Do Betta Fish Sleep?

Do betta fish sleep?  For someone new to betta fish, this is a question that sometimes comes up. You may see your betta laying down on some plants or some decor and wonder what’s going on. The short answer is yes, betta fish do sleep. In fact, all fish sleep. But they don’t sleep quite as we humans do. 

How Do Betta Fish Sleep?

If you see your betta laying on its side at the bottom of the tank or just floating motionless, don’t worry. Your betta is most likely just taking a short nap. 

Even for betta fish sleep is essential for well being and survival. Unlike humans, bettas don’t have eyelids. So if you catch them taking a nap don’t expect their eyes to be closed. Even without eyelids, they are able to rest and sleep.

This fish sleep is most likely not as deep as a human’s sleep. When they are in this sleep or suspended animation state they will reduce their activity and metabolism. Their gill movement will also slow down. Even though they are asleep the betta fish will remain somewhat alert to danger. Unlike some people who can sleep through just about anything!

Even though they are somewhat alert you shouldn’t tap on the glass to get them to wake up. This will stress the little guy and we don’t want to do that. How would you feel if someone waited for you to fall asleep and then started tapping on your forehead?

When Do Betta Fish Sleep?

While betta fish will take naps during the day they are mostly night time sleepers. 

If you are really interested in what a betta fish looks like when it sleeps you can catch them in the act. Wait until later at night when all of the lights have been off for at least a few hours. Using a dim light you can peak into the betta tank and hopefully spot your little guy catching some Zs. 

Ways To Promote Healthy Betta Sleep

What are some ways we can assure that our betta is getting enough sleep? First of all, make sure they have somewhere comfortable to sleep. No, I’m not talking about getting your betta the latest memory foam mattress, lol. 

Betta fish need ample decor to feel comfortable. This decor should primarily be plants, preferably live plants. This gives them cover to hide in as well as something to lay against if they choose. Betta hammocks which are widely available at pet stores are also a great option.

Planting a live aquarium plant in gravel

The second thing to consider is light. Like humans and other animals, bettas will rely on the day/night light cycle to know when to go to sleep. So make sure that your aquarium lights are turned off at night as well as any other bright lights in the room. This will signal to your betta that the day is over and it’s time to hit the hay.

Do Betta Fish Dream While Sleeping?

It’s hard to say if your betta fish dream while sleeping. There aren’t any current scientific studies that support this but some marine life has exhibited signs that they dream.

There is video evidence that may support the claim that Octopuses sleep. It has been observed that when they sleep they change colors in the same way that they do when they are hunting or hiding from predators. This gives the impression that they are dreaming about such things. 

So can the same be said about betta fish dreaming? The verdict is still out on this one but it’s fun to think about nonetheless.

Is Your Betta Fish Sleeping Too Much?

Even though we now know that betta fish do sleep, when they sleep, and how to promote good sleep there are some things to watch out for. 

If it seems like your betta fish is sleeping all of the time there may be something else going on. This could be a sign of sickness, lethargy due to cold water shock, age, or just boredom.

If you suspect your betta has something going on make careful observation of its behavior and any physical signs. He may be sick with some type of aquarium disease

Does your betta tank have a heater? The reason I ask this question is that betta fish are tropical fish and need a temperature of at least 76° F or 24° C. Unless your room temperature is at least this high your betta fish need a heater. If you are not sure, get a thermometer and check the water temperature. 

Coldwater will cause a betta fish’s metabolism to slow down and along with that its movement. This will likely make him sleep more or be so inactive that it looks like he is sleeping most of the time. In even colder temperatures bettas can go into cold shock and even die! So please, make sure your betta is at a comfortable temperature.

As betta fish age their activity level may start to change as well. This may include more time napping and sleeping. This is OK and just a part of aging. 

Final Thoughts 

We now know that, yes, in fact, betta fish do sleep. While they do sleep it’s not quite the same way that we humans sleep. They don’t have eyelids to close as we do. They sleep in a variety of places and positions. They don’t sleep as deeply as we do and remain somewhat alert. Even though there are differences, sleep is essential to their well being and health.

If you have a very sleepy betta just be sure there isn’t something else going on like health issues or cold water. 

Other than that, enjoy this and all of the other interesting betta behaviors!