Does Betta Fish Sleep: A Guide to Their Sleeping Pattern

The betta fish is a member of the family Betta, belonging to the genus Betta. They are one of many popular ornamental fish, commonly kept in aquariums as pets.

If you’re wondering if betta fish sleeps, the simple answer is yes, betta fish sleep at night. Betta fish are not so different from other animals in the way they go about their sleeping habits as having a period of wakefulness and then a period of rest. The length of time bettas will spend awake varies with temperature but it is usually roughly 12-14 hours per day.

Two red betta fish is fighting with beautiful gestures in black background.

How Long Do Betta Fish Sleep?

Normally, betta fish employ their “downtime” to rest and digest the food they have eaten during the day. How long they will sleep at times varies according to temperature. As mentioned, they usually sleep for 12 to 14 hours daily in a normal water temperature of 78 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit (26 to 28 degrees Celsius) but if conditions aren’t too good and if the temperature rises more than the ideal, betta fish tend to sleep longer than 14 hours.

Temperature and water depth plays an important part in how much they will slumber each night as well with the colder their home is, the longer they’ll go without taking a nap or two. It’s probably worth mentioning that although it has been common knowledge for many years now there are different groups of sleeping habits between various species of Betta fish so some may be more nocturnal than others.

What Are Signs That Betta Fish Is Sleeping?

You will probably only know for sure if he is asleep when you see him go into another stage of sleep but at other times during the day, a betta fish’s eyes may have some extra shine to them and his gill covers might look pinker or slightly mottled but still moving in sync with its breathing. This isn’t an indication that your betta fish is dead. A betta will remain in this slightly more cloudy or sullen mood before awakening and then breathing normally again. As a general rule of thumb, when you see your betta fish’s gill covers moving as discussed above – if your bettas are still swimming around with their heads lifted from the water when they finally do awaken on their own after an extended period of sleep, there is no need to worry.

Colorful red Siamese fighting fish in a bowl at a home

How Do Betta Fish Sleep?

Most betta fish are more active during the day and this means that you can see your sweetheart swimming around all day. If he simply isn’t moving very much or can’t be found, he might just be sleeping under a rock. Sometimes at night, you will find them sleeping away from light sources. They are also more comfortable lying at the bottom of their tank.

How to Help Your Betta Sleep Well?

First, provide proper clean water conditions. Stale or dirty aquarium water will be bad for your bettas while poor quality tap water (especially when it hasn’t been purified at all) can also slow down their metabolism. This affects sleep as well; many are left with a slight feeling of malaise after coming out from under light than to other pet owners because they require more oxygen at night than in the daytime and a freshwater aquarium without carbon dioxide exchange cannot provide enough oxygen.

My Betta Fish Is Sleeping Too Much

If your Bettas are slumbering far more than they should then this is not a good thing and will usually indicate that the aquarium water parameters you have provided within their tank aren’t good enough. This can be translated into diseases (most probably caused by bacteria) as well so if possible get them checked out for sure. Aside from its adverse effect upon regular health, excessive sleeping can also mean an over-stressed fish from constantly having to wake up and get its energy from food. Slumbering too much in a tank whose sizes are already smaller than recommended normally means that the fish needs more space otherwise it may need to be relocated for its good health.

Here are more reasons as to why your betta fish might be sleeping too much:

Insufficient Lighting

If your fish is always sleeping at night then chances are that the lighting and luminosity levels provided by your aquarium were too dim (and you didn’t adjust them as per their requirements). In general, betta fish should receive 14 to 16 hours of light per day. The main function of any light within an aquarium as a matter-of-fact is to provide adequate and constant illumination for the ecosystem within it. When kept with ornamental fishes such as betta fish or other freshwater community inhabitants this should include providing enough lighting for them to easily navigate around wherever and whenever they please within their aquarium. If this happens to your betta, turn on the lights and see how they react.

Tank With No Activities

When a fish is bored it goes through a day and night cycle where the fish spends more time sleeping than anything else. This is a completely human thing as no fish has yet to have mentioned from us “give me light and games here, I am dying of boredom!” There are many things you can do for your betta tank which will add more interest, but those tips largely depend on what you’re into out there in terms of hobbies. If that means spending some cash on lighting then remember to also consider filters, décor, and nutrition!

Unstable Temperature

As mentioned earlier in this article, the temperature is one of the most common things which affect sleep patterns in fish, so if you keep your aquarium too hot then quite understandably it’ll be hard to rest and will therefore become even more lethargic than normal. Similarly consider using an under gravel heater as hot water promotes feelings of vitality, while cooler temperatures are better suited for their undefeatable slumber.

Poor Health

Sometimes, betta sleep a lot because they’re sick, but generally speaking, chronic poor health is an indication that something isn’t right in your tank. Sprinkling some salt into the water (a half pinch per gallon) may help to peak up immune system activity and hopefully discourage bacteria growth as a result of infection or treatment with antibiotics. If you start noticing strange symptoms or sounds coming from your betta fish that should not be present (like gasping for air), then evaluate the water conditions of their tank and any medication used if necessary.

Old Age

After living a healthy and vigorous life for maybe 2-5 years, it’s completely normal for your betta fish to begin becoming increasingly lazy and ‘sleepy’ around the 2 years. But remember this doesn’t mean that their tank isn’t properly equipped or maintained; rather, older bettas simply ‘have gotten too old at last’.

This is a representative of the most beautiful aquarium inhabitants. The birthplace of the fish is Southeast Asia.

My Betta Fish Isn’t Sleeping At All

There could be a lot of reasons why your pet isn’t sleeping. It’s quite confusing because some fish seem to sleep or wake up at random periods throughout the day and night cycle without you even realizing it. With that being said though, plenty of water conditions can cause struggle sleeping for your fishes in certain breeds or species than others.

If your betta isn’t sleeping, it could be – but not necessarily- because of many different things. In particular, this could mean that:

  • You’ve added too much to their tank and the changes will negatively affect them.
  • Dragging for long periods of the day can be quite exhausting.
  • Allergies are at play is causing irritation or stress (may also happen in normal amounts)
  • A change in water parameters may be affecting them ( nitrates too high, nitrites or ammonia levels low, pH swing too far)
  • Any medication you’ve used on them isn’t working as intended (antibiotics, for example, may kill all of their live food!)