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Do Betta Fish Sleep? Vet-Approved Reasons & FAQs

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By Lindsey Stanton

betta fish

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you have ever wondered whether or not your betta fish sleeps, the answer is yes, they do.

You might also be wondering how often do betta fish sleep and how long do they sleep. Well, let’s get right to it and do our best to tell you all about betta fish and sleeping.

tropical fish 2 dividerHow Do Betta Fish Sleep?

Just like you, your betta fish needs sleep as well. Something you might be wondering is what a sleeping betta fish looks like.

One thing to keep in mind is that although these tropical fish are active during the day, and although they generally sleep during the night, they may also sleep during the day. They often enjoy taking short daytime naps, although these naps may only last for a few minutes.

These are pretty odd creatures, and betta fish may sleep in several ways. You might notice that your betta fish may like to sleep on their side, which is perfectly normal. Many fish have a “sleeping preference”, just like how you would prefer a specific side of the bed or a specific sleeping position.

Some Bettas like to sleep on their sides, and sometimes right on the bottom of the tank as well. What is also normal is to see betta fish sleeping on leaves. They often enjoy finding a soft leaf to lay down sideways on, almost like a human in a bed.

However, do keep in mind that if bettas spend too much time on their side or listing in any one direction, without real motion, then it could be a sign that you have a sick betta in your tank.

Keep in mind that a sleeping betta will have their eyes open, as these fish do not have eyelids

betta fish tank
Photo Credit: Yan Cabrera from Pixabay

How Long Do Betta Fish Sleep

Just like with human beings, bettas are all slightly different, and the one in your tank might be different from the betta in your neighbor’s tank. For the most part, bettas sleep at night, just like us humans, and they should mostly be active during the day.

That said, remember that if your betta is sleeping during the day, they do take short naps a few times per day. However, if your betta is sleeping a lot during the day, it could be a sign that something is wrong.

A betta sleeping all day may be ill or may not be living in the right conditions. All in all, anywhere between 8 and 12 hours of sleep is pretty normal.

Reasons Why Your Betta Sleeps A lot

  • Your fish may look like they are sleeping if the water is too cold. This will slow down its metabolism and may even cause temperature shock. If you notice this, check the water temperature. These are warm water animals and these fish need the water to be at a certain temperature. Their ideal temperature is 82.4 °F (28 °C).
  • Make sure that your aquarium lights are bright enough and on for long enough each day. Your Betta may be sleeping a lot simply because you leave the light off for too long. Ensure that you have a fairly bright light in the tank as well. Bettas should ideally be housed in a 14:10 light:darkness schedule, that is, 14 hours of light followed by 10 hours of darkness. It’s best if the first and last hours of the lighted hours are less intense than the others (to simulate sunrise and sunset).
  • Bettas need stimulation too and yes, they can get bored. If your little guy or gal is resting all day and not doing much, it could just be pure boredom. Put some toys in the tank and see what happens.

Do Bettas Hibernate?

No, these fish do not hibernate, but if the temperature drops below a certain mark, they may go into temperature shock.

Always remember that the tank water for these fish needs to be at a certain temperature, or else various health issues can and will arise.

betta fish
Photo Credit: Mr.Soonthorn Thonglor, Shutterstock

Can Bettas Sleep With The Light on?

Although your betta may take a nap during the day on occasion, in terms of their sleep patterns, they are a lot like humans. They like to have darkness to sleep and they do not enjoy having the lights on.

Is My Betta Fish Dead or Sleeping?

When fish sleep, they do almost look like they might be dead. Of course, having a dead betta in the tank is not a fun time. So, how do you tell if your betta is sleeping or dead?

  • You can try to keep an eye on the gills and mouth of your betta. If the mouth and gills are moving, it means that it is breathing. Bettas breathe too, and it’s a sign that there is still life left in them.
  • If your betta is listing heavily towards one side, and it has its tail pointing upwards from the substrate, for a long period, it might not just be asleep.
  • If it is daytime, bettas should not be sleeping except for occasional naps. If you notice that your fish is sleeping all day, well then chances are that it is not just resting.
  • If you notice any weird things such as white spots, raised scales, or bulging eyes, these are all signs of bad health in bettas.

Important: It is best to not disturb your Betta if you think they are asleep and the tank is in a dark room. A sudden flick or tap of the tank, water swirl, or turning the light can sometimes shock fish into death. If you suspect that your fish has passed away, wait a while before gently scooping them up in a net to inspect them closer.

tropical fish 2 dividerConclusion

The bottom line is that yes, bettas do sleep, usually during the night, but with a few occasional naps during the day as well. They enjoy sleeping on their sides, sometimes at the bottom of the tank or on soft things like leaves.

If you notice that your betta is asleep too much, you may have a sick, bored, or cold fish on your hands. It is best to seek professional help if you’re unsure about your Betta’s sleeping habits.

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Feature Image Credit: Armacus, Shutterstock

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