How to Care for Archer Fish
Archer Fish are fun aquarium fish because they will shoot water to catch their food, and have deadly aim. Here is how to keep Archer Fish as pets in the home aquarium.
Archer Fish are interesting aquarium fish that can be fun to watch and show off. They take a little bit more effort than most fish, but are worth the work to watch them spit. Yes, that says spit. Here is what you need to take care of your Archer Fish:
Archer Fish get their name because they love to spit. Archer Fish are carnivores and are naturally found in low waters where the bugs fly and buzz around just above the water. These bugs make up the staple of the Archer Fish food. To catch the bugs, the Archer Fish will shoot a bullet of water and strike the bug with deadly aim. They can shoot water up to 5 feet in the air and not miss their mark.
With the right set up, your Archer Fish will perform this feat in their aquarium tank.
Tank size and type for Archer Fish. Archer Fish generally don't grow larger than 4-5 inches in a tank, although in the wild they can grow much larger. A 20-gallon tank will suffice when you first get the Archer Fish, as they are usually juvenile and small when first purchased. Eventually, and if you intend to have tank mates with the Archer Fish, you will want at least a 50-gallon tank.
Use a long aquarium tank, not one of those tall ones. Archer Fish need open space above them to feel at home and to perform their trick for you.
Aquarium set up and decorations for the Archer Fish. Use a thin layer of gravel in the tank, no more than 1/4 inch. This provides a bit more swim room since you will use less water in the tank for the Archer Fish. Provide plants and decorations for the Archer Fish to hide behind if they want to. Archer Fish can be skittish at times until they are settled in.
You will need a filter, of course. The types with the BIO Wheels are excellent for aquariums to keep them clear and clean.
Archer Fish need warm brackish water. This is where things get more complicated when caring for Archer Fish. They are brackish water fish, meaning they live in water that is half fresh water and half marine water. You need to mimic this by adding salt to the water. Add 2 tablespoons of marine salt to the water for every 10 gallons. Remember that every time you do water changes in the tank you have to re-add some of the salt.
Archer Fish aquariums also need a heater. Keep the temperature between 78-82 degrees.
The water should only fill the tank slightly more than half way. It needs to be filled enough to just cover the heater. The heater cannot touch the bottom of the tank, but with a thin layer of gravel you can get the heater pretty low. This will leave a huge open area for your Archer Fish. It can also be very noisy from the water flowing from the filter. Keep that in mind when deciding where to keep your aquarium.
What to feed the Archer Fish. Archer Fish are carnivores. Feed them fresh or frozen brine shrimp and blood worms. Freeze dried foods lose most of their nutrients. When your Archer Fish gets bigger you can feed them live foods like ghost shrimp or little guppies.
What Archer Fish really love are crickets, bugs, and mealworms. Toss a few crickets into the tank and watch the Archer Fish quickly grab for it. Flies and other flying insects are what you need to get your Archer Fish to show his shooting skills. The bug will flitter about the open part of the tank, making a perfect target for the Archie.
Tank mates that work well with Archer Fish. Because of the low water in the aquarium with the Archer Fish the best tank mates are bottom dwellers like the Dragon Goby or Columbian Shark. These two fish get really big, and would terrify a small Archer Fish. However, if you purchase them all young they will get along fine together.
Other brackish water fish that work as tank mates for the Archer Fish are Scats, Mono's, and Silver Dollars. Any brackish fish will work; only keep in mind that Archer Fish will eat any fish that is smaller than it.