Animal Species:Sevenspot Archerfish, Toxotes chatareus (Hamilton, 1822)

The Sevenspot Archerfish feeds primarily on swimming and floating insects. The archerfishes (family Toxotidae) are well known for their ability to shoot down resting insects by spitting a jet of water.

Sevenspot Archerfish, Toxotes chatareus

Sevenspot Archerfish, Toxotes chatareus
Photographer: Mark McGrouther © Australian Museum

Standard Common Name

Sevenspot Archerfish

Alternative Name/s

Common Archerfish , Spotted Archerfish


The species has a variable colour pattern. The body is typically white or silvery, with six or seven black spots of varying size. The dorsal profile of the body from the tip of the snout to the dorsal fin is almost straight. This body shape in combination with the location of the dorsal fin well back on the body, allows the fish to swim very close to the surface and look upwards without creating surface disturbance. This is an advantage when hunting insects which rest on overhead vegetation.

Size range

The species grows to about 40 cm in length.


The Sevenspot Archerfish is found throughout much of south-east Asia. In Australia it is recorded from Derby, Western Australia to Townsville, Queensland.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums.  Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Toxotes chatareus

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Sevenspot Archerfish specimens in the Australian Museum.

What does this mean?


The species lives in freshwater and estuarine habitats.

Feeding and Diet

Sevenspot Archerfish feed primarily on swimming and floating insects. The archerfishes (family Toxotidae) are well known for their ability to shoot down resting insects by spitting a jet of water.

Other behaviours and adaptations

The Sevenspot Archerfish can spit accurately to a distance of about 1.5 m. It has adaptations to the mouth which enable this spitting ability. The lower image shows the deep groove which runs along the roof of the mouth. A ridge along the top of the tongue fits into this groove. When a Seven-spot Archerfish shoots a jet of water, it raises its tongue against the roof of the mouth forming a tube. The gill covers are then quickly closed which forces water along the tube. The tip of the tongue acts as a valve.

Life cycle

Merrick and Schmida (1984) stated that "Preliminary studies on Northern Territory populations indicate that there is no sexual dimorphism; maturity by both sexes is attained at a length of approximately 200 mm, weight of 250 g to 350 g and age between one and two years".



What does this mean?


  1. Allen, G.R. 1989. Freshwater Fishes of Australia. T.F.H. Publications. Pp. 240.
  2. Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. parts 1-3, pages 1-2178.
  3. Merrick, J.R. & G.E. Schmida. 1984. Australian Freshwater Fishes. Biology and Management. John R. Merrick. Pp. 409.

Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags Fishes, Ichthyology, Sevenspot Archerfish, Toxotes chatareus, Toxotidae, brown, yellow, 'normal fish', 30 cm - 1 m, marine, adult, huge eyes,