What are the bubbles at the top of my betta fish tank?
At one time or another, you may have noticed clusters of tiny bubbles surrounding the rim of the tank belonging to male betta fish. These are called bubble nests and are completely normal – in fact bubble nests are a good sign that you betta fish is both healthy and happy.
Why do betta fish build bubble nests?
In nature, male bettas cluster small bubbles on the water surface, or underneath debris and leaves to build their nests – preparing for the birth of their young. After their nests are complete, they will then coax females under to spawn. The female bettas release eggs soon after, which are then swiftly captured by the males and placed inside the bubble – and this is why betta fish build bubble nests. Aside from releasing the eggs, the female betta fish do not play any role in raising or protecting the young. Rather, the male takes on the role of sole caretaker to protect the nest by chasing off predators, and returning any fallen eggs to the nest. The eggs hatch after a few days, but the fry continue to stay under the bubble nest’s protection until they can survive on their own.
Bubble nest building comes instinctively to a male betta, even without the presence of a female. Almost all males will blow bubbles, the size and rate of the nest usually depends on the male at hand, and potentially other things like health, water and age parameters.
It is common for some males to blow bubbles frequently, and you may even find that some males create new nests on a daily or weekly basis; while other male bettas will only blow a couple nests per year. You will find that healthy ones tend to blow more nests, so if you see a nest, you can consider it a sign that your fish is healthy and happy. But don’t be worried if your betta does not blow nests. It doesn’t have to mean your fish is not healthy, there are many other reasons why they would choose not to.
Betta Tip: A reason your fighting fish may not blow a bubble nest is that the filter of your tank is causing too strong a current at the top of the tank
Keep in mind that not all bettas build bubble nests regularly. Additionally, if you have even the lightest current in your tank it can discourage nest building. And of course most experienced betta keepers choose to cycle their tanks and keep filters running; thus, creating a healthier and more stable living environment. If this is the case, you will probably see that the fish do less bubble nest building because of the current of the filter. If you wish to cycle and allow the male to create nests, you can always place floating plants or a half of a styrofoam cup in the tank to encourage the behavior. In the end, bubble nests are interesting to observe, a good sign of health and happiness but not necessary unless you are breeding betta fish.
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