If you have a betta fish (aka "Siamese fighting fish"), then you know how easy it is to get lost admiring their beautiful colorful scales as they swim around their tank. You've probably seen your fish play, hide, and eat, but have you ever seen them sleep? Unlike other pets, fish obviously don't need comfortable beds or warm cuddles to rest (unless you are a mermaid, maybe?), so POPSUGAR talked to vets to learn more about how betta fish sleep and what they may need from you!
How Do Betta Fish Sleep?
Just like humans, Betta fish sleep at night. "When sleeping, they become still, with their eyes open because of their absence of eyelids. Betta fish may lose their color while sleeping (it's their natural form of self-defense), and they can sleep in different positions: curled up like a cat, on one side, or even vertically, with the head down. Some bettas also can sleep with fins open," said Claudine Sievert, DVM, veterinary doctor from Kansas and veterinary consultant at CatPet.club.
How Much Do Betta Fish Sleep Each Day?
While most fish are known for being nocturnal, betta fish spend most of their nights asleep, said Sara Ochoa, DVM, a veterinary consultant for DogLab. Similar to humans, betta fish sleep at night. "They're also known for taking recurrent short naps during the day," Dr. Ochoa told POPSUGAR.
If you catch your fish not moving, don't go into a panic: "If your betta sleeps around 12 to 14 hours each day, including their daily naps, it's normal and enough for them to stay healthy," said Dr. Sievert.
Is There Anything I Can Do to Help My Betta Fish Sleep?
First, be sure turn off the lights at night! "This will help your betta distinguish between night and day and get into a sleeping pattern," Dr. Sievert told POPSUGAR. She also suggested moving your fish tank to a shady location or decorating it with floating plants, caves, and tunnels to give them a place to nap when it's light outside. Adding elements to the tank can also give your betta fish a place to hide while sleeping, which Dr. Ochoa explained they might prefer as it makes their sleep more pleasant and stress-free.
Betta fish are also light sleepers, due to their self-defense instincts. "Avoid tapping on the tank glass or poking your betta when you see it still, with its mouth and gills moving slower than usual," Dr. Sievert said. "It may be resting."
Ideal sleep situations for betta fish are pretty low-maintenance — just turn off the lights at night, add a few plants or caves to hide in, and don't bother them if they appear to be resting. It's not all that different from humans!