Do Goldfish Sleep? (How, Signs, & What To Do)

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For a goldfish keeper, it’s always a great pleasure to discover their cute friend sleeping and enjoying the tank life. But do goldfish really sleep?

The short answer: Goldfish do sleep; however, it’s more like being in a motionless state instead of laying on the side. So the more appropriate way of describing the goldfish’s sleep is that they are resting.

Read on to learn more about how goldfish sleep, the signs, how to provide them with a better sleeping environment, and more.

How Do Goldfish Sleep?

Like most other aquarium fish, goldfish sleep by remaining motionless.


Here are some of the signs to identify your goldfish is sleeping:

  • The goldfish remains still near the lower surface of the tank (closer to the substrate). 
  • But remember, your goldfish shouldn’t lay touching the tank’s bottom surface (that’s a different behavior, and more often, it happens because of reasons like the swim bladder problem, inappropriate water parameters, parasites, or stress ).
  • Another sign that your goldfish is sleeping is their eyes constantly staring in one direction. Goldfish don’t have eyelids!
  • Also, very minimal movements in the fins are observed so that they can keep their balance while floating near the tank bottom.
  • The only slight noticeable movement will be with the gills – slowly moving as the goldfish continues to breathe.

Apart from these behavioral patterns, you will usually find them selecting a shaded region of the tank which receives less light. Or it can be their favorite spot where they feel comfortable resting. Moreover, sleeping behavior is mainly noticed during the night, when all the lights are turned off.

How Long Do Goldfish Usually Sleep?

Typically, goldfish sleep 8-12 hours a day, and as you turn on the lights every morning, they wake up. Goldfish also have an internal biological clock responsible for rhythmic behaviors like sleep.


If you have ever noticed your tank at night when all the room and fish tank lights are off, the fish remain still. It is this time when the fish are resting.

Almost all living organisms on the earth, from bacteria to mammals, amphibians, birds, reptiles, and fish – possess biological clocks. In simple words, these biological clocks act as their natural timing tool

So even if you miss to switch off the light at night, your goldfish will sleep anyway, thanks to their internal biological clock mechanism. But yes, it can stress your goldfish, so avoid keeping the aquarium lights on all the time.

How To Provide Your Goldfish The Best Sleeping Environment?

Light is one of the significant factors that can impact the sleep of your goldfish. So to ensure the best sleeping environment for the goldfish, turning off the lights every night is the best idea as it allows them to sleep comfortably.


Not just for goldfish, but you can follow this pattern for all the fish in your home tanks. Remember, they all need rest time!

Generally, you can turn on the aquarium lights as you wake up every morning. Then as the evening or the night approaches, feel free to turn off the light. (You can space out the timing such that your goldfish gets 8-12 hours of enough sleep to ensure the best health).

In addition, you can have hiding places in the tank. Naturally, every fish likes to find a calm spot in the tank to rest, and hiding places should help.

Caves are not needed, but to create a shaded region in the tank, you can use aquarium rocks or artificial plants (avoid live plants because they will eat most live plants).

In addition, you can also use terra cotta pots to add hideouts, nooks, and corners beside which your goldfish can stay still and rest.


But remember, don’t overdo it! Goldfish generally prefer more free swimming space in the tank. They keep roaming in the tank all day and finally sleep at night. So, turning off the lights and a general aquarium setup should work well.

Related Read: Are Goldfish Bottom Feeders?

Goldfish Is Sleeping For Too Long? Here’s What To Do!

As a general rule, your goldfish should only sleep 8-12 hours daily. However, suppose your goldfish is sleeping more than that. In that case, it’s a sign of lethargy which can result from other underlying problems in the tank like improper temperature, inadequate water quality, or sickness.

So once you identify your goldfish is behaving inactively, it’s time to troubleshoot one by one and find the root cause.

Here are steps you can take to handle the situation:

Ensure the temperature of the goldfish tank is perfect; the recommended temperature is 68 °F – 74°F (20°C – 23°C). 


Although goldfish are coldwater fish and heaters are not a strict requirement, still, if you have a fancy goldfish like Fantail, Oranda, or Ranchu, having a heater is recommended. Learn more about this in the goldfish heater and temperature guide.

Next, if the issue isn’t solved, look for signs of stress and what’s causing it. For example, a goldfish remaining under stress often becomes inactive; so getting rid of the causes of stress can improve its activity level. 

You can ask yourself the following questions.

  • Are the water conditions perfect for goldfish?
  • Is the tank big enough to house the goldfish?
  • Are there any fish constantly bullying the goldfish?
  • Is the goldfish adequately fed?

Finally, if everything seems perfect but you still notice too much lethargy and inactivity in your goldfish, it can be a sign of sickness.

Is your goldfish struggling to swim properly? Then it could be an underlying swim bladder – a commonly noticed disorder in goldfish.

Learn more about the swim bladder problem in the following video:

Related Questions:

How To Know If My Goldfish Is Sleeping Or Died?

If your goldfish stays motionless but upright and you can see the gill movement, it means the fish is alive and sleeping.

However, if you notice your goldfish is floating in the tank upside down with no gill movement, it’s a sign the goldfish has died.

Why Does My Goldfish Sleep A Lot?

Usually, if your goldfish is sleeping 8-12 hours a day and remaining active for the rest of the day, it’s normal. 

However, if the goldfish sleeps a lot – it indicates issues with the water conditions in the tank, the water temperature, stress, or illness.

How To Wake Up A Goldfish?

To wake up a goldfish after a night’s sleep, gradually turn on the lights and then do their favorite thing to attract their attention. 

Hover the food container near the tank, shake them to produce the rattling sound of the food pellets, and like that, follow a particular pattern daily so that it becomes their habit. 

By following this routine, they will automatically wake up the next time you come near them with their favorite food containers!

Related Read: Is My Goldfish Blind? Here’s How To Tell!