Last update: April 15, 2024

Does your betta fish sleep? How to catch your Betta snoozing!

As I tucked my daughter into bed last night, her eyes wandered to the aquarium by her bedside. There, Toby, her vibrant Crowntail Betta, was gracefully gliding through the water.

Suddenly, she turned to me with curiosity sparkling in her eyes and asked, “Do betta fish need sleep?”

It was an insightful question. Before I could respond, her eyelids fluttered closed, and she drifted off to sleep.

Have you ever pondered the same? If so, today’s your lucky day! Dive into the fascinating world of betta fish as we explore their sleeping patterns and discover tips to ensure your finned friend enjoys blissful, undisturbed slumber.

Do betta fish sleep?

Betta fish sleeping while floating

Yep, just like you and me, bettas need sleep. However, their sleep is a little different.

First, betta fish are very light sleepers.

I don’t know about you, but when I go to sleep at night, I am a heavy sleeper. My house could be falling down around me, and I would sleep right through it.

Imagine if I was a betta. As a heavy sleeper, I would make for an easy snack for a larger fish or bird.

Not only that, but another betta could take over my territory.

It is for this reason that betta fish wake up at the slightest movement or sound – it keeps them safe from harm!

These days, betta species of fish are bred in captivity. In fact, not even the great, great, great, great grandparents of your pet betta lived in the wild or ever had to run from a predator.

And even though your aquarium is perfectly safe, the natural instinct of your betta is to sleep lightly. I guess the good life takes some getting used to, huh?

But even though your betta is a lighter sleeper than you, its rest pattern is still similar – bettas are most active during the day and prefer to sleep at night.

This makes your betta the ideal bedroom companion, as he requires no tank light at night.

Oh, and just like us, some lazy bettas love to nap during the day.

It’s this daytime napping that often catches beginners off guard. I mean, what would you think if you came home and just saw your betta sitting at the bottom of your tank, without the slightest sign of movement?

You would think it had died, right?

I guess the fact that bettas don’t have eyelids makes it difficult to tell if they are sleeping. I mean, who sleeps with their eyes open? Which brings me to my next point…

How can you tell if your betta is sleeping?

Close-up on betta mouth and gills

Want to know if your betta is sleeping and not dead? Look at his face.

Like you and me, bettas still need to breathe in their sleep.

To put it simply, dead fish don’t breathe. So, look closely at your betta’s mouth and gills. Even during sleep, you should notice your betta draw water in through its mouth and out through the gills.

Speaking of which, during sleep, the mouth and gill movement of your betta will be much slower than when it is awake. Don’t worry, this is perfectly normal because bettas use less oxygen while sleeping. As a result, your betta will breathe slower while sleeping.

Notice a color change? If your betta has lost its bright color, it doesn’t mean he is unwell – your betta could just be taking a snooze.

Many beautiful fish, including the betta, lose their color vibrancy when sleeping. Experts say that this is likely another natural form of self-defense so that your betta is not easily spotted while sleeping.

The thing to remember is that this pale color is only temporary. Once your betta wakes up, its color should darken and appear richer. If your betta’s color doesn’t return, it could mean that your betta has bad health.

The final clue that your betta is dozing and not dead? Its position.

Don’t be surprised to find your betta sleeping curled up like a cat, lying on one side with his head pointed down toward your substrate or even sleeping vertically, with its head pointing toward the bottom of your aquarium – some bettas even sleep with their fins open!

A betta fish sleeping vertically in aquarium
Image source

Can you imagine coming home to that? Don’t freak out, this vertical betta is simply sleeping!

If you have never seen your betta sleep before, then all this can seem like odd behavior. In fact, many first-time betta owner panics, thinking something is wrong with their beloved pet.

Take a deep breath and look for signs that your betta is breathing and whatever you do, try to avoid startling your siamese fighting fish awake. This means:

  • Don’t turn on the light if it’s nighttime
  • Don’t tap on the glass
  • And definitely don’t poke your betta

How would you feel if someone startled you awake like that? Shocked? Well, your betta feels the same.

If you still can’t tell whether or not your betta is sleeping, just check back on him later – I have never found a betta to sleep through his usual feeding time.

Where do betta fish sleep?

Betta fish sleeping inside wall of rocks
Image source

If you think how your betta sleeps is strange, then be prepared to be weirded out by where your betta chooses to sleep.

Spoiler: It’s anywhere.

Seriously. In my time keeping bettas, I have discovered them sleeping wedged behind my heater, on top of ornaments, on my filter intake, head buried in the gravel and even just floating.

And, it seems like other bettas are just as odd as mine. Check out these bettas sleeping in some unusual spots…

Betta sleeping with head behind a rock
Image source

Just a betta fish casually sleeping with his head wedged between the rocks.

Betta sleeping on top of aquarium thermometer suction cup

Yes, this betta is comfortably sleeping on top of a thermometer suction cup.

Betta fish sleeping on the leaves of an aquarium plant
Image source

Snoozing among the leaves of an aquarium plant (Anacharis). This is perhaps the least unusual place for a betta to sleep.

Floating sleep, is the only position that causes me to check if my betta is still alive. While I have had a few bettas that occasionally would float while sleeping, the vast majority prefer to perch themselves on a random object in my aquarium.

Sad to say, but most of the time when I have checked on a floating betta, I have discovered that it wasn’t sleeping, but dead.

But perhaps the strangest position that bettas sleep in is the ‘fish out of water.’ If you have a plant with leaves sticking out of the water, then you might actually find your betta sleeping there.

Lazy betta fish sleeping on top of leaf out of water
Image source

Yep, bettas are one of a few fish that can actually sleep out of water. You see, bettas don’t just breathe underwater like a regular fish but can also draw oxygen from the surface of your tank – your betta can breathe just like you and me.

Now don’t get me wrong, your betta is no Aquaman. Your betta cannot do this for long periods of time and must remain moist.

