How Do Betta Fish Sleep?

It is very easy to love and admire Betta fish. Most people, when seeing them for the first time, are so enchanted and intrigued by their flattering appearance – they want to know as much as possible about this species.

If you are not a scientist, veterinarian, or passionate researcher of Betta fish, you have probably never seen this fish sleeping. Well, maybe you have, but you weren’t aware that it was just then in the realm of dreams. Betta fish do not have eyelids, so they sleep with their eyes open, which is not clear evidence of sleep.

The biorhythm of a healthy and well cared Betta fish is very similar to a human. They eat, swim, explore during the day and rest and sleep at night. Betta fish are quite capricious, so it is difficult to predict their behavior. Some doze off during the day and if they are particularly excited for some reason, they may shorten their usual sleep time.

How Do You Know If Your Fish Is Sleeping?

There are no precise rules; sometimes Betta fish owners exchange their sleep or nap for death or think they are sick and therefore lethargic. Betta sleeps in various poses: curled up, upside down, vertically, just turned to one side… 

Some can fall asleep with their fins spread. A significant indication that the Betta fish is asleep is the faded color. It is a kind of camouflage. If their color remained in full glory during sleep, they would become easy prey for predators.

One of the signs that the Betta fish is sleeping is that it moves its mouth and gills slower than usual.

Betta fish can spend 12-14 hours a day sleeping. Many Betta fish owners claim their fish sleep even 16 hours a day. 

However, uninformed Betta fish owners may be concerned about this and lead to the conclusion that the Betta fish is sick or even dead.

Although they sleep most of the day – their sleep is quite fragile. They wake up very easily, at the slightest sound or ripple of water. It is also part of their self-defense instinct because they are very noticeable prey in nature to larger predatory fish.

How Do I Ensure My Betta Fish Has A Good And Quality Sleep?

If you want to take proper care of Betta fish – the best and easiest way is to establish a sleep rhythm. Betta fish sleep in the darkness, that is, at night, just like humans. Then there is silence, natural darkness and they rest and regenerate best. Therefore, when you go to sleep, turn off all the lights in and around the aquarium and the Betta fish will fall asleep peacefully and without stress. 

In the morning, she will be awakened by natural daylight. However, keep in mind that the aquarium should always be placed away from direct light sources, windows, and generally lightly sunny places. This will prevent the water in the fish tank from overheating, and will also allow the Betta to nap during the day. Carefully selected aquarium plants, castles, and tunnels will also help the fish to hide and rest during the day.

So, to provide Betta fish with ideal conditions for quality sleep – very little is needed.  Darkness, soft-leaf plants and some decorations. If you see that they have calmed down during the day – do not knock on the aquarium or ripple the water.

Although they seem to sleep a lot, it is often just a nap; that is, easy sleep or rest. They can sleep and take a nap lying on the bottom of the aquarium, floating on the surface, or hiding behind plants. If the flow of water is too fast or something does not suit them from the environment – they will probably lie at the very bottom of the aquarium or float on the surface.

How Do Betta Fish Sleep

Since they don’t have eyelids, they can’t get to the REM sleep phase. A night’s sleep and napping with Betta fish is more like a light rest or a soft sleep. It is similar to some terrestrial animals and fish species that are easy prey.

If you don’t notice other signs of illness on the Betta fish like sores on the fins and the rest of your body, and your fish is constantly laying or hiding – don’t panic. He’s probably just resting. Not all Betta fish behave the same; no matter how much you try to get them used to your rhythm – some Bettas stubbornly stick to their rhythm and schedule. And that’s Ok. Don’t stress them unnecessarily. Most Betta fish die from stress, which is often caused by the owner’s panic.

How To Distinguish Illness From Rest And Sleep?

Similar to humans, Betta fish reduce breathing during sleep and rest. Combined with floating or lying on the bottom of the pool – this can seem like Betta has died or is sick. Sometimes this is indeed the case, however, before you panic, check the following indicators that may indeed be the signs that something is wrong with your Betta fish:

  • If you notice that the Betta fish is swollen on the body sides, it is very likely that it is a disease called dropsy;
  • If white specs extend along the whole body – it is a protozoan parasitic infection, often called “ich”;
  • If Betta fish are constantly swimming sideways or upside down, this is an indication of a bladder problem.
  • If you see that the fins are crumbling and that there are a lot of black spots, it is the most common disease of Betta fish – “fin rot”;
  • If body color is pale for a few days;
  • If the eyes become enlarged or bulging, it is a sign of a disease called “popeye” ;
  • If he’s not interested in food;

Most Betta fish diseases can be avoided by proper aquarium maintenance and regular feeding. This does not mean that you should overdo it, but follow the instructions for the maintenance and installation of the aquarium, as well as consult with experts on the care of Betta fish. It is not that difficult and you have most of the information on the internet.

Also, if you suspect that the lethargy and laziness of your Betta fish is a sign of a more serious problem – gently touch it or splash the water. Since they have easy sleep – if they are healthy, they react instinctively. If, on the other hand, there is no reaction after a few times – consult a veterinarian.

How Do You Check If A Betta Fish Has Died?

If you suspect something is wrong, it’s best to check it with a small aquarium net. If Betta doesn’t move and doesn’t react as soon as you touch her with the net – your pet is probably dead. And if Betta doesn’t react even when you catch it, then unfortunately you can be sure she did. 

One hundred percent sign that your Betta has died is when you see it in the aquarium with a dull look and faded colors.

A very sure indicator of death is also when the fish is at the bottom of the aquarium; heads glued to the bottom while the rest of the body floats.

Water Shock

It is possible, however, that the cause of the lethargy of your Betta fish is water shock. Often the “symptoms” are the same as when Betta dies. Floating, faded colors, and the dull look of Betta fish can mimic when the water temperature is above or below optimal. 

In that way, they try to save themselves and maintain their internal organs. Before declaring the death of a Betta fish, check the temperature and quickly return it to optimal condition. If she starts to gradually regain color and move – it means that she was in a state of shock. The temperature of the water in the aquarium is very important for the health of the Betta fish and any longer deviation will lead to death due to water shock.

Final Thoughts

Betta fish need sleep and rest. Their sleep is not of the same intensity as in humans or terrestrial animals, but they are equally needed as food. Betta fish are quite aggressive, moody but also very sensitive. 

If you try to maintain the quality and temperature of the water – there is no need to worry much about the health of the fish. It is only important to observe it and to notice irregularities or signs of illness in time. Some Betta fish like to rest and sleep more, some less and often it is only up to their character and biology. Don’t bother her much, but make sure the environment suits her.