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Archerfish have silvery or white bodies marked with either black spots (T. chatareus) or black bars (T.jaculatrix). These markings camouflage the fish as it swims in sun-dappled water under mangrove vegetation. The back of an Archerfish is almost straight from the tip of its snout to the dorsal fin, which is placed well backan adaptation that allows the fish to swim close to the water’s surface and look upward without being noticed. They sometimes feed at the surface in the daytime on floating insects and vegetable matter, but T. chatareus diet also consists of crustaceans and small fishes they hunt underwater. Both species spit streams of water upward to dislodge insects from overhanging vegetation.
Neither archerfish species is endangered. This fish is fairly common, but destruction of mangrove swamps could drastically decline their numbers. Pollution from the growing human population in Southeast Asia threatens clean waters this fish calls home.
In botanical gardens, archerfish are kept in tropical water lily ponds where they feast on and devour insect pests and aphids.
These species breed in both freshwater and brackish waters, typically during the wet season. Archerfish produce between 20,000 and 150,000 eggs at one time.
If prey is close to the surface, archerfish usually jump out of the water to snag the prey. If this method fails archerfish have the remarkable ability to shoot insects off branches with amazing accuracy, up to a distance of four feet (1.2 m) away. Archerfish can spot unwary prey and spit a jet of water to knock them off branches and into the water, where the fish is quick to swallow its prize. These fish form a tube using the ridge in their tongue and a groove on the roof of their mouth to become living squirt guns. They then slam their gill covers closed forcing a powerful jet of water through the channel and swallowing the helpless insect.