Yes, betta fish (whether Betta splendens or another species of Betta) need to sleep. Almost all animal life forms require sleep, and your pet fish is no exception.
Betta fish are diurnal beings, which means they’re awake during the day and sleep at night. They’ll also rest for short times throughout the day.
Since their sleeping pattern is probably similar to your own, you get to enjoy watching your fish live its best life during the day.
Where Do Betta Fish Sleep?
You’re likely to find bettas sleeping in plants, ornaments, caves, and little crevices. Due to their small size, many Betta fish can also fit in the gap between your aquarium filter and the glass. They may sleep on the floor of the tank, or while floating at the surface.
Betta fish are biologically designed to sleep in spaces that keep them out of sight from potential predators. They will naturally replicate this behavior in the tank as they would in the wild.
When kept in pairs, your betta may choose to sleep alongside its partner, but they may also prefer sleeping separately.
Because they’re often prey species in the wild, most fish are very light sleepers. Even slight movements and soft sounds will wake them. This behavior helps protect them from potential predators in the wild. Most species of pet fish never lose that instinct in captivity.
How Long Do Betta Fish Sleep For?
Most betta fish will sleep for 12-14 hours a day. This is largely dependent on how many light hours they get. If you keep their aquarium lighting on a 12-hour on and 12-hour off cycle, they should sleep for around 12 hours every night. They’re also likely to take short naps throughout the day.
You don’t need to monitor your betta’s sleeping patterns too intently. As long as they have undisturbed time with the lights off, they’ll naturally sleep until they’ve had enough sleep.
If you notice that your fish is sleeping a lot during the day (hours at a time, rather than short naps) then something may be wrong with the tank conditions. It may be too cold, the water quality may be low, or the betta may have a disruptive tankmate.
How to Tell Your Betta Fish is Sleeping
All Betta fish are different and can take up some very peculiar positions while sleeping. However, they’ll usually hang at a slight angle with their head pointed to the lower left or right. If they’re sleeping at the surface of the tank, their head will probably be inclined toward the upper right or left.
Other things you may notice about sleeping Betta fish include:
- They will breathe a lot slower.
- They may lose their color during sleep.
- If you look closely, you should see the gills moving slowly.
Finally, if your fish is snoozing and suddenly bursts into life after a sudden movement, that’s natural. As mentioned earlier, betta fish are light sleepers.
Quick Tips To Support Sleeping Betta Fish
You can promote good sleeping patterns in your betta by:
- Keeping it in an appropriately sized tank (at least 5 gallons) with plenty of shelter that can form good sleeping spots.
- Maintaining the water temperature (75-80°F) and quality.
- Turning off aquarium lights at night, so that the fish has a designated timeframe for sleep.
- Avoid tapping on the glass when your fish is sleeping.
- Maintain a good feeding routine for your betta. This will also help it establish a daily routine, helping it to sleep at appropriate times.
- Not adding nocturnal companions to a betta aquarium. As mentioned above, bettas are light sleepers and nocturnal companions may keep waking them and lead to stress.
A Betta fish that enjoys a positive sleep pattern will lead a better life. While bettas usually moderate their own sleeping patterns, it’s up to you to keep conditions right so that they can sleep well and live a happy, healthy life.
About the author
Hi, I am Alex.
My passion is aquariums. I am especially drawn to betta fish. I love experimenting, learning, researching, and writing about them.
You can find the articles I wrote here