Q: MB wrote,
I have a strange problem; my female Betta is making bubble nests (unless I have a male with VERY short fins).
I had a male and female in an aquarium together for almost 10 months…not a nipped fin or hint of a problem. She tore the male up about three months ago. I found him floating on top, on his side, all his fins well ripped up. He survived and with some meds and extra heat. He is doing fine. Anyway, the male has stopped making nests. I am keeping them in separate gallon jars next to each other. They seem to interact but he hides from her. She has made a couple of nests; the bubbles seem to be smaller than in the nests the male made. What do you make of this?
What is your feeling on luck bamboo? I have kept fish in 2 gallon jars with “bamboo” for years with no apparent problems. I do pull ALL of it out and wash it every week. I have put it in aquariums for years when I don’t have it filled to the top.
A: There are a couple of possibilities here. First, there are short finned male Bettas. They are commonly referred to as Plakat (pronounced pla-CAT) bettas. This body type is closer in appearance to wild Bettas, which traditionally have short fins. Bettas with long flowing fins, like those you see most often at aquarium stores, have been selectively bred to have unusually long finnage. While unlikely, it is possible that you purchased yourself two male Bettas, one being of the short-finned variety. The only way to be sure that your Betta is a female is to look under its belly for an ovipositor. The ovipositor is a small tube from which female bettas dispel their eggs. To the naked eye, it looks like a small white dot located behind the ventral fins. Only females have an ovipositor and it is the only true-fire way to know that your Betta is a female and not a Plakat.
Another possibility is that the bubbles you are finding are not the result of your fish trying to create a bubble nest and are rather the byproduct of your fish breathing from the surface. All Betta splendens are labyrinth fish and get the majority of their oxygen from breathing air from the surface. Bubbles will frequently escape from the fish’s mouth, unintentionally rising to the surface and collecting. These bubbles can begin to pile up and look somewhat like a small nest, especially if your aquarium water is very still. It is possible that the collections of bubbles you are observing are just the result of escaped air and are not an intentional nest for the purpose of breeding.
As for your question regarding bamboo, I am not opposed to bamboo in the aquarium as long as it is kept healthy. Bamboo is technically a terrestrial plant but can survive for a long time partially submerged in water. If not maintained, however, the roots and stalks can begin to rot, leaching poisonous toxins into the aquarium. Continue to look it over during your weekly water changes and remove any bamboo that appears to be decaying and your Betta should be fine.