Do Betta Fish Sleep?

You have probably wondered if betta fish sleep – especially if you’re new to owning one. In fact, it is not a silly question. Most betta fish owners might have probably wondered this as well.

Betta fish can be pretty active most of the time and opens its eyes all the time – that’s why you’re wondering if it actually sleeps.

For that reason, we will answer this question. We are going to dive in deeper more about the sleeping habits of a betta fish.

Do Betta Fish sleep?

Just like human beings, a betta fish sleeps. It actually needs sleep. However, it rests very lightly.

A betta fish wakes up and reacts to even the slightest movement or sound. It is very alert to its surroundings to keep itself safe from harm. Naturally, a betta fish has the instinct to sleep lightly.

Although the betta fish is a light sleeper, it has a sleeping pattern similar to ours. It is active and awake during the day and sleeps at night time. It also takes naps throughout the day.

Moreover, a betta fish even has individual sleeping preferences. Some fish prefer to sleep on their sides, as long as you provide your tank with comfortable thick leaves or hammocks. It can also squeeze between the tank and filter, and some betta fish will float at the top of the aquarium.

Others sleep vertically or wedge themselves between the corner of the aquarium and the filter. However, this position will instantly wake a betta fish, forcing it to swim away.

You might be shocked because of its sleeping positions the first few times you see your betta fish sleeps. In fact, it sleeps in different bizarre and unique positions.

Since it is a light sleeper, it needs a deserved rest. Do not tap or disturb the tank when it is sleeping unless you are anxious about the condition of your betta fish.

These sleeping behaviors indicate that aquarium plants and tank ornaments are essential. These places are considered safe places by a betta fish.

This is evident since it likes to use shadows cast by these ornaments for a comfortable sleep. It also hides in these places if a betta fish feels threatened for various reasons or even stressed. For this reason, consider adding plants and other ornaments to make your betta fish secure and happy.

On the other hand, if the betta fish sleeps too much on its side, it could mean health problems – such as bladder disease, ammonia poisoning, or temperature shock. Meanwhile, it can suffer from a lack of sleep due to few reasons. We will dive into these details later in this article.

When do Betta Fish sleep?

A betta fish is similar to any other fish. Some fish species are nocturnal, hiding and resting during the day and becoming active during the night.

Meanwhile, a betta fish is the other way around. Much like a human being, it is most active during the day and sleeps at night. That said, a betta fish is even notorious for taking short naps during the day.

How can you tell if a Betta Fish is sleeping?

You might be asking right now – how to determine if a betta fish is sleeping? Fortunately, there are different ways to identify if a betta fish is sleeping.

You will probably notice a betta fish sleeps if it does not move or complete still. If your betta fish follows a regular sleeping cycle, it does not move at night. It means that it is asleep.

And as mentioned, it also takes naps during the day. Hence, do not get shocked if it is entirely still during this time.

Another way you can tell if your betta fish is sleeping is by looking at its gills. Its gills and mouth move slowly as it breathes while the rest of its body is completely still or idle.

Furthermore, experts state that the betta fish’ color will look less vivid while it is sleeping. Other fish owners are not quite sure about this, but it happens when the betta fish sleeps. Conversely, the colors appear brighter when it is active and awake.

If you notice less vivid colors, completely still and slow-moving gills, it means that your betta fish is sleeping peacefully. As mentioned, it also takes a nap during the day. In short, it is completely inactive when it is asleep, whether it’s day or night.

Where do Betta Fish sleep?

As mentioned, most betta fish sleep as long as there are ornaments in the tank. These places are considered as its safe place to hide, sleep or rest. However, it depends entirely on the fish.

Some betta fish sleep behind a filter, on top of the ornaments, or beneath the gravel. The places where a betta fish sleeps might prompt you to think that it is odd for the fish to do it.

However, it’s not uncommon for a betta fish to sleep in these areas. Other betta fish might even be resting at the bottom of the fish tank.

Other betta fish sleep at the bottom of the tank. This might be common due to many factors.

Since it is used to slow-moving water in its natural habitat, a betta fish will avoid filter current that is too powerful. As a result, it moves around too much to seek a place that has less current. By then, you might find it at the bottom to avoid the flow of the filter pump.

