Betta Bubble Nest: Why Are They Made & What Do They Mean?

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Have you ever seen clusters of bubbles on the water’s surface in your betta fish tank?

These are called bubble nests and they are a completely natural behavior of a betta fish – in fact, bubble nests are a good sign that your fish is both healthy and happy.

Male betta fish, Betta splendens, or Siamese Fighting Fish have a reputation for being aggressive and prone to fighting. In reality, they prefer to make love, not war.

When you see a betta bubble nest, it’s a clear sign your male betta has love, or at a minimum, raising baby bettas on his mind.

While you may not think much about disruptions to betta fish bubble nest building, it can cause serious psychological damage if male bettas can’t build them in peace.

Betta Bubble Nests - JapaneseFightingFish.org

Overview 

Male betta fish, are moody, evocative creatures. They will just as easily shimmy to your favorite music or lay around on their couch begging for food.

Once you recognize their behaviors are well thought out, you may be puzzled about the answer to the question “why are there bubbles in my betta fish tank?”

Regardless of whether they are bachelors or not, male betta fish will begin building bubble nests once they reach reproductive maturity.

At this point, you may need to pay a bit of extra attention to the filter output and upper water surface conditions.

Why Male Bettas Make Bubble Nests

Many people ask “Why do bettas make bubbles?”It is all to do with the breeding process. In the wild, male bettas cluster small bubbles on the water surface, or underneath floating debris and leaves to build their nests.

The male betta will guard its nest and will wait for (or find) a female to spawn with. Soon after spawning the female betta fish releases eggs. It is the male betta fish’s job to swiftly capture the eggs in its mouth and place the eggs securely into the bubble nest.

Betta Fish Blowing Bubbles

In the wild, male bettas cluster small bubbles on the water surface, or underneath floating debris and leaves to build their nests.

Initially, betta fish bubble activity signals that a young male betta is fertile and ready to take on the role of parenting.

This will draw a fertile female betta fish that is also ready to spawn.

During the spawning process, a male betta will wrap himself around the female and squeeze until the eggs are released. 

Usually, this causes lethal internal damage to the female betta fish. 

At that point, it is up to the male to take care of the fertilized eggs and ensure they hatch.

To achieve this goal, the male will pick up the fertilized eggs and place each one into its own betta fish bubble.

Over the next few days, the male will continue to maintain the betta fish bubble nest until the fry emerges from the eggs.

At that point, the male will have completed his parental obligations to the fry. Depending on the species variation and other conditions, the male may eat some or all of the fry.

Why Are The Eggs Kept In A Bubble Nest?

Out there in the open, betta fish habitats are often quite dirty, shallow, puddles without much oxygen. Securing eggs inside bubbles means that they are kept moist and are surrounded by oxygen-rich air – 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. It is the male’s job to fight off any potential threats and to guard the nest (and especially the eggs). If any eggs fall from the nest they pick them up and secure them back into place. The eggs will hatch after a few days, but the fry continues to stay under the bubble nest’s protection until they can survive on their own.

Water Changes And Bubble Nest Building

Regardless of whether or not a female is in the tank, male bettas take bubble nest building very seriously. 

Any disruption to the bubbles in the betta tank or the water surface can cause male bettas to get very upset. 

Depending on the fish’s overall temperament, this can manifest as depression or aggression. 

Never underestimate what these fish know about you and what you do to their water. 

Some may sit on their couch and refuse to eat food you put in the fish tank. Yet, they will take food from someone that didn’t disrupt their water.

Others will become aggressive and flare their gills at you. 

Over the years, I have been, more than once, amazed at the acuity of what they can see and hear from outside the boundaries of their tanks!

This is just one of many reasons why I recommend keeping water changes to a minimum, especially when you are dealing with male bettas. 

Moreover, frequent or large water changes can further stress your Betta, which would hinder the ongoing nest building.

Remember, these are intelligent creatures with deep emotional sentiments. 

