Archer fish are a class of fish who are known for their habit of bringing down insects and tiny animals by aiming a powerful jet of water at the prey. They typically dwell in brackish waters of estuaries and mangroves. They could also be found in the open ocean, as well as far upstream. They are natives of India, Australia and Polynesia.
Not much was known about these creatures except that they are rain forest fish which ejected water at high speed at their victims which included bugs and small animals and when these animals are thrown off their resting place into the water, they are quickly gobbled up.
A new study which was published in the September 4 issue of the Current Biology have revealed that these creatures are much more skilled in creating these water jets than previously thought of. These animals can even manipulate water just like a tool.
Now, new research published September 4 in Current Biology reveals that the archerfish are far more skilled at creating and using these water jets than anyone had guessed—and that the animals may even manipulate water like a tool.
Alberto Vailati, a physicist at Italy’s University of Milan who has studied archerfish but was not involved in the new research said, “It’s really a remarkable study,” said. “It’s very interesting to see such a simple animal perform a very complex task.”
These fishes have become very popular in fish aquariums. Archerfishes can shoot a very powerful blast of water and if hits the human skin it is just like an insect bite.
It is not easy for shooting a jet of water with enough force to knock off an insect or a small animal from its perch. The fish would need to concentrate the force of water into one giant burst.
Co-author Stefan Schuster said in a press release, “One of the last strongholds of human uniqueness is our ability to powerfully throw stones or spears at distant targets. This is really an impressive capability and requires — among many fascinating aspects — precise time control of movement.”
The team trained a group of 9 archerfish to squirt at insect prey at a particular point so that force and the velocity can be measured using high speed camera. The study revealed that archerfish repeatedly change the shapes of their mouths so that the water stream will effectively aim and fire at prey. The water at the end of the stream is shot at a faster speed than water at the start.