How do you ensure your betta fish sleeps well?

Betta fish having a nap during the daytime

A well-rested betta is a happy betta. Let’s look at the different ways you can encourage your betta to get a good sleep.

During the day, bettas prefer to nap in the shade while at night total darkness will ensure your betta has a comfortable sleep.

Makes sense, right? I mean, your betta cannot close his eyes, so sleeping with the lights on isn’t exactly a fun experience.

Since bettas prefer to snooze in the dark, you should ensure that the lights are off when nighttime rolls around.

Reducing the amount of hours your lights are on is a good thing anyway because it can help prevent algae growth in your aquarium, but that’s another story.

If you are like me, and darn forgetful, I recommend grabbing a good aquarium timer for your tank. The timer will turn your aquarium lights off at night and on again in the morning, all without any effort from you!

As for daytime napping, bettas prefer a nice spot in the shade.

Fortunately, shade is easy to provide:

  • Choose a shady location to set up your fish tank, avoiding direct light from nearby windows.
  • Tall or floating plants that are betta-safe help to block out the harsh light.
  • Decorations like caves, tunnels and bridges can offer up a nice spot in the dark.

Ideally, you would want to consider shady sleeping spots for your betta when you first set up your tank. So plan ahead, it’s much easier to decorate an empty tank than when it is filled with water.

Unfortunately, no two bettas are alike. And even if you provide the perfect snoozing spot, there is no guarantee that your betta will sleep there.

It is for this reason that I suggest giving your betta a choice of beds. By setting up shady spots at the bottom, middle and top of your tank, your betta can choose his favorite sleeping spot for himself.

I know this can be difficult for a smaller aquarium (there is only so much room), but you can always remove any decorations and plants that your betta doesn’t take a liking to.

You can also use a betta hammock to provide your betta with a comfy spot to rest.

What does it mean if your betta fish sleeps too much?

Male betta fish sleeping at the surface of his aquarium next to a plant

I sleep for eight to nine hours every night. My wife? Between six and eight. We are both fit and has no health issues and neither of us wakes up feeling tired.

Why am I telling you this? Well, the same goes for bettas. While some bettas appear to need more sleep, others will happily thrive on less.

Because of this, there is no such thing as the ‘perfect’ amount of sleep for a betta.

However, by watching your betta for a few weeks, you will soon understand what a normal sleeping schedule looks like for your tropical fish.

Should your betta start to sleep more than this, there could be a problem in your tank.

Let’s look the possible causes for bettas sleeping more than they should.

1. Your tank is too dark

If you don’t already have a good aquarium light, grab one – bettas sleep much less during the daylight hours.

Your betta tank should get between 8 and 12 hours of light each day.

2. Your tank is too boring

Another cause of excess sleep is boredom. If your tank is too small for your betta, then there really isn’t a whole lot else to do but sleep. Choosing an appropriately sized aquarium for your betta will go a long way toward alleviating boredom.

Some betta fish owners use toys, such as a betta mirror, to ensure that their fish don’t get bored and to mix up their betta’s routine. Others regularly change the décor, giving their betta an entirely new environment to explore.

3. Your tank is too hot or cold

Betta fish thrive when the water temperature is between 78-82°F (26-28°C). Outside of this range, your betta can become lethargic and sleepy.

Make sure that you regularly check the water temperature of your aquarium with an accurate thermometer to ensure everything is as it should be – your heater might need adjusting.

4. Your betta is sick

When you get sick, do you just want to spend the day in bed? Well, so does your betta. If your betta is sick, you may notice him sleeping a lot more than usual.

Common illnesses in bettas include:

  • Fin/tail rot
  • Columnaris
  • Hemorrhagic
  • Dropsy
  • Popeye
  • Eye cloud
  • Mouth fungus
  • Furunculosis
  • Fish fungus
  • Velvet
  • Ich
  • Anchor worms
  • Hole in the head

All the above display obvious symptoms and require treatment. Unfortunately, some do not have high survival rates – in some cases, you may have no other choice but to euthanize your betta.

5. Your betta is getting old

Old age may be the reason that your betta is snoozing more than swimming. Bettas typically live for 3-5 years. It’s not uncommon for bettas to slow down and sleep more as they get old. It’s inevitable, and there isn’t anything that can be done about it.

I know it’s a sad thought, but you should be applauded. You have given your betta a happy and full life – well done!

What does it mean if your betta fish doesn’t sleep?

An active male betta splenden swimming around his aquarium

As I covered earlier in this guide, all bettas sleep, but because they sleep with their eyes open, it can be difficult to tell.

However, just how well your betta sleeps is another story. Here are a couple of reasons why your betta might not sleep as long as he should.

1. Tank mates

Bettas can be territorial and do not always take kindly to sharing their tank with others. Unwanted aggressive tank mate could stress your betta to the point where he loses sleep.

2. Your tank is too bright

Bettas sleep during the night, when it’s dark. If you leave your aquarium lights on 24 hours a day, you are not providing an environment where your betta can sleep well.


All betta fish sleep. They just don’t show it – I mean, they sleep with their eyes open!

I hope the information in this guide helps you to determine the difference between a sleeping betta and one that is awake.

And remember, try not to wake your sleeping betta. Just like you and me, bettas need their beauty sleep.

Where is the strangest place you have caught your betta sleeping? Let me know in the comments below!

FAQ 1: Do Betta Fish Sleep?

Yes, betta fish require sleep to maintain their health. Unlike humans, bettas are light sleepers due to their natural instinct to stay alert to potential threats, even in the safe confines of a home aquarium. Betta fish sleep at night when it is dark, mimicking their natural rest pattern, and may occasionally nap during the day. It’s important to note that they sleep with their eyes open since they lack eyelids, which can make it tricky to tell if they are asleep or awake.

FAQ 2: How Can You Tell if a Betta Fish is Sleeping?

