Do Betta Fish Sleep

Do Betta Fish Sleep On the Bottom of the Tank?

Betta fish are extremely interactive and intelligent pets when it comes to fish. They will hang out on whatever side of the tank is closest to you and act like little puppy dogs when you come near. But what happens at night? Do these playful little puppies even sleep, and if they do, where?

The answer is yes, bettas do sleep, but where they sleep depends on the personality of the betta as well as the tank set up. Some sleep right on the gravel of the tank while others hang out at the top. You have probably never seen your fish sleeping, but it may be interesting to find out where your little buddy sleeps.

In this article, we will discuss betta personalities, broad-leaved plants, dead vs sleeping, warning signs, and old age.


It may not seem like fish have their own personalities when you’re watching a giant school of fish all does the exact same thing, but bettas are different. While schooling fish must do exactly as the other fish do, bettas are loners, and not bound by these rules.

This has allowed them to develop their own personalities and ways of doing things. For example, one of my bettas eats food like a normal betta, just going up to it and eating it. One of my other bettas always flares at his food, rushes a pellet and bites it, darts across the tank, then circles back around. He repeats this until all the food is gone.

Weird Betta fish was sleeping.

Even when it comes to sleeping their personalities play a role, as does their tank set up. If they have many hiding places and lots of leaves, they will probably sleep in a hiding place. On the other hand, if they have a bare tank with just one or two decorations, they do not have many options.

Some bettas prefer to sleep near the bottom of the tank while others prefer sleeping at the top. They simply find an area of the tank that they feel most secure in, and even with identical tanks, this will vary from betta to betta.

Some may pick sleeping positions that will freak you out. For example, some like to wedge themselves upside down in decorations, and they often look quite dead or in danger. The best way to tell if your betta is stuck is to remove them from the decoration.

If they never return to the decoration, congrats, you just saved your betta! However, if they do return to the decoration, they were probably just sleeping, and you must get used to your weird betta.

Broad Leaved Plants

It’s no secret that bettas love broad-leaved plants. If you have a large anubias, java fern, or amazon sword, you probably see your betta lounging on the leaves quite a bit. On the other hand, if you are one of those lucky keepers of the weird bettas, you will probably see your betta wedge itself in the branches of those plants and completely ignore the leaves.

Either way, the large plants provide security and comfort to bettas. This is one of the main reasons that bettas often like to sleep on such plants. The large leaves provide perfect resting places, and if they feel threatened, they can retreat deeper into the plant.

Providing such plants to your bettas is an excellent idea. The more secure your betta feels in its environment, the happier it will be. In addition, plants help remove nitrates from the water, thus improving water quality.

You can also provide your betta with plastic and silk fake plants, especially if they have broad leaves. If you can get the leaves near the top of the aquarium, your betta will love you for it. Since their long fins make swimming difficult, having a resting area near the surface will help them tremendously when they need to bring air into their labyrinth organ.

When you buy a fake plant, silk plants are best. They are softer than plastic plants and are unlikely to damage your betta. If you buy a plastic plant, you will have to test it. Take a tissue and gently run it over the fake plant. If the tissue tears, that means the plant will tear your bettas fins, so don’t use that plant.

Dead vs Sleeping

It is always a good idea to check on your betta if it is acting weird. By checking on it at night, you should be able to notice differences in its sleep patterns as well, which can be early warning signs of illness or old age. Or, it could be nothing at all.

If your betta is acting weird during the day and has started sleeping oddly and you want to check to see if it is still alive, there are several things you can do. The first is to check for gill movement.

Even at night, gill movement should still be strong and noticeable. You should see the gill plates moving in and out. If you see good gill movement, that is a surefire sign that your fish is very much alive.

On the other hand, if you are struggling to see any gill movement, disrupt your fish’s sleep. Shine a light on your fish but avoid shining it right at the fish’s eye. This should wake the fish up, but if it doesn’t, open the lid and use a net or other object to push the fish and wake it up.

Provided that your fish is alive and well, this will make it move. If it does not, you should closely examine your fish for any signs of illness or injury. It is possible that a very sick fish will not move, even with the prompting, but it is unlikely that your fish is still alive.

Warning Signs

In terms of laying on the bottom of the aquarium at night, this is perfectly normal and fine. Most bettas will stay upright when sleeping, but some do lay on their sides. However, if your betta fish is laying on the bottom frequently during the day, especially on its side, this is not a good sign.

Firstly, you should check your water for ammonia, nitrite, or nitrates. If you register any ammonia or nitrite or nitrates over 20ppm, do a large water change, or several water changes, to get the parameters in order.

Secondly, if you cannot determine a cause and your temperature is fine, do a water change of 50%. Fresh water can help your fish feel better even if the water isn’t necessarily the cause. You can also review common betta illnesses and compare the symptoms to your betta fish.

When it comes to fish illnesses, don’t expect your fish to display all the symptoms of an illness, unless it is poisoning. In our article, “Betta Fish Care for Beginners”, we discuss many common betta illnesses that your fish may be afflicted with.

Old Age

Old age strongly affects bettas. Unless you buy your betta directly from a breeder, you will not know your betta’s true age. Most sold in pet stores are at least 5 months of age, but they can be significantly older than this.

With old age, your betta will become less active and less interested in eating. Their backs will curve, and they will spend most of their time lounging around. This is not something that you can combat with medications, water quality, or therapy, and is just a natural part of your betta’s life.

When your betta gets older, it will start sleeping more and will spend more time laying around. The best thing you can do is to make sure your betta is eating and to provide more resting places and decorations. Since they won’t be able to move as well, you should give extra areas that they can feel secure in.

In conclusion, some bettas sleep lying on the bottom of the aquarium, and it is not a bad sign. Bettas seem to have personal opinions on what the best sleeping place is, so no two will sleep in the same way or the same place. However, if your betta sleeps excessively during the day, this could be an early warning sign of an illness.

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