The Striped Archer (Toxotes jaculatrix) is a brackish-water ray-finned fish from the Splatter family. The species has a wide range from the shores of Asia to Northern Australia. They derive this name from the meaning bowman or archer. The Archers generally inhabit estuaries and mangrove swamps. These fishes can, however, be found in the open ocean or far upstream in freshwater.An amazing feature of the fish is reflected in the name of the family, the Sprayers are capable of releasing a powerful stream of water, which allows them to knock insects sitting above the water into the water. This is possible due to the special structure of the oral apparatus. They are capable of spitting streams of water up to one-and-a-half meters into the air looking to attack the insects.
There is a groove on the palate of the fish, which it can successfully cover with its tongue and forcefully push out the stream of water. Simultaneously, the water movement is so high that the human eye cannot catch it. The range of the “shot” is amazing – it can reach 1 m. At the same time, the sprinklers are incredibly accurate. True, young individuals require “training”, but this skill is acquired by them incredibly quickly. For such a hunting strategy, archers are called “arrow fish” or “sniper fish”. It is worth noting that fish like to hunt in groups. Not a single prey will escape such a “squad”.
The Striped Archer has a laterally compressed body with a pointed front part. The lower jaw protrudes noticeably forward. The eyes are large, they allow fish to swim near the surface of the water to look for prey.
The main body color is silvery with five large black spots from the head to the caudal peduncle. The fins are transparent or yellowish; the anal and dorsal fins have a black edging. Archerfish have large moveable eyes for scanning prey and have an amazing binocular vision to help them to analyse distance.
Life expectancy in an aquarium is 5-7 years.
The Archers belong to most of tropical Asia, Papua New Guinea, and northern Australia. They are also famously known as Spinner Fish, Archerfish, and Archers. Their natural habitat is among mangroves,estuaries, streams, rivers and small inland areas.
Care and maintenance
When keeping a Striped Archer at home, they usually stop at one of two options:
- A typical aquarium with salted water and lots of mangrove driftwood;
- The paludarium is a high container, in which there is a water part and a land part, in which moisture-loving hanging plants are planted.
Most often, they choose the second method of keeping, because overhanging plants allow you to watch the hunting of fish. They contain sprayers alone or in groups of 5-6 individuals (this allows to reduce intraspecific aggression). One fish should have at least 60 liters of water. It is better to choose a long and low aquarium because most of the time the archer spends near the surface of the water. The bottom of the aquarium must have 2 inches of sand substrate.
As for decorations, it is best to use mangrove driftwood and plants that can tolerate salted water – Thai Fern, Anubias nana, Javanese moss, Globular cladophora.
However, it must be kept in mind that these plants or any other live plants are tolerant to brakish water.
Ensure good filtration and aeration in the aquarium. But the flow should be minimal. Moderate lighting is better, but it is worth focusing on the needs of the planted plants. Striped Sprinklers are thermophilic, so be sure to use the thermostat.
Do not forget about weekly water changes, which should be up to 20% of the tank volume. If you are using tap water for changes, be sure to fill in the required amount of Tetra AquaSafe before adding it to the aquarium. It will remove chlorine and heavy metals from the water, which are dangerous for the sprayers, and B vitamins and natural colloids will reduce stress and take care the fish’s mucous membranes.
Optimum water parameters for the content: T = 25-30 ° C, pH = 7.0-8.0, GH = 20-30.
The ideal option for keeping striped sprayers is a species aquarium. Among the popular fish, some types of Stingrays , Monodactylus, green Chromides are most often used.
Feeding the splatter
By the type of food, Striped Archers are real predators. A favorite delicacy is terrestrial invertebrates, although fish and aquatic ones do not disdain. And they will not mind at all to grab a gaping small fish.
At home, Sprayers perfectly eat high-quality dry food that stays on the surface for a long time. For example, TetraMin XL Flakes and Tetra Cichlid Sticks. You can pamper your pets with Tetra FreshDelica treats. Fish will like bloodworms or brine shrimp in delicious and nutritious jelly. Moreover, they can eat large flakes, pellets, and freeze dried foods.
If you keep Archers in a paludarium, you can use food insects (flies, crickets) to watch the fish hunt.
A very interesting fact is that these fishes mostly consume what is there on the surafce of the water and will simply ignore the food which reaches the bottom of the aquarium. So in case of petting them ,you would be needed to train them.You can start by sticking the food like moistened prawn at the water line. They will gradually learn to consume food below the line.
Reproduction and breeding
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to get offspring of striped sprayers at home. This is due to the fact that in nature, for reproduction, fish migrate into saltwater which is extremely difficult to recreate. There is quite rare chance that reproduction takes place. These fish will spawn at the surface and will release about 3000 eggs which will float. To make hatching successful, transfer them to another tank. Eggs will hatch in about 12 hours. Fry will eat things floating on the surface like insects and flake food.