If you have a betta fish and are growing worried at the sight of bubbles in the tank, you can relax.
It might seem strange, but it’s one of the most ordinary things your betta fish can do.
Why Do They Make Bubbles?
It’s quite alright to assume the absolute worst when it comes to a pet.
Worrying about your betta fish and why it’s suddenly making bubbles is likely to warrant the same reaction, more or less.
If you see bubbles in your fish tank, you might think it either needs cleaning or that your betta fish has taken ill.
However, the ground reality is that they are doing so to build a nest.
Sure, some animals use branches, fallen twigs, and even vegetation for the purpose, but this is what makes betta fish genuinely unique. They use their only resource at hand – their mucus – and turn it into bubbles.
These bubbles are covered in saliva, which adds to their durability by strengthening them. Interestingly, other species do the same to fortify any bubble nests they build.
Bubble nests are necessary for reproduction. Typically, the male betta fish goes about creating them, although females have been known to make some as well.
In the wild, males ready to start breeding will look for still water that has weeds and other flora to which they can potentially “attach” their nest.
They will then go on to make bubbles near the surface. These bubbles join together to create somewhat of a patch.
Sometimes, bubble nests are carefully constructed directly under leaves that float on the surface. This renders them safe from attacks from above the water surface, such as those involving winged insects.
We’re all aware of the flimsy nature of bubbles and how they are likely to pop. The male betta fish will compensate for this by simply creating more.
It is an efficient process whereby the male comes to the surface, takes in some air, and takes care of the needful.
For those who are wondering, yes, betta fish have labyrinth organs that make them partial air-breathers.
The Purpose of Bubble Nests
These nests can be small or large. Even the thickness can vary from nest to nest.
Bubble nests are somewhat of an invitation that let females know that male betta fish are ready to reproduce. However, they are also meant to impress them and intimidate other males.
If a male and female betta fish happen to be in the same tank, you can be sure that he will focus all his attention on building a nest as soon as possible.
However, courting a female betta fish and eventually, mating depends on how fast the bubble nest is made.
If he succeeds in bowling her over with his undying efforts, they mate. Eggs are fertilized in water before the male takes them and spits them into the bubble nest.
It takes only about 2 to 3 days for baby betta fish to hatch from the eggs. But, unfortunately, they cannot swim well at this point, which is where the bubble nest comes to their rescue.
The bubbles and surrounding weeds offer much-needed traction and protection. This ensures that the baby betta fish keep close to the surface, considering that they can’t immediately start swimming.
Pertinent to mention here is the fact that betta fish build bubble nests even if they’re alone in their tanks.
Bubble nests are also sometimes called foam nests because that’s what they tend to look like.
Betta splendens, better known as the Siamese fighting fish, go about chaotically creating bubble nests. There’s clearly some method to their madness, but they also end up making a lot of noise while doing so.
Bubble Nests in the Wild
The scenario is somewhat different in nature, where betta fish have to get territorial.
Upon asserting themselves and establishing their territory, the nest is built if the surrounding environment supports it (debris, plants, and leaves).
At the sight of a female betta fish, males can get a tad desperate and cajole females into mating.
The male then gathers the eggs using its mouth and delivers them to the bubble nest. The perfect parent that he is, the betta fish, looks after them and protects them because there is a chance that they might detach from the nest.
He does this tirelessly till the young are independent and able to swim and survive.
It could be said that male betta fish overcompensate for the carefree attitude that females embrace.
However, as morbid as it sounds, female betta fish are not above eating their eggs. This is also why, when it comes to breeding betta fish in captivity, it is recommended for those with sufficient experience to do so.
In this instance, all the betta fish has to do is guard the bubble nest, which does a decent job of holding on to the eggs.
Additionally, we’ve discussed how betta fish live in shallow bodies of water when they’re out in nature.
Because shallow pools contain less oxygen, bubble nests then become a source of air enriched with oxygen. Thus, apart from offering much-needed protection, bubble nests nourish the young with a sufficient oxygen supply.
How Often Do Betta Fish Build Bubble Nests?
Talking about the frequency with which betta fish make bubble nests, suffice to say that each fish is different. Therefore, there is no fixed number of bubble nests that you can expect them to make.
While some fish may be inclined to create them often, others may seem lazy by comparison.
It can be surprising to know, however, that there are betta fish that build bubble nests every day.
The great news is that if your betta fish makes bubble nests frequently, it is a sure-shot sign of its good health. It is also a marker of how happy it is. Because bubble nests also signal their readiness to mate, it speaks to the same.
Moreover, frequent nest-building points to the fact that the betta fish is comfortable in its tank and has recognized the tank as a safe haven.
If your betta used to make bubble nests, but has now regressed or stopped constructing them altogether, you should refer to the section below.
Is Your Betta Fish Not Making a Bubble Nest?
If, after reading the above, you are wondering why your betta fish is not building bubble nests, some or all of the following might be true.
- Increasing age
- Deteriorating health
- Filtration system: it could be generating strong currents in the water
- Dirty water in the tank
- The temperature of the water is not ideal. It should be 78-82 F
- There are not enough plants or debris on the surface
Do know, however, that some betta fish simply don’t build too many bubble nests. It doesn’t necessarily imply that they are falling sick or are sad.
This is especially true if none of the above apply to your fish.
How to Encourage Betta Fish to Build Bubble Nests
In nature, betta fish thrive in still water. This includes rice paddies and shallow ponds.
It is imperative for tanks to have the perfect water conditions close to the surface, where betta fish blow bubbles to create nests.
One thing you should be mindful of in tanks is a splash zone that exists due to the filter at the back. This can undo a lot of the betta fish’s hard work and effort.
If the tank has this kind of filter, it would be better to cover the aquarium at the top instead. This will help your betta fish continue adding to its bubble nest.
As mentioned earlier, debris floating on the surface keeps the bubbles from popping. Therefore, any currents making their way to the bubble nest will crash against it instead.
It is typical of betta fish to build bubble nests close to leaves and various floating flora.
To emulate the same environment in tanks, you can start by introducing plants such as Elodea, Hornwort, and Crystalwort. They prove highly useful when it comes to attaching bubble nests.
We know that betta fish create bubble nests even if there is no female around. Therefore, don’t get bothered if your male betta fish is bubbling away, creating a nest – it is simply in his nature to do so.
However, if your male betta fish is all alone, you can encourage him to start creating bubble nests by adding a female of the species to the tank.
Then, if the bubble nest is already made, the two fish can put it to good use.
It seems as though betta fish grow more and more remarkable as each snippet of information about them is revealed.
They are magnificent creatures with a unique disposition. Watching them create delicate bubble nests with such precision and effortless skill is nothing short of a mesmerizing sight.
However, if you feel your betta has been acting somewhat differently, refer the information in this article and don’t delay seeking professional help.
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