Archerfish Care: Complete Guide for Beginners

Welcome to this archerfish care guide for beginners! With their unique ability to shoot down insects and small prey, archerfish are a fascinating addition to any aquarium. In this guide, you will learn the essentials to give your archerfish a perfect environment to thrive in.

banded archerfish

This page may contain affiliate links, which will earn us a commission. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Archerfish Species Profile and Identification

Archerfish are fascinating creatures known for their unique hunting methods. They are able to shoot jets of water from their mouths to knock insects down from above water, making them excellent predators.

The most popular species of Archerfish found in home aquariums are the Toxotes jaculatrix (Banded Archerfish) and Toxotes chatareus (Seven-spot Archerfish). Here’s a brief profile of these two commonly kept species:

  • Banded Archerfish (Toxotes jaculatrix): Characterized by their silver body with black stripes, they grow up to 12 inches in length. They inhabit estuaries, coastal mangroves, and rivers.
  • Seven-spot Archerfish (Toxotes chatareus): Feature a silver body covered with black spots, and can grow up to 6 inches in length. They are found in a similar range of habitats as the Banded Archerfish.

To identify the Archerfish in your aquarium, simply observe their colors and patterns. Banded Archerfish have bands or stripes across their body, while Seven-spot Archerfish display spots instead. Another identification factor is the size; if your fish is significantly larger, it is likely a Banded Archerfish.

It’s essential to know your Archerfish species to provide optimal care for their specific needs in terms of water parameters, tank setup, and diet. Taking note of distinct characteristics will benefit both the fish and their caretakers in the long run.

Archerfish Supplies

To provide the best care for your archerfish, it is essential to gather the appropriate supplies to support their health and happiness. In this section, we will discuss the necessary items for your archerfish’s habitat, diet, and overall wellbeing.

  • Aquarium: Choose a tank that is at least 30 gallons or larger to provide adequate space for swimming and exploring. Remember that archerfish are jumpers, so opt for a well-fitted lid to prevent any accidents.
  • Filtration System: Archerfish require clean, well-oxygenated water. Invest in a high-quality filtration system to maintain proper water conditions, with a preference for canister filters with adjustable flow rates.
  • Heater and Thermometer: These fish thrive in water temperatures between 75-82°F. A reliable heater with a thermostat is necessary to maintain stable temperatures, and an aquarium thermometer will allow you to monitor the water temperature accurately.
  • Lighting: Install moderate aquarium lighting to create a comfortable environment for your archerfish. If your setup includes live plants, make sure to provide enough light for them to grow and ensure a balanced habitat.
  • Substrate and Decorations: Choose a sand or fine gravel substrate to create a natural and comfortable base for your archerfish tank. Incorporate rocks, driftwood, and artificial plants to provide hiding places and replicate their natural habitat.
  • Water Test Kit: Maintaining proper water parameters is crucial to keep your archerfish healthy. A water test kit will allow you to frequently monitor and adjust the water conditions as needed.
  • Nutritional Fish Food: Archerfish are carnivores and require a diet of high-quality protein sources. Provide a combination of dried and frozen foods like shrimp, krill, or small insects (such as crickets) to ensure a well-balanced diet.

Investing in the appropriate archerfish supplies is essential for creating a healthy and comfortable environment for your new aquatic companion. Provide a spacious aquarium, proper filtration, heating, and lighting, and keep an eye on water parameters and diet to promote a thriving habitat for your archerfish.

Archerfish Tank Setup

Size matters when it comes to setting up your archerfish tank. A minimum of 30-gallons is recommended for one fish, and if you have ambitious plans to keep a small group, you will need at least a 55-gallon tank or larger.

The tank shape is also essential for archerfish. They prefer tanks that are long and wide rather than tall so they can comfortably swim around. The ideal dimensions would be 36 inches in length, 18 inches in width, and 16-24 inches in height.

When setting up your archerfish habitat, include these key elements:

  • Substrate: A sandy or fine gravel substrate is perfect for these fish. They’ll appreciate the flat, smooth bottom to rest on and swim over.
  • Hiding spots: Archerfish are fond of hiding spots. Use driftwood, rocks, or aquatic plants such as Java Fern, Anubias, and Vallisneria to provide them with suitable hiding places.
  • Surface plants: Create a cover with floating plants like Duckweed and Frogbit for archerfish to hide underneath. This will offer them security and act as a feeding ground.

Ensuring appropriate filtration and water movement is crucial for archerfish. They are used to brackish water conditions with low currents, so a canister or hang-on-back filter with adjustable flow rate would be ideal.

Heating is another factor to consider. Maintain a stable water temperature of 75-82°F to keep your archerfish comfortable. Invest in a reliable heater and thermometer to monitor temperature continuously.

Finish off the tank setup with a snugly fitted cover to prevent your archerfish from jumping out. Properly setting up your archerfish tank will offer them a safe and comfortable environment to thrive in, ensuring they live a healthy, happy life.

