Do Betta Fish Sleep Upside Down? Final Answer Revealed!

Betta fish – also known as Siamese fighting fish – are a freshwater species unique to Southeast Asia. Due to their colorful appearances, bettas are a sight to behold and are loved by aquarists worldwide.

However, they are not exactly beginner-friendly and can cause some problems for those attempting to take in bettas for the first time.

If you have never had bettas before, questions such as “Do betta fish sleep upside down?” will spring up frequently. In today’s article, let’s explore the sleeping habits of these fish.

Do Betta Fish Sleep?

Do Betta Fish Sleep?

Yes. Betta fish requires a decent amount of sleep to remain healthy and active. Unlike other tank mates – who sleep at the tank’s bottom – you will find sleepy bettas both at the bottom and the top of the water column.

Sometimes, if you look closely into hiding spots and dense vegetation, you may also see bettas lurking and dozing off.

As for the time, the difference depends on each individual. Some bettas sleep both during the day and when the night comes. Others stay awake for the whole day and only rest when the light dims. There is no definitive pattern here, so be on the outlook for unique circumstances.

Another thing to pay attention to is how light bettas sleep. Unlike the deep sleep state most associated with humans, bettas remain relatively alert even when they are resting.

Should a threat arise, do not be surprised to see your sleeping bettas open their eyes and react accordingly.

Is it Normal for Betta to Sleep Upside Down?

Yes. Bettas have a wide variety of sleeping positions. In most cases, they will sleep either on their sides or on their bellies. But sometimes, you will see bettas sleeping upside down.

Many aquarists freak out at this occurrence and assume the worst, believing their bettas have died. But there are specific patterns telling the difference between a sleeping betta and a dead betta.

Once you have ensured that your fish still remains alive, there is no need to fret over how they sleep.

How To Determine Whether A Betta Is Sleeping Or Dead?

At first, it can be challenging trying to determine whether your betta is sleeping or dead. This is because resting bettas reduce their breaths as well. You will see fewer bubbles coming out of their mouth, tricking you into thinking that these animals have stopped breathing altogether.

But worry not, as there are clear physical signs that help you pinpoint the problems. Below are some of the most common issues manifest on a dead betta.

purple betta

  • Rotten fin: There are black spots running along the fin, and some parts of the fin are disintegrating.
  • Dropsy: Dropsy is a disease illustrated by bloated sides. You will see how the scales turn into a pinecone with strange proportions.
  • Ich: Ich is a parasite infection where tiny specs bloom all over the body of your betta.
  • Swim bladder issues: If you see your bettas swimming upside down or sideways most of the time, chances are they have developed bladder issues. This prevents bettas from swimming upright.

What Should I Do If My Betta Fish Is Upside Down?

In case you have examined the bettas up close and are sure that your bettas are simply sleeping, there is nothing for you to do. Bettas need rest, even when their sleeping positions are a bit awkward.

However, things change drastically if you think your betta is showing signs of illness. You should check in and see whether your bettas can still be saved.

Changing the water, adjusting the level of ammonia and nitrate, regulating the temperature, etc. are all necessary steps to take. If there are any medicines used specifically to treat these symptoms, mix them with the betta’s diet and let the fish take it in.

If all things fail, be prepared to take the dead fish out of the tank as early as possible. This way, any bacteria or parasite from the dead animal will not come close to living beings.


1. Do you need a light in a betta tank?

While it is not a must-have, you can increase the comfort of your bettas by installing a light. Some bettas cannot tell the difference between day and night, resulting in loss of sleep.

Having a light means bettas are more perceptive to the surrounding environment. When night comes, all you have to do is to switch it off. This helps bettas realize that it is time for them to turn in.

2. Are bettas nocturnal?

Not really. By definition, a nocturnal animal sleeps mostly during the day and only becomes active at night. This is not the case with bettas. Bettas still have naps scattered throughout the entire day. Furthermore, they are active when the light is still on.

3. Are bettas sensitive to light?

Usually, a light designed for aquariums should not startle most fish. But direct exposure to the light can be problematic for your bettas. If left for long enough, this light may induce stress and put your bettas under strain.

That is not to mention how strong pulses of light affect the temperature of the water as well as the sleeping patterns of bettas.

betta at the bottom of tank

4. How many hours of sleep do bettas need?

The difference varies from one individual to another. On average, you will see bettas sleeping between 5 to 8 hours a day. Sometimes, they fall into several short naps. Other times, bettas sleep straight for hours.

There is nothing too strange about these sleeping patterns.


Do betta fish sleep upside down? Yes, they do, and it is totally normal. Next time you see these animals sleeping as if they were dead, do not panic and get all worked up. They are simply resting, so there is no need to worry!