Betta fish are wonderful pets that are generally low maintenance.
New owners should understand their fish’s sleeping requirements if they wish to keep them healthy in the long run.
Like most fish species, Bettas need periods of light and darkness to thrive.
Do Betta fish need darkness to sleep?
Betta fish sleep better in darkness. This is also true for many other species of fish. You should provide your Betta fish and other fishes in the tank with several hours of darkness during each 24 hour period.
This will ensure they get an adequate amount of rest and are not stressed.
How Do Betta Fish Sleep?
Fish don’t sleep in the same manner that mammals do. They usually go into a restful state in which their breathing and metabolic rates are reduced.
Their brain activity is also lowered when they are sleeping. Sleep is important for these fish as it promotes better health and resistance to diseases.
Many owners assume their Betta fish don’t sleep because they seem to be moving around all the time (even while sleeping).
In addition to this, Betta fish do not have eyelids. This means their eyes appear to be open when they are sleeping.
Due to these factors, it can be hard to spot when your Betta fish is sleeping. However, it’s important to remember that even the most active Betta fishes require sleep.
Owners should make sure their Bettas have a dark and comfortable environment to sleep in at night.
How to Tell When Your Betta Fish is Sleeping?
Owners can tell when their Betta fish is sleeping by observing their motions.
Bettas usually remain still for several hours when they are sleeping. However, their mouth and gills will still be in motion when they are asleep.
These fish use less oxygen when they sleep, so their gill movements will be slower than usual.
Betta fish also have many different sleeping positions. Some like to sleep near the surface of their tank.
Others prefer to slumber near the bottom of their living space, or by snoozing on their sides.
Some owners have reported that their fish sleep vertically with their faces down toward the ground.
This is probably why so many owners assume their Bettas are dead when they are actually asleep.
Some Betta owners claim their pets take on a paler color when they are asleep. However, experts haven’t confirmed whether this is true or not.
If you still don’t know if your Betta is asleep or dead, you can try scooping them in a small aquarium net.
If your fish is asleep, they will immediately wake up and try to swim out of the net. However, it’s best to avoid disturbing your fish unless you’re certain their health is at risk.
How Many Hours of Darkness Do Betta Fish Need?
Betta fish typically need 12 to 16 hours of darkness per day. This means their tank or aquarium light should be on for only 8 to 12 hours each day.
Owners should need to assess how much lighting their Betta needs on an individual basis.
This stress can also cause them to develop diseases that shorten their lifespan.
On the other hand, providing darkness for excessive amounts of time can also be bad for your Betta.
These fish need a balanced cycle of light and darkness to avoid stress and remain healthy.
Creating a Good Sleeping Environment for Your Betta Fish
Betta fish are extremely territorial by nature. They are known as “fighting fish” after all.
Due to this, they are usually on high alert most of the time.
This leads to them seeking out safe spots to sleep or nap, even if other fish aren’t present with them.
Betta fish owners should know how to create a comfortable sleeping environment for their fish.
One of the most common mistakes owners make is keeping their fish in a bowl that’s too small. A single betta fish should be housed in a tank that has a capacity of at least 3 gallons.
Also read: What Size Aquarium Is Best For Betta Fish?
This tank should also feature some decorations such as rocks, branches, and leaves that provide the fish with hiding spots.
Some betta fish enjoy sleeping in spaces underneath rocks, while others may enjoy laying down on leaves or moss.
Owners should avoid filling their tanks with plastic decorations that have sharp edges as they could damage the Betta’s delicate fins.
It would be unfortunate if your Betta harmed themselves while attempting to nap in the shade under a plastic decoration piece.
What Kind of Lighting Does Betta Fish Need?
Betta fish that are housed in tanks usually fare better under artificial lighting. This lighting gives owners more control over daytime and nighttime cycles compared to natural sunlight.
Picking artificial lighting for your Betta fish tank is easy. Any LED bulb should do the trick as long as it isn’t excessively bright.
These bulbs are cheap, and their light doesn’t affect the water’s temperature.
Similarly, fluorescent lighting is also a good choice for Betta tanks. This lighting is useful for encouraging plants to grow.
If your tank features a decent amount of real vegetation, fluorescent lighting is the way to go.
Incandescent bulbs should be avoided as they can heat up the tank’s water and disrupt your fish’s living environment.
Betta fish need temperatures between 78°F and 80°F to thrive. They can tolerate temperatures up to 86°F for a short amount of time.
However, they may die if they are left at that warm temperature for too long.
Some Betta owners use blacklights in their tanks because they give the fish a more colorful appearance.
However, blacklights should not be used as primary lighting for Betta tanks.
These fish require natural lighting similar to the kind found in shallow standing waters and rice paddies. So if you do add a blacklight to your tank, it should be used sparingly.
Another novelty lighting should also be avoided as it may confuse the fish and affect their sleeping habits.
To ensure your Betta fish is getting enough “dark” time, you can set up lighting with timers in your tank.
These timers can be programmed to turn off after sunset and turn back on after sunrise.
This is a good solution for Betta fish owners who find it difficult to turn their aquarium lighting on and off each day
Can I Keep My Betta Fish Tank by The Window?
Some Betta fish owners prefer to use natural lighting instead of artificial lighting for their tanks.
They usually place these tanks by a window so that their fish receives a good amount of sunlight during the day.
However, this practice should be avoided as it can create many problems.
Too much or too little sunlight
If you live away from the equator, your tank will receive too many hours of sunlight during the summer, and too few hours of sunlight in the winter.
This can be bad for your Betta fish as they are from equatorial regions where the daily amount of sunlight doesn’t vary much during the year.
Water temperature problems
If your tank is exposed to direct sunlight, its water could heat up to dangerously warm levels.
This water could remain warm for many hours after the sun has set.
Conversely, a cool breeze from an open window could reduce the water temperature in your tank and affect your fish.
Keeping your tank near a window can also lead to excessive growth of algae.
These algae can be nice to have in your tank in small quantities. However, large algae blooms can lead to oxygen depletion that can kill your fish.
Also read: How to Add Oxygen to a Gold Fish Tank?
Coming back to the primary question “do Betta fish need darkness to sleep”, the answer is yes. You should provide your Betta fish with an adequate amount of darkness so that they can sleep at night.
They will need anywhere between 12 and 16 hours of darkness within a 24 hour period to remain healthy.
Sleep is incredibly important for the long-term well being of your Betta fish. If your fish isn’t getting enough sleep, they may stop eating or develop diseases.
You should use artificial LED or fluorescent lighting to light your tank as it is preferred by Betta fish.
These lights should be turned off at night time so ensure that your fish’s daytime and nighttime cycles are not disrupted.
Owners should also strive to create an environment that is comfortable for their fish to sleep in.
This includes adding rocks, branches, leaves, and moss to your fish tank. Betta fish are territorial, so they enjoy sleeping under or around objects that make them feel safe and covered.
Your Betta fish may be able to live up to 5 years if you set up and maintain the right living conditions for them.
So remember to keep a close eye on your fish and ensure their needs are being met.
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