These are not your typical tiny bubbles in the wine. Nor are the little opalescent orbs collecting on the surface of your betta’s tank a sign that you need to clean house. No, these little bubbles that can gather in large number are something that your betta has made. Made, no less, on purpose. These sometimes small, sometimes large groups of bubbles are a normal part of a healthy betta’s life. Consider seeing them a good thing as it can mean that you are doing a good job keeping your betta happy and healthy.
Why do betta fish build bubble nests?
Male betta fish don’t have a lot to work with in terms of trying to pick up betta tail ;-). Well, aside from their fly disco suits flaring all the time. Superior bubble nest building skills, now that’s something they can work with though. I mean, I feel myself attracted to a well designed bubble nest… doesn’t everybody?
As with many different types of animals, males are responsible for the betta bubble nest construction. If there is a female betta nearby, sometimes she will come over to lend a hand… erm, fin. Typically in nature, the male betta fish would look for some floating debris on the water’s surface to start collecting, and clustering the bubbles under that will make up it’s nest.
male betta fish can start building these nests even while there is no female betta present
Something that’s pretty interesting to learn is that male betta fish can start building these nests even while there is no female betta present anywhere nearby. These nests can vary widely in size and thickness. If, in nature, the male betta has a large sized stake in the surrounding territory, he may end up building a larger size nest. Betta’s personalities can play a significant role in how large and thick the completed bubble nest will be. Different bettas can sometimes build very different sized nests.
The male betta fish have been seen to start making their bubble nests if there is a sudden change in their environment. Things like sudden changes in their water temperature or if there is a quick rise or fall in barometric pressure. In the wild, betta fish have been seen to start construction if the normal rainfall pattern starts to fluctuate. Sometimes if you add or take away your betta’s aquarium accessories or substrate, that change is enough to cause bubble nest building activity.
The overall, general understanding of the male’s need to constantly build bubble nests is as a response to the bettas natural urge to mate. Instinctively speaking, mating and corresponding reproduction is the topmost priority of any animal aside from ensuring it’s own personal survival. If your betta doesn’t really seem that interested in building bubble nests then… I know a few people like that too. In general though, betta fish make their nests out of instinct rather than as an expression of how “happy” they are.
Some bettas will build nests for utterly no obvious reason, while others will hardly, if ever, build nests at all. Some never seem to not be busy building nests. Some will only start their construction until spawning has begun. One thing that’s important to understand is that if your betta never builds nests, or does so very infrequently, it is not necessarily because your betta is unhappy or unhealthy. You don’t need to go and immediately worry that there is something wrong because your fish doesn’t have a bubble nest building drive. It’s a good idea to check things like water parameters and temperature just in case though. Bottom line is that betta fish are weird when it comes to why they build their bubble nests.
If you get the chance to stand nearby and watch them make their nests, you can actually hear their nest building activities.
Male betta fish use their own saliva to make the coating that keeps the bubbles from popping when making these nests. Some bettas will make these nests even if you are hovering right near the tank. If you get the chance to stand nearby and watch them make their nests, you can actually hear their nest building activities. Generally, the whole nest building event is a busy and quite frantic one that makes for an interesting thing to watch.
There are times when you may see only a few sporadically floating bubbles on the water’s surface. Betta’s don’t always keep to their perfect bubble nest blueprints. If you see this behavior, do not jump to the conclusion that there is something wrong with your betta. Having only a few bubbles at the surface could mean that the betta has only just started making the nest. If the bubbles are floating all around the top of the aquarium un-grouped, it could mean that the betta broke the nest apart by swimming through it. If you start to worry that this behavior means that your betta is sick, when really there is nothing wrong, you may incorrectly decide to start your betta on medication. You don’t want to treat your betta for something it doesn’t have. Interestingly enough, sick betta fish will often still blow bubbles.
Betta fish bubble nests and breeding
Aside from spontaneously providing your betta with something to do, betta fish can build nests for an actual purpose! After spawning, the eggs will drop only to be caught by the mouth of the male betta fish. The male betta will then gently transport the egg up and secure it into the nest of saliva coated bubbles.
Baby betta fish (known as “fry”) will start to hatch from their eggs in one or two days.
Once all of the eggs are collected and placed in their appropriate positions in the nest, the male betta will stand watch nearby ready to chase away any intruders. Occasionally an egg will fall from it’s place among the bubbles and the male will chase after it; grabbing it once again to be more firmly secured with the rest. If there are no intruders seen and the nest is free from falling eggs, the male betta fish will attend to bubble nest maintenance.
Baby betta fish (known as “fry”) will start to hatch from their eggs in one or two days. The fry will stay close to the bubble nest for the next two weeks or so. Occasionally there will be a fry that wanders too far away from the nest. The male betta will keep a close eye on the new fry and carry them back to the nest if the explore too far