Betta Fish Lighting Cycle: How Long Do Betta Fish Need Light?

Betta fish is actually very easy to keep. However, there are certain rules you must oblige. One such rule is called the lighting cycle. You see, Betta fish need light to tell the difference between day and night.

If you let Betta sleep in darkness for 12 hours, the tank should be lit in the next 12 hours. Bettas usually sleep when the light is out (for 10 to 12 hours). They spend the entire time (the rest of 12 hours) hunting for food, spawning, or casual swimming under proper lighting.

Every fish has different lighting demands. Some are cave dwellers, while others love good lighting. For you to ensure your betta is happy in the tank, there’s no other way but to learn their required lighting cycle. So, without further ado, let’s start.

Key Takeaways

  • Bettas are different from cavefish. They prefer having access to light during the daytime.
  • Bettas need at least 8 to 10 hours of light every day.
  • Turing lights on and off is the only way for an aquarium Betta fish to follow its daily routine.
  • If the lights are on, the Betta will start looking for food (it’s hunting time).
  • Due to monocular vision, Bettas can’t see clearly in the dark; hence miss out on eating.

Do Betta Fish Need Lighting At All?

Betta fish are freshwater species; who like to explore narrow and warm streams. One important habit of Bettas is that they always prefer swimming on the top portion of a pond or stream. So, naturally, they are exposed to sunlight more than other fish living in the deeper portions.

What we have just told you is their natural instinct. They are born with it. That’s why it can be seen in an aquarium or pet Betta as well.

In short, Bettas do love having some light in the room for better visibility during the day. It’s not like Betta dies in the absence of light. Consider it one of the conditions you follow, including water temperature, tank decoration, etc.

turquoise betta fish
Owner: Gemma Barham

How Long Does A Betta Fish Need Light?

To figure out how long a betta fish needs light, you have to understand its sleep-cycle. Bettas can’t be more similar to humans in the sleeping department. After all day of hunting for food, they also get tired and need rest. That’s why a typical Betta fish needs at least 10 to 12 hours of sleep at night (14 hours at max). And, just like us, they prefer the tank to be dark as they sleep.

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In the wild, betta fish stays on top of the water during the daytime and hunt for food. The sunlight helps them see their target better. So, it’s about 8 hours of light every day. Once the sun sets, bettas are seen going deeper into the water to sleep.

Understanding Betta Sleep-Cycle

When it comes to sleep cycles, no two bettas are 100% the same. you have to observe your Betta and figure out how it sleeps throughout the day. For example, many people worry when they see their betta motionless during the day. But the poor thing might have just dozed off for a while. To avoid making such mistakes, take a look at what a healthy sleep pattern looks like.

Sleeping PatternsRemarks
Sleep for 12 hours straight at nightHealthy
Takes short naps during both day and nightHealthy
Sleeps all-dayUnhealthy

Apart from all of that, some betta keepers complain their pet doesn’t sleep at all. If your betta is not sleeping, it can either be due to stress or wrong lighting choice. We have seen many aquarists attach harsh lighting on the lid of the aquarium. And they never turn it off.

Please, don’t use the aquarium just for the sake of increasing the aesthetics of a room. if you are keeping bettas, remember the tank is its home. Try to dim the light every now and then (depending on your betta’s sleep cycle). So, the betta can actually sleep in peace.

From what we have seen, stress is the main reason why your Betta doesn’t follow any of the healthy sleeping patterns. And lighting is an extremely powerful factor that can trigger stress. Imagine how cranky you would be if you had to go sleepless two days in a row. Yes, even you wouldn’t be able to limit your stress level.

 It’s enough to allow 8 hours (or 10 hours) of light per day. No need to go beyond that if you are confused about the sleep cycle.

Will My Betta Fish Die Without Light?

No, your betta won’t die without light. We are emphasizing so much on light because it helps the Betta to stay in a routine and live better. However, that doesn’t mean your betta will instantly die once the light is out. that’s nonsense. However, there are some medical complications the fish might have to suffer from in the future. Have a look.

What Kind Of Water To Use For Betta Fish

1. Doesn’t Eat Enough

Even if you provide plenty of food, the fish might not eat enough. It happens because the fish can’t necessarily see its food. Since they assign darkness tonight, they will assume it’s not time to eat yet.

