How Do Betta Fish Sleep? (When And Where)

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Now that we know that fish sleep, albeit differently than humans, they follow sleep patterns and different sleeping behaviors.

Betta fish are no different. Unlike most fish, betta fish are much like humans when it comes to their sleeping patterns, i.e., they sleep through the night and are active during the day.

But if you ever wonder how do betta fish sleep, we have your answers! Just stay with us and get valuable insights into betta fish sleep patterns.

Key Takeaways

  • Betta fish do, in fact sleep
  • Bettas like to rest a lot on decor and may appear lazy at times
  • To encourage activity, place them in a larger tank, add tankmates, and decor for enrichment
  • Low temperatures can also lead to excessive resting and sleeping – keep temps from 78 – 82 degrees F

How Do Betta Fish Sleep?

Like all living organisms, betta fish need sleep to function properly1. But of course, the way they sleep is far different than that of humans and other land animals because… well, they live in the sea with no beds, covers, or eyelids. 

Though, the Siamese fighting fish are diurnal animals; they sleep at night and are active during the day—they may take short naps during the day for a few minutes. During nap time, Betta fish usually sleep near the bottom of the tank or on a flat surface, mainly on a plant or substrate. Also, unlike many fish, betta don’t have eyelids, so their eyes remain open when betta are sleeping. 

Since we know that betta fish is a labyrinth fish with a special organ that allows easy breathing on the surface, you may also find them resting near the water’s surface or between floating plants, sleeping in a tilted position. 

However, if your betta fish is spending too much time on their side or in any one direction, make sure it doesn’t have any underlying medical condition. 

All in all, the sight of betta fish sleeping is beautiful and allows you to study your fish’s own sleeping habits and preferences. Some betta fish like to rest in a particular spot or position while some enjoy various sleeping locations. Therefore, it is important to provide your betta fish with a comfortable environment with lots of hiding spots.

Sleeping Or Sick? – How To Tell If They Are

Not sure whether your betta fish is sleeping or sick? Here are some of the ways you can find out if your betta is sleeping. 

Gill flaring


One of the most peculiar behaviors of betta fish is gill flaring which attracts many betta owners and other aquarists. Betta fish flare their gills for a variety of reasons. However, a sleeping betta fish might temporarily cease the gill flaring behavior to preserve energy while at rest. 

Therefore, if you notice minimal or record gill flaring, know that your betta is taking its power nap!

Breathing rate

One of the most common signs your betta is sleeping is the slowed breathing rate with shallower breathing patterns.

Reduced body movement and activity levels

Like other fish, a sleeping fish tend to move slowly for extended periods of time. Therefore, they show minimal movement and interaction. If you’re a new betta owner, you may find your fish resting with no movement and activity levels. Fret not! They are not dead, just sleeping. 

How Long Do They Rest?

Like every human, every individual betta fish is different than others. Therefore, there is no one answer to “How long do betta fish sleep?”

However, betta fish are diurnal animals i.e., they are active throughout the day and sleep at night. Therefore, if you find a betta sleeping a lot during the time, it is not normal behavior and could be a sign of disease or other problems.

On average, betta fish sleep between 8 to 12 hours a day.

Why Do Bettas Rest A Lot?

Picture yourself swimming wearing a big, flared dress non-stop! Sounds tiring, doesn’t it?

The same goes for betta fish. They have such long, flared beautiful wings that it gets tiring to carry them swimming around the fish tank. Therefore, betta fish, in general, fall under the lazy spectrum because they take longer periods of rest and sleep than their counterparts. 

Just like betta fish, many varieties of goldfish with long fins and stout compact bodies also take significant time resting in the aquarium.

Therefore, if your water parameters; water flow, and water temperature are within the ideal ranges, the inactivity of your fish is nothing serious. For your betta fish to thrive in your aquarium, the ideal water temperature should be between 78-82F since they are tropical fish and prefer warmer temperatures. If your water is too cold for their liking, bettas sleep more than usual because of slower metabolism and may suffer from health issues.

Reasons why your Betta Fish is Sleeping a lot

If you find your betta fish sleeping a lot during the day time, there can a various reasons:

No Stimulation


It would surprise you but your little guy in the tank gets bored too. And yes, they need a little stimulation activities. You might also try some fish training techniques. In short, if your betta is sleeping a lot, they might just be bored and need a little loving to be active again. 

Aquarium lights

Betta fish sleep throughout the night. Therefore, if you leave aquarium lights on during the night, they may disturb the natural sleep pattern of your fish and result in abnormal sleep cycles. Betta loves dark tanks, especially during the nighttime time because their natural habitat is dark and shallow with little water movement. Therefore, it’s crucial to mimic their natural habitat for their better health. 

