Fish Facts

How Many Hours Do Fish Sleep a Day?

Pet fish likes to sleep in the night when there is no disturbance. Here are real facts about the fish sleeping patterns, types, and factors affecting their behavior.

How Many Hours Do Fish Sleep a Day? On average, a pet fish sleeps around 7 to 12 hours, depending on their sleep pattern and the surrounding environment.

Fish Name Duration of sleep (hours) Type of sleep Where they sleep
Goldfish 8 to 12 Diurnal Bottom of tank
Guppies 10 Diurnal Float on the surface
Beta 8 to 12 Diurnal Float on the surface
Zebra  8 to 11 Diurnal Sleep on bottom
Cory catfish 7 to 9 Diurnal Float on surface

How Many Hours Do Fish Sleep a Day?

Every living organism has its mechanism and behavior of sleep. Sleep is an integral phenomenon of living creatures. This article will discuss the sleep cycle behavior and way of sleep in fish in detail. 

The time and duration of sleep in them depends upon the type of ish and their environment. They usually have two kinds of sleep patterns. One is alert sleep in which the brain stops working, but other sensors are active. In actual sleep, all the physiological activities are on standby.

Depending upon the type, some are diurnal means they sleep at night and are active during the daytime, they can sleep for up to 8 to 12 hours at night.

Some of them are nocturnal means they sleep during the daytime and are active at night. They experience alert sleep because it helps them to escape the predator and beware of other dangers.

Some have short quick naps and do not sleep a long time like diurnal animals. This quick nap lasts almost half an hour to two hours.

Some of them do not sleep at all during some stage of their life as they migrate or to care for their young ones. When they are living in an aquarium can adjust their sleep cycle according to the water tank’s conditions. 

Do fish sleep?

According to the definition of sleep, it is lying down of any species in a specific posture with body inactivity and can reverse this condition. So keeping in view of this definition, the answer is definitely yes.

All organisms sleep, and some who do not sleep have some period of inactivity in daily life. They sleep in a different way than other animals.

They lack eyelids and neocortex in the brain. This brain part should stop when the mammals sleep. Due to these reasons, some people think that they don’t sleep.

Quality sleep also has a good impact on their health and growth. When they do not get enough sleep, they show a reduction in gill movement and physiological activity. The absence of sleep does not affect their mental health as they do not have a neocortex.

How do you know when fish are sleeping?

It is sometimes difficult for us to detect if it is sleeping or not. It is because they sleep with their eyes open. The absence of eyelids keeps the eyes open all the time and because of this, fish do not close their eyes when they sleep. Another thing that they do not show signs of REM during sleep.

There are certain obvious signs that you can observe to know if they are sleeping. They lie motionless in the aquarium and become less responsive to external stimuli. They love to eat Zucchini, if you add them to the tank, they will smell it.

The heart rate decreases; they also show a decrease in metabolism to save body energy. This energy is used for the restoration of functional activities in them.

They also show reduced or no gill movement. You can see some exceptions in some species. Some of them keep swimming even when they are sleeping. The gill movement in them is necessary for the water flow in them. Through this water, they withdraw oxygen for breathing.

They become motionless and lay down in a specific posture daily at the same time. You can note the time for memorizing their time of sleep.

Despite inactivity their remain highly alert toward the external danger in water or aquarium. Some of them also secrete a mucus layer as a bubble around them to protect against dander and protozoans.

Where do fish sleep?

Some of them lie at the bottom of the pond or aquarium. They lie at the edges of the tank bottom to feel cozy and comfortable. Some go on the surface to sleep; some also hide in coral.

They also sleep in plant foliage and rocks to hide them. Some of them not only sleep there but live there permanently, primarily feeding on plants foliage.

They can sink or bury themselves in the sand in ponds. Some only drift along any support to get some sleep.

Factors affecting fish sleep

Different factors can change the sleep-wake cycle of them. The most important factor is light and darkness. They need slight darkness in the aquarium to sleep. The circadian rhythm in them largely depends upon darkness and other pets present in the tank. Goldfish can live with guppies.

No matter what is the time when the lights go off, they perceive it as sleeping time. They can change the sleep cycle when you change the amount and time of lighting in the aquarium. However, the nocturnal fish need dim light to sleep. You should treat internal parasites in fish, otherwise, they will not feel comfortable.

Stress can make them sleepless. They can skip their sleep or even suffer from insomnia due to this. The sleep cycle also depends upon the availability of food. You can add multiple cory catfish in one tank.

When the food is mostly present in the daytime, the nocturnal fish becomes diurnal. They can also change the time of sleep, depending upon food.

Any physiological abnormalities keep them awake to pretend they are healthy. This way, they keep themselves alert towards predators. The temperature of the aquarium can make them sleepless. When the temperature in the aquarium rises, they become restless and can not sleep.

During extreme dryness and heat, they undergo the estivation process. It is a state of dormancy where they get bury in mud by making a hole in it.

How to differentiate between sleeping and dead fish?

You can easily distinguish between both of them.

A dead fish lie motionless for days at the bottom of any cave in an aquarium. When you try to wake him up, it does not respond. Its eyes look bigger than usual as trying to come out of the body.

The gill and fins are away from the body, and you will see some metallic white spots on them. When you see them swimming, it will show an unbalanced movement. It also seems lethargic and unhealthy; the vibrant colors even fades when it is dead.

When you touch, it will not breathe through its lungs. You can take it out to see him breathing by opening its mouth. The body scales are also pointing away from the body in an upward position.

Why is my fish sleeping so much?

Different species have a long yearly sleep cycle, which can extend to even one year. This happens when the temperature falls. This is somehow opposite to the estivation process. In this cycle, they hibernate at the bottom of the tank and reduce its metabolic activity; however, goldfish and koi can mate in such an environment.

It helps them to save energy in winter. When you see them sleeping for long, it might be hibernating himself.

Another possible cause is illness cause swim bladder that causes them to sleep a lot. Other environmental issues like water temperature and light can also cause them to sleep a lot.

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