How Do Betta Fish Sleep? – 12 Curious Facts About Betta Sleeping Habits

If you have recently bought a betta fish, your days have been full of admiration for the designer fish of the aquatic world.

You have probably seen them eat, swim and play with you, but ever wondered about their sleeping habits? Hard to believe but people often question “do betta fish sleep?”

Yes, of course, they do. Unless blessed by immortality, all living organisms need sleep to recharge.

Betta fish might not tuck themselves into comfortable beds, regardless, they do sleep.

Their sleeping style might shock you at first, so read on to know all the curious facts about betta fish’s sleep.

How Exactly Do Betta Fish Sleep?

Now that the question of “do bettas sleep” is out of the way, let’s look more into the “how” part of it.

Betta sleep is unique as compared to human’s sleep. As they don’t have eyelids, their sleep isn’t as apparent.

Having a territorial persona, they are on constant guard against predators and interlopers. Due to this, they lose their color, to camouflage into the surroundings during rest time.

How Many Hours of Sleep Does Your Betta Need Each Day?

The question isn’t just how long do betta fish sleep but also when. Betta fish have notably striking napping habits.

Recurring naps during the day is inherent to their species. If your betta gets 12 to 14 hours of sleep inclusive of naptime, they are as fit as a fiddle.

How to Catch Your Betta Fish Snoozing?

Betta fish nestle into funny positions while preparing for slumber. If you catch your betta snuggle into certain places in the tank, it indicates snooze time.

A few of these positions to look out for are:

  • Lying on their side
  • Settling on a plant leaf
  • Squeezing in between two decorations
  • On the tank’s gravel
  • Floating around the top
  • Hiding inside an aquarium showpiece

How do I know the difference between a sleeping & dead Betta?

Owing to the recurring nap habits of betta fish, owners often panic whether their betta is asleep or dead. If anyone saw their beloved fish lying quietly in broad daylight, they’d naturally be worried.

Since sleeping positions are another inconsistent factor amongst the species, some sleep lying down, some float at the top, it gives another reason for worry.

But there are clear indications that assist in marking the distinction, such as:

  • Healthy betta will have a slow and consistent breathing rhythm while asleep. You can notice water intake through the mouth and out through the gills.
  • Bettas lose their color as a form of self-defense but quickly regain it once active. If they don’t regain it and seem pale, it is a sign of illness.
  • If they seem lethargic and secluded at the bottom of the tank for days, then you should check-up as soon as possible.

Sleeping upside down – What indicates “bad news” for most fish, is actually a unique trait of the betta fish.

When fish sleep upside down, it raises swim bladder concerns; however, it is customary of betta fish to do so. So, no need to get agonized if you see your betta fish sleeping extraordinarily.   

How Can You Help Your Betta Sleep Better?

Just like humans, betta fish appreciate a comfortable ambience to rest. Creating a quiet and shaded environment is especially important for good sleep.

Betta fish aren’t nocturnal, so turning off lights at night is advised. Decorating the tank with aquarium ornaments like hollow logs, floating plants and corals add to the cozy setting.

Be cautious as to not tap on the glass or disturb them when they nestle into these areas and breathe slowly (an indication of sleep).

How Do Bettas React to their Sensitivity to Light?

Betta fish don’t mind light, having originated from Thailand. Often, it is necessary to provide a light source to eliminate any stress amongst your betta fish.

However, providing a schedule for light hours is essential. This allows them to have a consistent sleep routine.

Direct sunlight should be avoided as it overheats water, promotes algae growth creating improper living conditions for your betta fish.

Do Betta Fish Sleep with the Light On?

Yes, betta fish can sleep with the light on but they will amount to naptime rest and not enough for proper functioning.

Lacking REM sleep, all suitable conditions must be met to offer a calm sleeping environment.

An adequate amount of darkness is required for bettas to sleep, so you must switch off any light sources at night for a healthy sleep cycle.

Are Betta Fish Nocturnal or Diurnal?

Unlike the nocturnal trend popular amongst fishes, betta fish are like humans on this topic. They are active and playful during the day and rest at night.

Diurnal in nature, you won’t notice deep slumber during the day. However, frequent short naps during the day are second nature to them.

What to Do If Your Betta Fish Does Not Sleep?

Detecting the cause of such disruption is the first step. The second is to eliminate the cause of the disruption. Some reasons for improper sleep are:

  • Overheated water in the tank
  • Imbalance in ammonia and other chemicals
  • Too much light during the night

Proper tank management and regular water changes are essential to prevent this.

What to do If Your Betta Fish Sleeps Too Much?

Betta fish should sleep 12 to 14 hours in a 24-hour period. If you notice them sleeping distinctly more, something might be triggering it. Such triggers to look out for are:

  • Cold-water, a drop in temperature slowing metabolism and causing water shock
  • Less light for many hours making your betta drowsy the entire day
  • Filter current is too strong
  • Preliminary signs of illness

Noticing these in its infancy helps inhibit the growth of future problems.

Lethargic Activity – Are All Betta Fish Lazy?

This is a common misconception that betta fish are lazy. If you notice your betta fish being lethargic, there are reasons activating such behavior.

As they are cold-blooded, cold temperatures slow their metabolism and make them inactive.

Installing heaters for altering temperature and colorful decorations to occupy their time can make them more active.


Betta fish are beautiful, unique creatures whose sleeping habits are a little different from the rest of the aquatic world.

Not so unique as to wonder do betta fish sleep. Preparing ideal sleeping conditions shouldn’t be too taxing for diligent fish keepers.

Following simple steps such as light regulating, water change and chemical balancing go a long way.

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