Do Betta Fish Sleep Upside Down?

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Have you noticed your betta fish sleeping upside down lately and you are worried why that is happening? The best thing is not to panic, as there can be multiple reasons for this happening.

In this article, we will take a look at why a betta fish can sleep upside down, and whether you should be worried or not. In some cases, there is no real need for concern, while others can have more of an impact on your betta’s health.

To learn more about this behavior, let’s take a look at everything about betta fish’s sleep patterns, and whether it is normal to see them sleep upside down.

Is it Normal for Betta to Sleep Upside Down?

Like all beings in this world, betta fish require sleep to survive. Some sleep more than others, and they remain more active during the day, while they spend most of their nights sleeping.

Usually, the bettas will sleep while floating on the surface, or they will find themselves a cozy little spot somewhere in the gravel between the plants where they will remain hidden while sleeping. If you notice your betta sleeping upside down, then there is no reason for initial concern.

While it can also be a natural behavior of some bettas, in other cases, it might be an indication of something else. With some fish it is normal to see them turned upside down, but if you notice other signs of bad health, then it is a reason for concern.

Namely, if you see that they are not breathing, or if they are trembling or shaking, it might be a sign of other things. Most notably, the sign of swim bladder disease in betta fish. If that is the case, consult your veterinarian.

Do Betta Fish Look Dead When They Sleep?

Even though a betta can appear like they are dead, they are actually sleeping. Some people start to worry when they see a betta turned on their sides or upside down thinking they might be dead, but they might be just sleeping.

Bettas sleep with their eyes open when they sleep, and you would usually see little to no movement. The exception is one or two small fin movements here and there, but you shouldn’t notice too much. That is why they might appear dead.

Another normal behavior, when they sleep, is the tendency to hide or to move behind the filter and sleep there. Or, they might find themselves near the bottom, hidden somewhere between the plants. In any case, that is all normal to see.

Other bettas might even sleep turned to the side or upside down. Although that behavior should be investigated if it is something that your betta never does.

How do You Know When a Betta Fish is About to Die?

Sleeping is often confused with dying in bettas. But if you do notice other behaviors and symptoms that we are about to list, then it might be a sign that you might have to say goodbye to your beloved betta.

When a betta is approaching death, you might notice several things. If you see your betta constantly turned upside down or to their side, then it is not a good sign. Most often, fish that are about to die dwell near the bottom of the tank and remain lethargic and unresponsive. Any behavior that is not usual is not a good thing, and you should observe your betta’s sleeping patterns frequently.

Color changes can also indicate that your betta is feeling ill, and is usually the first sign to appear. The fins might become more vulnerable and prone to tearing and ripping. If your betta has lost its appetite, then it is also a sign that there is something wrong. White spots all over the body might indicate a disease like ich. Breathing patterns can become irregular – they are either slower or faster than normal.

Big or bulging eyes might indicate a disease, and the scales raise and they can take a pinecone-like structure. Check up its abdomen for swellings as well.

Signs that your betta is about to die:

How do Betta Fish Actually Sleep?

Normally, when a betta fish sleeps, you will see that it will float near the surface, or somewhere hidden, with its eyes wide open. In some cases, bettas hide themselves behind the filter or near the bottom of the tank where plants are. Rarely, you will see some fish sleep turned to the side or upside down, and if that happens, you should investigate immediately.

Those behaviors are not usual, and you should also inspect for other signs if your betta sleeps turned to the side or upside down. They appear motionless when they sleep, and often move towards the surface to get oxygen with their labyrinth organ.

If you notice your betta constantly lethargic, sleeping too much or in unusual positions, then you should contact your vet.

Can You Treat a Betta Fish that Swims Upside Down?

If the betta swims upside down, then it might also be a sign of disease. The most common disease that makes bettas turn upside down is the swim bladder disease. It happens when the swim bladder is too full, often due to overfeeding, or due to cooler temperatures. To treat it, don’t feed your betta anything for 2 or 3 days and maintain proper tank conditions and water parameters.

In some cases, it might be caused by ammonia poisoning, which can happen if you don’t have a filter that eliminates ammonia. In this case, set up the filter properly to filter the ammonia, or buy a new one. Clean up the water thoroughly and put the betta back in.


If you notice your betta turned upside down, you should investigate the issue. It can be a sign of a disease, or it can happen naturally. In any case, inspect the betta closely if you see this behavior.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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