Do Betta Fish Sleep?

Yes, betta fish do sleep.  But it’s quite different than how humans sleep.

All fish sleep.  But they don’t sleep the way humans and many other land based animals sleep.  Fish go into a state where their metabolism slows and their activity is drastically reduced.  They go into a semi-conscious state where they make only minimal movements to keep themselves upright.

By Martin FischerParostoteles[CC BY-SA 3.0]
By Martin FischerParostoteles[CC BY-SA 3.0]

Where do Betta Fish sleep?

Just like a person, you’ll find that certain betta fish prefer sleeping in different positions and locations.  Where your betta sleeps will depend both on the personality of the individual fish as well as the layout of the decorations in their tank.

One of the most common place for bettas to sleep is simply just hovering in the water.  They might just hold themselves in the middle of the tank or more often they will hover behind or in a decoration.  If you have a plant, don’t be surprised to see your betta sleeping behind it.  If you have a cave decoration, your betta might sleep inside.

Bettas like to hide when they sleep. It’s a natural defense mechanism that when they are sleeping and aren’t fully away of their surroundings, they hide.  This makes it less likely that predators will find them.

The other common thing for betta fish to do when they are sleeping is for them to set themselves down on the gravel, decorations, or plant leaves.  This does comes with two benefits. First they are using less energy.  Second, by having something below them, they feel protected from below.

One other awesome “decoration” is a betta hammock.  These are typically fake leaves that are stuck onto the wall of the aquarium with a suction cup.  There are a few things worth mentioning about these. If you have a cylindrical tank or a tank without flat walls, you might have trouble getting the suction cup to stick to the wall.  Second, some betta fish just don’t care to use their hammocks. The good news is that they are often found for less than $5.00, so if you decide to get one and your fish doesn’t use it, you’re not out a lot of money.

How Often Do Betta Fish Sleep?

Betta fish follow similar sleep cycles as humans.  They follow the day/night cycle and are awake during the day and sleep at night.  This makes is critical that you turn the aquarium lights on and off to match the natural light cycle.

Betta fish may also take naps during the day as they need them.  Your betta fish might sneak away to a dark corner of their aquarium and hide away under a decoration to sneak a quick nap.

By Daniella Vereeken (Flickr: Joep's Fish on Holiday with me) [CC BY 2.0]
By Daniella Vereeken (Flickr: Joep’s Fish on Holiday with me) [CC BY 2.0]

Why Is My Betta Sleeping so Much?


If your fish is bored, he might take naps to pass the time.  If you have very few decorations in your aquarium, it might be worth adding a few more.  This should help to keep them interested and entertained.


If you have been training your betta to do tricks or making them flare, they might just be tired.  Think about the last time you had a good workout.  Were you worn out and tired after? So is your betta fish.

Do Bettas Take Naps?

Yes, they do! If you see your betta “lounging” around around, laying on its side, laying on decoration, etc. in the middle of the day, there’s a good chance he’s just taking a quick nap!

Is My Betta Sleeping Or Dead?

If you haven’t seen any signs of distress in the previous days, they’re probably just sleeping.

Signs of a dead fish are less intense colors, ragged and damaged fins, white spots (ich), a swollen belly, or eyes popping out. Also, if its been a couple days and he hasn’t moved, its probably not napping.

What Can I Do To Help My Betta Sleep Better?

Just like humans and most other animals, darker conditions help bettas sleep for longer. So dim lights and leave them alone!