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Can Betta Eggs Hatch On The Floor? (And How To Ensure They Survive)

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I remember the first time I saw betta fish eggs on the floor. I knew that they should be brought to the bubble nest, but for some reason, the male chose to keep them there. That made me wonder whether they can hatch on the floor. Fortunately, as time passed, I gained some experience in this field.

Betta fish eggs can hatch on the floor. While bubble nests create a convenient environment, they are not vital for hatching. However, some eggs will be left on the floor because they are unfertilized, and as a consequence, they won’t hatch.

As we move forward, I will elaborate on whether betta fish eggs can hatch on the floor and what advantages the bubble nest provides. Then, I’ll list a few tips to increase the chances they hatch, even outside the bubble nest.

Still curious? Feel free to check my complete guide on betta fish eggs. There, I discussed how to care for betta eggs, what they look like, how long it takes for them to hatch, what equipment to use, and much more.

Can Betta Eggs Hatch On The Floor?

Yes, betta eggs can hatch on the floor, but it isn’t ideal. There’s a reason why male bettas keep the eggs in the bubble nest. The eggs are safer within the confines of the foam.

However, you have to remember the procedure that bettas undergo to breed. The female betta makes the eggs internally. Then the male betta wraps around the female and squeezes the creature, forcing the eggs out.

But the male betta is not done. It has to fertilize the eggs by releasing milt into the water. This is the most crucial aspect of the mating process.

In the absence of a male betta, the female can still produce eggs, but they will die and rot. They cannot hatch unless a male betta fertilizes them.

If your betta eggs have descended to the aquarium’s floor, you have to start by determining whether or not the eggs are fertilized.

The only thing the eggs need to hatch is the father’s sperm. The bubble nest is convenient, but it has nothing to do with fertilization. If you add unfertilized eggs to a bubble nest, they will still rot.

But if the eggs are fertilized, they have a decent chance of hatching regardless of their location. Naturally, the tank’s conditions matter. Betta fish require temperatures of 78 to 80 degrees F and a pH of 7.0 to 7.2.

They are more likely to thrive in clean water with zero ammonia, chlorine, and other dangerous toxins. You also need a gentle current that won’t disturb the eggs and stable parameters.

As you may have guessed, the tankmates matter as well. Where possible, you should keep the eggs in a separate aquarium. But if you can’t afford a separate breeding tank, avoid aggressive fish.

Most adult species will eat anything small enough to fit in their mouths. But aggressive fish are more likely to hunt for the eggs in the foliage and on the substrate.

Any eggs that sink to the floor are exposed. If you limit the number of violent fish in the aquarium, the eggs may survive without a bubble nest. Of course, you can’t guarantee that they will hatch.

After all, even without predators, you have threats like fungus that attack betta eggs all the time, killing them before they can mature.

But you can minimize the threat of fungus if you maintain a clean tank with the correct parameters. It takes more effort to hatch eggs on the aquarium floor, but it isn’t impossible.

Can Betta Fish Eggs Hatch Without A Bubble Nest?

Betta fish eggs can hatch without a bubble nest, although it generally depends on the conditions in the aquarium.

Male bettas make bubble nests by blowing air out and coating the resulting bubbles with mucus and saliva, which is why they look like foam.[1]

And while they are strong enough to protect betta eggs, they break all the time and for various reasons, including:

  • Extreme Temperatures

You may assume that a betta’s bubble nest was destroyed when the father never made one in the first place. Studies have shown that male bettas rarely build nests in water with temperatures higher than 27.7 degrees C or lower than 24.4 degrees C.[2]

  • Strong Currents

Tanks with a strong current will destroy the bubble nests. The turbulence will pop the bubbles. Some bettas won’t build bubble nests in the turbulent water in the first place.

  • Violence

You shouldn’t keep multiple male bettas in the same aquarium. They will fight one another, and in the process, they may destroy any bubble nests they constructed at the surface.[3]

It should be noted that male bettas build nests because they want to breed. Therefore, the creatures are more likely to build bubble nests in the presence of a female betta.

But if your breeding tank doesn’t have bubble nests, and you’re starting to wonder whether the eggs will survive, you have to keep the following in mind:

1. Mouth Brooders

If the aquarium doesn’t have bubble nests, where are the eggs? Can you see them in the betta’s mouth? If so, you have mouthbrooding bettas. Mouthbrooding bettas incubate eggs in their mouths.[4] They don’t make bubble nests.

