Usually, male betta fish build a bubble nest to attract a female, who inspects the quality of the nest before allowing the male to begin a courtship ritual. But do female betta fish make bubble nests, or are there other reasons they make bubbles?
It’s not uncommon for a female betta to build a nest, and there are many reasons for it to happen besides preparing to lay her eggs. This article explains the most common reasons your female betta may be blowing bubbles or building a nest.
Why Do Female Betta Fish Make Bubble Nests?
There are several reasons why your female betta may be making a bubble nest, and it may not all be as it seems. In this section, I will provide several possible reasons based on my own experience and from talking to other betta owners.
1. Your betta fish may be male.
The easiest way to identify female betta fish is by their short fins, but you may have mistakenly bought or been mis-sold a Plakat betta fish. Male Plakat bettas have short fins that can resemble many female species.
The Plakat is a specific type of betta fish usually bred for fighting. Their tails are purposely shortened through selective breeding, so they can move around quicker and be more agile in battle. Plakat bettas are not as common in pet stores as most hobbyists prefer long-finned varieties.
If your female betta is definitely building a nest in her fish tank and not just blowing air bubbles, you can look for other signs to confirm that she is a female. Two common symptoms of a female in season are:
- You will notice a fuller-looking belly as your female betta is pregnant with eggs.
- She may develop verticle stripes on her body, known as breeding stripes.
If you struggle to tell whether your betta fish is male or female, take it to your local fish store for advice.
2. Your female betta fish may be blowing oxygen bubbles.
You may not have a bubble nest in your tank, as it could just be a collection of bubbles.
A commonly shared behavior in all betta fish is bubble-blowing, whether they are male or female. Betta fish are labyrinth fish that can breathe oxygen directly from the surface and through their gills.
The labyrinth organ acts like a lung and helps betta fish live in poor water conditions until they can find a better environment, even if that means wriggling over land to find a cleaner pool of water.
As betta fish exhale the oxygen from their labyrinth organ, bubbles are formed, which will gather at the surface, resembling a bubble nest. If you have a female betta fish blowing oxygen bubbles on the surface, it is not a bubble nest.
A proper bubble nest is made from more than just oxygen bubbles. When oxygen bubbles gather at the surface, they look similar to a bubble nest but soon dissipate. Male betta fish add fine particles and sticky saliva to give it structure.
3. Bubble nest building is instinctive.
Although the male betta usually builds a bubble nest, some female bettas occasionally build them. This is most likely due to an instinct for all betta fish, male and female, to want to create a safe space for their freshly fertilized eggs and newly hatched betta fry.
It is also possible that a female betta may think that building a bubble nest will attract a male, even though females rarely spend the same time and attention on nest building as male betta fish do.
4. Your female betta fish is happy in her environment.
It is common for male and female betta fish to blow excessive bubbles when they are happy and comfortable in their home.
A betta fish that is comfortable in its environment will be more relaxed and playful, including blowing lots of bubbles.
As you can see, there are several reasons why female betta fish blow bubbles, not all related to nest building. If you believe your female betta is making a bubble nest, it shouldn’t be a cause for concern.
The rest of this article will answer common questions related to bubble nests and female mating behavior.
How To Know If Female Betta Is Ready To Breed
There are several ways to tell if your female betta fish is ready to breed or just lay her eggs if she is without a male. Breeding is fun and interesting to watch, and if you can spot when your female is ready to mate, it’s the perfect time to introduce a male betta to the tank.
- A female betta often develops vertical stripes on her side, known as breeding stripes.
- Female bettas also become much more aggressive when in season, chasing and nipping at other fish.
- A female betta will appear pregnant. Her abdomen will begin to swell as she matures and prepares to lay eggs.
If you notice any of these changes in your female betta, she is likely ready to breed, and if you have a male betta, you can introduce them to see if they make the perfect mating pair.
How Long To Leave Female Betta With A Male
Assuming that you have a suitable breeding pair, you can leave the male and female betta together until the female has laid her eggs and the male has placed them into the nest. Mating can take anywhere between 15 minutes and several hours.
Once mating is over, the male betta can become aggressive toward the female if she approaches the nest. Female betta fish will sometimes eat her freshly laid eggs, and the male betta will be very protective of them until they have hatched.
Removing the female after mating is the safest option, but don’t be too hasty, as females can release several rounds of eggs. You should wait until the male becomes agitated and starts flaring and chasing the female away before you remove her.
Can Female Betta Lay Eggs Without A Male?
Female betta fish will release their eggs even if no males are present to fertilize them. Eggs will develop at certain times of the year, which is when a female usually searches for a compatible mate.
If no males are present, the eggs will need to be released to make room for fresh eggs to grow in the next mating season. Female betta fish will often eat their eggs when released as they are very nutritious.
Should You Remove A Bubble Nest Made By A Female?
Similar to when a male creates a nest, if a female betta fish becomes protective and territorial over her bubble nest, it would be wise to remove it.
Remember, in most cases, it may not even be a nest, so a collection of bubbles floating at the surface is fine to leave alone. If you have watched your female carefully construct a nest, you must assess her behavior.
If your female betta is in a tank by herself, there isn’t a risk of aggression toward other fish, so you can leave the nest alone. Signs of aggression toward other fish in the tank is a bigger cause for concern, and you should remove the nest, even if she builds another.
Will A Female Betta Put Her Eggs In A Bubble Nest
Even if your female betta fish does build a nest when she is full of eggs, she is unlikely to put them in the nest. Females lay unfertilized eggs, letting them sink to the bottom of the tank before eating them. Male bettas would usually fertilize the eggs and place them in the nest to keep them safe.
Because female bettas are known to eat their own eggs, whether fertilized or not, it’s counterproductive to put them into a bubble nest for safety, only to remove them again to eat.
For the female, laying eggs is a big part of the reproductive cycle, and she may instinctively know that a nest should be present, even if it doesn’t get used.
As you can see, bubble nests are an essential part of the betta fish breeding process and are mainly centered around males. The male will use the nest to attract a female mate, and the male will guard the eggs, tending to the nest day and night until the betta babies are born.
Female betta fish are just as capable of building a nest as males, but it isn’t very common. Your female betta is far more likely to blow bubbles out of happiness that will sit near the surface and resemble a nest.