Sevenspot Archerfish, Toxotes chatareus (Hamilton-Buchanan 1822)

Other Names: Common Archer Fish, Common Archerfish, Seven-spot Archerfish, Spotted Archerfish

Sevenspot Archerfish, Toxotes chatareus. Source: Sabene Hoeng. License: All rights reserved


A whitish to dusky grey or tan archerfish sometimes with a silvery sheen, a series of 6-7 black spots on the upper sides, and alternating pale and dark horizontal bands of varying intensity, usually most prominent ventrally.

Watch a BBC video of a Sevenspot Archerfish shooting a beetle off a branch.

Nat Geo Wild video of  archerfish shooting prey off a branch

Cite this page as:
Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2018, Toxotes chatareus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 08 Apr 2020,

Sevenspot Archerfish, Toxotes chatareus (Hamilton-Buchanan 1822)

More Info


Northern Australia, from Broome, Western Australia, to the Pioneer River, near Mackay, Queensland. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical, east-Indo-west Pacific.

Inhabits freshwater, estuarine, mangrove and shallow inshore environments. Juveniles aggregate in small numbers around half-submerged stumps or logs, and under overhanging branches. Adults are solitary or occur in groups of up to about 20 feeding continually at the surface.


Dorsal fin IV-VI, 12-14; Anal fin III, 15-17; Pectoral fin 11-14; Gill rakers (lower limb) 5-7; Transverse scale rows 3-5/1/9-11.

Body oval to rhomboid, moderately compressed, depth 1.9-2.4 in standard length. Head pointed, length 2.5-3.0 in standard length. Snout 3.3-4.1 in head length. Eye large 3.5-4.9 in head length. Interorbital 2.7-3.7 in head length.  Mouth moderately large, protractile, with lower jaw protruding; angle of jaw oblique, about 35°-40° to horizontal; maxilla slender, scaly and without a supplemental bone; villiform teeth on jaws, vomer, and palatines; a deep longitudinal groove on roof of mouth, which is converted to a tube when tongue is pressed against it. Caudal peduncle depth 2.4-3.2 in head length.

Scales moderately large, ctenoid, extending onto head and median fins; scale rows on body running horizontally; cheeks and operculum scaly; lateral line continuous, curving above pectoral fin.

Dorsal fin continuous, positioned on posterior half of body, opposite anal fin; fourth, and occasionally third spine usually longest, 1.3-2.4 in head length. Caudal fin truncate. Pectoral fins pointed.


Reaches 50 cm TL, but rarely more than 35 cm.


Whitish to dusky grey or tan, sometimes with silvery sheen; sides with series of 6-7 black spots dorsally, and alternating light and dark horizontal bands of varying intensity, about one per scale row, usually most prominent ventrally. Spinous dorsal fin dusky or blackish; soft dorsal fin dusky or blackish, frequently with pale central band; caudal fin whitish or yellowish to very dusky; anal fin similar to soft dorsal or pale basally grading to blackish on outer half of fin; pelvic fins whitish to yellowish grading to dusky on outer portion; pectoral fins usually pale, but sometimes upper rays dusky, particularly in larger specimens. Some fish taking on generally uniform dusky pigmentation after death.


Carnivore - feeds by accurately spitting jets of water to dislodge small insects from vegetation above the surface of the water.


Oviparous, pelagic spawners - breed in fresh and brackish water during the wet season. Females are highly fecund and produce buoyant eggs.


Moderately important food fish in parts of Indonesia and Southeast Asia; taken by handline, block nets and gill nets. Marketed fresh.

Species Citation

Coius chatareus Hamilton-Buchanan 1822, Fishes River Ganges: 101, 370. Type locality: mouth of Ganges River, India.


Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Sevenspot Archerfish, Toxotes chatareus (Hamilton-Buchanan 1822)


Allen, G.R. 1978. A review of the archerfishes (family Toxotidae). Rec. West. Aust. Mus. 6(4): 355–378 figs 1–11.

Allen, G.R. 1982. Inland Fishes of Western Australia.  Perth : Western Australian Museum 86 pp. 6 figs 20 pls.

Allen, G.R. 1989. Freshwater Fishes of Australia. Neptune, New Jersey : T.F.H. Publications 240 pp., 63 pls.

Allen, G.R. 2001. Toxotidae.  pp. 3212–3215 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds) The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 5 pp. 2791–3379.

Allen, G.R., Midgley, S.H. & Allen, M. 2002. Field guide to the freshwater fishes of Australia.  Perth : Western Australian Museum 394 pp.

Allen, G.R., Storey, A.W. & Yarrao, M. 2008. Freshwater Fishes of the Fly River Papua New Guinea. Tabubil, Papua New Guinea : Ok Tedi Mining 216 pp.

Castelnau, F.L. de 1878. Notes on the fishes of the Norman River. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 3(1): 41-51 (as Toxotes carpentariensis)

Dill, L.M. 1977. Refraction and spitting behavior of archerfish (Toxotes chatareus). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 2: 169-184.

Hamilton, F. 1822. An Account of the Fishes Found in the River Ganges and its Branches. Edinburgh : Archibald Constable 405 pp., pls 1-39.

Lake, J.S. 1978. Australian Freshwater Fishes. Melbourne : Thomas Nelson 160 pp. 140 figs.

Larson, H.K. & Martin, K.C. 1990. Freshwater Fishes of the Northern Territory. Northern Territory Museum of Arts and Sciences Handbook Series Number 1. Darwin : Northern Territory Museum of Arts and Sciences 102 pp. 73 figs.

Larson, H.K. & Williams, R.S. 1997. Darwin Harbour fishes: a survey and annotated checklist. pp. 339-380 in Hanley, H.R., Caswell, G., Megirian, D. & Larson, H.K. (eds). The Marine Flora and Fauna of Darwin Harbour, Northern Territory, Australia. Proceedings of the Sixth International Marine Biology Workshop. Darwin : Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory 466 pp.

Merrick, J.R. & Schmida, G.E. (1984). Australian Freshwater Fishes Biology and Management.  Sydney : J.R. Merrick 409 pp. figs 280 col. figs.

Newport, C., Wallis, G., Temple, S.E. & Siebeck, U.E. 2013. Complex, context-dependent decision strategies of archerfish, Toxotes chatareus. Animal Behaviour 86(6): 1265-1274. Abstract

Pusey, B.J., Kennard, M.J. & Arthington, A.H. 2004. Freshwater Fishes of North-eastern Australia. Collingwood, Victoria : CSIRO Publishing 684 pp. 

Pusey, B.J., Kennard, M.J. & Bird, J. 2000. Fishes of the dune fields of Cape Flattery, northern Queensland and other dune systems in north-eastern Australia. Ichthyological Explorations of Freshwater 11(1): 65-74

Unmack, P.J. 2001. Biogeography of Australian freshwater fishes. Journal of Biogeography 28: 1053-1089 

Whitley, G.P. 1950. Studies in Ichthyology No. 14. Records of the Australian Museum 22(3): 234-245 figs 1-5 pl. 17 (as Toxotes dorsalis and Toxotes ulysses)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37359001

Behaviour:Spits jets of water at terrestrial insects

Depth:0-10 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Freshwater, inshore coastal

Max Size:50 cm TL

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CAAB distribution map