A healthy betta fish needs at least 12 hours of complete darkness each night in a comfortable environment to promote healthy sleep patterns.

Temperature shock 

Many aquarists have a misunderstanding that betta fish hibernate. When in reality, they go into temperature shock if the temperature drops below a certain mark since they are tropical fish.

As a result, they may look like they are sleeping fish, but what actually happens is their metabolism slows down and causes temperature shock. Therefore, maintaining a comfortable water temperature is essential to keeping your betta fish healthy, happy, and thriving in an aquarium setting. 

How to Stop Excessive Resting?

Here are a few things you can do to stop reducing your bettas sleeping time. 

  1. Make sure the temperature in your tank is within the comfortable range; of 78-82F. If not, you can always install a heater to keep the water warm and easy for your betta fish. I also recommend using an in-tank thermometer for reliable temperature readings.
  2. Besides maintaining the water temperature and water flow, it is crucial to feed a varied diet consisting of live food, frozen food, pellets, and other occasional treats for a complete nutritional profile. 
  3. Last, but not least, always call your aquatic veterinarian for a careful examination of your betta fish. The most common fish diseases include mycobacteria and swim bladder disease may cause your fish to be more lazy and lethargic. 

How To Distinguish Between a Sleeping Pet and a Dead One

If you ever spot a betta fish floating on the top of your tank or lying on the bottom of the tank, fret not!

They might just be sleeping… but in some cases, you might mistake a dead betta fish with a sleeping betta fish. Therefore, it’s important to pinpoint the differences between the two. Here are some of the signs of a dead betta fish you should look out for:

  1. If your betta fish stays at the bottom of the tank for several days, chances are they are dead. However, if they have just settled recently, they might just be sleeping peacefully.
  2. If the scales seem pointy and elevated away from the body with a swollen stomach, your betta fish might be just or is near death. 
  3. There are white spots around the body with discolored fins. You can use a flashlight to observe the color carefully.
  4. When they don’t even respond during the feed time and are not interested in food. 

It is crucial to let your betta fish rest. However, if you find your fish lying motionless for long periods, examine the gills and mouth carefully and observe its breathing patterns. If your betta fish is not breathing and moving, know that it’s dead.


How Do You Know If a Betta Fish Is Sleeping?

You can tell if your betta fish is sleeping when there is reduced activity, reduced gill flaring, slowed breathing rate, and shallower breathing patterns. Most importantly, if your betta fish is lying on the bottom of the tank with little to no interaction, it is usually taking its well-deserved rest. 

Do Betta Fish Sleep With The Light On?

No. Since betta fish are diurnal fish species; like humans, they sleep through the night and are active during the day. Therefore, if you leave aquarium lights on during the night and day, they may not sleep as betta fish are light sleepers and aquarium lights may disturb their sleep patterns. 

Nonetheless, leaving them in a dark aquarium for longer periods of time may turn them lazy, less active, and stressed.

What Do Betta Fish Do When They Are Tired?

Betta fish are active swimmers and they should be actively swimming and roaming around the tank regardless of the weight of their fins. However, if you notice your betta fish is spending more time at the bottom of the tank than usual, this is a sign of lethargy and should never be overlooked. 

Does Betta Fish Like Resting On Leaves?

Yes, betta sleeping on leaves is perfectly normal. Betta fish are commonly found resting on large, flat leaves or floating leaves in the tank. Therefore, if you don’t have aquatic plants, you can always get stick-on betta leaf hammocks from pet stores. 

How much time does Betta Fish Sleep?

In general, betta fish need at least 12 hours of darkness for a better and healthy life. They sleep during the night and are active during the day. Therefore, turning the tank light off is your best bet if you want your little guy healthy and happy. 

Why is my Betta fish so lazy?

Many factors contribute to the lethargy of your betta fish. For example, poor water quality, poor diet, unstable tank water temperature, and water flow. If water parameters are not maintained, betta fish sleeps more than usual and this may affect its overall health. Therefore, it is crucial to monitor the parameters and keep an eye on fish diseases.

Final Thoughts

Betta fish keeping as a leisure hobby is increasing day by day, but taking care of your bettas’ sleep is one way to keep them healthy and active. Other than their diet, water parameters, and water flow, you should also consider keeping your tank clean and taking care of their tank mates. Always go for compatible tank mates such as mystery snails, shrimps, and guppies to reduce stress and increase interactivity. 

A betta tank should be well-lit in the daytime and dark throughout the night, so they get enough sleep since they are very light sleepers. 

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