Determining whether a betta fish is sleeping involves observing several subtle signs:

  • Breathing: Watch the gills and mouth; a sleeping betta will have slower and more rhythmic breathing compared to its active state.
  • Color Change: Bettas often lose some color vibrancy when they sleep, which is a natural defense mechanism to make them less visible to predators.
  • Position: Betta fish may sleep in various positions – curled up on the substrate, lying on one side, or even floating vertically. Unusual positions do not necessarily indicate distress but are part of their normal sleep behavior.

FAQ 3: How Do You Ensure Your Betta Fish Has a Good Sleep?

Promoting good sleep for your betta fish involves several practices that mimic their natural environment and keep them comfortable:

  • Lighting: Maintain a consistent light cycle with dark periods to encourage natural sleep rhythms. Use an aquarium timer to regulate light exposure, mimicking dawn and dusk which helps define day and night clearly for your betta.
  • Environment: Provide hiding spots and a tranquil setting. Decorations, plants, and caves offer shelter and a sense of security, which can facilitate better sleep.
  • Water Conditions: Keep the water temperature between 78-82°F (26-28°C) and ensure the tank is clean and well-filtered. Proper conditions help prevent stress and sickness, which can affect a betta’s sleep.

Ian Sterling

Ian Sterling, founder of, began his aquarium journey over 30 years ago, driven by a deep fascination for fish and their diverse personalities. His website,, is dedicated to making fishkeeping accessible and enjoyable, offering beginner-friendly guidance, expert insights, and a community for aquarists to connect and share experiences.

Comments (81)

Great read thank you
I have a question We just did a full waterchange (have done 2 partials) and Spice (our male Betta) has been lethargic
He is a very active and feisty guy and he never missses a meal but was hanging at the bottom and sleeping a lot more in the last 24 hours and I’m worried
We let the new water settle for 24 hours and used tester strips to make sure it was safe to swap out
Seems to swim strong at times and other times looks like he tires out quick and floats down
Any clues as to why? Stress? Will he survive? We really enjoy Spice, he’s got quite the personality and spunk!

Hi Lea,

Spice is an awesome name for a Betta! Unfortunately, there could be a number of reasons why your betta is tired, including illness, disease or water quality. Unfortunately, I am not qualified to diagnose. Your best bet would be to sign up to one of these forums (It’s free!) and ask your question there. It’s possible someone has experienced similar and will be able to provide you with guidance.

Thank you so much for your article. It answered a few questions that I had. I have a blue beta fish that I named Sushi. I got him at an office Christmas party last year. He is an awesome fish and great company for my mom. They actually wave at each other. It is too funny lol.

My question is this…I cleaned the tanks and went from white stones to pink stones. I put him back in the tank and he didn’t act quite right for a couple of days. At one point, he actually covered up with the stones using them like a blanket, which he has never done before. He is ok now, but I got to wondering if it means anything when they cover up with the stones like that.

My other question is, do betas really need heaters and lights? I do have a filter in the tank. I was told they didn’t need one, but Sushi likes to play in the water spout so I leave it in there lol. Thanks.

Hi Lori,

In my opinion all fish need a filter. To put it simply, it’s where most of the beneficial bacteria live in your tank – these bacteria stop your water from going toxic. For more information check out our Guide on cycling your aquarium

Some of this beneficial bacteria can also live in your substrate, so it’s possible that when you swapped out your gravel, you removed the little bacteria that was in your tank and stressed out your betta.

As for heaters and lights, these help keep your aquarium stable and can be important parts of keeping healthy fish.

Fluctuating temperature changes stress fish out, which can lead to a premature death – a heater stops this.

Lights help your fish aquarium maintain a regular day-night cycle, which may reduce stress, particularly in shady or dark spots in your home.

Great article! I have a question. I’ve had my betta, Spike (I couldn’t help myself ????he’s feisty, he deserved a name like Spike) for around a month now, and he’s eating well, and is very active, but I don’t have time interact with him much during the day (due to classes). I was wondering if you had any ideas of ways to help keep him happy. He has a big 10 gallon tank all to himself, with a few plastic plants (that are soft enough for him) a cave that I built with rocks, a betta log and I just bought a moss ball for him (I read that there were many benifits, and sometimes bettas will play and rest on them).

My tank lights tend to heat up the surface water more than I would like it to, so I typically leave it off, and open the blinds for him in the morning I stead, so he gets indirect sunlight.

He always greets me at the front of the tank when I get home, and I enjoy watching him, and spending time around the tank. He enjoys swimming behind the heater, glaring at his reflection (which he sees in the glass, i assume) and occasionally darting around the length of the tank, or he’ll ride down the current from the filter (which I sorta DIY modified so it wouldn’t be too strong) like a slide.

Overall he seems happy, so maybe I’m just paranoid, but I really want to give him the best life, so I want to avoid boring him. (I can only imagine how I’d feel being bored and stuck in a tank all day, every day, 24/7)

I considered buying a mystery snail, a shrimp, or a few neon tetras for him, but thought against it later because I’m not sure how he’d react to them, and I don’t have a backup plan in case he’s too aggressive.

Thoughts on how I could better I rich my betta’s life?

Hi Ashley,

If you keep your aquarium’s water parameters in check, monitoring with an aquarium test kit, and perform regular maintenance, it sounds like you are already giving Spike a better life than many.

On the entertainment front, many betta owners use a mirror to get their betta to flare each day. The general consensus among many forums is that it’s healthy for the betta.

Short of that, It is suggested that fish don’t experience boredom in the same way that a human does, this somewhat follows my thoughts.

Unless you notice behavior like self-biting or becoming lethargic, may suggest, among other things, a lack of stimulation, you probably don’t need to worry about your Spike

Visual stimulation, in the form of decorations such as rocks, plants, etc and of course, enough room to move are the most important parts of ‘entertaining’ betta. It sounds like you check all the boxes here.

I wouldn’t add any fish to a tank with a male betta – you don’t want to see spike’s darker side.

However, mystery snails make great tank mates – your betta might be curious about that “moving rock” and go in for a closer look, but shouldn’t bother it otherwise.

You could introduce shrimp but it’s likely spike will chase them around at first. However, if you give them plenty of hiding spots to run to as your betta gets, they can co-exist. Larger shrimp, like Amanos, are too big for betta to eat and can live side by side. If you want to add shrimp, then I would research it further before buying some.

Spike is very lucky to have you as such a considerate owner.

Thanks for this article! Very fun and informative to read! I have a male betta (i think) in a 2.5 gallon tank with 7 tetras, plants, 2 smooth rocks and a filter. I have read that they have weird sleeping positions and tried to see how mine sleeps. Btw, it’s has only been 3 days since I bought him and the tetras. I can’t catch him sleeping even at 2am. He will pause in a place for sometime , for about 3-5 mins and move to a different place in the tank. Is there a problem why I can’t catch him sleeping? Is he not comfortable with his tankmates. I don’t see him attacking the tetras btw. Or he is just a light sleeper. I’m thinking of transferring my tetras to another tank… thanks in advance! 🙂

Hi Bella,

2.5 gallons is probably too small to house both betta and tetras. It is also hit and miss as to which betta will happily live with tetra. Some co-exist just fine, while others want nothing to do with them – it all depends on your bettas personality.

Male betta are territorial and it’s possible that by adding the tetras, you have left him on guard – he feels he has to defend his territory 24 hours a day, which is responsible for the lack of sleep. While the neon tetra pose no threat, he doesn’t know that and is on high alert.

Hi there! Thanks for the sharing!
Just to be sure is it alright if a Betta is sleeping vertically with head up towards surface of water? My conclusion is that the positioning is because my fish tends to like the back of the tank and that is where my plant is and my fish wanted to wedge himself near the corner he ended up vertical. I just hope this isn’t a sign of him being sick.

Hi Jacquie,

If your Betta otherwise looks healthy, the water parameters in your tank are fine (use a test kit) and you don’t leave your lights on then your betta might just be a vertical sleeper.

Just got my male half moon betta Bon 6 days ago. He was so pale and lethargic the first few days, I thought he wasn’t going to make it. Each day I would cut on his light and sit by the tank, offering food. By day 3, he was taking food from me and greeting me. He loves to look at my finger and will swim around it if I put it in the tank haha 🙂
I’m concerned that he isn’t getting enough rest. I’m a night owl (college student probs) and often will fall asleep with the tv on. I have a 3.5 gallon tank with filter/heater, tank is checked weekly for water parameters. I have a little castle for him but I don’t think it’s enough to provide him a place to hide out. I need a suggestion for a cave that will give him some darkness and fit in his tank. He’s a good boy and deserves it
P.s. He loves the tv hahaha

Hi Aisha,

If your betta likes to hide in “caves” you could always grab a small tera cotta pot, cut an opening and have it so the back faces your TV, blocking out light. You can check out my terra cotta pot guide for more info. Otherwise you could scope out the decorations at your local fish store and see if anything is appropriate there.

Hi Ian,
I just got a Dumbo Halfmoon male Betta fish about a week ago and your article has been one of the most informative I have read. He was lethargic and a pale blueish white when I got him but has gotten more active, bluer and seems happy now. I call him Blue. I have a 2 gallon tank with a 20 watt heater (placed horizontally.) that states it is for “up to 2 gallons”. About 5:00 or 6:00 every evening he will get on top of that heater and go to sleep, which tells me that heater is not very hot. And every morning he is waiting below the little opening for his breakfast. I got a 3 gal tank today, a new heater for “up to 5 gallons”. I also put a thermometer in the new tank and so far it says exactly 80°. I will probably use the smaller heater during the summer. I had a very gentle filter in the first tank and he did not like it. He would not swim around the tank as long as that filter was running. I had the idea to remove it and he started swimming all around the tank, exploring it and has been very active and happy. I have decided to forego a filter and try to change his water at least once a week and keep the tank clean. I hope it works out well! I will definitely keep him warm up to 80° as I am very cold natured and know how miserable being cold is. What are your thoughts on why he hated that running filter..?

Hi Trysha,

Congratulations on your new fish, Dumbo Halfmoons are beautiful when they are happy and healthy. The fact that his color has returned means you are doing a great job as an owner 🙂

Ideally Betta should be kept in a 5 gallon tank at minimum, but a 3 gallon will be a huge improvement over his old 2 gallon one.

As for the filter question, betta don’t like much water movement. In their natural habitat, they live in still water – they are not used to experiencing currents and it stresses them out. Your filter may have produced too much water movement and when it was removed, your betta was noticeably happier.

Thank you for your reply. I have tried to put only easy-to-clean decor in his tank so that the weekly cleanings will not be a hassle. He showed no stress at all when I put him in the new tank. The new heater is not placed horizontally and he was not happy about that. So I got him a leaf hammock (actually one for each end of the tank) and he is really happy now. He does not seem to like the bloodworms. What other treat is good to give to Bettas besides bloodworms?

On the blood worms, are they freeze dried? Soak the bloodworms in tank water for 20 minutes before feeding. Then, using tweezers, dangle it in front of your bettas mouth, to see if your betta will eat it. It’s possible your betta doesn’t even realize that you are offering it food and is holding out for his regular meal completely unaware that you are offering a yummy treat. You can also soak the blood worms in garlic juice and then once he is used to them, stop soaking in garlic juice. Garlic juice is a natural appetite stimulant that can make betta more likely to eat a food.

I have a blue tail with red in. It very pretty the body is pinkish she is only 1inch and a quarter long and has a small tail like that of a fan what kind is it

So I have a question the pet store told me any size tank is good for a betta fish I have a dragon scale betta and I didnt know if he is okay being in a 1 gallon tank…

Hi Bri,

Excellent question. Unfortunately, your pet store hasn’t giventhebest advice here. Unfortunately, most pet stores that carry multiple pets often don’t quite understand the complexities of fish keeping. 2.5 gallon is the bare minimum for a Betta. 1 gallon is way too small and will end up causing a lot of problems for both you and your betta. If this is your first fish, make sure you read up on how to cycle your aquarium before you buy the fish – it could save the life of your fish. I hope this helps!

