Archerfish ~ Riverview Park & Zoo’s Animal Spotlight

Riverview Park and Zoo is home to a diverse group of animals including our archerfish. These aquatic animals, who have the ability to live in both salt and freshwater, are recognized for their unique behavioural characteristics and their black wedge markings.

These primarily carnivorous fish use their ability to spit water to hunt prey such as insects. When pressing their tongues against the roof of their mouths, a specialized groove allows the archerfish to accurately shoot out water to a distance of up to one-and-a-half metres. Once knocking insects in the water, the fish are then able to submerge and eat their target. In addition to this technique, archerfish are able to jump out of the water to catch prey. 

As well as their unique ability to shoot water, archerfish also have binocular vision, which is an uncommon feature in fish species. Similar to the position of human eyes, the eyes of the Archerfish are specifically positioned to help in the feature of perception, especially while hunting. 

Like many other fish, archerfish live in groups called schools. However, these aquatic animals best live in groups of up to four. They typically live in estuaries around mangroves, occasionally visiting lakes and rivers for food rather than breeding, which differs from other fish species. 

Although there is no concerning International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) status for this species, there is a great threat to their habitat in natural waterways through pollution and destruction. Through various conservation efforts we can prevent the deterioration of these habitats ensuring both the archerfish and similar species do not have a change in IUCN status. 

Learn more about the conservation efforts here at Riverview Park and Zoo, the only free-admission accredited zoo in Canada, by visiting our website: www.riverviewparkandzoo.ca

By Carmyn Lake, Public Educator  Riverview Park and Zoo