The question of do betta fish sleep or not usually pops up when a hobbyist finds them lying motionless and thinks they’re dead, or when their fish never sits still. The reason you may not see your betta fish sleeping is because they sleep at night. Chances are you’re sleeping too! All fish need sleep, so yes, betta fish do sleep.

One interesting thing however is betta fish do not have eyelids (only sharks do!). Even when they’re asleep or resting, you may think they’re still awake. Avoid tapping on the tank every time they go motionless because they may be resting. How much do you hate when someone wakes you up from a nice snooze?

Betta Fish Sleep Characteristics

Betta fish (and other fish too) through genetics still have nature engrained into their DNA for species survival. Despite being safe in most aquarium ecosystems, they are still territorial and on constant alert.

Some bettas prefer to sleep near the surface and just sit motionless. Others will find recluse in decorations or just through laying on the bottom in an L-shape. Some will look lifeless laying on their side.

You can reduce stress by having plenty of hiding spots for your betta to seek rest and feel safe. These may include large leafy artificial plants (silk only), driftwood, decorative houses, hammocks, and real plants. It’s also important to turn off your tank and room lights at night as fish use them to cycle their sleeping habits.

Witness Your Betta Sleeping

The easiest way to see your betta sleeping is to approach the tank when the lights have been off for the night. Maybe when you get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom? Grab a flashlight and cover most of the light’s beam with your other hand so you don’t wake him or her up.

Betta fish may also sleep or rest periodically during the day too. Because they have vastly differing personalities, each will be different. Some betta fish act very lazy and will rest or sleep a lot, while others will be active during most of the day and night.

Pictures of Betta Fish Sleeping

Betta Fish Asleep

Betta Fish Sleeping

Now that you know betta fish do sleep, try not to bother them when they’re resting (“Let Sleeping Fish Lie”). Putting your fingers in the water and touching them, tapping on the tank, or toppling over their safe spot can really stress them out and make them fear for their safety. As your betta fish ages, they may become increasingly lethargic and sleep more than they used to. This is normal.

If you have any questions about betta fish and sleep, make sure you use the comments below:

About The Author

Founder & CFO (Chief Fish Officer)

Founder of and betta fish enthusiast. With over six years of betta husbandry experience, I wanted to create a place that was educational and fun for other betta keepers. Stick around, you'll learn a lot!

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3 Responses

  1. Darima Alexandru

    Hello Bryan,
    Thank you very much for investing so much of yourself into educating others about Betta fish. I have found your website very helpful and I think I was able to save my fish from another disease.
    When evacuating due to the Hurricane, I left my betta with a neighbor who decided to stay in her house with her family, dog and betta fish. I moved my fish in a smaller aquarium ( I couldn’t carry my 10 gallon aquarium to her place), added substrate, filter and his shell (where he likes to sleep). I was away for 5 days. My neighbor said that her fish kept looking at my fish, who acted miserable and refused to eat. After I brought him back, he started jumping out of the small aquarium into the big one. I moved him back, and he started eating again, checking out all the decorations, and spending a lot of time on his leaf. The disturbing news came from my neighbor who said that 2 days after I brought my fish back home, her fish died. She blames me because her mother told her that her fish died of loneliness after taking my fish back home. I feel very bad about it, but the two fish didn’t share aquariums…Is it possible for a fish to die of a…broken heart?…

    • Bryan

      Darima, thank you for your kind words. Betta fish are for the most part solitary fish spending a majority of time on their own. Therefore, her fish did not die of loneliness, but it is possible that her fish died of stress. Betta fish should not be positioned so close like that so they can see each other. They are territorial and aggressive towards one another and excessive stress/flaring/agitation of seeing each other without being able to retreat or hide can cause illness/death. That’s more than likely the cause but it could also be a slew of other things too, and I’m sorry for that unfortunate situation.

  2. Courtney

    At the pet store they have “exercise mirrors” for Betta fish. Do I need one of these? Or is it bad for them?


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