Do Betta Fish Sleep? (Or Is There A Problem)

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Last Updated on 2023-05-29

If you’re new to betta fish keeping then one question you may be asking yourself is “do betta fish sleep?” after all, how can fish sleep if they need to spend all their time floating? If you’re curious to know whether betta fish actually sleep, then you’ve found the right article!

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know!

So, Do Betta Fish Sleep?

It sounds about right that betta fish should sleep, however, you may not have seen it yet. Well..

Betta fish sleep for about 12-14 hours per day, most of which normally occurs during the night. However, there are times where you may notice your betta laying on a leaf or decoration and taking a nap too.

What Does A Sleeping Betta Fish Look Like?

During sleep, bettas become a lot more still. A surefire way to know if your betta is sleeping depends on the time of the day. If your betta isn’t moving at night, then that’s a great way of knowing that he’s asleep. (However, they do like to nap in the day as well.)

The best way you can tell if your betta is sleeping though is, to look at his gills. While the rest of his body will be pretty idle, his gills and mouth will be slowly moving as he continues to breathe in and out.

Your betta may also appear to lose some of his colors while he sleeps. I’m not quite sure how true this is, however, it would be interesting to keep an eye out for it and see what happens!

Lastly, don’t bother looking at your betta’s eyes while he sleeps. He doesn’t have eyelids, so they’re always going to be open, even when he’s sleeping.

How To Tell When Your Betta Is Sleeping?

Basically, any time that you notice your betta is stationary for a prolonged period of time in your tank, then there’s a good chance that he’s sleeping. Especially if the prolonged period of inactivity occurs during the night.

Do Betta Fish Sleep On Their Sides?

One time, I looked into my tank and noticed my betta laying sideways across some java moss. As you can imagine, as a new betta owner, I was terrified that he was sick. As I moved closer to the tank, he got up and started swimming around as if nothing had happened. So to answer your question, betta fish do sleep on their sides!

In fact, it’s extremely common for bettas to sleep on their sides. You’ll often see your betta lounging on plants in your tank, or sometimes even on the substrate. If you do notice them laying on their sides, though, it could be them suffering from swim bladder disease.

Swim bladder disease can often affect a bettas buoyancy. If he’s suffering from swim bladder disease, then he may have trouble staying upright.

As well as swim bladder disease, a betta on his side could also be symptoms of temperature shock and ammonia poisoning.

Do Betta Fish Sleep On The Bottom Of The Tank?

As well as sleeping on his side, you may also notice your betta sleeping on the bottom of your tank. Fortunately, it’s not uncommon for your betta to do this. In fact, I’ve noticed my betta doing it a few times (even with corydoras in the tank).

However, while your betta sleeping on the bottom of the tank isn’t a problem in itself, it could be an indicator of a problem.

One reason your betta may be sleeping there is that the filter current is too strong. If you notice, your betta gets pushed around by the filter current or he always avoids the top of the tank then you may need to reduce how strong the flow is. Check out how here!

Another common reason is that the water is too hot or cold. If this is happening then your betta may be moving to the spots in the tank that are a better temperature.

While in a lot of cases, this normally results in them moving to the top of the tank, on occasion the bottom may be the right temperature.

And they may also be laying on the bottom of the tank due to dropsy or another illness.

(If you do notice your betta fish laying on the bottom of the tank, then here are all of the reasons it may be happening!)

Do Betta Fish Sleep On Leaves?

A lot of betta fish choose to sleep on leaves. They provide great support for them and help them stay comfortable. I have some anubias in my tank that my betta loves to sleep on.

If you don’t want to use live plants in your tank, but you want to see if your betta will sleep on a leaf then you can buy a betta leaf hammock! They’re really cheap and lots of bettas love them.

How Else Do Bettas Sleep?

Bettas are extremely odd fish, in fact, the chances are I could list multiple common ways bettas sleep, and you’d still notice your betta doing something different.

The most important point to take away here is that when your betta is in a weird position, don’t panic straight away. Check that everything’s alright.

Some bettas sleep vertically, others wedge themselves between things (just make sure there’s enough room to get out), some like to hide, and others like to lay across leaves. Whatever your betta is doing, a lot of the time it’s perfectly healthy and normal behavior.

So Do Betta Fish Need Something To Sleep On?

If you’re reading this, then you may be thinking that your betta needs something to sleep on. However, lots of bettas choose to float while they sleep.