They can and will find numerous ways to let you know how they feel about interruptions to their bubble-based romantic inclinations.

Floating Plants And The Betta Fish Bubble Nest

Aside from not disrupting the water with changes, there are some things you can do to help bettas feel better about their nest building.

This will lead to a much happier betta that will give you a bit more attention during the day.

 I recommend using floating plants so that the betta has something to anchor his bubble nest onto. 

As you can see in this video, bubble nest building isn’t especially complicated, however, the nests are still quite fragile.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkbgYAodEhI

Once he’s assembled enough bubbles for the day, he will be more than happy to swim about and take up other occupations. 

Overall bettas are fairly easy to train when it comes to swimming through hoops, dancing to music, or batting small objects around. 

When bettas are less frantic about maintaining their nest, they also tend to be healthier, happier, and more colorful.

How Often Do Betta Fish Build Nests?

Well, you have learned the reason why betta fish build bubble nests is that it forms part of the breeding process. However, bubble nest building comes instinctively to the male betta fish even without the presence of a female.

Betta Twitter

Almost all males will blow bubble nests from time to time, with no other reason than it having a natural urge to do so. If you do see a nest in the tank it is a very good sign that your betta fish is happy and healthy. However, there isn’t a ‘normal’ time frame or a ‘normal’ size for a betta bubble nest. Each individual betta fish has a different pattern.

Sometimes a betta fish will build bubble nests weekly or monthly (or daily) and sometimes these nests will be nothing but a few bubbles whereas other times they may be up to an inch thick and span a full corner. Don’t worry too much if your fish doesn’t build bubble nests, it doesn’t have to mean your betta fish is lonely or unhealthy. There are many factors at hand, health, water parameters, age and the individual fish at hand.

Why-does-my-Betta-not-make-Bubble-Nests

Betta Tip: A reason your betta 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

A Comparison Of Filter Types For Mature Male Bettas

Bubble-Up Filters

As long as you don’t put an airstone in the filter that generates smaller bubbles, this type of filter can work in a betta tank. 

When combined with adequate plant cover at the surface of the fish tank, these filters offer good filtration without excess disruption to betta bubble nests.

Hobs And Canister Filters

Even though these filters don’t produce bubbles, they can still produce water currents that break up bubble nests.

If you can diffuse the output without generating bubbles, these filters may work well enough in a male betta’s tank.

Sponge Filter

If you want to keep your male betta from going flat-out insane, never put a sponge filter in the fish tank. 

Understanding why betta fish make bubbles can help you see why this filter type may be a problem. 

These filters tend to make bubbles that are about the same size as what a male makes to form a nest. Male bettas will interpret the filter as another male betta. 

They can easily become aggressive and attack the filter, or extremely depressed. Some may try to compete by trying to build bigger nests. 

Once the male realizes he can’t keep up with the filter, it will be an emotional downward spiral.

Small World Cartridge Bubble Filters

Since I normally keep male bettas in small tanks, I tend to like filters with a small footprint. In this case, I always recommend the Penn-Plax Small World Aquarium Filters

These cartridges have good quality foam in them as well as plenty of activated carbon and zeolites. 

If you are very careful, you can also cut the cartridge open and refill it with other media as opposed to buying new cartridges. 

You can easily control the output from these filters by placing a valve on the incoming airflow line. 

As with bubble-up filters, this one also makes bigger bubbles that pose little or no threat to a male betta’s ego.

He will get curious and may poke at the bubbles. Eventually, though, he is more likely to nap on top of the filter casing, or on the suction cups behind it.

Betta Tip: A reason your betta 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

How To Encourage Bubble Nest Building

A few factors that will create the best environment to promote your betta fish to build a bubble nest:

  • Ensure your filter is set to a gentle flow – especially if it causes a current at the water’s surface
  • Floating ‘debris’ – such as Amazon sword plant leaves or even the lids of plastic cups will often end up with a bubble nest underneath
  • A very warm temperature – ensure your tank is heated to 78-82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Clean water – betta fish in need of a water change will often lose interest in building bubble nests
  • The presence of a female (or a strange male) betta fish will also increase the urge for a betta to build a nest

Impressive-Betta-Fish-Bubble-Nest

In the end, betta bubble nests are interesting to observe, a good sign of health and happiness but not necessary unless you are breeding.