Archerfish Water Requirements

Archerfish require specific water conditions to thrive in captivity. Paying close attention to their water needs will ensure a healthy environment for them to live in.

Firstly, archerfish are brackish water fish, which means they live in water with a salinity level between freshwater and seawater. To reach this condition, you need to mix marine salt with freshwater in your aquarium. Aim for a specific gravity between 1.005 and 1.015 for most archerfish species, and always use a hydrometer or refractometer to accurately measure the salinity.

Maintaining the right water temperature is crucial for the archerfish. Keep the water temperature between 75 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 28 degrees Celsius). Use an aquarium heater with a thermostat to ensure that the water stays within the correct temperature range.

Archerfish also need a stable pH level. Most species prefer a slightly acidic to neutral pH range. Make sure the pH level is between 6.5 and 7.5. To maintain the required pH, regularly test the water and make adjustments using suitable pH buffers.

Here are the essential archerfish water requirements to keep in mind:

  • Salinity: Aim for specific gravity between 1.005 and 1.015
  • Temperature: Maintain water temperature between 75 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 28 degrees Celsius)
  • pH level: Keep the pH level between 6.5 and 7.5

Additionally, invest in a good quality aquarium filter for a more stable water environment. Perform regular water changes of 10-20% weekly to maintain water quality and remove harmful toxins. By meeting these water requirements, you will provide the best possible living conditions for your archerfish to flourish in your aquarium.

Archerfish Diet and Feeding

An important aspect of archerfish care is to provide them with a well-balanced diet that fulfills their dietary requirements. Archerfish are predators by nature, so their diet should consist of live prey, frozen, and dried foods.

Live & Frozen Foods

In their natural habitat, archerfish are known for their unique hunting technique, where they shoot a jet of water to knock insects off leaves and branches overhead. To mimic this in your aquarium, you can provide the following live and frozen foods:

  • Insects: crickets, fruit flies, and small moths
  • Fish: brine shrimp, bloodworms, and glass worms
  • Other invertebrates: daphnia, mysis shrimp, and tubifex worms

Dry Foods

Although archerfish prefer live and frozen foods, they can also consume high-quality dry foods to ensure proper nutrition:

  • Flakes: carnivorous fish flakes with added vitamins and minerals
  • Pellets: slow-sinking carnivorous fish pellets

Feeding Frequency

Feed your archerfish 2 to 3 times a day, offering only as much food as they can consume within a few minutes. Overfeeding can lead to poor water quality and health issues, while underfeeding can stunt their growth and weaken their immune system.

Tips for Feeding

To provide the best possible nutrition for your archerfish, consider the following tips:

  1. Rotate food types: alternate between live, frozen, and dry foods to maintain variety in their diet.
  2. Avoid overfeeding: always remove uneaten food from the tank after a few minutes to prevent water pollution.
  3. Observe their feeding habits: archerfish have a fascinating way of feeding; take the time to observe their unique behavior and ensure all fish are getting enough food.

By providing a well-balanced diet, you’ll ensure that your archerfish have the nutrition they need to thrive in your aquarium.

Archerfish Care Schedule

Establishing a regular care schedule is essential in maintaining the health and happiness of your archerfish. Following a consistent routine will ensure their environment remains clean, necessary water parameters are met, and they receive proper nutrition.

Daily tasks:

  • Feeding: Generally, it’s recommended to feed your archerfish at least once a day. Providing live or frozen insects, with occasional protein-rich pellet foods, is ideal for a balanced diet.
  • Water Quality: Check the water temperature and ensure it remains between 75-82°F (24-28°C), daily.

Weekly tasks:

  • Water Testing: Test the water quality once a week using a testing kit or strips. Ensure that pH levels are between 7.0 to 8.0, with nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia levels at or near 0 ppm.
  • Partial Water Change: Conduct a 25% water change weekly to help maintain water quality.

Monthly tasks:

  • Filter Maintenance: Clean your aquarium’s filter monthly to ensure proper filtration. Be sure to replace any filter media as needed.
  • Tank Cleaning: Thoroughly clean the tank’s interior and decorations, removing algae, and vacuuming any substrate at least once a month.

By consistently performing these tasks, you will create a thriving environment for your archerfish. It’s important to maintain a care schedule so your fish can continue to exhibit their unique spitting behavior and remain in optimal health.

Remember, observing your fish daily can help you detect any changes or potential issues that may arise, allowing you to act promptly and prevent problems.

Archerfish Health Problems

Archerfish, just like any other fish species, can face health problems if not provided with proper care and attention. Being aware of the potential issues and addressing them promptly can make a huge difference in their well-being. Here are some common health problems that may affect your Archerfish:

Ich (White Spot Disease)

Ich, also known as White Spot Disease, is a common parasitic infection in aquarium fish, including Archerfish. It’s caused by the Ichthyophthirius multifiliis parasite and appears as small white spots on the body, fins, and gills of the fish.