It’s always a good idea to give your betta the opportunity to sleep on something, such as plants or a betta log. However, if you notice that he prefers to sleep floating in the tank, then don’t worry, this is perfectly normal behavior as well.

Do Betta Fish Hibernate?

Betta fish don’t hibernate, and if you think your betta has become a lot more inactive in the colder months then you should check your heater. If your tank is falling below 76°F then your betta is actually going into temperature shock.

This is where his metabolism slows down due to the cold temperatures. Temperature shock is extremely dangerous and if you notice it happening then you need to do whatever you can to heat your tank up.

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Do Betta Fish Need Darkness To Sleep?

When it comes to sleep patterns, bettas are actually very similar to us. We both need a certain amount of darkness every day to know when to sleep, as well as a certain amount of light too. Betta’s will predominantly sleep in darkness, however, they will also take naps throughout the day as well.

If possible you should try to give your betta 8-12 hours of light and 12-16 hours of darkness a day. If you want to learn more then check out this article on whether you should keep your bettas light on or off at night.

How Long Should A Betta Fish Sleep For?

It can be hard to recommend exactly how much time your betta should sleep for. All bettas are different. As a general rule if your betta is sleeping at night and staying active during the day (apart from small naps) then that’s a good amount of time.

However, if you notice lots of inactivity from your betta especially during the day, then it could be a sign of something bad.

What Does It Mean If Your Betta Sleeps All The Time?

If you feel like you’re betta is sleeping all the time then you should double-check that there’s nothing wrong with him. Just remember, naps in the day are fine, but if it is all the time then look for any of these problems:

Your Tank Is Too Cold

One common reason your betta may look like he’s sleeping is if his tank is too cold. When he goes into temperature shock or his metabolism slows down then he’s going to become a lot less active. Because his metabolism is slowing down so much, he’s not going to have as much energy and he’ll end up sleeping more.

If you don’t have a heater for your tank, make sure you get one.

Your Leaving Your Lights Off For Too Long

Your betta will determine when he will sleep and when he will stay awake based on how much light there is in the tank. If you’re leaving your lights off for too many hours then he’s going to think he should sleep more.

As well as this if you’re using lights that aren’t bright enough, then he may also think it’s time to sleep. If you think this is the case, then you can pick up lights off Amazon. In the meantime, I highly recommend finding some other source of light that can keep the tank nice and bright for him.

He’s Getting Bored

Everyone thinks fish aren’t that smart but in fact, if there’s not enough stimulation in your tank bettas can get bored. There can be a whole range of reasons your betta is bored. If his tank isn’t big enough, if there are not enough decorations, if you’re feeding him the same food every day.

You have to make sure that your betta is getting enough stimulation every day. One way to do this is to use a mirror to get him to flare, however, adding tank mates will also keep the tank entertaining for him.

Your Betta Might Be Sick

If your betta is exhibiting other symptoms as well as sleeping a lot then he may be sick. It’s a good idea to check for any differences you notice on your bettas such as spots, swelling, sores, and ulcers. If you notice this, then you should figure out what’s causing them and treat your betta accordingly! Here are different diseases your betta can suffer from.

Your Betta May Be Old

If you’ve had your betta for a number of years then it’s actually normal for him sleep more. As he gets older he’s going to require a lot more sleep then when he was at his healthiest. If you think this is the case, don’t wake him up. Just let him sleep and recover his strength.

You Just Have A Lazy Betta

And lastly, some bettas are just plain lazy. If there’s nothing wrong with your betta or the tank then he may just be lazy. While you should let him sleep more, just make sure he’s still getting enough exercise.

Taking care of your Betta can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Click here to read an article with everything you need to know about Betta fish care.

Do Betta Fish Sleep_ (Or Is There A Problem)


There’s a lot to take in from this article. As you know now betta fish do sleep. However, there was much more to learn than just that. Here are the main things to remember:

  • You can tell if your betta is sleeping by looking at his mouth and gills. As long as they’re still moving in rhythm then there’s nothing to worry about.
  • Bettas can sleep in so many different positions including on their sides, at the bottom of the tank and on leaves. However, they can also sleep whilst floating in the tank.
  • Betta fish do not hibernate. If it seems like your betta is hibernating you should make sure the tank temperature is warm enough.
  • Just like us, bettas need darkness to know when to sleep.
  • Bettas should sleep at night and have little naps in the day. If you notice your betta is sleeping throughout the day there may be a problem such as your tanks too cold, the lights not on for long enough or not bright enough, he’s bored, he’s sick, he’s old, or he may just be lazy.
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