Do Goldfish Sleep (How To Tell, Sleeping Patterns and Tips)

Something I’ve definitely asked myself when staring at my goldfish, and you’re probably also wondering is whether they sleep. It’s hard to tell because they can’t close their eyes (they don’t have eyelids). Here is what I found.

Do goldfish sleep?

Yes, goldfish definitely sleep to get their rest. They sleep up to 12 hours per day and will calmly hover a little above the bottom of their tank. They do not close their eyes because they do not have eyelids.

You are probably curious about what sleeping goldfish look like. In this article, I’ll dig deep into this question of goldfish sleep. You’ll learn everything you need to know about your goldfish’s sleeping habits. This way you can clearly tell if they are asleep, or if something else is amiss.

How Do You Know if Your Goldfish Is Asleep?

There are a few ways to tell when your fish is asleep. Still, it isn’t always easy knowing whether a goldfish is taking a snooze. They do not lie down when they sleep. And they can’t close their eyes like other animals. However, if your pet seems less active, this is a good indication that they might be sleeping.

Goldfish tend to stay near the bottom of their aquarium when they are resting. Your pet likes the lower temperature in this region of the tank. And they will remain mostly motionless and seem like they are floating.

They don’t stick to the floor of your tank but they do hover a few inches above the substrate. Goldfish also tend to lean their bodies at a downward angle, which can seem odd.

You might be worried that your fish is ill or dead when you see this behavior. But in most cases, there is no need to panic. They are likely asleep. Some movements might be noticeable while they are in this state.

But this does not mean they are awake. Goldfish need to move a little when they sleep to properly stabilize themselves and breathe in the water. So there gills and fins might flutter lightly during sleep.

If you need further proof of their restful state though, look at the color of their scales. Resting goldfish turn a lighter shade of color when they fall asleep. This is a natural defense mechanism for your pet. In nature, this helps them hide from predatory fish. In your tank, it helps you know that they are sleeping.

However, if you are still curious about what a goldfish looks like when they sleep, check out this video:

Sleeping Patterns of Your Goldfish

Goldfish can sleep at any time of the day. But they will only fall asleep under certain conditions. They need a dark and quiet area to rest. For this reason, most Goldfish are active during the day and sleep as the sun sets.

Since they can’t blink or close their eyes, these fish are most comfortable falling asleep in darkness. Sometimes they will take naps in daylight if it’s dark enough. But usually, they fall asleep when it is nighttime.

Your Goldfish’s lidless eyes may seem odd or inconvenient. But they have naturally adapted these features for their safety. Goldfish’s wide eyes are constantly vigilant of danger.

So be careful of quick motions near your fish, this will stress them out. And be mindful of this during bed time. Your pet won’t sleep well when people crowd their tank and turn the lights on. You will want to be mindful of this and adjust the settings of your tank accordingly.

How Long Should Your Pet Sleep?

Typically, your goldfish will sleep for twelve hours. This provides them with the best rest and keeps them in healthy shape. It may seem like a lot of sleep, but your goldfish needs to rest uninterrupted. So try not to make loud noises or switch your lights on and off when they are sleeping.

Twelve hours is a good amount of sleep, but if your pet goes over this amount on a regular basis something could be wrong. Pay attention to your fishes habits to make sure they are healthy. I will talk more about unusual behaviors that resemble sleep later on in the post.

Adjusting Your Tank Lights For Restful Sleep

Putting your fish on a sleep schedule is the best way to ensure that they get their twelve hours of sleep. You can set up this schedule with the use of a lighting system. Keep the lights on in your tank for twelve hours during the day. This will keep your fish wakeful and active when the sun is up.

Then at night, turn the lights off so your pet will go to bed. Tank lights should be off for at least twelve hours. Again, your fish will not sleep well with high volumes of light shined on them. So make sure they are in a dark and quiet spot when it’s time for bed.

The best way to set up this routine is with an automatic lighting system. You can schedule when the light turns on and off in your tank with a pre-programmed device. This way you won’t have to worry about timing the lights yourself.

It’s easy to forget to turn off your lights, and you don’t want to deprive your pet of its sleep by accident. So consider getting this type of LED system for your aquarium.

What Happens When Your Fish Doesn’t Sleep

Sleep is important for any type of pet, especially if you want to keep them healthy. If your pet does not get enough sleep it can experience illness and even death. So you should try and give them at least a full twelve hours to rest.

Goldfish with less sleep have a weaker immune system and are more prone to stress. When this happens, your pet can succumb to infection and disease more easily. You do not want this to occur. So make sure to follow the tips I have outlined in this post.

Again, don’t keep your aquariums lights on all the time or your fish will not sleep. And make sure that your fish is in an ideal environment for rest! You want your goldfish to live as long as possible by getting a proper night’s rest.

Swim Bladder Disease

Your fish could be pale and floating strangely because it is sleeping, or it might be exhibiting these behaviors because they are ill. Most of the time, your fish is fine and simply asleep. But if you notice other odd behaviors during the day something more may be going on.

You want to observe your fish at all times to make sure it is in good health and simply resting.

If you notice that your pet isn’t eating or that it swims around strangely during the day they might have swim bladder disease.

Swim bladder disease is pretty common, but if it is left untreated it can be deadly. You might mistake the symptoms of this disease for rest. But remember that your goldfish will only sleep for twelve hours. If they are floating at the bottom of the tank and look pale in the daytime there could be something wrong.

How they swim will also help you determine if they are sleepy or sickly. If they lean heavily on one side while they swim around they likely have swim bladder disorder. Other signs include a rounded belly, floating upside down, and difficulty swimming upward.

It isn’t hard to cure this. Just make sure to clean out your tank water. You can also give them peas and add aquarium salt to your tank.

Is Your Fish Sick or Sleeping?

Knowing the difference between sleep and rest is important. So remember the basics of your fish’s sleep cycle to determine if they are healthy or not. In addition, other issues besides swim bladder disorder can be mistaken for a sleeping state.

You might think that your fish is taking a nap when it rests near the bottom of the tank. But if a goldfish stays in this area of the water for over twelve hours they could be ill. Watch over your fish to see how often this occurs.

If they are motionless under light for days at a time there could be something wrong with your water. Tank water with high levels of ammonia and other nitrates can cause your fish to become sick and stressed out. This makes them look like they are sleeping.

And if your fish starts floating near the top or turning over this could be a sign of bacterial infection. So try changing your water.

Still, other issues could be causing this behavior. Your fish might not be getting enough oxygen or might be sleep deprived. Alternatively, their food might not be giving them the right nutrition.

This could result in your fish being pale and motionless as well. So ensure that all of these areas of your fish care have been reviewed. And if your pet is sticking to a regular sleep cycle and is exhibiting regular inactivity then they are probably just asleep.

Bart Sprenkels

I have been keeping multiple aquariums since I was 18 years old. Just like many of you, I started with two goldfish but quickly learned they were not suitable for aquariums. Later, I switched to a tropical community tank and I also have two pet musk-turtles in a bigger aquarium. You can read more about me here.

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