  • Treatment: You can treat Ich using over-the-counter medications such as copper sulphate or potassium permanganate. Increase the water temperature up to 86°F (30°C) for 10 days to speed up the life-cycle of the parasite and make the medication more effective.

Fungal Infections

Fungal infections are another common health issue in Archerfish and can appear as cotton-like growths on the skin, gills or mouth. They often occur due to poor water quality or stress.

  • Treatment: Fungal infections can be treated using anti-fungal medications and by improving water quality with regular water changes and maintaining proper water parameters.

Bacterial Infections

Archerfish may also suffer from various bacterial infections, usually resulting from open wounds or poor water quality. Some common symptoms include swollen abdomen, red spots, and slow movement.

  • Treatment: You can administer antibacterial medications specifically designed for aquarium fish to treat bacterial infections. Keep the water clean and conduct regular water changes to reduce the risk of infections.

To prevent Archerfish health problems, always maintain a clean and suitable environment for your fish. This means performing regular water changes, monitoring water parameters, and providing a balanced diet for your Archerfish. Regular observance of your fish’s behavior will also help you identify any issues early on, and address them before they become serious problems.

Archerfish Tank Mates

Choosing the right tank mates for your Archerfish is essential in maintaining a healthy and peaceful community aquarium. Archerfish are semi-aggressive, so it is crucial to select companions that can coexist without causing stress or harm to one another.

  • Size Compatibility: Opt for tank mates of a similar size to your Archerfish, as they may prey upon smaller fish. Suitable tank mates include larger tetras, medium-sized barbs, and some cichlids.
  • Temperament Compatibility: Choose fish species with a non-aggressive demeanor that can tolerate the semi-aggressive nature of Archerfish. Good examples are angelfish, gouramis, and rainbowfish.
  • Activity Level Compatibility: Archerfish are quite active, so it’s essential to select tank mates with matching energy levels. Fish such as larger Danios and Congo Tetras can be excellent choices.
  • Environmental Compatibility: Ensure your selected tank mates have similar water parameter and temperature requirements as Archerfish. For instance, avoid cold water fish, such as goldfish, as they prefer lower temperatures.

To find the best tank mates for your Archerfish, consider the following species:

  • Angelfish
  • Gouramis
  • Rainbowfish
  • Larger Tetras (e.g., Black Skirt Tetra, Buenos Aires Tetra)
  • Medium-sized Barbs (e.g., Tiger Barb, Rosy Barb)
  • Larger Danios (e.g., Giant Danio, Zebra Danio)
  • Congo Tetra
  • Non-aggressive Cichlids (e.g., Bolivian Ram, Blue Acara)

Remember to introduce tank mates gradually and monitor their interactions to ensure peaceful coexistence. By carefully selecting compatible tank mates for your Archerfish community, you can create a serene, thriving aquarium environment for these exceptional fish.

Archerfish Breeding

Breeding archerfish can be a rewarding experience for aquarium hobbyists who are up for a challenge. Successful archerfish breeding requires adequate tank conditions, mature fish, and proper care. 

In order to breed archerfish, it’s important to create an environment that encourages spawning behavior and helps the eggs and fry to develop after hatching. These are the 6 steps to get to successful archerfish breeding:

  1. Sexing and pairing: Mature male and female archerfish can be identified by checking their body shape and color. Males tend to have more slender bodies and more intense coloration than females.
  2. Ideal water conditions: The key to triggering spawning is to provide a clean, comfortable, and stress-free environment. This includes maintaining proper water temperature, pH balance, and nitrogen levels.
  3. Spawning site: Set up a suitable spawning site by adding floating plants, such as water sprite, as this provides the fish with a place to lay their eggs and attracts them to spawn.
  4. Encouraging spawning: Sometimes, it’s necessary to encourage spawning behavior through diet. Feed your archerfish high-quality, protein-rich food, such as live insects.
  5. Egg care: After spawning, it is essential to separate the eggs from the adult fish, as they may eat the eggs. Transfer the eggs to a separate tank with similar water conditions as the main tank.
  6. Fry care: Once the eggs hatch, feed the fry with infusoria (microscopic organisms) or newly hatched brine shrimp. Gradually introduce them to larger foods as they grow.

Be prepared to invest time and effort into breeding archerfish, but don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t happen on your first try. It may take several attempts to successfully breed them, but with patience and dedication, you’ll be able to experience the joy of nurturing and raising your own archerfish!


Caring for archerfish can be a rewarding and fascinating experience for both beginners and experienced aquarists. With proper care, tank setup, and diet, your archerfish will thrive and bring enjoyment for years to come. Please feel free to leave a comment and share your own experiences with archerfish care.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *