Do Betta Fish Sleep? [Find the Answer & Amazing Facts]

Do betta fish sleep? Betta fish sleep is an exciting topic, and some things can be concluded about their sleeping habits.

Some argue that betta fish do not sleep at all because they don’t have eyelids. This does not necessarily imply that they are awake 24/7, though. They might just be in a state of resting with their eyes open or closed.

While others argue that betta fish slumber when they are in the aquarium with no light on, which would typically happen at night. However, this does not necessarily mean that they are asleep all of the time either.

They might just be resting or in a lighter state of sleep than humans and other mammals who need to enter REM (rapid eye movement) cycles to get any restful benefits.

However, they might not be sleeping in the same way humans do. This article will take a glimpse at some of the fantastic facts about their sleeping habits.

Do Betta fish sleep?

YES, just like you and me, and other animals, all fish sleep, including bettas. It may look like betta fish spend all the hours showing off their beautiful fins. However, they sleep too. 

Sleep is an essential factor, and they need to sleep in order to regenerate their energy, increase their immunity, and reduce the risk of getting diseases. 

Fish are well-known for their rapid response to danger. Therefore, their sleep patterns are somewhat different. They do not nap in the same way people or other animals do. 

Some species can slow down their metabolism and reduce activity levels while remaining alert even in safe, unchallenged surroundings. Some float motionlessly; others burrow into the substrate or hide in rock crevices. At the same time, some choose a suitable place to nap.

When do Betta fish sleep?

Unlike most fish which are known as being nocturnal, Betta fish spend most of their nights sleeping, much like humans. In addition, they often take short naps during the day.

Because of this, you should restrict the number of hours that your tank light is on during the day and ensure that the tank is completely dark at night. Therefore, the betta will understand when the day has ended and when the night has begun.

How can you tell if your Betta is sleeping?

It might be confusing to tell for a beginner if a betta fish is sleeping or dead. One way is to look at their breathing closely. 

Dead fish do not breathe. When they are awake, they suck water through their mouth and remove it through their gills. You will observe the same pattern during sleeping at a much slower rate. The reason is that Betta fish do not require as much oxygen while they are asleep. 

Another good sign is to look at their colors. If your Betta loses vibrant colors and becomes pale, it does not mean he is unwell; he is probably taking a nap. 

How can you tell if your Betta is sleeping
How can you tell if your Betta is sleeping?

It’s a kind of a natural safeguard for Betta fish. When the fish is sleeping, and hence off guard, the body color changes to a bit dull, so they can’t be noticed easily. 

However, there are many other reasons why Betta fish lose their color. Such as, if the water temperature they live in is colder than their ideal temperature range, then color fades in over time. 

Therefore if it’s a temporary color change and restores as soon as your betta fish awakes, then it’s absolutely ok. However, if it’s a permanent change, something might be wrong. 

Another clue to identify whether your Betta fish is sleeping or dead is its position. Depending on their needs, they can sleep in different positions. It includes lying on one side, on their back, or even with their heads down. 

In the subsequent section, I’ll discuss various sleeping positions of betta fish. Could you stick with me?

How do Betta fish sleep? 

The betta fish sleep pattern is a fascinating subject to study because the circadian rhythm of the Betta is synchronized with our 24-hour cycle. Meaning that they usually sleep at night and stay active in the daytime.

You can help them build a good sleeping habit by turning off your aquarium light at night

So, how do betta fish sleep? Do betta fish sleep with their eyes open? YES, Betta fish sleep with their eyes open at any given time. Betta fish doesn’t have eyelids; therefore, no question about closing their eyes.

Moreover, they have various fascinating sleeping behaviors. Sometimes it becomes really confusing if you’re a new betta owner to understand whether your betta is sleeping or dead.

Here, I’ll describe various sleeping behaviors of betta fish so that you can understand whether your lovely is betta fine or something to be worried about. 

Do Betta fish sleep on the bottom of the tank?

Yes, it’s absolutely fine that betta fish sleep on the bottom of the tank. 

Betta fish usually roam around near the top-middle layer of the water column. Periodically they come to the surface to gulp air and take food during feeding time. 

However, it’s not uncommon for betta fish to get some rest on the substrate area, especially if it’s a sandy bottom. So if your water parameters are all ok, and the fish is not sick, then no need to worry; he could just be resting. 

However, there are other reasons why betta fish may lay at the bottom that you should be careful of. 

Do betta fish sleep at the bottom
Do Betta Fish Sleep at the bottom?

Betta fish prefer gentle currents. However, if the filter flow is too powerful, that may force your Betta to take shelter at the bottom to get some respite from the pump’s discharge.