Hi Ian. I got my Premium Rose Petal Betta, Zip, today. He loves his home already. His home is a 3.5 gallon tank, and has 5 plants and 1 little barrel that has holes that he can swim through. The tank also has 1 snail. Should Zip and Simon (yes, I named my snail) get along, or will they avoid each other? Also, Zip has a leaf, or a Betta hammock that he is very, very cautious about. Why is he so cautious? And lastly, is there anything that I should consider about his home?

Hi Hannah,

Zip and Simon are pretty neat names. Despite Zip having the occasional curious close up look at your snail, it’s likely they will ignore each other for the most part.

Check out my betta hammock guide for more info on getting Zip to use his leaf.

I’m also concerned that the pet store did not tell you about cycling your tank (or if they did, not properly) if you just got your fish today, and he’s already in his tank it’s likely that this is the case. It’s a pretty important part to keeping fish of all sizes, big and small, and will save your fish from a lot of health problems in the future. Please read my fish in cycle guide for more information.

If you have any questions relating to those two articles, please leave a comment on that article and I’ll answer as soon as I can. Congratulations on being a new fish keeper. I’m sure you’ll make a great owner!

Ok! Thank you! And before we got him, we let his tank sit a week, and we put dechlorinating drops in the tank. Is there anything else we should do? Also, when we got him, the store said to let him in the water in his container for an hour, which we did, and then released him. We’re they wrong?

I’d grab a “master test kit” as mentioned in my cycling guide. You see, water looks the same to us, whether it’s toxic or healthy, it just looks like clear water. A test kit allows you to tell if your water is making your fish sick. Every person who keeps fish should have one. If you speak to anyone who has been keeping fish for a while, they will tell you it’s impossible to raise healthy fish without it. I cover test kits in the cycling guide.

Another problem is that fish don’t show pain in the same way that you and I do. They don’t scream. They don’t whimper. They just swim around as usual. That’s why you use a test kit to determine what is going on in your tank.

As for the letting him sit in water for an hour, I believe you are talking about acclimatizing – where you “float your fish” in a separate container or bag in his tank so that the water temperature matches. Did you also slowly ad water from your tank to his container, say half or a quarter of a cup every 5 or so minutes. What this does is get your betta slowly used to the water in your tank since it can be quite different in temperature and pH than the water in his container. Adding the fish quickly can shock them. It’s like that uncomfortable feeling you get when you enter cold water at a beach or in a swimming pool.

If you missed this step then it’s too late to worry about it.

Fish are a little more technical to keep and require a little more learning than other pets like dogs and cats. But don’t worry, we all started knowing nothing 🙂

Ok. We did not add water slowly, as we were told to use a net to transfer him from his container to his tank. And we will invest in a test kit. Thank you so much for giving us thus information! Also, we moved Zips Betta hammock in a different spot, and now he will wedge himself between the leaf and the side of the tank. He still wont touch the leaf! I have read your article, about fish hammocks, and I followed the instructions there. Also, we tried to feed him, but he as the food and just didn’t eat them. We put In 5 pieces total today, and he only ate 2. Is this odd behaviour? I know they only het 2 or 3 a day… but he just wasn’t eating them! What do you recommend we do?

Did you buy your betta from a big box pet chain, like petsmart or petco?

Unfortunately, it is difficult to give the exact reason why your fish isn’t eating. He might be full, it might be the tank cycling that is causing stress – without a test kit, it’s just guessing. The fact that he ate two is a good sign though. Zips stomach is about the same size as his eye, so it doesn’t take much to fill him. Don’t forget to remove any uneaten food, so it doesn’t foul up your water!

If he is wedging himself between the betta hammock and the glass, then he is using it. Not in the way that you would expect, but all betta are different. Did you try moving it so it’s just below the surface? This is where most people find the most success. As for the feeding, it can take a few days or even weeks. But if you continue to feed over the hammock, he might eventually get the hang of it. If he still doesn’t use it, then that’s just Zip’s personality. It’s like asking you to wear clothes you don’t like, while others might wear those same clothes, they just are not your style.

Hi Ian,
Loving the article! I have a question, I got a 29 gallon tank. The tank comes with a filter and a heater. The tank is covered all the way, obviously it has the lid to give food. I brought home a betta fish and it seems like the air pump moves the water too much, I have it facing up and Im afraid the fish is not going to ear because the food moves around too much. I would like to leave it off, but I am scared that because the tank is closed and the heater gets hot, there won’t be too much oxigen. Do you have a suggestion? Thank you!!

Hi Evelyn,

I’m a little confused by your comment, What is your air pump running? An airstone? You can always use a
bleed valve
to reduce the flow rate on your air pump, this will result in a gentler output.

Betta dislike too much water current anyway, your filter should be producing enough aeration to churn the surface of your tank, which is what oxygenates the water. In this instance the airstone can be removed altogether.

My Betta loves to hang out between the glass and the filter. The filter current is very slow so I really don’t think that is bothersome. I am wondering if this is a warm place that he likes and/or has chosen this spot to sleep? I often find him there at night when I go to look at him as I am up at crazy hours. During the day he swims around normal and eats well. I do have a thermometer and a heater that I turn on if his water is below 78 degrees. Do you think he is okay? I would like to send you a picture of his setup to see if you think it is okay?

Hi Stacy,

If that’s where your betta has chosen to sleep, and is comfortable, then that’s fine. As I discussed in the article, betta choose some darn odd places to sleep.

