer fish is the real question here.
Archer fish belongs to the Toxotidae family and is mainly famous for its unique hunting style. However, the fish is often misunderstood when being considered for fish keeping.
Since Archers can be somewhat aggressive when paired wrongly, it is essential to understand their compatibility with other fishes before giving them a new tank mate.
Also, to ensure optimal care of this particular species of ray-finned fish, it is essential to be informed about their habitat, diet, and aquarium setup. Are you ready to learn all about Archer fish care?
Let’s dive straight into it!
Archer Fish Habitat
Listed tank sizes are the minimum
|Size:||Up to 12″ (30.0cm) although usually smaller in an aquarium|
|Tank:||55 gallon minimum, leaving space at the top|
|PH:||7.0 to 8.0|
|Hardness:||Medium to hard. dH range: 18+|
|Temperature:||77 to 88°F (25-31°C)|
Archers, found in the coastal areas and thriving in salty mangrove waters, are known as brackish water fish. Here, they cruise along the water surface and often glide in between the thick vegetation, searching for their prey. They often move into streams and rivers, as well. Adult Archer fish are also likely to swim their way to explore coral reefs.
This species is found in countries like Australia, Polynesia, Myanmar, Southeastern China, Thailand, the Philippines, and India. Archers prefer living in areas with thick plants hanging above the surface of the water. This helps them hide in the shadows while waiting for the right moment to attack their potential prey, that is, usually, small insects. Nonetheless, a school of archer fish can briefly survive in freshwater. Still, their preference remains mangrove swamps due to the ease of hunting.
How Well Can They Survive?
Since Archer fish can survive in rivers and the open sea, they are often mistaken as freshwater fish. However, they can only survive in freshwater for a specific period.
Prolonged exposure to non-brackish water will eventually lead to a shorter life span, especially in non-adults. In short, freshwater archer fish is merely a myth.
This information is crucial if you are thinking of setting up an aquarium for the Archer fish. Remember, a salty environment, similar to the natural Archer fish habitat, is mandatory if you intend to keep the species long-term.
How to Take Care for an Archer Fish
Archer fish can grow up to 12 inches long in the wild. However, they hardly extend from 5 to 7 inches when in captivity. Keeping this in mind, an Archer fish aquarium size should be at least 110 gallons.
Also, you need to apply the following aquarium care tips to ensure maximum survival chances of the spectacular fish:
- An Archer fish tank’s minimum size should be at least 18 inches, with the water content being 55 gallons. Also, it is best if the tank is filled up to about two-thirds with brackish water. This is the minimum requirement for adult fishes.
- Taller tanks are better for a school of Archer fish. They enable more open space above the water level for the fish to jump habitually. However, the tank lid should be kept shut at all times to prevent the aquarium dweller from falling out.
- These fish require freshwater (clean), which means that filtration is extremely crucial to maintain their health.
- Even though Archer fish can survive in freshwater, it is advisable to keep the salinity content in the tank between 1 to 2 percent approximately. This can be achieved by adding around 8 to 12 teaspoons of salt for every 100 gallons of water in the fish tank.
- The pH level should be set between 6.0 to 7.5, whereas the water flow should be moderate.
- The substrate content can comprise sand and gravel. Besides this, the lighting inside the aquarium can be kept moderate to bright.
- You may also add some aquarium plants in the tank to provide the fish with some hiding place, similar to their natural environment.
- The optimum temperature of the tank should be kept between 25 degrees to 30 degrees centigrade.
- Archer fish can be kept with other fish of the same size or those with a slightly bigger body. Smaller tank mates can hardly survive their aggression.
- The hardiness of the Archer fish aquarium should preferably be moderate.
Overall, an Archer fish can easily survive 10 years inside the aquarium, provided that the water condition in the tank is well kept in terms of temperature, cleanliness, oxygen level, and brackishness.
To sum up, Archer fish need quality water conditions to survive. The environment inside the tank, therefore, needs to be monitored regularly. You should also ensure at least 30 percent of water is changed weekly.
If you’ve just brought your Archer fish home, you are probably thinking about other fish species that would be best to pair with them as tank-mates.
Archer fish are generally peaceful and do not harm other fishes. However, it is preferable to keep them alongside a school of fish of the same size or a bit larger than them. Otherwise, they are likely to snap at smaller fish in the aquarium out of hunger.
Besides, they are somewhat intolerant of other Archer species. It is, therefore, advisable to keep them with their kind. Nevertheless, only a select range of fish species can cope with the special conditions in an Archer fish aquarium.
Some of these include the following:
- Puffer Fishes
- Knight Gobies
Apart from these, several small-sized fish are capable of thriving in high water salinity. However, pairing them with Archer fish would lead them to be treated as food. Archer fish tank-mates that are larger and do not linger in the upper part of the aquarium are the best choice.
An Archer fish is predominantly an omnivore. The species lurks beneath the waterline, ready to shoot water jets at flying insects. They happily feed on their prey once it falls on the water surface. Moreover, these fish have a range of approximately 5 feet, enabling them to hit their target accurately, about 99 percent of the time, within this range.
Archer fish diet varies vastly in the wild. However, their diet consists of small fishes, live food, pellets, frozen, dried foods, and juveniles in a tank. Hence, the most challenging thing is to train archer fish to eat sinking food in an Archer fish tank.
Nonetheless, it might sometimes become tricky to feed Archer fish. They may squirt food out of the aquarium, given their instinctive hunting nature.
Therefore, it is recommended to implement the enlisted tips for better Archer fish care:
- Train them by sticking tiny bits of moistened prawn to the aquarium’s surface, or offer them insects on a rod placed above water level.
- Start from the bottom and then gradually raise the bits. At first, they might instinctively jump but eventually will learn to eat food without shooting it out.
- Once they start accepting it, start raising the pieces slightly higher. They might try to jump to get it initially but will eventually learn to spit to catch it.
Here is a list of live food that you can feed a school of Archer fish in an aquarium:
- Meal Worms
- Smaller fish
In the wild, 90 percent of Archer fish diet consists of live insects. This should, thus, be replicated in an Archer fish tank environment whenever possible. These fish tend to ignore sinking food most of the time as their vision is naturally directed upwards.
We have made sure to cover everything you need to know about taking care of the Archer fish.
Let’s sum up the essential bits from the article:
- Archer fish are famous for their unique hunting method. The fish knocks down its prey by shooting at it with a strong jet of water to eat it as soon as it drops on the water surface.
- Archers are found in coastal areas, especially in salty mangrove swamps.
- They are known to roam near the water’s surface, waiting to aim at small insects that fly by.
- Archer fish dwell in brackish water but can survive in freshwater for a certain period, as well.
- They can grow up to 12 inches long in the wild and are smaller in size when bred in an aquarium.
- They require large fish tanks with a minimum of 55 gallons of water due to their size.
- There should be a good amount of space left between the water level and the aquarium’s closure as the fish may jump above the surface occasionally.
- The environment inside the Archer fish tank should be maintained as 25–30 degree Celsius (temperature), pH 6.0–7.5 (alkaline), 1–2 percent (salinity), and moderate to bright lighting depending on the number of aquarium plants set inside.
- Filtration and regular cleaning of the Archer fish tank are essential as the fish cannot tolerate poor quality water conditions.
- Archer Fish needs tank mates that are the same size or larger than them. Smaller fishes will get eaten.
- You can train an Archer fish to feed well on live food inside the aquarium by offering it on a rod hanging through the top.
Overall, the Archer fish are a remarkable species with unmatchable hunting skills in the aquatic world. Furthermore, the species can conveniently thrive in an aquarium with proper Archer fish care even though they are typically brackish water animals.