I’ve done quite a bit of talking about Betta Fish and Bubble Nests, but I thought I’d write a more in-depth post about it since it seems to be one of the most common questions I get from Betta owners.
Bubble nests can be extremely confusing for new betta owners, and I don’t blame you if you thought your betta was sick or dying. My first thought was that the “waterfall” on my tank created these bubbles and they were no good for my betta!
Well, I say you can rest easy, especially because bubble nests are normal and healthy for a betta fish, but let’s jump into the most common questions I get.
WHAT IS A BUBBLE NEST, AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Bubble nests are exactly what they sound like! It’s when your male Betta blows bubbles on the top of his tank.
Bubble nests are a sign that your betta is happy, healthy and ready to breed. Male will blow these bubbles so their female counterparts can lay their eggs in them.
DO ALL MALE BETTAS BLOW BUBBLES?
No, not all male bettas will blow bubbles, especially in captivity.
You don’t worry too much if your little guy isn’t blowing bubbles. Your Betta may be happy, and healthy he just might not be in the mood to mate!
I will cover some ways to help encourage your Betta to create a nest but again don’t stress too hard if you can’t find a way to get him to blow bubbles.
Something to also keep in mind is, if you have floating toys, your Betta might actually be blowing bubbles under the toys making it extremely difficult to spot the bubbles.
Although Blub regularly blows bubbles, we were never able to get Flub to blow any.
Fun Fact: Did you know that Bubble Nests are also called Foam Nests?
HOW OFTEN DO BETTAS BUILD NESTS
It highly depends on your Betta. Some Bettas will build nests daily, others weekly, monthly or even yearly.
This is one of the main reasons you shouldn’t be concerned if your Betta isn’t blowing bubble nests.
Blub, in particular, is a weekly nest builder so if he’s not blowing bubbles once a week we know we need to check the pH of the water and make sure that the ammonia levels aren’t too high.
Well, in the wild Bettas tend to live in shallow, low-oxygenated areas. Knowing this, male bettas will blow bubbles to make sure to blow bubbles to ensure that their babies, who will incubate in the nest, have enough air.
SO HOW DO BUBBLE NESTS WORK?
Well, male Bettas will blow bubbles under debris they find in the wild in the wild. This will ensure that the nests are safe and hidden for the 36-72 hours they will take to hatch.
As female bettas swim by, they will check the nests to see which nest she believes is a good enough home. If a male is interested in a female, he will try to mate with her by coaxing her into his nest until she submits. The male will then collect all of the eggs in his mouth and put them into the bubble nest.
It is then the male’s duty to guard the eggs, making sure that they do not fall out of the nest. The female Betta won’t actually protect or guard the eggs and her job is virtually complete.
Females will commonly try to eat their eggs before they’re ready to hatch, so the male Betta will actually chase the female away until the babies are born.
WHAT ARE SOME REASONS A BETTA WOULDN’T MAKE A NEST?
— Poor Health
— Not the Right Age
— Poor Water Quality/Cleanliness
— Lack of Plants or Debris
- This will vary from Betta to Betta
- Blub has never needed any decorations/plants to blow bubble nests, he always blows them on the surface. Even when he has floating decorations, he always blows his bubbles in plain sight.
— Strong currents in tanks
— The water is too cold
Fun Fact: Did you know that Bettas like their water to be between 78-82 degrees Fahrenheit?
*Photo from Can Betta Fish Live with Other Fish? Which Fish?
HOW CAN YOU TRY TO ENCOURAGE YOUR BETTA TO NEST?
1. Clean Your Tank Regularly!
There’s nothing worse than a dirty tank for a betta. While they do like a bit of dirt, an excess amount can cause the pH of the water to get too acidic causing your betta to get extremely ill.
Cleaning your tank weekly is usually a good start for betta owners, however, dependant on the size of your tank you may want to clean it more regularly.
You don’t always have to clean out the tank 100%, and I don’t recommend changing 100% at a time unless you have a tank that is 2.5-Gallons or smaller. You want to make sure that your Betta doesn’t get shocked by a full water change.
2. Get a Heater
I cannot stress how important this is for folks who have tanks that are 3 gallons or more. Even for us, who have a 2.5-gallon tank, we’ve caught our tank get too cold for Blub.
We personally invested in a Marina Compact Heater which has been doing the trick.
Make sure you read the wattage on the heater to make sure that it is strong enough to heat the size of your tank or doesn’t get too hot for your tank. Nothing is worse than losing a fish by trying to do them good!
3. Get Some Toys or Decor
Ever walk into a room and feel like it’s too empty? Your Betta feels the same way.
Things like plants or Betta safe decorations (anything without sharp edges), floating hiding spots or even toys like mirrors or hammocks will make a big difference and will make sure that your Betta is happy and healthy.
4. Make Sure Your Tank Is Suitable for Your Betta
Do some research into your Betta’s needs. A quick google search will explain that Bettas don’t like concave tanks/moon-shaped tanks.
We’ll admit that we made the mistake of buying a moon-shaped tank for one of our Bettas and you could tell immediately that he wasn’t as happy as the other fish.
Moon-shaped tanks warp the Betta’s views and tend to make things look like predators and since Bettas get stressed fairly easily it may actually become a detriment to their health.
You’re also going to want to avoid all Betta cubes that are under 2-gallons as they do not provide enough space for your little one to swim around and play. I’m still not sure why pet stores push them so hard or why folks keep buying them, other than… they’re really cheap, but an extra $5 can go a long way and remember you buy a tank once.
We’ve had the Aqueon Minibow 2.5 for two years now and are still in love with it!
5. Introduce a Female
This is a note only for breeders.
You can introduce a female to encourage bubble nests. Do not put them in the same tank without a divider or you can also float her in a cup in the tank. Make sure you are removing her periodically to ensure that both Bettas don’t get stressed.
Fun Fact: Fish that build and guard bubble nests are known as aphrophils
*Photo from How to Tell if Your Betta Fish is Happy
I DON’T HAVE THE MONEY TO BUY MY BETTA FANCY CLUTTER, WHAT DO I DO?
There are lots of things you can do! You can use non-toxic styrofoam the lid from Pringles Cans or other non-toxic household lids that float!
Make sure that you’re always sterilizing whatever you put into your fish tank with vinegar though. No soap or suds for your betta please!
WILL MY BETTA GET MAD IF I DESTROY THE NEST WHILE CLEANING?
No, your Betta will be fine. Your Betta will be madder if you don’t clean his tank.
If you’re concerned about your Bettas attachment to his nest, feel free to scoop it up with a cup and replace it after you’ve cleaned his tank. The bubble nest should stay intact, but you will have to be gentle.
Although betta nests may seem freaky when you experience them for the first time, they’re actually a pretty nifty thing to see and experience.
You must be doing a great job taking care of your betta if he’s happy enough to want to make babies!
If your betta is not blowing bubbles, don’t worry, everything can still be okay. Your betta just may not be interested in mating at the moment, but this doesn’t mean that you won’t want to keep a close eye on your betta.
Make sure to always be checking your betta for signs of disease or illness.
Bettas are fairly easy to take care of if you know what you’re looking for, so it’s always better to be aware before something happens!
Do you have any other questions about bubble nests? Let me know and I’ll update this post with the answers! Happy breeding/Betta caring!