You may have noticed when looking at male Bettas in the fish store that there is a cluster of tiny bubbles around the rim of their container. You may have even seen your own betta methodically blowing bubbles in your home aquarium. Well this isn’t because your betta is sick or bored. Your betta is doing what he does best. He’s preparing to care for his young.
What is a Bubble Nest and Why are they Created?
Bubble nests can come in a variety of sizes and are created purely by the male Betta fish. Some nests are no more than a few connecting bubbles while others take up the majority of the aquarium. Using air and saliva, the Betta creates these nests when they are ready to mate. If your Betta fish is creating a bubble nest, this is a sign that they are both happy and healthy.
Bubble nests are created at the tip of the water to ensure that the fry, once hatched, have a plentiful supply of oxygen and rich water. These nests act as barriers and provide the eggs with protection from other intruders and elements of their environment. Not only do these nests protect the Betta eggs but more importantly protect the newly hatched fry. The fry are provide with a rich supply of oxygen within the bubble nest and can feed off the microorganisms that are attracted to the bubbles.
How are the Betta Eggs Released into the Bubble Nest?
In nature, the males build the nest by clustering small bubbles on the surface of the water or under leaves or debris. When their nest is ready they coax a female underneath where they spawn. The females release the eggs, which are quickly collected by the males. The females do not participate in the protection of the eggs or the rearing of fry. Instead it is left entirely to the male who will closely guard the nest, warding off predators and collecting any eggs that may fall and returning them to the nest. After a few days the eggs hatch and the young fry continue to utilize the shelter of the bubble nest until they are ready to go on their own.
When is a Bubble Nest Created?
The male Betta fish can create a bubble nest at any given time although they generally begin to create nests once they are ready to mate. This nest building behavior is instinctual for male Bettas and it is not necessary to have a female present to observe your Betta building his nest. Most males will blow bubbles but the rate and size of the nest seems to depend on the individual male and possibly, other factors like age, health and water parameters.
Healthy males tend to blow nests more often so if you see one consider it a good sign that your betta is happy and healthy. On the other hand, a lack of bubble nests doesn’t necessarily mean that your Betta isn’t healthy. As mentioned earlier, not all Bettas build nests regularly. The slightest current in your tank can discourage bubble nests too. Many betta keepers opt to cycle a tank and keep a filter running to create a more stable and healthy environment but may see less nesting due to the filter current. If this is your situation you could try to add some floating plants, float a Styrofoam cup cut in half (to build a nest under) or try an adjustable flow filter. Although Betta bubble nests are interesting to observe, they are not vital unless you intend on breeding your Bettas.
Encouraging Betta Bubble Nests
You have decided you would like to breed your Betta fish and want to start encouraging the creation of bubble nests. Practice makes perfect, right?
Below we have some tips that should help you encourage your Betta to start creating bubble nests:
- Ensure you have your filter turned to the lowest setting. Strong water currents will turn your Betta off creating bubble nests.
- Betta fish often like to create their nests under the protection of a plant or floating object. To encourage your Betta to create a bubble nest, try adding some floating plants, driftwood or a plastic lid to the surface of your aquarium.
- Clean water promotes the creation of bubble nests.
- The introduction of a female Betta will increase the likelihood of bubble nests.
- The temperature of the aquarium water can have an affect on your Bettas urge to create a nest. Ensure the water temperature is between 78-82 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Changes in diet may prompt your Betta to create a bubble nest.
What You Should Know About Bubble Nests
For some owners, seeing a bubble nest in the aquarium may be unusual. For other experienced owners they know that bubble nests are a normal part of a male Betta’s tank.
- It is alright to destroy a bubble nest. Your Betta will get over it and will build you a new one. Clean water is much more important.
- You can scoop out the nest with a plastic cup or spoon and set it aside while you change the water and then ever so gently replace the bubbles back in the new tank.
- Several betta species are bubble nest builders including the most common, Betta splendens species.