Yes, Betta fish do sleep! Well, in a sense they do. The question “Do Betta fish sleep like we do?” is a slightly better way of phrasing. They do, but not quite like land mammals do. How was that for a quick and to the point answer? Yeah, not so great. If you have the time, lets go a bit deeper into this subject.
The current understanding of fish “sleeping” is actually still being actively researched. Betta fish do not experience sleep in the same way that you or I experience sleep, but rather more like a period of rest while remaining alert to their surroundings. That sounds a bit like an oxymoron doesn’t it? None the less, these periods of “suspended animation” may provide your Betta the same restorative benefit as the sleep people experience.
Betta fish in their “sleep” state is more of a general slowing of their metabolism while remaining watchful for predators. Betta fish look for a secure and comfy spot to wedge themselves, or often rest on top of an aquarium plant’s leaf. It is important that you provide places like these for your Betta. That being said, it is also not uncommon to find that your Betta chose the bottom of the aquarium, or the top, to take a rest.
How do I tell if a Betta fish is sleeping?
Bettas take many quick rests all throughout the day
Happy and healthy Bettas are generally quite active throughout the day, and so it’s no wonder that they really enjoy their resting time. But, how can you tell if resting is what your Betta is actually doing? At first glance, it can be difficult to tell if resting is what your Betta is doing. After all, they do not have eyelids that close shut.
It can be rather disturbing to find your Betta lying motionless at the bottom of the tank, or floating still at the top. To tell you the truth, there’s no real obvious way to tell if your Betta is resting, or something not so pleasant. What you should find some comfort in though, is that Bettas take many quick rests all throughout the day. They also do tend to have certain places they return to for their frequent naps. After watching your Betta’s behavior for awhile you will learn where these places are and what is “normal” for your fish.
Let sleeping Bettas lie
Nobody likes being woken up partway through a nap.
Lets say that you walk into the room where your Betta’s aquarium is and see that your Betta is motionless. First and foremost, please do not go up to the aquarium and tap on the glass to see if you can get a response. Bettas are very active in general and burn quickly through their energy. They need those frequent naps to stay healthy.
If you find it hard to resist the urge to tap on the aquarium and “know” if your Betta is only just sleeping, leave the room the Betta is in for 30 minutes or more. The much odds are much greater that your Betta is just taking a nap than of a more morbid situation. While it is good to be observant of your Betta, smothering your Betta fish with too much attention can end up stressing your Betta. When Bettas go through “stress”, it can actually be really harmful, or worse, to them.
Another point to note is that if your Betta is sick, or otherwise in need of your active intervention, your Betta won’t appear motionless. You will see a Betta in need of your help moving around in a way that is somehow not regular. Nebulous as it may sound, you will “know” if your Betta is in trouble. Also, and it sounds rather morbid to say, if your fish is still because it has passed on, there’s nothing you can do for it. Tapping on the glass to check on a motionless Betta will only affect a Betta that is trying to sleep. Nobody likes being woken up partway through a nap.
Betta learn patience
We should all be so lucky to live like a Betta fish!
Over time, you will learn your Bettas habits and rituals. Time spent watching your Betta will gradually give you the assurance that he/she is doing just fine when you walk into the room and see your fish motionless. Bettas are also creatures of habit. Because of this, you should start to notice patterns in your Bettas daily routine. Being observant and learning these patterns will take much of the stress you experience, away from you.
Betta fish take naps. Lots of them. We should all be so lucky to live like a Betta fish!