Marine animals are no slackers when it comes to honing their hunting skills, and the methods they employ can be quite clever. Some animals use deception by way of camouflage to make the kill, while others use techniques that confuse prey right into their waiting jaws. But none can match the marksmanship of the archerfish, whose prey doesn’t even live in water.
Archerfish do not stand out among their ichthyologic brethren for their appearance, as they look just like any other ordinary fish, but rather for their unique hunting method. These small fish, typically no more than a few inches long, reside primarily in brackish waters found around mangrove forests and estuaries, although there are some marine species in this family. Although it is a completely aquatic creature, the archerfish preys on insects. Using a narrow groove in the roof of its mouth, it squirts a powerful stream of water directly at its prey, which is either flying just above the surface, or perched on a low branch. The stream hits the insect, the insect falls in the water, and the archerfish enjoys the fruits of its labor.
What’s most remarkable about the archerfish’s method is its incredible accuracy, despite having to compensate for light refraction at the water’s surface. Adult fish usually hit their prey on the first attempt, and can nail a bug from up to 3 meters away! It can also differentiate between sizes of prey, for which it will adjust the force of its water jet. Watch as this archerfish shows you what good aim is all about.
Image via Makuahine Pa’i Ki’i