Hey Ian i just read your article and i have a couple questions for you regarding my betta that i just got yesterday. so i set his tank up and i washed all the gravel and decorations i have for him and what not and then i mixed the water conditioner with the water and poured it in the tank and turned on the filter and let it sit for about 7 hours because that’s what the guy at Petsmart told me to do. then i put the cup i bought my fish in the water for about 15 minutes and then let him out into the tank. all was good and he was swimming around acting normal. i left the light on when i went to bed because i didn’t know that you had to turn it off so they could sleep at night. when i woke up this morning he was sitting behind the filter and he hasn’t moved since. his fins move every now and then and i put a mirror behind the tank to see if he was breathing and he is. i’m also concerned that he might be struggling because i didn’t get a heater for his tank because the worker at petsmart said i didn’t need one. i hope you can help me because i love this fish already and i don’t want to kill him.

Hi Megan,

Unfortunately Petsmart gave you some really bad advice here. Not uncommon and not the employees fault. It’s the fault of the company for not training their employees better. Read up on how to cycle your aquarium as to why this was bad advice and then you’ll need to carry out a fish-in cycle. Even then, there is no guarantee your better will survive. This is why you should support your independent local fish store you will get much better advice.


I got a Dragon Scale betta the other day. I set up the tank before I got him. Yesterday morning, he seemed hard to wake up. I got a heater for him. He seemed fine last night.

This morning, he was sleeping on his side and seemed hard to wake up. I see that I shouldn’t wake him up. I will not do that in the future.

Can bettas be slow to wake up completely in the morning? I want to make sure he eats in the morning. Does he just need to get used to our routine?

Thank you,


Hi Brenda,

I assume your water quality is good? As in you have cycled your tank and use a test kit? If so, this might just be his personality. It’s hard to say without checking your water parameters first.

Thanks for the information about betta’s sleeping as I am a new betta owner first one male veil tail I noticed as before I got into bed my betta was laying on the aquarium plants he was breathing still so I thought do betta fish sleep and then I found out with this useful information ℹ can rest now knowing that betta’s do sleep
Thank You

I have a question I have a betta fish Nero which is a really good looking betta veil tail blue, black, green and red cool looking fish I brought him in a fish specialist dealer he had tank mates so I decided to get the tank mates as well and being cherry shrimp they keep the tank clean I have noticed that they have been seen by the filter and getting inside the filter are they breeding ? are they feeding on the dirt the filter has removed ? And if they are feeding from the filter will they be eating the good bacteria the tank needs or just keeping it clean? Please can you answer this question as I am getting a bit unsure of why it is
Thank You

Hi Ashley,

Filters are like a magnet for shrimp. This behavior is perfectly normal. They eat all the tiny pieces of gunk that accumulate there. It’s a perfectly healthy feast. They are eating the grime, not the bacteria itself – consider them your tank’s personal clean up crew!

Hi just got my son his first betta and since this morning he has been laying on the bottom of the tank not sure what’s wrong with him he’s fed and was active early in the morning but not sure if he’s sleep ?

Hi Tabitha,

How recently did you purchase your betta and did you cycle your tank before adding him? Also, what are the tested water parameters? In fish keeping, an aquarium test kit is essential as it can identify water quality issues that can make your betta sick or stressed.

I currently have a blue Butterfly male betta fish named Poseidon. I purchased him at adult age in March 2018, so he is about 1.5 years old as far as I know. He is kept in a small but spacious bare-bottomed tank with no tankmates. I have seen him vertically sleeping quite often in the last few months. Is it normal for Poseidon to suddenly start sleeping in a different position? (I have checked temp,, folters, and water quality-all is normal).

Hi Alexis,

Betta fish are… odd. A change in sleeping position isn’t cause for concern unless it’s accompanied by other behavioral changes or symptoms of disease. If water quality looks good, he is eating as normal and otherwise looks healthy, it’s probably just him mixing things up. Use your best judgement here.

Hi! So I have a 5 gallon tank for my Betta and I have a filed for just that but I’ve noticed my betta sleeping sucked against the filter and I have noticed some damage to the find because of that, should I just turn the filter off at night? And what about naps during the day. I just don’t want him to get hurt!

Hi Andrea,

Betta prefer slow moving water so if your filter is strong enough to suck him against it, it’s probably too strong. Depending on the brand of filter you may be able to adjust it. Otherwise, a prefilter sponge can be used to reduce the water flow.

Don’t turn the filter off, it should run 24/7 as the filter will house good bacteria that help keep your water safe for your betta.

Hello, i have a question. If you do not have a filter inside your tank, how often do you have to clean the water of the betta?

Hi Thybo,

Only you can answer this. Waste builds up at different rates in different tanks. You should be using an aquarium test kit (like the API master test kit) and monitoring your ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels. This will determine how long you can go without a water change.

Hi there. I have a betta fish who is 9 months old. I have a few questions for you.
1. If I put a leaf from a tree, will it affect its heath?
2. Are betta granules good for its diet? a 5/12 cm tank good for my betta?

4.(My betta fish name is Tsuky, he is a male) If Tsuky plays with some of his shells from the tank’s accessories, is he happy? Thank you very much if you read this comment.

Hi Julia,

You can’t put any old leave in your bettas tank. Most people commonly use indian almond leaves, which add tannins and may provide a health benefit to your fish

Most betta foods have been specifically formulated for a betta however, many fishkeepers recommend a varied diet.

Any tank that is smaller than 2.5 gallons in capacity is too small for a betta.

“playing” with shells does not necessarily mean your betta is happy. He might be curious. Fresh water (use an aquarium test kit) and an appropriate sized tank will go a long way to keeping your betta safe.