Another common reason is temperature shock. Again, you should check the temperature whether it’s dropped. Although it’s less likely to happen if you have a heater, the heater may stop working

In addition, if the water temperature is not consistent throughout the tank; fish may relocate themself to a place of better comfort. If the heater is ok, place the heater next to the filter outlet to distribute heat evenly throughout the tank. 

Apart from the above reasons, chemical poisoning like ammonia or nitrate, disease, or stress can force betta fish to take place at the bottom. 

Do Betta fish sleep on their side? 

If you notice Betta fish laying on their side, there’s no need to panic! Most probably, they have been taking a nap. 

If your fish swims normally and doesn’t have any disease symptoms and tank parameters are in a healthy range. In that case, this is just their unique way of sleeping underwater. 

Do betta fish sleep on their side
Do betta fish sleep on their side

However, if you observe your fish spending a lot of time laying on his side, then you should be concerned. This could be because of health problems like swim bladder disease, ammonia poisoning, temperature shock, or stress. 

Do Betta Fish Sleep On Leaves?

A betta fish likes to sleep while resting on plants having leaves sticking out of the water. So if you have a plant like that, your Betta will sleep there. The leaves provide him with support as he sleeps.

For bettas, one of the best plants is Anubias. Their leaves form a cuplike bed that’s great for sleeping. If you don’t have live plants in the tank, you can buy artificial leaves, which are inexpensive and very popular with betta fish.

Look at the video below about how betta fish sleep on the Anubias leaf.

Betta fish also love to sleep on floating plants. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to add some plants to your betta tank, but make sure to avoid toxic plants, that could be harmful to bettas.

Betta fish sleeping on floating Wisteria
Betta fish sleeping on floating Wisteria

Do Betta fish sleep at the top of the tank?

A betta fish is a labyrinth fish with pseudo-lungs, requiring them to breathe from air and water. Because of this, most bettas prefer to stay near the water’s surface. It is their natural zone, and they don’t have to swim up and down as much to breathe. 

A betta hammock, betta log, or broad-leaved plant to lay on while sleeping would be appreciated by your Betta if he prefers to relax near the surface.

Do Betta fish sleep upside down?

You may find your betta sleeping upside down at times, with its head pointing toward the bottom of your aquarium. Although bettas tend to sleep on their stomachs or on their sides, they may occasionally sleep upside down as well.

In fact, many first-time betta owners even panic, thinking their pet has a disease. This is because they have not seen their pet sleep like that before, then all of this might seem strange.

Do betta fish sleep upside down
Do betta fish sleep upside down

Although it is normal to see them turned upside down, it is a reason for concern if you notice other signs of illness. The most common disease that causes bettas to turn upside down is swim bladder disease. 

It occurs when the swim bladder is too full, usually caused by overfeeding or cooler water temperatures. In addition, it can also be caused by ammonia poisoning if there is no filter in place to get rid of it.

How many hours do Betta fish sleep?

One study found that betta fish slept for about 2-6 hours, while another study found that they slept from 6-12 hours a day, which corresponds to up to 1/3rd of their entire day.  

You can expect your Betta to sleep in the range of 12 to 14 hours per day, including naps. Again, this is normal and healthy. 

How many hours do betta fish sleep
How many hours do betta fish sleep

Do Bettas need darkness to sleep?

In the same way, as you, your pet needs darkness to know when it’s time to sleep.

The ideal amount of daylight to provide to your fish is between 8 and 12 hours. The appropriate amount of darkness is between 12 to 16 hours. Therefore, during the night, your tank should not be lit up.

Do Betta Need Darkness to Sleep
Do Betta Need Darkness to Sleep

Suppose you’re forgetful to turn the light off. In that case, I suggest using an aquarium timer to automatically turn the light on and off. 

Do Betta Fish Sleep a Lot? [Reasons for Oversleeping]

The simple answer is that betta fish sleep as much as they want to. It appears that betta fish sleep a lot, but there are discrepancies in how much and how long they sleep. 

Temperature shock

Betta fish are susceptible to temperature; a sudden temperature change can shock them. A shocked betta will be much less active. 

In addition, if the temperature drops below 72 degrees Fahrenheit, their metabolism slows down, and they become sluggish and lethargic. Keeping bettas in a cold temperature can also be lethal for your fish, which can significantly reduce their lifespan. 

Temperature Shock
Temperature Shock

The ideal temperature for Betta fish tank is 78 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Obviously, you need a heater to maintain the temperature in that range. If your temperature is lower than ideal, gradually raise the temperature over a few hours; otherwise, a sudden increase in temperature can shock your Betta fish. 

