Fighting Fish (Betta splendens) Bubble Nests Do Not Inhibit Microbial Growth


Alexandria C. Brown, 611 N. Pleasant St., Amherst, MA, 01003. E-mail:


Some organisms produce antimicrobial substances in nesting foam to favorably manipulate the environment to which their developing offspring are exposed. We tested if fighting fish Betta splendens foamy nest material, which is comprised of bubbles produced in the oral cavity of nesting males, has antimicrobial properties against a pathogenic bacteria (Edwardsiella tarda), a nonpathogenic bacteria (Escherichia coli), or a pathogenic oomycete (Saprolegnia parasitica). We also tested if exposure to nest material increases larval survival by performing in vitro fertilizations and individually incubating eggs in bubble nest extract or tank water (control). Our results show no evidence of antimicrobial properties of bubble nests. On the contrary, bubble nests provided favorable microenvironments for the growth of Saprolegnia parasitica. Our results confirm earlier work citing the importance of male nest attendance, and suggest that the mechanism responsible for decreased survival in the absence of attending males is pathogenic microbes. J. Exp. Zool. 317A:481-487, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.