Can Fish Sleep with the Air Pump On?

Last Updated on August 27, 2021

Fish need to sleep just as humans do. Sleep rejuvenates and heals. Sleep lets us rest.

Betta fish are well-known sleepers. You can see betta fish sleeping on the gravel, tucked in a crevice, squeezing itself snuggly into the stems of plants, using floating plants as hammocks, and inside decor or natural-looking caves made of rocks.

But have you ever asked yourself, “Can fish sleep with the air pump on?” If so, then this is the right article for you.

It seems like Betta fish take sleep seriously and so should you because sleep is important for our health. They use light, whether natural or artificial, as a cue to sleep. They may look for shaded areas of your tank to nap during the day. This makes us wonder if an air pump might bother a Betta while it rests.

What is an air pump?

An air pump is a device popular in the aquarium hobby for a long time now. It is used to pump air into the fish tank through an airline tube connected to a sponge filter or an air stone.

There are plenty of affordable air pumps in the market. There have been innovations from popular aquarium brands that have air pumps that produce less noise. This is a great option if you dislike the buzzing sound of the usual air pump.

Can fish sleep with the air pump on?

An air pump provides constant agitation of the water surface to let continuous gas exchange occur. This process lets oxygen enter and carbon dioxide exit. Fish need oxygen to breathe and they expel carbon dioxide.

Related: Do Betta Fish Need Oxygen Pump and Why?

An air pump connected to a sponge filter ensures that mechanical filtration is ongoing and that good bacteria in your aquarium and within the sponge filter have a continuous supply of oxygen. These bacteria are important to reduce ammonia and nitrites toxic to fish.

A sponge filter is a good option for a betta because it only makes gentle surface agitation compared to powerheads. Constantly being blown away by strong flow will exhaust and stress your betta fish which may lead to its death.

A betta fish can comfortably sleep with the air pump turned on as long as the flow is gentle enough. Betta fish are light sleepers and any harsh movement in the water column will wake them up.

Will fish die without air pump?

A betta fish has a labyrinth organ that allows it to absorb oxygen from the air it gulps from the water surface. It also has gills that allow it to absorb dissolved oxygen from the water column. This is an evolutionary characteristic of the betta fish giving it a higher chance of survival.

Related: Can You Have Too Much Oxygen in a Fish Tank?

If you keep your betta alone in its tank, then it will not die just because it doesn’t have an air pump. But, if your betta is part of a community tank, then the other fish in it will also need oxygen. The number of fish in the community also increases the demand for oxygen so have an air pump for such a tank.

Live plants in your fish tank will release oxygen during the morning when there is light or when you turn on your aquarium light. Plants will also absorb the carbon dioxide in the water column for photosynthesis. Plants will use oxygen at night when it is dark. So it is best to have constant air pumped into your fish tank at night to ensure enough dissolved oxygen is present.

If you have a hang on the back filter that returns water back into the fish tank through a waterfall feature then this is enough to bring surface agitation and oxygenation of the water column. You will not need an air pump for this setup.

Keep betta fish in an aquarium with a temperature range of 78 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit or 25 to 27 degrees Celsius. This is the optimal temperature for a betta. Take note that you may need a filter to achieve this temperature if you live in a country with a cool climate. Oxygen is less in warmer water so if you have a community tank then it would be best to keep the air pump running to let continuous gas exchange on the water surface.

How long do betta fish sleep?

During the night when it is dark, betta fish will usually sleep. They take cues from sunlight in the wild. This will be simulated by turning on your aquarium light. Around 8 to 10 hours of darkness will let your betta have enough sleep at night.

Betta fish may also sleep during the day if it wants to. A betta fish in a community tank will sleep less because its instinct of guarding its territory will always keep it alert. This is one reason good compatible tank mates should be chosen. Those that will constantly harass your betta will not let it rest and will lead to much stress and even death. 

Should I turn off my aquarium light at night?

Can Fish Sleep with the Air Pump on

Yes, please turn off your aquarium light at night when you will also sleep. This will help your betta to rest and its tank mates if it is part of a community. 8 to 10 hours of no light will let the fish sleep enough at night. This will also limit the amount of light that your fish tank receives. It is best to have the light on for a minimum of 6 hours and a maximum of 10 hours to prevent algae blooms. 

Should I cover my fish tank at night?

A cover will protect your fish from intruders from outside the tank. This will also prevent fish from jumping out of the tank. Remember that betta fish are good jumpers. They may survive for some time outside the water but they will die if they dry out. A cover will also lessen evaporation and will help maintain the temperature of your tank.