Rosamond Gifford Zoo

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Dragon Sensory Hours: The dragons will be asleep from 2 to 4:30 p.m. daily.

Banded Archerfish

Toxotes jaculatrix

The Banded archerfish is a unique species that displays evolution at its best. This fish is able to shoot water out of its mouth like a water pistol to knock prey like insects off vegetation into the water for easy catching.

Range & Habitat

In the Wild: Found from India to the Philippines, Australia and Polynesia. Archerfish are found in the brackish waters (a mix of saltwater and freshwater) of estuaries, mangroves, and sometimes further inland in freshwater. 

At the Zoo: USS Antiquities cave

Conservation Status: Least Concern

This fish is sometimes found as a bait fish in trade, but it is not known how much this affects the wild population.


In the Wild: live insects, floating vegetation, small fish

At the Zoo: crickets

Life Span

In the Wild – about 2 years; In Human Care – about 5 to 8 years

Fun Facts about the Banded Archerfish

  • Archerfish can shoot water out of their mouths at insects with extreme precision, knocking them into the water so they can eat them.
  • They have extremely acute eyesight and their large mouths point upwards, ideal adaptations for hunting at the surface of the water.
  • Archerfish travel in groups called shoals.  A shoal is a group of fish that travel together for social reasons or hunting.
  • The WWII submarine USS Archerfish was named after this sharp-shooting fish.


Retrieved from the Aquarium of the Pacific:

Retrieved from the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens:

Retrieved from the Physics Classroom:

Retrieved from the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species:

Updated June 13, 2023
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