Freshwater Fish

Do Betta Fish Sleep: Where, When, and For How Long?

If you’re new to keeping betta fish, you may be wondering if your pet ever sleeps. If the fish sleep is not a silly question! After all, how can a fish sleep without sinking to the bottom of the tank? And don’t fish need to keep swimming to breathe?

Well, in this article, we answer those questions, plus tell you everything else you need to know about your betta’s sleeping habits.

Do Betta Fish Sleep?

All fish sleep, including bettas. But how do fish sleep?

Fish do not sleep in the same way that people and animals do, although most species of fish do rest.

Many species of fish can slow down their metabolism and reduce activity levels while remaining alert to potential danger. Some species float motionless, others bury themselves in the substratum or hide in a rock crevice, while some choose a suitable nest for sleeping.

Research indicates that these periods of «suspended animation» help fish recover and rest, just as sleep does in mammals.

When Do Betta Fish Sleep?

Some species of fish are nocturnal, spending the day hiding and resting, then coming out at night to feed. Betta fish are most active during the day, mainly sleeping at night. That said, bettas are also known for taking short «naps» during the day.

So do fish sleep with their eyes open?

With the exception of the freshwater puffer fish, most other species of fish do not have eyelids, so they cannot close their eyes when they sleep.

So why don’t fish have eyelids? Well, the eye first appeared in the ancestors of fish. The surface of the eye must remain constantly moist, so it is well adapted to an aquatic environment. This is why fish do not have eyelids; they just don’t need them. However, eyelids have evolved in land creatures to keep the eyes from drying out.

For that reason, you should limit the number of hours your tank light is on during the day and always make sure the tank is in the dark at night. That means your betta will understand when it’s day and when it’s night when it should be sleeping.

How to know if a fish is sleeping?

Some species of fish are nocturnal, spending the day hiding and resting, then coming out at night to feed. Betta fish are most active during the day, mainly sleeping at night. That said, bettas are also known for taking short «naps» during the day.

Betta fish can sleep in various places and positions, which can be confusing. Take a close look at your fish. If he is motionless but his mouth and gills move slowly as he breathes, he is most likely asleep.

Some experts contend that betta colors appear less vivid while the fish sleeps. Conversely, the colors become brighter when the fish is spawning or displaying aggression.

If you notice those signs at night, that’s a very good sign that your betta fish is sleeping. However, don’t forget that betta fish also like to take a nap during the day. Therefore, an inactive betta fish is most likely asleep, no matter what time of day or night it is.

Sleeping Behavior of Betta Fish

So how do betta fish sleep?

Betta fish display a variety of different sleeping behaviors, which can be confusing, especially if you are a new owner.

In this section of our guide, we take a look at betta fish sleeping behavior so you can tell if what your pet is doing is normal or a cause for concern.

Do betta fish sleep on their sides?

Bettas sometimes sleep on their sides, usually when provided with a comfortable “bed” of thick sheets or a special betta fish hammock.

Usually movement near the tank will disturb the betta and it will swim away. However, if your fish spends a lot of time lying on its side, it could have a health problem, such as ammonia poisoning, swim bladder disease, or heat shock.

Do Betta Fish Sleep at the Bottom of the Tank?

Since bettas spend most of their time in the upper area of ​​the water column, feeding and periodically gulping down air from the surface, you may be a little alarmed to see your pet lying on the bottom of the tank.

Don’t worry! It is not uncommon for betta fish to nap in a comfortable area of ​​the substrate, especially if you use sand.

However, keep an eye out for potential problems that could cause your betta to fall asleep on the bottom.

In their natural habitat, betta fish live in very slow-moving water in rice paddies, marshes, and ditches. So, if the current from the filter in the tank is too powerful, your betta may be hit too hard for comfort, so it will sink to the bottom to prevent the flow from the pump.

Also, the temperature in the tank may not be constant at all times, and your fish could move to a place where it feels more comfortable.

By placing the heater next to the filter outlet, you will ensure that the hot water is pushed evenly throughout the tank. Place your thermometer at the end of the tank farthest from the heater. That way you can tell if the temperature is the same at both ends.

Do Betta Fish Sleep on Leaves?

Betta fish like to sleep while resting on broad-leaved plants. The plants act as a comfortable hammock, supporting your betta fish as it sleeps.

The best plants for betta fish include Anubias, whose leaves form a cup-shaped bed that is perfect for a sleepy betta fish. If you don’t have live plants in your tank, you could invest in a betta leaf hammock. These artificial silk leaves are inexpensive and most bettas love them.

