How Do Female Betta Fish Sleep? What You Must Know

They do it with their eyes open and by laying relatively still. It can be challenging for new pet owners to know if the fish is asleep, but once you know the signs, you’ll be able to determine whether your pet fish is awake or asleep.

There are specific materials that help them with sleeping, such as aquatic plants and their leaves, a betta log. In addition to that, some may or may not get enough sleep due to specific factors, such as excessive light at all times. 

In this article, therefore, I cover essential information about how female betta fish sleep so that you can add essential items within your aquarium and make specific adjustments to facilitate that. As a result, you can ensure that your pet fish gets the sleep it needs to stay healthy and happy. 

Learn more about female betta fish


How To Tell When Your Female Betta Is Sleeping

As mentioned above, it’s difficult to tell when your betta fish is sleeping. This is mainly because they sleep with their eyes open. However, there are some signs if you look closely, which I discuss below.

It’s Not Swimming

The first thing you should notice is whether your betta fish is swimming or not. There are only a few instances when your betta fish may stop swimming. Of course, you need to look at your fish long enough to determine if it’s swimming or not. For example, it may stop swimming for a few moments, and if it starts moving again, it’s likely not sleeping. 

The two most common ones are that it may be sleeping or being overfed. A constipated betta fish may also stop swimming and lie still for long periods. So, if your fish doesn’t show any of the symptoms mentioned below, your pet may not be sleeping but overfed. In that case, speak to your veterinary (DVM) about your fish’s health and possible dietary plans. 

Its Eyes Are Open

One of the most exciting things about specific fish, like the betta fish, is that they sleep with their eyes open. They do not have eyelids, so they cannot help but keep their eyes open. Many members of this species sleep this way.

It’s Lying Still

If your female betta fish is lying still for long periods at night, you can expect it to be asleep. The time of day can be crucial in determining whether your fish is sleeping. That said, some betta fish also take naps during the day if there is little light. You’re likely to find your fish asleep when lying still over or near some leaves, within a cave (if you have one in your aquarium), or anywhere it finds safe. 

Its Gills Are Moving Slowly

Another easy way to determine if your female betta fish is sleeping is to look closely at its face and gills. You’ll notice its mouth and gills moving slower than usual. This is because when these fish sleep, their breathing slows down, which is noticeable when examined closely. An easy way to notice this is to quickly compare its gill and mouth movements when it’s active and asleep. 

Also, make sure not to shine a light on your fish when it’s sleeping to examine it. You may wake it up from its slumber. 

It May Be in a Specific Position 

If you’re scared that your female betta fish is sleeping or dead, you can quickly know by its position. Betta fish usually sleep in a position similar to what a cat looks like when it curls up. It may also sleep in a vertical position in which its head faces the bottom of the aquarium, and its tail meets the surface. Some betta fish sleep with their fins in an open position. Of course, when you get close enough to your pet, you can look at its gills for signs it’s breathing. 

How Long Do Betta Fish Sleep?

Betta fish sleep pretty often, but the numbers vary on the fish and its conditions. On average, a female betta fish rests about 12 to 14 hours more than humans. It will most likely sleep for most or all of the night and take multiple naps during the day. So, don’t force your betta fish awake if you feel it’s sleeping too much. Keep this number in mind, and if it’s sleeping more than that, look at specific environmental and other changes you can make (see points later in the article).

How Often Do Betta Sleep?

As mentioned above, your female betta fish will sleep during the night. So, it’s best to give them about 12 to 16 hours of darkness (during the night) and 12 to 8 hours of daytime (use your artificial light if you don’t have enough sunlight coming into the room). Moreover, betta fish also take naps during the day. It’s normal and even essential to their health—not a problem in most cases. If you find your betta fish napping during the day, don’t try to force it into being more active. 

What Do Female Bettas Need to Sleep?

Female betta fish need specific structures that can aid them with sleeping. They may be able to sleep without these structures, but the presence of such things can keep them more comfortable and make them feel safe. 

Aquatic Plant or Leaves

Plants and their leaves can help your betta fish rest on a comfortable surface, supporting them in their sleep. Some floating plants are great for placing in your betta fish aquarium. Some examples include Java Fern, Amazon frogbit, and Anubias. These plants are also very easy to maintain and care for, making them excellent choices for pet owners with busy schedules. Adding plants also help bring wildlife into your aquarium, which looks great and supports your fish’s health. 


You should get a cave for your betta fish because of two reasons. The first is that they help betta fish feel safe and comfortable. Betta fish are fighters and not school fish. So, they usually need spaces where they don’t feel threatened. The second reason relates to the first is that betta fish use caves for spaces to sleep. So, areas like natural coconut caves or a ceramic jar will work well. 


