Do Neon Tetras Sleep?

Have you ever noticed that your neon tetras aren’t as active at night as they are during the day? This is because they sleep at night. Just like most animals, neon tetras do have some form of sleep. 

This article gives a quick overview of neon tetras’ sleeping habits. Read on for more information about how, where, and when they sleep.

Do Neon Tetras Sleep?

Generally speaking, neon tetras require regular sleep to remain healthy. You might have noticed that your neon Ttetras are super active fish. However, at some point, you’d see that they become idle. That’s when they’re asleep.

Neon tetras are diurnal fish that sleep during the night when the lights are out. Typically, they sleep at the bottom of their tanks.

How Do Tetra Fish Sleep?

The sleeping habits of the neon tetras aren’t very far from those of other fish. Typically, they sleep towards the bottom of their tanks, right above the gravel. That’s why they’re called bottom dwellers.

Interestingly, some people have noticed that their neon tetras float vertically right above the gravel while sleeping. Like most other fish species, neon tetras sleep with their eyes wide open.

So, how would you know if your fish is actually sleeping? In fact, there are certain signs that indicate that neon tetras are asleep.

Neon Tetra Close Up

5 Signs to Indicate that Your Neon Tetras Are Asleep

It might be difficult to determine whether your fish is sleeping. However, there are some definite signs that tell you that they’re actually asleep.

  • They Change Colors

Neon tetras change colors when they sleep, which sets them apart from other fish species. During the day, the stripes on the sides of neon tetras are blue-green. However, during the night, they turn indigo.

In addition, the color of the fish’s body itself changes. They turn pale while sleeping, which contradicts their vibrant color when awake.

  • They Remain Still

Neon tetras are usually very active, so you should know they’re sleeping when they become motionless. In fact, they’ll keep to one place, usually towards the bottom of the tank, while sleeping.

  • They Float

If you see your neon tetras floating in their place regardless of the current, they’re most probably asleep. Although they’ll have their eyes open, your neon tetras won’t react to anything in their surroundings.

  • They Breathe Slowly

Sometimes, you may find that the gills of your neon tetras are moving relatively slowly. This is a clear sign that they’re sleeping because when tetras sleep, they tend to breathe a lot slower than normal.

  • They Have a Routine

Interestingly, neon tetras have a routine. In fact, they tend to sleep at a regular time every day. You can follow their habits to learn this routine. Most probably, it won’t change often.

Why Do Neon Tetras Sleep?

Just like almost all living organisms, neon tetras need to sleep in order to function and remain in their best state. Here is why sleeping is important for neon tetras:

  • Conserving Energy

Neon tetras are pretty active fish. Therefore, they need to conserve and renew their energy. In this regard, neon tetras are similar to most living organisms that require some time with minimal activity.

  • Staying Healthy

Generally speaking, resting helps fish remain healthy. That’s why it’s a crucial part of the neon tetras’ routine.

While sleeping, your neon tetras use their stored energy to regenerate cells and rebuild their bodies, especially in the case of injury or stress.

  • Relaxing

The super active neon tetras need to relax. This is why they sleep at night. When everything goes dark, these fish instinctively start thinking about retiring.

Interestingly, some have reported seeing their neon tetras roaming around by dawn in search of food. Obviously, neon tetras sleep at night between sunset and sunrise.

How to Help Neon Tetras Sleep Better?

Typically, neon tetras don’t need help sleeping. However, sometimes you can set up the tank in a way that better induces sleep. Some factors can help neon tetras sleep deeply, such as:

  • Adjust the Lighting

Neon tetras tend to sleep when it gets dark, so it’s not recommended to have bright lights in their tank at night. This might confuse the fish and keep them up for extended periods.

You should schedule the lighting of your tank. For instance, to make neon tetras happy, you should keep subdued lights on for 12 or 14 hours. You may turn them off for the rest of the day to help your tetras sleep.

  • Increase Aquarium Vegetation

Typically, neon tetras require safe places to hide behind while sleeping. So, it’s recommended that you increase the vegetation in your neon Tetra’s tank.

On top of that, aquatic plants help filter the water in the tank, which gives your neon tetras the optimum conditions to thrive.

  • Give Them Time to Digest

Neon tetras usually feed on aquatic plants. Unlike dry food, aquatic vegetation isn’t readily digested. Therefore, you should give your neon tetras some time to digest.

In other words, don’t overfeed your tetras at night. You can give them meals from sunrise to sunset. You may even provide your fish with their first meal at dawn when they wake up and start rummaging for food.


Do neon tetras sleep? Yes, they do. Neon tetras sleep at night, like most living species.

There are some tell-tale signs that can indicate that they’re sleeping. These signs include color change, reduced movement, and a lower position.

If your fish doesn’t get enough sleep, you should induce sleep by increasing the vegetation in their tank and turning the lights off at night.

Just like you, your neon tetras need their beauty sleep for a few hours at night to stay healthy and active.