Spitting fish caught on camera

By AG Staff 1 November 2022
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The incredible hunting behaviour of the archerfish has been captured on film.

The footage shows a group of sevenspot archerfish (Toxotes chatareus) at Chamberlain Gorge within El Questro Wilderness Park, Western Australia.

The spitting behaviour is actually a form of hunting. The archerfish shoots water at an insect, making it fall into the water where it can grab it and eat it.

“It’s incredible to see, and their accuracy is just amazing,” says Barry Lyon, a former park ranger who shot the video.

The fish even factor in the refraction of light through the waters surface when taking aim.

“They squirted at the camera too, so I had to clean the lens a few times,” Barry says with a laugh.

While this is the first time Barry has captured the behaviour on film, it’s a common sight where he lives in Cape York, Queensland.

“I see them do it a lot but they’re so unpredictable, you can’t be sure when they’re going to do it, so they’re not easy to film.”

A sevenspot archerfish (Toxotes chatareus). Image credit: Shutterstock

The sevenspot archerfish, also known as the common archerfish, is one of four species of archerfish found in Australia.

It, and the banded archerfish (T. jaculatrix) are the most common. In fact, whenever you visit a riverbank in northern Australia you have a good chance of seeing one of these fish lurking near the surface.

Both can live in salt- and freshwater, and have ranges extending from tropical Asia to Australia and Melanesia.

Lorentz’s archerfish (T. lorentzi) is found only in Australian and New Guinean rivers, and the Kimberley archerfish (T. kimberleyensis), which only gained its scientific name in 2004, keeps to a few rivers in the Kimberley.

Related: The banded archerfish is a spitting assassin