Keeping Your New Archer Fish   

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Archer Fish Factoids

Origin

Indonesia, India, Philippines

Maximum Size

Up to 10 inches.  Usually 5 to 6.  Females smaller.

Longevity

10 years

Housing

10 gallons and up.  They need more as they grow.

Security

Likes planted tanks.

Temperature

Normal community tank temp (75 to 80)

Attitude

Easy-going  fishes

Foods

Crickets, insects, fish, worms, sometimes flakes

Breeding

Not likely

Water

Needs clean, brackish water

Biggest Threat

Non-brackish water and non-cycled tanks

LA
Two 1.5" archer fish.  Nice color even at this size.  Java lance fern and Java moss in back.

LA
Three-incher.

Brackish Water Warning:  No matter how much brackish water fishes may appeal to you, you need to realize that they are not beginner fish.  Ditto that on archer fish.

Origins:  Not really sure of their origin.  Supposedly Australia has the most different species of archer fish, but not much in the way of live fishes is permitted to come out of Australia -- at least not since our smuggling permit expired.  And since we’re not exactly sure which specie(s) we get, we’ll just say Southeast Asian estuaries.

LA
Two 2-inch archer fish with quite different markings.

LA
Another batch (1.s5 inches) with widely different markings.

Water Conditions:  Young archer fish need brackish water.  Start them on two teaspoons of salt per gallon.  Taper the salt off as they grow.  Most brackish water fish motate to varying salinity areas.  Adults swim way upstream and need no salt to keep them healthy.  

 

Another Warning Note:  You do not want to put your new archer fish in brand new aquaria.  Cycle it first with cheaper fishes.  Mollies work great.  If you cannot keep mollies, do not even think about archer fish.

pH Level:  If you use sea salt to make your water brackish, you also raise their pH level.  This makes ammonia and nitrites much more lethal   Avoid the temptation to Frankenstein  your pH levels.  Adding sulfuric acid or Drano to your aquarium can present more problems than the original problem.  Use regular aquarium salt and ignore your pH level.  

LA

Appeal:  You gotta love a fish that shoots insects with a drop of water.  You never tire of seeing it happen.  Besides that, archer fish have a nice color with dark black bars.

LA
Pretty good size mouth on these perciforms.

Tank Mates:  You can mix your archer fish with most community fishes as long as they’re too large to swallow.  You’ll note that archer fish have a honker-size mouth.  They do not limit their intake only to bugs.  They also enjoy swallowable size fish and worms -- and floating flake foods.

LA
Four two-inch archer fish in a wholesaler tank.  Good looking even at two inches.

Size:   Theoretically, adult archer fish grow to 10 inches.  We’ve never seen one grow larger than six inches.  Most expire early because their owners feed them only flake foods. 

 

Sexing:  Female archer fish probably get a little plumper.  But since you will never breed them, sex is really a moot point.  The adults swim upstream to less brackish water and probably return to brackish water to breed.  End of theory.  See what you can do with it.

LA
Two archer fish about three-inches long.

Security:  Most predators want a cave or cover of some sort to hide behind.  Young archers often go to the top and hang together in a bunch.  They’ll feel more comfortable with floating watersprite plants.  Larger archer fish will prefer planted aquaria.  Their markings help them blend into plants.  Java lance fern and aponogetons work well.  Or use plastics.  Adults seem to get along okay in bare tanks.  However bare tanks look boring.  

LA
Plants seem to make archer fish more comfortable.

Plants:  The plants mentioned above put up with salt in their water.  Anacharis, hornwort, and vallisneria don’t much like brackish water.  

LA
You rarely find archer fish eating off the bottom -- except when chasing a live fish or shrimp.

Foods:   You better start your new archer fish on crickets or small feeder fish plus frozen foods until they adapt to flakes.  Put them with mollies or other eager flake eaters to show them how to eat flakes.  Competition with the mollies triggers their eating response.  They also think baby mollies make tasty snacks.

Foods II:  Archer fish also like California blackworms.  They’ll eat mealworms grudgingly.  They accept the canned bugs and dried flies.  Frozen foods of most varieties get snapped up with relish.  Of course, they love feeder guppies, feeder white clouds, and feeder ghost shrimp.  If you feed nothing but flake foods or pellets, stay away from archer fish.  Most archer fish need time to adapt to a flake food diet.

Disease:  Not much of a problem if you keep their water clean.  Brackish water fishes hate dirty water.  Do not overfeed your archer fish.



LA
Couple of four inchers.  Much sturdier at this size.

LA
Adult archer fish nowhere near 10 inches.  Nice colors.

Last Word:  You’ll never tire of watching your archer fish snipe house flies.  LA.

© 2004, © 2006 LA Productions

3600 Sixth Avenue

Corner of Sixth & Euclid Avenues

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