2. Exposure To Predators

Bubble nests are a little annoying because they usually hide the eggs. You may have difficulty differentiating between the bubbles and eggs, which is an inconvenience for aquarists struggling to determine whether or not their bettas laid eggs.

Don’t forget: male bettas can create bubble nests without a female betta. In other words, you can’t assume that breeding is happening in the tank simply because you noticed bubble nests on the surface.

That being said, you want the bubble nest to hide the eggs because this protects the eggs from predators.[5] Without a bubble nest, larger fish will eat the eggs.

You can increase their survival chances by adding peaceful tankmates like Neon Tetras, Endlers, and Cory Catfish.

3. Oxygen Levels

Bubble nests keep the eggs at the surface where the water is rich with oxygen. Oxygen-rich water maintains the health of the eggs, allowing them to mature and hatch.

The bubble nest doesn’t have antimicrobial properties.[6] It cannot protect the eggs from parasitic and bacterial infections. However, eggs in a bubble nest are healthier than eggs outside a bubble nest.

4. Male Bettas

Observe the behavior of your male bettas. What are they doing? Betta eggs fall out of their nests all the time. The male betta responds by retrieving the eggs and returning them to the nest.

If the tank has a bubble nest, but you can see eggs on the floor, you should take a moment to find out why the male betta hasn’t retrieved them.

Some male bettas are simply inexperienced. Others are stressed because of the poor conditions in the aquarium.

But there’s a third possibility that newcomers rarely consider. Maybe the eggs are dead. Male bettas don’t care about unfertilized eggs.

In fact, it is pretty standard for male bettas to eat unfertilized eggs. But that is not a guarantee. A male betta can easily choose to ignore the dead eggs on the substrate.

What Should I Do So The Eggs Hatch On The Floor?

You can compensate for a missing bubble nest by adding more air stones and pumps to prevent oxygen deficiencies from taking root.

You should also maintain the correct pH, temperature, and hardness.

Water changes are crucial, along with filters. Otherwise, dirty water will expose the eggs to ammonia and fungi. I would personally go with the well-known Hygger Aquarium Air Stone (link to Amazon).

If you choose to go with an air stone, I highly suggest that you place it away from the eggs. For example, if the eggs are in the middle of your tank, place the air stone in the corner. This way, the eggs won’t be compromised by the currents it creates.

The second step will be removing the female betta fish and other potential predators. They will gladly eat exposed eggs. On the other hand, you should keep the male in the tank as it tends to care for the eggs.

Ultimately, make sure your tank features the following water conditions:

  • Temperature: 78-80° F (25-27° C) 
  • pH: 7.0-7.2 
  • Hardness: 5-20 DH (70-300 ppm) 
  • Ammonia: 0 ppm 
  • Nitrties: 0 ppm 
  • Nitrates: <20 ppm

These parameters are ideal for the survival of betta fish eggs. And even more importantly, they are comfortable for the male betta. The wrong conditions will stress the male and may trigger him to eat the eggs.

To measure the pH, ammonia, nitrates, and nitrties, I personally use the well-known API FRESHWATER MASTER TEST KIT (link to Amazon). After testing dozens of kits, I can confidently say that this one is the most accurate.

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Conclusions

Betta fish eggs can hatch on the floor, outside the bubble nest, given the right water conditions. Bubble nests create a conducive environment, but they are not a necessity.

Yet, there is one exception. Male betta fish typically pick eggs that have sunk to the floor and place them in a bubble nest. However, if a particular egg is unfertilized, the father may choose to leave it there. In some cases, he may even eat it.

So, if the eggs don’t hatch on the floor, it isn’t necessarily because they are outside the bubble nest. It can simply be that the eggs were never fertilized in the first place. In this case, they won’t hatch, even when brought to the bubble nest.

References

  1. https://zenaquaria.com/betta-fish-bubble-nest/
  2. https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/153396734.pdf
  3. https://www.lakeforest.edu/news/female-mating-preferences-as-a-result-of-coloration-and-movement-in-betta-splendens
  4. https://expertaquarist.com/can-betta-eggs-hatch-without-bubble-nest/
  5. https://kidadl.com/fun-facts/bubble-nest-curious-facts-what-is-betta-fish-bubble-foam-all-about
  6. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jez.1740