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2. Super Lazy

It’s only logical that your Betta will become weaker due to the lack of food/ nutrition. It leads the poor fish to get lazier with every passing day. some times you won’t even notice the fish coming out of its hiding spot all day long. It’s a sign that the fish is getting lethargic and wants to avoid other creatures in the tank at all costs.

3. Loses Color

One major sign is the lack of vibrant color on its body. Even if you don’t notice the above two symptoms, this one is pretty easy to notice. Bettas are known for their bright orange, blue or red color. And the fins are brighter than the rest of the body. If you notice the brightness fading away, it’s time to check the lighting in your tank.

These symptoms are not as severe as death. But we still think you should take them seriously and ensure proper lighting in the tank.

Is Sunlight Better Than Artificial Light For Bettas?

Natural sunlight is not the best thing for your Bettas. Yes, we believe you should only stick with artificial lighting props. Exposure to harsh light can do the same damage to your Betta you are trying to protect it from. You see, there’s no control in your hand when you let sunlight enter the tank.

The temperature of the light completely depends on that particular day. And, trust us, bettas hate when the water gets too cold or too hot. So, you have a high chance of messing with the water temperature through sunlight.

Next, sunlight can cause the tank to get dirtier. If you have planted some herbs just for decoration, soon you will see them growing (thanks to the access to sunlight). You will be required to clean up the tank more often. Another and most important problem is the harshness.

Sunlight can get extremely harsh during noon (10 am to 2 pm). Imagine how you would feel in a room that has too many light bulbs. After a period of time, it makes you restless, and you find yourself unable to relax. It’s the direct impact of light on our mind and body. It’s nothing different for a betta.

Moving on, we mostly have two types of artificial lights. One is LED, and the other is fluorescent. The first one gives a cooler tone. It’s almost bluish. The best thing about LED is that it doesn’t affect the temperature of the water as badly as the other one.

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 But apart from this one disadvantage, Fluorescent lights offer the most natural tone for a Betta tank. The tone is orangish or warm-white which is similar to what the Bettas get into the wild. So, yeah, it gives you an awesome opportunity to replicate that environment in your home.

blue white gorgeous betta fish
Owner: Sean Aurellio

When Should I Turn On The Light?

We have given you some ideas. But it’s your job to figure out when to turn on the light finally. The simple answer is, as soon as you notice, the Betta has woken up from its slumber. But that’s the tricky part. How do you know if your Betta is sleeping or not?

Well, the first and easiest way is to check for a motion. Is the fish still (not moving at all)? If yes, it’s probably sleeping. Now, you might argue that Bettas remain motionless if they are lazy or just resting (and actually sleeping). Unfortunately, their eyes don’t tell us whether they are dozed off or not.

So, here’s another method. Usually, Bettas move to the bottom of the tank to sleep. If your betta is at the bottom of the tank and tucked in a corner, it’s probably still sleeping. If there are decorations, Bettas might hide behind those during nap time. These are some ways to identify. Once you are sure it’s sleeping, don’t turn on the lights. You may do so if the sleeping time has passed the ideal range (8 hours).

Tips To Ensure A Proper Lighting For Your Betta Tank

  • Attach an LED light on the tank’s lid. Turn the switch on when it’s daytime. Keep the lights off during the night.
  • It would be better to stick with an LED light. Fluorescent or UV light tends to increase the temperature pretty soon.
  • If you plan to stay away from home for a few days, get a light with an automatic dimmer. It dims the light after a certain amount of time has passed (pre-set).
  • The light can be any color but don’t go for a bold one. Try to stick a light that gives a natural vibe.

Before You Leave!!

Bettas do have interesting eyes. They see differently than humans, thanks to their monocular vision. To understand why light is such an important factor in a betta’s life, you should learn more about how their eyes actually work. Don’t worry; you will find all the information in our next article called Whether a betta fish sees in the Dark.

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Muntaseer Rahman

About Author

Hello, I’m Muntaseer Rahman, the owner of I’m passionate about aquarium pets like shrimps, snails, crabs, and crayfish. I’ve created this website to share my expertise and help you provide better care for these amazing pets.


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