How Long Do Goldfish Sleep?

Did you know that goldfish sleep? It might not seem like such a big deal, but the truth is that they spend a lot of their lives sleeping, and they need to get enough sleep to stay healthy and happy.

When we don’t get enough sleep, our mood and focus suffer, and there are even risks to our health. Goldfish sleep for an average of eight hours a day, though some can go as long as 12 hours. 

Learn more about how goldfish sleep, the average amount of time they spend asleep per day, and why it’s important for them to get enough rest by reading this article!

How Long Do Goldfish Sleep?

As you know, goldfish need between 8 to 12 hours of sleep each day to live a happy and healthy life. If your goldfish isn’t sleeping long enough, it could end up suffering from several different health conditions, which we’ll talk more about later on. 

If your goldfish seems generally inactive or lethargic, this could be a sign that it isn’t getting enough sleep at night.

How Do Goldfish Sleep?

Have you ever wondered about how goldfish sleep? 

If you wake up in the middle of the night to find your goldfish with its eyes open, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re up for a midnight snack. 

Like many other creatures that don’t have eyelids, it can be difficult to tell when they’re asleep – because their eyes are open. 

Goldfish don’t lay down to sleep like humans do either. That would be challenging for any fish. Instead, goldfish simply become less active. You might find them floating in one place and slightly moving to keep themselves stable, but generally, they remain still. 

Instinctively, goldfish become pale in color while they sleep to prevent themselves from being seen by predators. They do this in the wild too. There’s no need to be alarmed if you see your goldfish’s color faded slightly during sleep, as it will return to normal when it wakes up again.

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When Do Goldfish Sleep?

In their natural habitats, goldfish don’t sleep at night like humans do. Many fish actually become more active at night, as predators often use the darkness for concealment while they hunt. 

That being said, many fish catch their shuteye during the daytime, while others still sleep throughout the night. It depends mainly on their location, food availability, and threats from predators. 

Wild goldfish tend to sleep at night. When the sun goes down, light from the moon reaches underwater, and the temperature drops. This series of natural occurrences signals to wild goldfish that it’s time to go to sleep. 

Due to this natural adaptability, goldfish tend to take on the sleep habits of their owners and the light cycle. So, if you turn the light in your house off at the same time every night, your goldfish will likely take the opportunity to sleep, since there are no predators, and it’s likely already been fed. 

Where Do Goldfish Sleep?

Since goldfish don’t lay down to rest like humans, there’s no need to put a bed at the bottom of your tank. 

You know that goldfish look eerily awake when they’re actually asleep, but where do they prefer to sleep most often?

Like humans, goldfish prefer a dark and noise-free environment for sleep. While they prefer dark and quiet, they don’t necessarily have a preference on where. 

You might find your goldfish floating in a corner of your aquarium, near the surface, or near the vegetation inside your tank. 

This all depends heavily on the availability of oxygen in the water though. It’s a common mistake to think that goldfish only need water to breathe – they actually need air and water. It’s not uncommon to see goldfish swim to the surface for an actual breath of fresh air. This is most common in smaller fish bowls without bubblers – sometimes there isn’t enough oxygen in the water for the goldfish, so it will surface to get oxygen. 

How does this relate to where they sleep and for how long?

Essentially, if there isn’t enough oxygen in their tank (such as if it’s too small, there are too many fish, and there is no air bubbler), goldfish will sleep near the surface where it’s easier to get air when needed. Interestingly, a lack of oxygen in the water will make them sleep for longer and become inactive.

What Happens When Goldfish Don’t Sleep Enough?

As we mentioned already, if your goldfish doesn’t get enough sleep each night, there are several serious health conditions that could end up occurring. 

Just like humans (and many other creatures), if goldfish don’t sleep for long enough, they’re at a higher risk of infection and disease. Goldfish need sleep to maintain a healthy immune system. When they don’t get enough rest, they lose the ability to fight off infection and disease and become much more vulnerable. 

On top of a weakened immune system, goldfish that don’t sleep enough will end up having a slower metabolism. 

How to Tell When a Goldfish Is Asleep

You already know that a sleeping goldfish still has its eyes open and appears to just float in place. They’ll often float near the surface in smaller tanks, and will hide in vegetation for more darkness while they sleep (if the water is clean and oxygen-rich). 

If you find your goldfish floating near the surface on its side, it’s most likely a sign of a bacterial infection, and it should be treated as quickly as possible. 

What Causes Goldfish to Sleep Longer?

Factors that cause goldfish to sleep longer include increased periods of darkness, lack of oxygen availability in the water, and large fluctuations in the water temperature. 

To make sure your goldfish is getting enough sleep, it’s best to turn the lights off at night and make sure the area remains dark and quiet throughout the night. 


Goldfish sleep for 8 to 12 hours every night. Now, you also know that they prefer to sleep in darkness, they