Largescale Archerfish (Toxotes chatareus)

Largescale Archerfish (Toxotes chatareus) are also referred to by tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Sevenspot Archerfish and are frequently mixed with Banded Archer Fish (Toxotes jaculatrix) and sold generically as “archer fish“.

Largescale Archerfish are found in the warm water mangrove swamps of Burma, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, New Guinea and northern Australia.   In the Mekong River, they are found as far north as Thailand and Laos.

These interesting fish live in shaded areas of dense growth around overhanging vegetation in brackish mangrove swamps and estuaries, but also frequent freshwater rivers, streams, ponds and lakes.

Juvenile Largescale Archerfish (Toxotes chatareus)

Juvenile Largescale Archerfish (Toxotes chatareus)

Largescale Archerfish have 5 or 6 dorsal spines with the fourth being the longest, and 12 to 13 soft dorsal rays.

Brackish water specimens have longer dorsal spines than those collected from freshwater areas.   They also have 3 anal spines with 15 to 17 soft rays and an almost square tail fin.

Largescale Archerfish have a sooty, to silvery or gold body color that is greenish brown on the dorsal side.   Their pectoral fins are dusky to clear colored, and their pelvic fins are usually darker and heavily pigmented.

Largescale Archerfish are generally peaceful but may eat much smaller fish in a confined aquarium environment.   They can be aggressive to their own kind, but keeping them in small groups of 5 to 6 specimens will minimize aggression.   In a large brackish water aquarium, they do well with Scats, Monos, Green Chromides and other species of Archer fish.

Like their cousins the Banded Archer Fish (Toxotes jaculatrix) and the Smallscale Archerfish (Toxotes microlepis), their mouths are adapted to spit jets of water over a considerable distance to knock insects, butterflies, moths, bugs, etc. into the water where they can easily feed on them.

Largescale Archerfish can be kept in a large brackish water aquarium densely planted with mangrove roots and other salt tolerant plants, a sandy gravel aggregate with some driftwood, and a few rocks.   Water flow should be kept to a minimum, and the tank water level should be dropped by a few inches to prevent the fish from jumping out of the tank.   A high tank cover is a must for these fish.

Alternately, some tropical fish keeping enthusiasts choose a biotope setup using a large, tall tank, half filled with brackish water with a section of dry land planted with mangrove roots and salt tolerant plants in the upper regions of the tank.   This type of setup promotes the natural feeding behavior of the fish.

Both types of setups need relatively slow water movement, enough lighting to promote plant growth, and good filtration.

Although Largescale Archerfish have been recorded breeding in freshwater in the wild, to date they have never been bred in an aquarium environment. In the wild they have been reported laying huge numbers of eggs numbering in the tens of thousands.

Wild Largescale Archerfish feed on both terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates of various types including small fish on occasion. Archer fish are famous for their unique feeding behavior and their ability to shoot jets of water at insects on overhanging vegetation. The insects fall into the water and are eaten.

When using the biotope paludarium setup described above, their feeding behavior can be replicated by introducing flies or crickets into the setup.   When the insect makes the mistake of venturing onto an overhanging leaf, it will be picked off by the archer fish.

If using a standard freshwater or brackish water tank setup, feed them a variety of live, frozen or freeze dried insects, flies, meal worms, plankton, bloodworms, brine shrimp, and vegetable matter.   They can be taught to accept floating foods such as flakes or pellets, but occasional treats of live or dried insects should be provided.

Largescale Archerfish are not as common as the Banded Archer Fish (Toxotes jaculatrix) and when available, demand a higher price.   They are often mixed with other species of Archer Fish and when available for purchase are juveniles at  2-1/2″ to 4″ in length.


Largescale Archerfish (Toxotes chatareus)

Largescale Archerfish (Toxotes chatareus)









Minimum Tank Size: 125 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately Hardy
Water Conditions: 77-86 °F°, 20 – 30°H, pH 7.0-8.0
Max. Size: 16″
Color Form: Black, Yellow
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Freshwater or multiple species brackish water tank
Origin: Indo Pacific
Family: Toxotidae
Life Span: 10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced


One Response to “Largescale Archerfish (Toxotes chatareus)”


  1. […] Banded Archer Fish (Toxotes jaculatrix) and its relative the Largescale Archerfish (Toxotes chatareus) are sometimes grouped and sold together under the generic label […]

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