Smallscale archer fish, Toxotes microlepis, are best known for spitting jets of water to capture prey, but also hunt by jumping out of the water to heights of up to 2.5 body lengths. In this study, high-speed imaging and particle image velocimetry were used to characterize the kinematics and hydrodynamics of this jumping behavior. Jumping used a set of kinematics distinct from those of in-water feeding strikes and was segmented into three phases: (1) hovering to sight prey at the surface, (2) rapid upward thrust production and (3) gliding to the prey once out of the water. The number of propulsive tail strokes positively correlated with the height of the bait, as did the peak body velocity observed during a jump. During the gliding stage, the fish traveled ballistically; the kinetic energy when the fish left the water balanced with the change in potential energy from water exit to the maximum jump height. The ballistic estimate of the mechanical energy required to jump was comparable with the estimated mechanical energy requirements of spitting a jet with sufficient momentum to down prey and subsequently pursuing the prey in water. Particle image velocimetry showed that, in addition to the caudal fin, the wakes of the anal, pectoral and dorsal fins were of nontrivial strength, especially at the onset of thrust production. During jump initiation, these fins were used to produce as much vertical acceleration as possible given the spatial constraint of starting directly at the water's surface to aim.
The authors declare no competing or financial interests.
A.M.S. and A.H.T. conceived the experiments. A.M.S. performed the experiments. L.M., A.M.S. and A.H.T. analyzed the data. L.M., A.M.S. and A.H.T. wrote the paper. All authors approved the final manuscript.
This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Supplementary information available online at http://jeb.biologists.org/lookup/doi/10.1242/jeb.145623.supplemental
- Received August 16, 2016.
- Accepted January 27, 2017.
- © 2017. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd