Archerfish, the common name for a family of tropical fish native to the waters of southeastern Asia and northern Australia. Archerfish are found in salt water, usually near the coast, as well as in brackish and fresh water. There are four species, all similar in appearance. Archerfish are white with black vertical bands. Adults reach a maximum length of 16 inches (40 cm), but usually they are under 6 1/4 inches (16 cm).

By squirting drops of water from their mouths, archerfish can knock down insects sitting on overhanging vegetation or even flying insects. They can hit their prey at distances up to about five feet (1.5 m). Some can squirt several drops of water in succession, others can "fire" only one shot.

ArcherfishArcherfish squirt water from their mouths to knock down their insect prey.
Why Does an Archerfish Shoot Water?

An archerfish shoots drops of water to catch its prey. The fish has an excellent aim. It shoots at insects on plants that hang over the water. It also shoots at spiders that have spun their webs above the water. When a victim is hit by the drops, it falls into the water and the archerfish gets a meal.

An archerfish shoots water by squeezing its gill covers. That pushes water forward along the roof of its mouth. The stream of water can fly more than 3 feet (90 centimeters) in the air.

Archerfish belong to the archerfish family, Toxotidae. The scientific name for the best-known species is Toxotes jaculatrix.