Carp Circles: Seven Fantastic Oceanic Fish Nests

Birds do it, bees do it, fish do it… wait, what? Yes indeed, our funny finny friends lay eggs, LOTS of them, and in many cases build nests both to lure potential mates and shelter their spawn once the deed is done. Fish nests are much more than simply some sort of natural nautical Bird’s Nest Soup, they’re a labor of love looked down from above.

Marine Mandalas

(images via: World Mysteries and Bristol University)

A six foot wide “underwater crop circle” discovered 80 feet below the ocean surface off the southern coast of Japan had scientists flummoxed – who or what constructed the intricate seafloor mandala and what did it mean?

(images via: Spoon and Tamago and Amaminchu)

Patience (and the judicious use of underwater cameras) paid off for photographer Yoji Ookata when the perpetrator, a diligent male Puffer Fish, was eventually caught in the act. Further study indicated male Puffers build the elaborate artifices first to lure potential mates, then to protect the clutch of eggs from disruptive ocean currents.

Fishbeds Exposed

(images via: Space Coast Eco)

Fishbed: not just NATO’s reporting name for the MIG-21 anymore! These curious circular constructions are less-sophisticated versions of the Puffer Fish’s marine masterpiece, though they serve some of the same purposes. In this case, the bream-like fish who scooped out the crater-like depressions just want to ensure their eggs stay wet when the water level’s low.

(image via: Fish and Frog – Turtle and Blog)

Snapped on a marshy stretch of the Florida coast, this collection of fishbeds somewhat resembles a bee’s honeycomb. It may be unfortunate for the fish if the water level keeps dropping but at least the dry spell allowed naturalists to capture the phenomenon on film for posterity.

Cichlid Flicks

(images via: Malawi Cichlid)

The Featherfin Cichlid (Cyathopharynx furcifer) makes its home in the freshwater lakes of East Africa, and in those lakes it makes nests to hold its eggs. If pet-owners provide enough sand and a large enough tank, the fish will construct these nests in captivity as well, as shown above. In its natural habitat, of course, cichlid fish grow to larger sizes and their nests are bigger and deeper as well.

(image via: Arkive)

Lake bottoms are typically devoid of extensive invertebrate marine life such as corals, sponges and anemones so cichlid nests really stand out, appearing almost like the craters of the moon. One cichlid species takes the whole “standing out” thing to a new, higher level – literally. We’re not sure what Lethrinops macrophthalmus is up to exactly, perhaps Mrs. Macrophthalmus just adores a penthouse suite.


(images via: Telegraph Media Group Ltd. and

Wrasse are intelligent as fish go and divers are often “buzzed” by these colorful and inquisitive fish. They’re also avid nest-builders, often selecting a variety of different materials discovered in their travels and bringing them back to the nest site in their mouths. Once there, the fish will zealously guard the nest from any and all interlopers. The Corkwing Wrasse above definitely appears to be out to impress with his large and gaudy nest!