What To Do If Your Male Betta Is Not Making Bubble Nest

When males bettas stop making bubble nests, it isn’t a good sign. Here are the steps you should take to find out what’s wrong and fix it.

Assess The Water Quality

Make sure the water temperature is between 72 and 76 degrees F. General water hardness should be from soft to mid-level, and pH between 6.5 and 7.5. 

You should also check for nitrates, nitrites, ammonia.

If any of these water parameters are outside the optimal ranges, make the necessary adjustments. 

Usually, male bettas will resume nest-building within 1 – 2 days if it is a water chemistry problem.

Look For Signs Of Illness Or Injury

This includes clamped fins as well as signs of fungal or bacterial infection.

If you see bruises, white tufts, or clamped fins, an antibiotic may be of some help. Unless you can identify the actual disease, use a broad range antibiotics such as Erythromycin or Furan – 2. 

Depending on the severity of the disease, it may be as much as a week or two before the betta starts nest-building again. 

As long as he’s eating and hasn’t stopped for 3 days, there is a chance he will make a full recovery.

Observe Water Flow And Disruptions At The Surface Level 

If you see currents strong enough to break bubbles, it is probably too much for the bubble nest. Add leaves or other objects to the water surface.

Once the betta knows there is an adequate cover, he will start building a new bubble nest almost immediately. 

Consider The Age Of The Betta 

If none of what I’ve mentioned above works, consider the betta’s age. Their normal lifespan is about 2 years. 

Since males are already a year old when you buy them, old age may be a factor. 

While I’ve had male bettas making vigorous nests well into their third year of life, others can stop in as little as 8 months. 

If old age is a factor, all you can do is enjoy what time you have left with your aquatic pet. Usually, male bettas will pass on within a few weeks to months after they stop building bubble nests.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do female bettas make bubble nests?

No. a female betta fish does not make bubble nests. This is only something that males do to tend fertilized eggs.

2. Will my male betta get depressed if I never add a female to his tank?

Over the years, people have asked “Why do betta fish make bubbles, even if there is no chance of them reproducing?

Male fish spend a lot of time preparing for a female to come along. They never lose hope even if they live in tiny tanks.

3. Why are the eggs kept in a bubble nest?

In the wild betta fish often live in dirty, shallow puddles without much oxygen. 

Securing eggs inside bubbles keeps them moist and surrounded by oxygen-rich air.

Perhaps it can be said evolutionary usefulness is the most important answer to the question “Why do bettas make bubbles?”

4. How long does it take a male to make a bubble nest?

Males can make a fairly good-sized nest in just a few hours.  Depending on the time of year, however, he may spend several days adding to a single location.

5. How often do bettas make bubble nests?

Once males reach reproductive maturity, they will make bubble nests all year round. The only difference is the nest itself will be bigger or smaller depending on seasonal changes.

Conclusion  

In the wild, male bettas are nurturing creatures that spend much of their lives taking care of baby bettas. 

While we think of male bettas as aggressive creatures, these fish blowing bubbles at top of the tank point to a very different betta bubble nest meaning than we projected onto them.

If you see a male betta building a nest, he’s doing so as part of what is normal, healthy, and enjoyable for his species.

 Hope this article helps! Did you find it interesting? So will your friends, hit share, and let them know this information about bubble nests. 🙂

Why do Betta Fish Build Bubble Nests - JapaneseFightingFish.org

All the images on this post were submitted by the followers of our Twitter account!

Thank you to @hprincessw @Ingridvpty @_KaylaJoy_ @KatieBeltrame and sorry if you submitted a pic and it wasn’t used! Maybe next time! 🙂

Last Updated: April 8, 2022

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