In general, a betta fish sleeps anywhere. However, if you want to make it as comfortable as possible, you need to know that it prefers to sleep by ornaments and broad-leaved plants.

If you’re choosing the best plant for your betta fish to add to the fish tank, buy the Anubias. It looks like a cuplike bed leaf where a betta fish can sleep comfortably.

However, if you don’t want to add live plants to a fish tank, you can invest in a betta hammock. The betta fish adore the silky faux-leaves of the betta hammock. It’s also inexpensive.

Read more about it here: Best Betta Hammock & Buyers Guide.

What can I do to allow my Betta Fish to sleep well?

A betta fish, just like any living creatures, needs darkness to sleep. You can provide a shade to your aquarium to make your betta fish more comfortable in your fish tank.

To provide shade for your betta fish, choose a location that is shaded enough to place the fish tank. Make sure that it avoids direct sunlight coming from the windows.

You can also add tall or floating plants to block the harsh light from outside. Add decorations such as caves, bridges, or tunnels to provide your betta fish a nice spot to sleep. These ornaments are able to provide the shade the betta fish needs when it wants to sleep.

Furthermore, you need to provide adequate light to your betta fish of between 8 to 12 hours and 12 to 16 hours of darkness every day. When it is nighttime, don’t leave the light turned on in your fish tank. In this way, the betta fish will be able to sleep peacefully.

However, each betta fish is different. Although you have provided shades to create a sleeping spot for the fish, there is no guarantee you can make it sleep in these areas.

Hence, you should provide your betta fish many choices of beds aside from placing ornaments or placing the tank in shaded spots. You can give shady areas at the top, middle, and bottom of the fish tank. In this way, your betta fish will be able to choose a favorite sleeping spot.

It might be challenging to provide several sleeping spots in a smaller fish tank. In this case, observe where the betta fish prefers to sleep. You can then add decoration as a shady spot for a sleeping area for the betta fish.

Why does my Betta Fish sleep too much?

Early on, we have tackled different sleeping behaviors of a betta fish. While a betta fish is a light sleeper, it can oversleep at times.

If your fish is active for most of the day, it can compensate for naps during the same day. However, if you notice that it is very inactive during the daytime, it is not a problem. There are some things to consider that causes your betta fish to oversleep:

Too dark Aquarium

It has been mentioned earlier that a betta fish prefers to sleep when it is dark. A betta fish can determine the best time to sleep depending on how much light is present in the fish tank.

If you turn off the lights from your tank for too long, then it will prompt the betta fish to sleep more than it should.

It also sleeps more if the lights you are using in your fish tank are not bright enough. If this is the case, buy a brighter light from a pet shop or an online store. In the meantime you currently do not own a tank light, you can wake up your betta fish by placing the fish tank somewhere sunny.

Water Temperature

A betta fish is sensitive to temperature changes. If the water in the aquarium is too cold, it could experience a temperature shock. It could also affect its metabolism by slowing it down. Thus, it moves less frequently, making it much less active than it should be.

A water temperature that is considered cold for a betta fish is below 72 degrees Fahrenheit. If you find out that the temperature is at this level, you need to warm the water slowly.

Avoid heating the tank aggressively, or you might worsen the condition of your betta fish. Raise the temperature slowly over an hour or more. By increasing the temperature, you will notice your betta fish begins to move.

You can also place a heater beside the filter outlet. This will ensure that the warm water will distribute throughout the fish tank. Then, position a thermometer at either end of the tank. In this way, the temperature will be distributed equally in the tank.


Often, an oversleeping betta fish is not something to be concerned about. However, if changing the lights or temperature did not work to wake your betta fish, then it might be sick.

It’s a good thing to check your fish’s physical condition by observing if it has spots, sores, or swelling. At times, a betta fish can also suffer from an ulcer which causes it to be lethargic.

If you notice these signs, you should identify what is causing your betta fish to get sick so you can treat it correctly. These are the diseases that a betta fish suffers:

  • Columnaris
  • Rotting of fin/tail
  • Hemorrhagic
  • Popeye
  • Dropsy
  • Eye cloud
  • Furunculosis
  • Mouth fungus
  • Fish fungus
  • Ich
  • Velvet
  • Anchor Worms
  • Head hole

All these diseases require immediate treatment. While some of these diseases are benign, others are lethal.

