Do Betta Fish Sleep? Betta Sleeping Patterns & Care Guide


If you’re new to betta fish keeping, you might be wondering, “Do betta fish sleep?” The simple answer is yes. But, how do they sleep? And how can you ensure your betta’s environment is set up for a rejuvenating rest?

Bettas sleep by staying in one position in different areas of the tank. Mostly, they’ll sleep in hiding places where they feel safe. You should also note that your betta can sleep at night or during the day.

When keeping betta fish, it’s imperative to understand their behaviors, so you can help them live a long, healthy life. 

In this article, you’ll learn more about your bettas’ sleeping patterns, including care tips to ensure your betta gets the best quality sleep in its tank. Let’s make your bettas happy, shall we?

How to Know If a Betta Fish is Sleeping

Like all animals and humans, Siamese fighting fish (betta fish) also require sleep to rest and recover. However, knowing if betta fish is sleeping can be challenging since they don’t close their eyes. 

A giveaway that your betta fish is sleeping is when it remains motionless with slight gill movements. Similar to humans breathing while sleeping,  your betta will be still, but its gills and mouth will move as they inhale and exhale. 

Your betta fish’s attractive color may also appear dull while sleeping. Bettas change their body color from bright to dull to prevent tank mates (or predators in the wild) from spotting them easily.  But once they wake up, their bodies will revert to their typical bright colors. 

Now that you know what a sleeping betta looks like, you may be curious about their sleeping positions. Bettas are exciting aquarium pets with different sleeping positions:

1. Sleeping Sideways

Have you ever seen your betta fish floating sideways and swam away when you went closer? If yes, he or she was taking a nap. 

If the betta stays in this position for hours, it could be a symptom of swim bladder disease, which interferes with its buoyancy. This is why it’s important to understand your betta’s sleeping patterns and positions, so you can identify when it’s behaving abnormally due to an illness or disease.

2. Other Betta Fish Sleeping Positions

Siamese fighting fish have numerous sleeping positions. Some common positions include:

  • Curling themselves like a dog or cat
  • Sideways with their head facing the bottom of the aquarium
  • Completely vertical. I know it sounds surprising, but your betta can sleep entirely facing the bottom of the tank. There is a risk that this vertical sleeping position in the vertical death hang, however. You can tap the glass or throw some food to see if the betta reacts. If the betta starts swimming normally, you can be sure it was resting.

Whichever position the betta chooses, you should avoid disturbing them once you realize they are sleeping.

Now that you know how betta fish sleep, let’s see where betta fish like to sleep in the aquarium.

Where Do Betta Fish Like to Sleep?

Bettas can sleep anywhere in the tank as far as the conditions are right. The following are their most favored sleeping areas:

1.  Bottom of the Tank

Regardless of your tank substrate—whether sand or gravel—your bettas will mostly sleep in the bottom area of your aquarium. If the fish doesn’t swim away from the bottom after napping, however, it might be a sign of stress. 

Your betta might be avoiding strong filter currents which push it away. If the water temperature is unsuitable, betta fish will also go to the tank’s top or bottom area to find the right temperature.

2. Plants

Adding live plants is one of the main ways of improving aeration and beautifying your aquarium. Besides this, aquarium plants offer safe places for bettas to hide and rest.

Your bettas may sleep behind the aquarium plants, at the base, or on the leaves. Most Siamese fighting fish sleep on plant leaves for comfort and support while resting.

3. Hiding Places

Bettas like sleeping in areas they feel safe from other fish and tank mates. Therefore, you may find your betta hiding and sleeping in these areas:

  • Inside or behind aquarium decorations 
  • Between or under the rocks 
  • Inside fish caves

Like other fish, bettas need various hiding places to feel secure. You can go for artificial aquarium plants if you don’t like maintaining live aquarium plants.
It would also mean the world to your bettas if you added other hiding places like betta logs and fish caves.

When Do Betta Fish Sleep?

If you’re anything like us, you enjoy quick naps during the day and deep sleep at night. If that’s the case, we aren’t different from bettas since they sleep at night but take daytime naps.

Like humans, betta fish are diurnal, meaning they’re active during the day and rest at night. 

During the day, some bettas may find a suitable place and sleep; however, if you move closer or tap the glass, they’ll swim away almost immediately. Fish are super sensitive even while asleep, thanks to their lateral line, which senses and alerts the fish of any danger. 

Your Bettas will also sleep during the night. Therefore, you should provide lighting to your tropical fish for 10 to 14 hours daily. At night, turn it off to allow them to sleep. 

If you’re forgetful, buy an automatic aquarium light that adjusts the lighting automatically at set hours. 

How Long Do Betta Fish Sleep?

Bettas sleep during the night and in the daytime. That’s why you should provide bettas with 12-16 hours of darkness every day to ensure they get enough time to sleep. 

