Page last updated at 16:52 GMT, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 17:52 UK

Aimless Archers' target practice

Archer fish
Archer fish fire a high-powered jet of water at their prey

A shoal of Archer fish at a Sussex aquarium are being given target practice for their spitting skills.

Staff at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Hastings set up a fake fly mobile above their tank to help them hone their natural hunting instinct.

In the wild Archer fish fire a jet of water out of their mouths to help capture flies on overhanging branches.

Daniel Davies, from Blue Reef, said he thought they were getting a bit rusty because they were fed on dried food.

'Occasional pot shot'

He added: "Before we put the fake flies in they were taking the occasional pot shot at overhanging leaves and other objects around their display but you could see their hearts weren't really in it.

"Our first attempt was to stick pieces of food to the side of the glass and that seemed to catch their attention. They would position themselves directly below and take it in turns to spit until it fell into the water.

"It was then we decided to take the experiment one stage further by devising the fake fly mobile and now it's in place they're really going for it."

The fish, which are found in Australia and south east Asia, use their tongues and a groove in the roof of their mouths similar to produce the high powered water jet.


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