These illnesses lead to a lower survival rate of your betta fish. To be sure, you can consult your veterinarian on how you can save your betta fish. If it cannot be saved, you can choose another route – euthanizing it humanely.

Too boring Aquarium

Another reason why your betta fish sleeps too much is that your aquarium is a boring-looking one. If you have fewer decorations, it will sleep rather than swimming in your fish tank back and forth.

Keep in mind to choose an appropriate size of the aquarium for your betta fish. In this way, you will know how many decorations to add to your fish tank to alleviate the betta fish’s boredom.

You can add toys, a bridge, or a betta mirror to ensure the betta fish does not get bored. Adding these decorations will also encourage to do more activities in a day. You might also want to change the décor from time to time to give the betta fish a new environment for exploration.

Age of the Betta Fish

Your betta fish might be old enough; that’s why it is sleeping more than usual. A betta fish lives between 3 to 5 years.

If it reaches between this age, it is not unusual if it slows down and sleeps more. Unfortunately, old age is inevitable, and you cannot do anything about it.

Lazy Betta Fish

Some betta fish are active, but some are just lazy. If your betta fish is in perfect health, then he might just be lazy. If it concerns you, make sure to tap the fish tank lightly to awake the fish. You can even add decorations that might find your betta fish entertaining.

Why is my Betta Fish not sleeping enough?

All bettas sleep. They sleep in regular hours, and others sleep too much. However, it is an entirely different situation when the betta fish sleeps lesser than usual. These are the reasons why it happens:

Too much Light in the Tank

Naturally, a betta fish sleeps in the night-time due to darkness. However, if you place your aquarium near a bright light or turn on the light in the fish tank all day long, it will be difficult for the betta fish to sleep. You are not giving your betta fish a suitable environment for proper sleep.

Unwanted Tank Mates

It’s common for betta fish to live alone in a fish tank because it is territorial. It does not want to share the fish tank with other species. Adding other fish will stress out your betta fish to the point it won’t be able to sleep.

Conclusion – Do Betta Fish sleep?

A betta fish sleeps, just like human beings and other living creatures. Most bettas are active during the day and sleep during the night. They even take naps during the day.

A betta fish has different sleeping patterns, including positioning vertically or wedging between the corner of the aquarium and the filter. It also likes to sleep with ornaments since it is considered a safe place by the betta fish. Opt to add tall plants, betta hammock, or Anubis to provide a sleeping area for your betta fish.

To know if it is sleeping, it does not move, mostly during the night or when it takes a nap. You can also tell that a betta fish sleeps if its gills are moving slowly. The color of the betta fish also looks less vivid when it sleeps. Conversely, the colors look brighter when it is awake.

Hence, it’s important to provide better conditions for your betta fish so it can sleep properly. To make sure it sleeps in right conditions, you need to:

  1. Avoid placing your aquarium in a very dark area for more extended periods.
  2. Provide your betta fish adequate lighting of between 8 to 12 hours.
  3. Leave the fish tank dark every single day for about 12 to 16 hours.
  4. Ensure that the water is not below 72 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid worsening your betta fish condition. It can slow down the metabolism of the fish, which forces it to sleep frequently.
  5. You also need to make sure your betta fish is free of illness since it can sleep too much when it’s weak. This is also true when it’s old. However, old age is something you cannot do anything about.
  6. Add decorations to your aquarium to make it livelier. In this way, your fish won’t be able to sleep in boredom.
  7. Don’t forget that a betta fish stresses out when it’s together with other fish species. It will cause it to sleep less, affecting its condition in the long run.
  8. Lastly, do not leave the light for too long. The betta fish won’t be able to sleep enough in such conditions.

Following these steps will allow the betta fish to sleep properly. Give your betta fish the sleep it deserves. Do not also try to wake your betta fish when it is sleeping. It will stress your betta fish since it is a light sleeper. It is easily affected by the changes in its surroundings.

I hope this guide helps you to know when your betta fish is awake or asleep. Just like human beings, it deserves a proper rest.


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