It’s always weird to have a look into your betta aquarium and notice something you never saw before – especially something as odd as a bubble nest.
Most folks understand that betta fish are particularly aggressive and territorial and just don’t “play nice” with other fish. This is why they keep them apart from others, letting them live their lives – happy and healthy lives, at that – in isolated tanks.
Most folks also understand that betta fish can be susceptible to all kinds of disease, poor water conditions, and health problems that more resilient fish wouldn’t have a problem with.
And that’s a big part of why so many destroy bubble nests as soon as they bubble up!
We don’t want anything that doesn’t belong in the tank with our betta fish wreaking havoc, and because so many don’t fully understand exactly what a bubble nest is – or if it is important – they just pull it apart and hope it doesn’t come back.
Is that the right thing to do, though?
Should they leave that bubble nest alone?
Let’s go over that right now!
Betta Bubble Nest 101
Bubble nests (sometimes called foam nests) are made by male betta fish near the surface of their tank, designed to help with their mating process.
The male will swim up near the surface of the water (the only place where there’s enough oxygen to make all of these bubbles in the first place) and then just start working away.
The nest begins as a handful of bubbles at the start, but it doesn’t take very long for them to grow into bigger and bigger collections. These bubbles are pretty resilient – they are made with some of the saliva from the betta fish – and generally stick around until you either destroy and remove them or they bust and break down on their own.
Of course, your betta fish isn’t making these nests just to have a little bit of fun.
Each nest is designed to capture the eggs released by female betta fish, supporting them, protecting them, and generally helping to make sure that the betta fry (baby betta fish) have all the oxygen that they need to survive and thrive.
These nests also help to sort of secure the egg cluster as well, a huge piece of the puzzle when betta fish are mating in the wild and these eggs need to be protected as much as possible.
Why is My Betta Building Bubble Nests?
Okay, okay – now I know the purpose behind a bubble nest.
But why is my betta building bubble nests when they are the only fish in the tank?
Competition with Other Fish
Sometimes betta fish living in separate tanks that can still see one another – especially if they can spot another male – are still going to go through all of the traditional mating rituals and procedures, just as they would have if they were in the same water with one another.
In fact, if two particularly aggressive males spot one another they might have competitions to see who can build the biggest nest. This is an instinctual way to show females (even if they aren’t in the water or even in plain view) that they are the superior mate.
Perfect Water Conditions
Perfect water conditions for mating can also trigger your betta fish to begin building a bubble nest, almost on autopilot, even if there is no chance of them to mate in the first place.
Tropical water conditions (between 73°F and 85°F, and sometimes even a little warmer), oxygen levels that are dialed in, and clear water with a perfect pH can trigger this kind of behavior in pretty much any betta under the sun.
At the end of the day, though, even hybrid betta fish are going to sort of “go through the motions” of building a bubble nest when their body tells them to – just because their body tells them to.
That’s just the nature and natural instinct of these fish and the way that they operate.
Should You Destroy a Betta Bubble Nest?
Truth be told, it’s not the end of the world if you end up accidentally – or intentionally – blowing up the bubble nest that your betta fish has built.
For one thing, the overwhelming majority of people that keep these fish as pets are going to be keeping them separated from any other betta (male or female).
Destroying a nest that was filled with betta fry is something else entirely compared to destroying a nest you know isn’t ever going to be used for its intended purpose.
Secondly, though, the odds are pretty good that if you remove, destroy, or break down the betta nest that your fish has built, they are just going to go to work building another one.
As long as you aren’t breaking things down every single day (or multiple times a day) and exhausting your fish you don’t have anything to worry about here.
Eventually they won’t be compelled by their evolutionary trigger to build a nest for a while and they’ll sort of “reset” – at least until those hormones start firing again and they feel like it’s time to begin nesting all over.
How to Encourage Bubble Nest Builds
If, on the other hand, you don’t want to destroy betta fish bubble nests but instead want to encourage them to be built there are a couple of things you can do:
For one thing, you can increase the temperature of the water inside their tank or aquarium.
When you take this route, though, make sure that you very slowly and very gradually crank up the heat. You want to stay within that tropical water temperature range we mentioned a moment ago (73°F to 85°F) but you certainly don’t want to “boil” your fish by cranking things up too quickly.
Secondly, you can start to add a little bit of extra protein to the diet of your fish without going overboard.
This is usually just enough to trigger those nest building hormones in their body and they’ll be off to the races!
Lastly, you could always put another male betta fish in their field-of-view – obviously in a separate tank – and see if they get to work.
Just don’t be surprised if they build bigger bubble nests than you expected trying to outdo one another!