Good Morning,

I hope this comment finds you well and I appreciate all the advice you have offered. My male beta was a gift to me for Mother’s Day from my children who insisted that he be a desk mate for me at work. Even though I was hesitant of the idea. Being that I didn’t want to disappoint my children I happily obliged. As you have pointed out several times beta’s are odd balls and my little handsome guy here is no exception. His tank was set up for 48 hours prior to acclimating him to his new environment and we used a test kit as well. So, I feel pretty confident that his home is healthy. However, he is as you put it a lazy fish. There are no lights on in the building at night and virtually no commotion so he should sleep well at night. Yet he chooses to nap frequently during the day. He has several choice spots picked out and he will go from one to the other all day long. I turn his light on at 7am and off at 4pm so he is getting 9 hours of light each day. Is this adequate day light? Also on the weekends when no one is here I place his tank in a spot where he will receive sunlight during the day but not direct as to encourage algae growth. Do you have suggestions on how to ensure my fish is safe when absent on the weekends? Lastly, and this may be his personality, he has a quark sometimes when he sleeps. He will arch over on his side. At first it frightened me but over the last week I have grown accustom to it as I can easily wake him. Have you ever witnessed sleeping behavior like this before? Should I be concerned that he may have an injury I should look out for? Or is it just who he is and I should let him be? He shows zero signs of illness otherwise. Thanks for all your helpful information!

Hi Brandi,

To answer your questions,

That sounds like it is plenty of light. I wouldn’t worry too much about the weekend lighting. If it’s of concern, you can buy a separate light and use a plug-in timer so that it comes on and off at set times while you are away.

Make sure you keep testing your water – ammonia and nitrite should be zero and nitrate will keep climbing until you perform your weekly water change (don’t forget the water conditioner to dechlorinate the water you add) if these levels are normal, then you may just have a sleepy betta.

I have seen betta arch over on their sides on a leaf before. If he shows no other signs of illness or injury, then I wouldn’t be too concerned about this.

I had 2 beta fish in 2 separate tanks and one of them recently just disappeared from the tank. The other one is fine, but used to be fairly lethargic but after the other fish died, he seemed to perk up. I have been leaving the shades open in the room, but the light is on when I’m not sleeping. I have 2 questions. 1. I sifted through the rocks and took everything out of the tank (which is covered completely so he couldn’t have jumped), so how did he just dissapear? 2. Did my second fish just need more natural light? Or is it because his marimo balls are photo synthesizing better and cleaning the water better? We switched his food as well from pellet to freeze dried blood worms

Hi Hannah,

Ummm… You have me stumped, that is quite a mystery. If your betta couldn’t jump out, then someone or something must have removed him. If you solve it, I would love to know – I’m curious now.

If color has improved, it could be the change of diet. Also, I just want to make sure you are not relying on the mariomo moss ball to clean the water, you should be doing regular water changes (don’t forget to dechlorinate) this is one of the most important things you can do to keep your betta happy and healthy.

Hi Ian! I am very new to Betta fish keeping and I am struggling with few things.
1. My halfmoon male who was red blue and white spotted ( random scales all over the body) turned blackish blue (mostly body fins are fine but got darker) in just 2 months after I bought the fish. I got 2.5 gallon tank with no filter no decorations. I feed hikari bio gold 2 times a day 5 pallets each time. I use dechlorination and can only manage to change 50% water once a week. There are few pieces of Indian almond leaves and I do feed live food like mosquito larvae or brine shrimp 6 to 7 days a month. He had tail rot (minor) recently (color changed before tail rot) and I used Dr. Aqua medicine for tail rot. He has no loss of appetite nor shows no unusual symptoms. He seems recovering but very slowly. Can you please tell me any reason for color change and how long does it take to grow back the lost tail. One thing I can mention I got heavy iron in tap water so I use a drinking filter water don’t know if it helps or not.
2. I recently bought my first EE yellow pineapple female who seems to be very restless doesn’t jump though but swims very fast back and forth along any 1 side of the tank. I sneaked up at night when it’s dark but I could spot she is swimming while all others are motionless. I gave her few hiding spots like tunnels made of rolled up almond leaves but I found her once go in and did not try it ever again. Is there a problem with her?
Thanks a ton in advance. Looking forward to your advice.

Hi Sharfi,

I highly recommend grabbing an aquarim test kit (I reccommend the API master test kit) this will enable you to see what is going on with your water – about 90% of problems come back to water quality, which this test kit will enable you to identify.

I wish I could post a pic with the comment. He took to it immediately. It’s so funny.

He has other live options (plants) and various hidey holes but no when it’s time to CRASH he heads for the plastic hammock!

It’s on there just below the surface.

That’s adorable! It’s always nice when you buy a product and your fish interacts with it as intended – without any extra effort!

Do not feed ur betta 5 pellets and 2 times a day only 2 to 3 pellets and starve her for a day to do her digestive system clean and do not feed it mosquito and all because it causes diseases to fish and do not stress her much and change water every 3 days 60 percent

I recently lose a female betta where I over fed her since I spoiled her much and learned from that experience, a day ago I bought a male bluish white feathered tail but then died a couple of hours after releasing him in the tank because he got stocked in the glass and the ridge of the filter pump that I know I securely positioned in the corner tank yet he slips anyway, now I bought a red double tail and noticed that his upper back fin has a small rip and coiled a bit but I didn’t noticed a white or black thing around the ripped part did he nipped his tail when he was inside his small cup before I bought it or is it a fin rot starting to grew. I can’t check him out everyday since I was coming home every weekends during work off. Would appreciate your thought about this. Thanks for the great article.

Hi Rhyan,

Do you measure your tank with an aquarium test kit? These are essential to understanding what is happening in your tank and can identify the majority of issues that stem from water quality, such as whether you need to cycle your tank.

Hi! Id like too share my story of were Ive found my betta, Zeus. He loves to sleep on the leaves of his big silk plant. But, he also likes to sleep behind the filter… It doesnt drag him in. And it definitely isnt strong enough to. He goes there to sleep. Its so weird!

Hi Viki,

Zeus sounds like he is full of personality, even when he sleeps! Thanks for sharing, I love hearing about readers own experiences.

