Have You Seen Your Betta Fish Blowing Bubbles? Here's What It's Really Doing
Last week I explored the interesting ability of betta fish to breathe surface air with a specialized set of labyrinth organs. Want to know why and how they do this? You can check out the full article about that by clicking here.
This week’s article is about a related issue:
Betta fish blowing bubbles.
If you see a cluster of bubbles near the surface of the water in your fish’s tank, it is likely a bubble nest. What’s a bubble nest? It’s literally a bunch of bubbles that male bettas connect together to store eggs in.
Keep reading for more info about bubble nests and betta behavior…
Good news: bubbles equal a happy betta
Most animals don’t exhibit mating behaviors if they are stressed or in poor health, and bettas are no exception. So if you see bubble nest construction from your male betta, then you know you’re providing a healthy, stress-free environment.
But my betta doesn’t have a mate
Male betta fish build nests, in part, to attract females with their nest building abilities and to show they are ready to be a father. In the right environment, they will carry out this instinctual behavior whether a potential mate is nearby or not.
Think about it this way—in the wild, a male has to have a nest ready for potential females in his territory. He’s not going to wait around to start building. The frequency at which nests are created is individual. It may happen as often as once a day (though those nests are likely small), or it could happen weekly, monthly, or seldom.
Why bubble nests?
Because wild bettas tend to live in shallow waters with little oxygen, the bubbles provide oxygen-rich air for the eggs and hatchlings. So it doubles as protection and a healthy environment for hatchlings while they can’t safely make it to more oxygen-rich areas or the surface.
They make the bubbles by gulping air at the surface and then blowing saliva bubbles. These are often placed underneath leaves or other floating debris for protection from predators at the surface, like insects that might eat the eggs.
How to encourage bubble nest building
If you notice that your male betta doesn’t build bubble nests, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong with your fish. It might not be stressed or unhealthy.
But there are a few things you can do to make it more likely that the fish will set to bubble blowing at the tank’s surface:
- Keep the filter flow at a gentle setting so there’s not a current that would blow the bubbles away. Remember, bettas’ native habitat is often stagnant waters.
- Put floating décor in the tank. This provides the appearance of a safe camouflage for a nest to be built under.
- Keep tank temperature between 78 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Keep the water clean with water changes.
- Provide plants and hides to keep the tank stress-free.
- Introduce another betta fish to the environment (safely). This can be a female or a male. Either might increase the urge to build a nest.