A healthy betta fish should typically sleep for 12-14 hours daily (daytime naps and night sleep). Does this mean bettas are lazy? No, but if you work harder, you will sleep longer.

The reason bettas need so much sleep is because they’re small-bodied, growing between six to eight cm. Additionally, they have long decorative fins that require more energy to wade in the waters. 

Due to their compact size and long fins, bettas tire quickly. Therefore, they rest longer than other fish. 

Why Is My Betta Sleeping Too Much?

Though bettas have different sleeping habits, too much sleeping might indicate a problem. If you’ve noted that your bettas are oversleeping, here are some of the possible reasons:

1. Lack of Enough Light

Lack of light induces bettas to sleep. Therefore, bettas will be inactive and sleep more than usual if your aquarium has no lights or the lights are dim.

2. Your Betta Might Be Sick

If your betta suffers from an illness, they’ll remain inactive and spend most of their time sleeping. Your betta can suffer from diseases like dropsy, mouth fungus, fin/tail rot, and Popeye

Betta illnesses have different symptoms. Your best shot at saving a sick betta is to seek advice from a vet.

3. Your Betta Is Lazy

Do you sometimes feel lazy and sleepy? It’s the same with bettas. Some are active, while others are lazy. Lazy bettas will spend most of their time sleeping in the tank.

4. The Temperature Isn’t Right

One of the main stress-causing factors in a betta tank is temperature shock. When the water temperatures go lower than 720 F, your bettas turn cold and inactive. The inactiveness results from a slow metabolism rate due to cold temperatures.

5. Old Age

In their natural habitat, bettas live for about two years; however, your bettas’ lifespan can range from two to five years or even more with proper care. As they get older, their energy levels drop, and they sleep more.

6. The Aquarium Is Boring

If you were in a room with only a bed, you’d spend most hours sleeping, right? The same case applies to your betta tank. The fish will get bored and sleep more if it has no exciting aquarium decorations like caves and tree stumps.

Why Is My Betta Fish Not Sleeping?

Like bettas might sleep too much, they could also sleep too little. The main reasons your bettas may fail to sleep are stress from tank mates and too much light

Though bettas are aggressive, some tank mates may also attack betta fish and prevent them from sleeping. Additionally, if your aquarium lights are too bright and you don’t dim or turn them off, it’ll be difficult for your bettas to sleep.

Care Guide: How to Ensure Your Betta Fish Sleep Well

Keeping betta fish requires you to pay details to all factors that ensure your fish are healthy and happy. One of the ways to keep them healthy is to ensure they get enough sleep. You can do that by:

1. Maintaining the Right Temperature 

Your betta fish thrives well in water temperatures from 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. You can invest in an in-tank thermometer to always have the water’s temperature readings. Besides a thermometer, you’ll need an aquarium heater that maintains the right water temperature.

2. Upgrading Your Tank

We recommend investing in live or artificial aquarium plants and decorations such as caves. These additions will keep your bettas active and engaged as they explore. Lighting that dims or switches off automatically can also be a good addition to a betta’s tank, allowing it to sleep peacefully. 
Bettas can also get bored when alone. You can add good betta tankmates such as cory catfish to kill bettas’ boredom. If your tank is too small, upgrade to a larger one. You should aim for a five-gallon tank for a single betta.

3. Seeking Help From a Vet

You might have done all you could for your betta, but they’re still inactive. What next? At this time, you should seek help from an aquarium vet. As a professional, the vet can diagnose your bettas and offer treatment. If you’re a beginner betta owner, you can also ask the vet to advise you on your betta’s feeding requirements and how to keep them healthy.

How Do You Know if a Betta Fish Is Sleeping?

When you see your betta is motionless, but the mouth and gills are moving, you can conclude they’re sleeping. Bettas sleep in various positions and areas in a tank, so as long as the gill is moving, he or she is sleeping and not dead.

Do Betta Fish Like Light When They Sleep?

Like humans, betta fish dislike light when sleeping; however, a betta can nap with lights on or during the daytime. To ensure they thrive, switch the lights off for 12-16 hours to give them enough time to sleep.

Do Betta Fish Sleep at the Bottom of the Tank?

Yes. Besides sleeping at the bottom, bettas can sleep at the top of the tank, on leaves, behind plants, and in hiding places. You should ensure that your betta tank has caves, logs, and other decorations where fish can hide and sleep

Give Your Betta a Healthy Sleep!

It’s always exciting to watch your bettas playing in the tank; however, they need their beauty sleep too. Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand your betta’s sleeping patterns and how to provide an environment that allows it to display healthy sleeping behaviors. For more betta care tips including aquarium setup and more, check out our betta fish care guide.

If you enjoyed this guide, comment below your thoughts or more tips and share the article so that we can help more betta owners understand their pets.

Logan Price

I created this website to help fellow fishkeepers get accurate and helpful information at the click of a few buttons. I love sharing my tips and tricks to help make you a better fishkeeper, so stay updated by following us on Social Media!

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