Do Betta Fish Sleep – Is He Dead or Sleeping?

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Do Betta fish sleep?

You may not think sleep is important to our fish but, just like most other animals, sleep contributes massively to a happy and healthy Betta.

We have covered everything you need to know, from how to tell if your Betta is sleeping to creating a sleep-friendly environment.

Firstly, we need to discuss what sleep looks like for Betta fish.

When humans sleep, we swap between REM and NREM phases.

When in the REM phase we are in a deep state of rest, where it is harder to be woken up and slows our reaction time if we are woken up suddenly.

For fish, however, sleep is very different.

Think of it as more of a light resting state.

Betta fish need to be able to react quickly to potential threats to survive. 

Despite your fish having most likely been bred in captivity and your aquarium being a safe and predator-free zone, these instincts still remain.

How To Tell If Your Betta Fish Is Sleeping

It can be hard to tell when your Betta is truly sleeping, partly due to their lack of eyelids which makes them always look awake.

Have you spotted your Betta lying at the bottom of the tank periodically?

He is probably taking a nap.

Other indicators may be that he is hiding inside your decorations, lying on his side, lying on a plant leaf, or even hovering at the surface of your tank. 

Sometimes, beginner fish owners will panic when spotting their new friend seemingly unresponsive but you should not be quick to worry.

Look closely to see that his gills and mouth are slowly moving in and out while he takes small breaths.

Keep an eye on your fish and if he becomes active after this resting phase, he was most likely sleeping.

Some fish keepers state that their Betta fish slightly dull in color when sleeping. 

While this is not something I have personally experienced, it can be something to look out for.

The scientific theory is that various fish do this so that they are harder for predators to spot in the wild.

If your fish remains dull, he may be ill. His color should always return after waking up.

How Long do Betta Fish Sleep

How To Encourage Your Betta To Sleep

There are a few things that will help your Betta get enough sleep.

The most important being, giving him time with the lights-off.

We, as fish keepers, can sometimes forget the importance of imitating a natural way of living for our fish.

As much as possible in a fish tank that is!

One way to do this is by giving them 12 to 14 hours of darkness.

You should find that your Betta will sleep predominantly at night and take short naps during the day.

Another thing to check is that your filter is not too strong. You don’t want your Betta being pushed around by the flow. 

This will make it hard for him to find a resting spot that isn’t the bottom of your tank.

How Long do Betta Fish Sleep?

Betta fish can be strange little guys, making it hard to have hard and fast rules for their behaviour.

If your Betta is generally sleeping at night and active through the day, your fish is on a good sleep schedule.

If you find that your Betta is lethargic during the day, something may be wrong.

Remember, short naps are always okay and never startle your fish awake.

This includes turning the light on at night and tapping on the glass of your tank.

This is very stressful for the fish.

Why Does My Betta Fish Sleep So Much?

If you are finding that your Betta fish is listless during daylight hours, there are a couple of things to check before thinking he is sick.

Firstly, check your heater.

When his environment is too cold, his metabolism will slow down and his immune system will weaken making him less active and prone to diseases.

Remember to keep their temperature between 24 and 26 degrees Celsius (75 to 80 F).

Another reason may be that your fish is bored.

This might sound odd but Betta fish are intelligent animals that require sufficient stimulation.

His tank may be too small or there are not enough decorations/plants for him to interact with.

Another way to help your bored Betta fish is to add tank mates (make sure these are Betta friendly and keep in mind not all Betta fish will allow tank mates).

I personally have had great success with keeping my Betta male in with a school of rummy-nose tetras and 4 cory catfish. 

If your Betta is older, this may be why he is sleeping more often.

As long as he looks otherwise healthy, leave him be. He needs to sleep to keep him strong and healthy.

If he is not old and seems healthy, he might just be lazy!

If you are sure none of the above issues are what is causing your Betta to be inactive during the day, he may be ill.

Do Betta Fish Hibernate?

Betta fish do not hibernate.

There are no exceptions to this.

Since they naturally occur in warm water environments, they have not adapted to colder winter waters.

Keep your heater on and working through your winter months and check the temperature regularly. 

Do Bettas need a hammock

Betta Fish Sleeping On Leaf

All Betta fish will have different sleeping preferences.

Some prefer to squeeze themselves between two objects, some will sleep inside decorations and some can even sleep vertically.

The majority of Betta fish will be quite happy to sleep floating but it is worth giving him some other options such as leafy plants or a ‘leaf hammock’.

I have found about half of the Betta fish I have owned enjoyed sleeping on a leaf hammock, while the other half could not be more disinterested.

It’s all about learning your fish’s preferences and giving him the options to choose. 

Final Takeaways

  • Sleep is a normal part of a healthy Betta’s routine. 
  • Check his mouth and gills for slow breaths to see that he is alive and sleeping when inactive.
  • Your Betta could have any one of many sleeping spots, from floating to sleeping on, in, or between objects.
  • If your fish is lethargic for large amounts of the day remember to, check the temperature, make sure he has enough stimulation, and keep in mind that his age may make him less active.
  • Just like us humans, Betta fish need darkness to sleep. Keep the lights off for 12 to 14 hours a day.
  • He should be doing the majority of his sleeping at night with short naps during the daytime.
  • Betta fish never hibernate so keep your temperature between 24 and 26 degrees Celsius all year round.
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Irma Bense is the founder of She has over 42 years of experience in keeping fish.She has kept both freshwater and saltwater fish through the years.She has extensive knowledge in breeding numerous species of fish from Show Guppies, Cory Catfish, German Blue Rams to Apistogrammas.You can learn more about Irma on the 'About' page.

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