Do Betta Fish Sleep? Sideways, Upside Down, All Over The Place…

Betta fish are one of the most popular aquarium fish today so naturally there are a lot of questions that new betta fish owners have.

Some of the questions are about general care but some questions are out of general curiosity. One of the oft-asked curiosity questions is, do betta fish sleep?

Like all fish, betta fish must sleep to stay alive. Bettas are light sleepers and will awake at the slightest movement because of an internal instinct to protect themselves, their family, and their territory from predators.

If you watch your tank long enough, you’ll notice there are times when your betta is very still. Their gills will be moving so you know they are alive, but the rest of their body will be completely motionless.

Betta Fish Sleep Habits

As stated above to protect themselves betta fish have an internal instinct to sleep lightly. In spite of being protected in most aquarium biological systems, they are still light sleepers and always alert.

Some bettas like to sleep close to the surface and simply sit still. Others will be found sleeping in crazy positions like laying at the bottom of the aquarium or will actually sleep on their sides. Some even sleep floating or pointed straight down.

You can relieve stress on your betta fish by having several places for them to hide so they can feel safer and sleep better.

These hiding/sleeping places could be artificial plants, driftwood, little houses, hammocks, and live plants.

It also helps to turn off your tank and room lights around evening time as fish use lights to cycle their resting habits.

What Does A Sleeping Betta Fish Look Like?

When a betta fish is sleeping, the first sign is that they are completely still.

The most ideal way you can tell if your betta is sleeping as stated above is to watch their gills. While the rest of his body will be quite inactive, his gills and mouth will be gradually moving because they are still breathing.

Betta owners have also said that their fish becomes paler in color while they are sleeping. This is true in many aquatic pets because the inactivity makes for slower blood flow which leads to a paler color.

Try not to take a look at your betta’s eyes while he dozes. He doesn’t have eyelids, so they’re continually going to be open even when he’s sleeping.

Do Betta Fish Sleep at Night or During the Day?

It may seem like all animals are supposed to sleep during the day and hunt at night, but it is the opposite with betta fish. They like to sleep during the day.

Do All Fish Sleep?

Although some fish don’t sleep similarly to other pets, they do rest. Betta fish are a great example of this and one way you can tell they are resting is due to being motionless. They will do this regularly at the lower part of the tank, or close to the top of the water.

When this is happening they may respond gradually to anything that is going on around them, or not react at all.

Most betta fish will display this behavior at nighttime, so you probably won’t catch them in the act unless you sneak up on them during the night.

How to Tell If A Betta Fish Is Sleeping?

Need to know whether your betta is dozing and not dead? Look at their face.

Like us, bettas still need to get their sleep. Quite simply, dead fish don’t breathe. Thus, take a gander at your betta’s mouth and gills. Even during sleep, you should see your betta draw water through its mouth and out through the gills.

Also, during sleep, the mouth and gill motion of your betta will be much slower than when it is conscious.

Try not to stress; this is totally ordinary because bettas utilize less oxygen while sleeping. Subsequently, your betta will inhale more slowly while dozing.

Notice your betta may be paler in color? If your betta has lost its color tone, it doesn’t mean it is sick – your betta could simply be taking a rest. Numerous fish, including the betta, pale in color when dozing.

Specialists say that this is likely another common type of self-protection so that your betta isn’t effortlessly spotted while dozing. The thing to recall is that this pale tone is just transitory.

Once your betta awakens, its tone ought to obscure and seem more extravagant. If your betta’s tone doesn’t return, it could imply that your betta is not well.

The last hint that your betta is napping and not dead? Its position. Expect to find your betta resting nestled up like a cat, lying on one side with its head pointed down toward a substrate or in any event, dozing vertically, with its head pointing towards the lower part of your aquarium.

Some bettas even lay down with their fins open!

A betta fish resting vertically in an aquarium? Try not to freak out; this vertical betta is essentially dozing!

If you have never seen your betta sleep, this behavior can seem odd. In fact, some first-time betta owners are terrified, thinking something isn’t right with their dearest pet.

Take a deep breath and search for signs that your betta is breathing and whatever you do, try not to surprise your fish awake.

This implies:

Try not to tap on the glass.

Try not to turn on the light if it’s night.

Furthermore, definitely don’t touch your betta.

How would feel if someone surprised you in your sleep? If you really can’t tell, just wait and check on your betta fish again later.

Do Betta Fish Sleep on Their Sides?

Sometimes, you may find your Betta fish sleeping on its side. This can be very surprising, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that something is wrong.

If you must you can actually startle your betta to make sure they are not dead, just don’t make a habit out of it.

If your betta is consistently sleeping on its side, then something could be wrong with it.

Swim bladder sickness is something that can influence your betta to lay on its side often.

This is because the swim bladder is an air-filled organ in your betta that allows your betta to float at any level that it wants to.

As with swim bladder sickness, a betta on his side could likewise be indications of temperature shock and ammonia harming.

How Long Do Betta Fish Sleep For?

We can’t really say how long bettas sleep since all bettas are different.

Generally, if your betta is resting around nighttime and remaining active during the day (aside from little snoozes) then that is a decent amount of time.

Nonetheless, if you notice periods of inactivity from your betta, particularly during the day, it very well may be an indication that something is wrong.

Why Is My Betta Fish Not Sleeping?

Here are some reasons why your betta probably is not sleeping as he ought to.

Your Tank Is Excessively Bright.

Bettas sleep during the evening when it’s dim. If you leave your aquarium lights on 24 hours per day, it isn’t an environment where your betta can rest soundly.

Tank Mates

Bettas can be regional and don’t generally warmly embrace offering their tank to other fish. Undesirable tank mates could pressure your betta to where he loses sleep.


So, now you know bettas do sleep. In fact, they will sleep in odd positions all over their tank.

You just need to get to know them and make sure they are breathing when you see them sleeping.

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