archerfish

archerfish, laterally compressed fish, genus Toxotes, which catches insects by spitting at and disabling them. The archerfish has a groove in the roof of its mouth that forms a long narrow tube when the tongue is placed against it; the fish propels drops of water along the tube by compressing its gill covers. Some archerfishes can shoot as far as 12 ft (3.5 m), with reasonable accuracy up to about 4 ft (1.2 m). Apparently they are able to correct the trajectory after missing a target. Shooting down insects is an auxiliary method of food-getting for the archerfish, which feeds mostly on insects floating in the water. The five archerfish species inhabit fresh and brackish coastal water in India and SE Asia. The species most often displayed in aquariums is T. jaculatrix, a silver fish with black stripes, which grows as long as 8 in. (20 cm). Archerfishes are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Osteichthyes, order Perciformes, family Toxotidae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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