What else do Bettas sleep?

Bettas have individual preferences for sleeping. Some like to sleep on their sides, some sleep vertically, and some fit between the side of the aquarium and the filter housing. As long as the behavior is repeated regularly and the fish is eating and active, it’s fine.

Does your Betta fish need a bed?

Not all bettas need something to sleep on. Many are content to sleep on the substrate or resting on clumps of plants, and some simply float in their sleep. As you get to know your pet, you will quickly see their preferences.

Do bettas need darkness to sleep?

Your betta fish is similar to you in that it needs a certain amount of darkness every day to know when to sleep.

Ideally, you should provide your fish with eight to 12 hours of daylight and 12 to 16 hours of darkness each day. Certainly you should not leave the light on in your tank at night. After all, could you sleep with the lights on and your eyes wide open? Read our article “Do Betta Fish Like Light? » for more information.

How long do fish sleep?

While sleeping at night, it is difficult to estimate how much time your betta fish spends sleeping. However, even if your fish is active for part of the night, it will compensate by taking short naps during the day.

However, if you notice that your fish is very inactive during the day, that could indicate a health problem.

Is your Betta sleeping too much?

Bettas are usually quite active social fish, coming to the surface when you approach the tank or interact with your tankmates.

If your betta fish seems to be constantly sleeping during the day, you should check that there is no problem. There are a few things that could cause your betta to fall asleep:

temperature shock

Bettas are very sensitive to changes in temperature. If the water in the tank is too cold, your pet could go into temperature shock or his metabolism could slow down so that he is much less active than he should be.

If the water temperature drops below 72 degrees Fahrenheit, your fish will be too cold. You will need to heat the water gradually. Don’t heat up the tank suddenly or you risk worsening your betta’s condition. Gradually increase the temperature for about an hour. You should see your betta fish “wake up” once it is warm.

You should have a heater for your tank so that the water temperature can be kept at a constant 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to purchase a tank thermometer and check the temperature daily.

Tank lighting is too dim

Fish determine when to sleep depending on the amount of light in their environment.

So if you have the lights off for too many hours, or the lights in your aquarium are too dim, your betta will assume that it should get more sleep.

your betta is bored

Although many people assume that the fish are not particularly bright, bettas are highly intelligent and require a lot of mental and physical stimulation to keep them from getting bored.

Be sure to include plenty of decorations in your betta’s tank, including floating logs and plants to explore. Also, bettas are very interactive fish and even enjoy participating in fish training sessions.

However, we do not recommend the use of mirrors. Betta mirrors are designed to encourage your betta fish to shine by making him think a rival male is invading his territory. Although the display may look impressive, aggravating your betta in this way will stress him out, which can lead to health problems.

Although you can’t keep two male bettas together, as they will fight, you can include some peaceful tankmates to create a community and provide companionship for your lonely betta. Corydoras catfish are good tank mates for bettas, as are the little Gouramis.

Your Betta is sick

If your betta suddenly starts sleeping a lot and everything in the tank is fine, it may be sick.

Take a close look at your fish for ulcers, fluffy white growths, white spots or lumps, and obvious bumps on the skin that could indicate a bacterial infection or disease.

Bettas can be prone to developing constipation if they are overfed or if their diet is not properly balanced.

A constipated fish will usually rest on the substrate or appear unable to keep its balance while swimming. In that case, do not feed your betta fish for 24 hours and then offer a small serving of live or frozen bloodworms . In my experience, that usually solves the problem.

Is your Betta old?

Bettas generally have a lifespan of up to four years, sometimes less. If your fish is in its senior year, you should expect more sleep.

Don’t worry too much. Let the veteran rest when he needs it.

You have a lazy Betta!

Yes, just like some people, you can get bettas that are just plain lazy!

You could try providing your fish with some entertainment in the form of tank mates and toys, and you could try some training activities with it to coax your fish to be more active.

It’s important that you encourage your betta fish to get some exercise, as these fish are prone to obesity, which can cause serious health problems, which could shorten your pet’s lifespan.

final thoughts

Understanding your betta fish ‘s sleeping patterns and habits is crucial if you want to keep your pet in good health so that it thrives.

Betta fish need sleep just like their owners. So, be sure to provide your pet with something to rest on and limit daylight hours in the tank to encourage your betta to sleep at night.

Provide your betta fish with some tank mates or toys so they don’t get bored or inactive, and always make sure the water temperature in the tank is just right.

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