Betta logs are structures designed to help betta fish feel safe and sleep—similar to caves. You can find various types of logs, including sinking or floating ones. 

Signs of Sleep

Below we’ll discuss some signs of a female betta fish sleeping too much or too little. Knowing these can help you make certain adjustments to ensure that your pet fish is getting enough rest and does not get unwell. 

Why They Sleep Too Much

There isn’t one reason your pet will sleep. However, a few common reasons can cause them to sleep more than necessary.


Try to keep your betta fish stimulated so that it doesn’t decide to sleep to pass the time. You can increase the number of decorations in your aquarium as a start. You could also consider feeding your fish a different food sometimes. Speak to your vet for options. The best way to stimulate your fish is to give it some friends by adding more fish, giving them a chance to play. Just be careful not to add too many because betta fish are fighters. 


Your betta fish may rest more than necessary if it’s sick. So, look for any signs of swelling, sores, spots, or ulcers. If you spot something, have your vet diagnose your beautiful pet as soon as possible so that they can treat it and restore its health.


Fish can experience stress under specific circumstances, such as high nitrate and ammonia levels in the water, low or high pH levels, low oxygen levels, or incorrect temperature. Use an appropriate water filter to ensure the water quality stays consistently good. Moreover, change some water regularly to keep ammonia and nitrate at acceptable levels. 

You can tell if your betta fish is stressed by looking for the following symptoms. 

  • Your fish is swimming frantically without heading to any specific destination 
  • It may rub itself on the rocks or gravel within the aquarium 
  • It may crash at the bottom of the aquarium 
  • Your fish may even lock its fins to its sides 

If you notice your fish is stressed, make it a point to determine the cause of it. If you can’t figure it out, I recommend having a veterinarian look. However, you don’t want to keep your fish stressed for long because it may experience health problems. So, always make it a point to examine your fish’s behavior to determine if it’s healthy.


It’s normal for a male or female betta fish to sleep more than usual as they grow older. This is because it will need more rest to recover after some activity. 

Lack of Food

If your fish is not getting the nutrients it needs to stay healthy, it may struggle to remain active for long periods, causing it to sleep more. 

Water Temperature

As mentioned above, high or low water temperatures can stress betta fish. So, keep the temperature between 78°F and 82°F (or between 26°C and 28°C). In addition to stressing them out, temperatures out of this range may make your fish lethargic.  

Aquarium Lighting

If you keep your aquarium too dark for most of the day, then your betta fish will tend to sleep more than often. 

Why They Sleep Too Little

On the other hand, there are some reasons why your betta fish is sleeping too little. These are discussed below. 

Too Much Light

Follow the timings I mentioned above for the light your betta fish should have during an entire day. So, keep the aquarium relatively dark for about 12 to 16 hours during the night. 

Bad Tank Mates

Betta fish are fighters, and pairing one with many others may result in fights, making one or more fish feel unsafe. As a result, it may struggle to fall asleep as much as it needs to. 


As I mentioned above, a sick female betta fish can either sleep too little or too much. So your ill fish’s color may also grow darker when it’s unwell.


The same points I detailed above about stress are also relevant in this case.  

How Can You Help Your Female Betta Sleep Well?

To summarize the points above, you can help your female betta fish sleep well by doing the following. 

  • Keeping them stimulated
  • Ensuring they remain healthy 
  • Keeping the water temperature and quality consistent
  • Keeping the light bright during the day and very dim during the night

Popular Questions

I’ve prepared answers to a list of popular questions about the sleeping habits of female betta fish. Check them out below. 

Do Female Bettas Sleep on the Bottom of the Tank?

If the bottom of the tank offers a safe and comfortable space, your female betta fish may sleep there. 

Do Female Bettas Sleep on Their Sides?

Yes, female betta fish sleep on their sides, among other positions.

Do Female Betta Fish Sleep on Leaves?

Female betta fish sleep on leaves because it offers them support and comfort. Large leaves provide them space to rest and support their bodies. You’ll also find your betta fish resting atop or near leaves close to the water’s surface. 

Do Female Bettas Hibernate?

No, female bettas do not hibernate. 

Final Words

The answer to the question, “how do female betta fish sleep?” should be clear now. It’s always a good idea to research how to take care of any fish or animals so that you can ensure that they’re happy, safe, and healthy. If you have the chance to take care of betta fish, ensure they get their sleep because they need it. 

Jack Dempsey
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