The male Siamese fighting fish, Betta splendens, builds a bubble nest on the water surface to care for offspring during the reproductive period. To our knowledge, this study is the first to determine the composition of the bubble nest and to compare the pharyngeal organs of male and female Siamese fighting fish to determine the relationship between the pharyngeal organ and the ability to make bubble nests. Dot blots of the bubble nest probed with periodic acid-Schiff's (PAS) staining and Ponceau S solution revealed that the contents of the nest are glycoprotein rich. Dissection of the heads of Siamese fighting fish showed that the pharyngeal organ is located in the position through which inhaled air passes. The epithelial structure of the pharyngeal organ of the Siamese fighting fish, like that of other teleosts, has numerous wrinkles and papillae. Mucous goblet cells were observed on the epithelium of pharyngeal organs in male and female fish. The pharyngeal organ was found to be larger in male than in female fish. In addition, the epithelium of the pharyngeal organ in male fish has a greater number of mucous goblet cells than that in female fish. In Siamese fighting fish, this sexual dimorphism of the pharyngeal organ suggests that the male fish secretes more glycoprotein-rich mucus to build the bubble nest. Future work will focus on the type of mucous cells found in the epithelium of the pharyngeal organ that contributes to bubble formation and will determine the components of the mucus in the bubble nest.
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