Hi!! Sometimes it worries me every day because my betta fish isnt moving I dont know if his sick or sleeping I cant tell and I also fed him two days ago is it normal is he doesnt eat anything for a day or two???

Hi Marielle,

Unfortunately, I can’t diagnose online. If you have cycled your tank, checked your water paremeters with a test kit and regularly maintain it, then it’s possible he is just sleeping.

On the food part, if the food isn’t fresh, it sinks to the bottom and turns to mush, your betta won’t eat that. A betta only needs a really small anount. Like 3-5 of those micropellets.

Thank you for this article, it has been really helpful to this first time betta owner! My dragon betta Hannibal was sleeping on the big leaves right next to the water surface, I thought something was definitely wrong with him, but no – he just likes to nap!

Hi Frankie,

Betta sure are odd and you can be rest assured that just having a lay down on it’s own is nothing to worry about. If he is eating properly, your are maintaining the tank and your test results are all good, he is just sleeping.

I’m needing help. We use distilled water with our male betta, do I need to cycle the water? We just bought a bigger tank and would like to get him moved. We have had him since July 2019. The new tank is filled, as the water conditioner in it, and the heater is on.

Hi Cassidy,

Distilled water needs to be remineralized as on it’s own it’s not suitable for fish. Yes, you need to cycle any tank before adding fish.

Thanks for the info,

I just got a new male betta fish and hes constantly laying on the ground and spitting out food, im very new to keeping betta fish and im worried if hes sick, is this normal for a new fish and tank?

We got a Betta a few days ago that my kids named Tinker. I’ve been trying to learn more about him and upon a curious Google search of “Do Bettas sleep?” I came across your article and I’m so glad I did! I didn’t even think to replicate natural day/ night cycles so we just turned the aquarium light on and didn’t think anything of it. Plus my daughter who has been begging for a fish pretty much sits at the tank and oodles at him call day and night. 🙂 After reading this(at night) I went immediately to the tank to turn off the light. Tinker swam straight to the bottom and nestled under a plant. It was kind of crazy. It was like he was saying “THANK YOU! I haven’t slept in 2 days.” 🙂 Poor guy! I feel so bad. But I’m glad I figured it out sooner than later! But so far he’s been a healthy, happy, and active fish. He comes to the glass when we greet him. So cute.

Hi Margi,

Welcome to the hobby. There is a lot to learn and I am glad that you stumbled across this article!

If you bought from a big box chain (like petsmart/petco) it’s possible they didn’t tell you how to cycle your tank. This is vital for keeping fish alive and healthy. Here is a guide that explains it in more detail:

I am leaving a comment about the strangest places I have found my male bettas sleep, I get a kick out of all my bettas, I have 3 girls who live together in a 10 gal
and 2 males my newest male is in a 5 gal and the other is in a 10 gal. My male I have had for 2 months named Rojo used to sleep on his side draped over his heater, it made me giggle the first time I found h sleeping there and it was his go to sleeping spot every night. My newest male I have only had for a week became very comfortable and happy right away, he was asleep the first night on his leaf hammock which I put about an inch from the surface in the back of the tank, he doesn’t always sleep there though, this morning I freaked out a little bit cause I found him in a nice little ball with his face buried in a cradle of almond leaves and all I could see was his rounded side, no eyes, no face not hardly any of his beautiful red Delta find could be seen. Until reading your article did I know that they can sleep in the oddest body positions. This afternoon I caught him napping between the tank wall and a tall plant so when I first looked at him he looked trapped against the glass but I didn’t panic too much and looked closely to see if he was breathing heavily but no he was breathing slowly, he was taking a nap, cause he woke up and came to his feeding spot for lunch. I love them all so much and they all have different personalities,I haven’t named the newest group of girls and the boy so I watch them alot til names come to mind, it’s easy to watch them all cause all 3 tanks are in my room.
Thanks for your article I have learned so much about my babies from everyone who contributes their fish keeping knowledge.

Hi Cyndi,

Thanks for sharing your betta experience, I’m sure it will help out other readers here! They are definitely odd, but that’s what makes them so fun to keep as pets!

Hi I just got a fish named Neptune last week. I just lost another fish named sapphire last week as well. Neptune is in the tank with another female named Luna. The water quality is good I tested it with a strip. Neptune just lays at the bottom of the tank. His head up but his tail down. I feed him twice a day. He is regular sized. Is he sleeping? He was in the light of the tank a 3.5 gallon tank. I clean the water every Saturday. Is he ok? Will he live? I feed him flakes, I bought him at pet smart though. Sapphire lasted for 6 months. He was a veil tail betta. Any recommendations?

Hi Lilly,

When you say the water quality is “good” what are the actual measurements? I only ask as many beginners make mistakes here. If he is otherwise normal and healthy, then it’s possible you just caught him sleeping. Unfortunately, many of those petsmart and petco betta that are sold in small containers are often unhealthy when you get them and even when you do everything right, they can still die on you.

I just got my first betta fish, Teeter. I found him napping between the glass and a piece of cholla wood the other day; it made me chuckle. He likes to swim back and forth behind the filter. The first time I saw him do that I was worried he would get stuck, but he kept doing it. He likes to swim in between the leaves of the java fern and the stack of cholla wood. The only ‘decoration’ he doesn’t care for is the river rock tunnel; I’m thinking of removing it. He is such a cute little guy, he makes me smile. I just want him to be the happiest little fish.

Hi Cici,

Sounds like you are going to be an excellent “fish parent” I’m glad to hear you are enjoying the rewards that fish keeping offers. It sounds like your Betta has a great personality! Make sure you stay on top of water testing and tank maintenance to ensure he lives a full and happy life!

Hi, so I just got my new betta Storm. I gave him a nice 3.5 gallon tank, a soft fake plant, a filter, and some marbles at the bottom. Storm seems happy and healthy, but I heard that betta’s need heaters. When I put water in his tank I put warm water, but Storm doesn’t have a heater. Will he be ok?

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