betta-fish-sleep

Is my Betta Fish Sleeping?

Is it true that betta fish do sleep? This is the question that has always lingered in the minds of both the upcoming and experienced aquarium hobbyists from time to time. You too must have wondered if at all these adorable aquarium fish find time to sleep.

But the truth is Betta fish do sleep and when they are asleep, chances are you are asleep too. That’s why you find it difficult to understand the sleeping habit of your Betta fish.

Quite a number of hobbyists have been unable to tell if their Betta fish is sleeping or dead. Just like other animals and fish species, in particular, betta fish need to catch some sleep. These fish are always active across day and night time is ideal for them to rest.

One interesting fact about them and the rest of other fish (besides the sharks) is that they don’t have eyelids. Even when they are sound asleep or simply taking a rest, you are likely to think they are still awake. Therefore, don’t tap on the aquarium every time you find them motionless unless there are reasons to do so.

Learn more how Betta fish sleep in the following sections so you may not get worried when you stumble upon them taking their nap.

How to Tell if Your Betta Fish is Sleeping?

Betta fish, just like other species of fish, may not tuck themselves into what seems like a bed at night as humans do, but you can rest assured that they do sleep as well. These fish are actually very active during the day in the same way as you do and then take a rest at night, away from the lights.

This intriguing behavior explains better why most of the people, including seasoned aquarium hobbyists have been unable to tell if Betta fish fall asleep. So, if you are in doubt about this interesting fact, here is a simple explanation of how Betta fish will look like when they are sleeping:

How Do Sleeping Betta Fish Look like?

The fact that Betta fish (and all other fish species besides sharks) don’t have eyelids, it does not mean that they don’t sleep. This observation must be confusing to many people given that they are used to seeing other animals asleep while their eyes are closed.

For that reason, it is really hard to know if your Betta fish are sleeping by just looking at their eyes. So, how do they do it? Do they just lose their consciousness as we do when we feel drowsy? Maybe that is not the case because these fish are territorial and always on the lookout for invaders even when they are the only ones in their aquarium. Mostly, they appear to be taking time out to have some rest and this translates to getting asleep in the same way as humans do.

Now that you are fully aware of the sleeping habit of these beautiful aquarium fish, you must be asking yourself how you can be sure that they are indeed sleeping. This is how it goes; your Betta fish will seize the opportunity to get some rest/sleep anytime the environment around them goes dark.

This happens mostly when you put out the lights in the aquarium at night, giving them a perfect chance to catch some sleep. Once the lights are out, these fish will look for a comfortable place to rest in the tank. Within a short time, they will become inactive as long as nothing startles them or the lights get turned on.

Do Betta Fish Sleep During Daytime?

The answer is yes! Sometimes betta fish take naps in the course of the day. If you doubt that, take a close look at your tank and you will notice your fish lying motionless on the bottom. This is a clear indication that your Betta fish is taking a nap.

Some people without prior knowledge of how these species of aquarium fish sleep may panic when they see them in this kind of state. They might think their fish are dead unless they suddenly start to move. To some extent, they could be right because you cannot tell the difference between a sleeping Betta fish and a dead one. But when these fish are sleeping, they will eventually wake up and resume their normal activities.

In some cases, Betta fish do take infrequent naps across the day. This is noticeable whenever your fish is resting right at the base or among the leaves within the tank.

Betta fish are fond of finding secure places to take their rest whenever they get the chance to do so. As such, they start by scouting out the ideal spots inside or beneath the aquarium plants or rocks, behind filters and any other place that looks comfortable to them. You may help them a lot through creating ideal sleeping places by adding a few bushy plants that are either real or artificial and by placing a piece of driftwood against the walls of the aquarium.

Is my Betta Fish Sleeping or Dying?

More often than not, aquarists have been unable to draw a line between the sleeping and the dead Betta fish. This is because the sleeping Bettas tend to float or lay at the bottom of the tank, creating confusion most of the time. Below are the signs indicating that your fish is dead:

  • The first sign is when you recently noticed that your fish seemed to be lethargic most of the time by staying motionless at the bottom of the tank or in a hiding place for several days.
  • Upon realization that your fish is swimming oddly and off balance as opposed to the way, you are used to seeing them moving around.
  • If their coloration changes from being bright to dull than usual
  • When you notice that their eyes are overly bigger to the extent of popping out of their sockets
  • If their fins look somehow ragged and weaker or pressed firmly against their bodies rather than flowing freely and spreading out.
  • When the fins appear discolored or dull with white spots all over their bodies. Or when they look as if they have very shiny, metallic spots that can be seen easily using a flashlight
  • When you notice that their scales seem to be raised or pointing away from their bodies with their bellies swollen.
  • Sudden loss of appetite.

Should you notice any of the following signs or symptoms over the last couple of days and your fish is still motionless, it is obvious that it is dead. Look out for these signs to know if your Betta fish is sleeping or dead:

  • When you realize that your Betta fish has stopped breathing upon checking the mouth and gills. You can do this by using a fish net to take out the fish and observe it carefully. If you notice a lack of movement right from the net and not breathing, it is likely that your fish is dead rather than sleeping.
  • When you see your fish lying motionless at the bottom of the aquarium on its side or the back end floating upwards with the head against the substrate or the bottom of the cage, just know that it is already dead.
  • If you discover that its color and the eyes look dull, there is the likelihood of your fish is dead.

Before you run into conclusion about the state of your fish, it is better to do a quick check of its aquarium ecosystem. Check the water temperature in the tank first before checking other parameters to establish the real cause of death to your Betta fish.

Betta Fish Sleeping Positions

Often times people assume that the Betta fish is dead when they see it lying on one of its sides at the bottom of the aquarium. In actual sense, the fish is only resting or sleeping and it is likely to make some movements using its fins.

This way, the fish can spend much of its time sleeping in plants without any movement. Also, it may sleep under or over the leaves or even inside any tube-like decorations it may come across in the tank. While  it is sleeping, you will notice any of the following behavior:

Betta fish can sleep in various funny positions such as wedging itself beneath the rock and eventually turning itself upside down. Apart from that, it can tuck and lounge itself in what looks like an L-shape position when taking an afternoon nap.

And when it is sick or aged, Betta fish can lie on its sides most of the time. Also, lying on the sides could be an indication that the water temperature in the aquarium is colder than it is supposed to be. Hence, the need for the water temperature to be changed or heated to the required temperature.

Final Thought

By now, you can confidently and easily answer the question, “Do Betta fish sleep?” Indeed they require some sleep just like we do in order to stay healthy and well throughout. Betta fish have a similar sleeping cycle like ours and they too need regular sleep to make them active and less stressed in their aquarium environment.

Written by Fabian

Hey, I'm Fabian, chief editor at Aquarium Nexus. I really enjoy the aquarium hobby and love sharing my experience with others. If you have any questions feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.

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