The tank lighting is too dim

Light in the tank impacts the sleeping patterns of your betta fish heavily. Suppose your aquarium light is not powerful enough to illuminate the tank properly. In that case, this might be a cause for oversleeping. 

The reason is, depending on the light fish determines when and how much to sleep. Fish require 10-12 hours of sufficient lighting to run their circadian cycle smoothly

Your Betta is bored

Another reason for oversleeping is a lack of entertainment. If your Betta is unhappy or depressed, that might impact his sleeping pattern. 

If your tank lacks sufficient decorations and toys to entertain your Betta, it’s time to add some. Include plenty of decorations and provide some hiding spots and toys to play with. 

Keeping plants, driftwood, rocks, and floating logs can bring joy to your betta fish. Moreover, betta fish are interactive and intelligent; you can train them to play, which will undoubtedly reduce their boredom. 

Some include mirrors as a betta toy; however, I don’t recommend using them. The idea behind the mirror is to flare betta fish by making them think that another betta might invade his territory. However, infuriating betta fish in this way might stress them and could be detrimental to their health. 

In addition, if betta fish are kept in small containers and often not fed enough, it leads to decreased activity levels, making them more sleepy than usual.

Your Betta is sick

If everything in your tank is unchanged and suddenly your betta fish is sleeping more, he may be sick. 

Betta fish can develop several diseases in their life span. The most common disease is constipation, as they are voracious eaters and susceptible to overfeeding.

A bloated or constipated fish usually become inactive and rest on the substrate. In addition, they face challenges in swimming evenly. In that case, limit the food intake for 1-2 days. After that, slowly feed them with frozen or live bloodworms. Hopefully, that will solve the problem.

Betta fish can also be affected by other diseases, such as fungus or bacterial infection. Most common are fin/tail rot, ich, dropsy, popeye, and velvet.

Above mentioned diseases show apparent symptoms and require treatment. Unfortunately, the survival rate is not so high.

Sick, Lazy or Old Betta
Sick, Lazy, or Old Betta

You have a lazy Betta!

Not all fish are equally active. There is a possibility that your Betta is a lazy one. However, you can make them more dynamic and entertain them in the form of tank mates, toys, and training to play with you. 

It’s essential to help your Betta fish get some exercise because it’s very common to be obese. Obesity can lead to numerous health issues and eventually can shorten their lifespan. 

Is Your Betta Old?

Old age is another reason for oversleeping. Betta fish usually has a lifespan of three to five years. Unfortunately, it’s very common for Betta fish to Slow Down And become less active as they become older. It’s inevitable, and nothing could be done to prevent this other than let them sleep more. 

It feels sad, but you should be proud of it as you have given your betta fish a full and happy life. So keep up the excellent work, and continue providing a suitable living environment till his last breath. 

Why Betta Fish Can’t Get Enough Sleep?

It’s challenging to understand whether your Betta is sleeping or not because they sleep by keeping their eyes wide open. However, there are several reasons why bettas can’t get enough sleep as they should. 


Careful selection of tank mates is essential for your Betta to lead a stress-free life and get a good sleep. For example, you can’t keep two male bettas together, as they will fight with each other to retain dominance over their territory. Similarly, you shouldn’t put other aggressive fish in the same tank with Betta. 

Although, you can make a betta sorority tank with caution. The best tank mates for betta fish are schooling fish such as neon tetra, play, and bottom feeder fish. You have to ensure your Betta is not stressed for a night of better sleep. 

Your tank is too bright

Bettas sleep in the darkness during the night. Therefore, leaving your aquarium lights on 24 hours a day will not provide an atmosphere that allows your Betta to sleep well.


Knowing Betta fish’s unique sleeping patterns and habits is essential to becoming a responsible betta owner and providing your fish a good life. 

Betta fish do sleep, like you. So your job is to provide them with a suitable environment to get some good sleep. 

Limit the lighting duration in their tank and ensure tank temperature and other parameters are favorable for your Betta.  

I hope this article will help determine the difference between a sleeping betta and a dead Betta. I’ve mentioned numerous sleeping behaviors and locations for betta fish. Have you seen any sleeping bettas in other strange places? Please leave a comment below.  

Sujit Modak

2 thoughts on “Do Betta Fish Sleep? [Find the Answer & Amazing Facts]”

  1. my betta seems to like sleeping on the floating plant i turn the pump /filter off for the night so he dont need to swim all the time and i dont use lights for my tank i allow the day to determine the amount of light in the room, my betta is very happy fishy

    • Hi Steve,
      Nice to hear about your betta fish. Yes, floating plants provide great space for betta fish to sleep. I have a question for you, what is the most surprising place you find your betta sleeping?


Leave a Comment